Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Six books featuring adoptions gone awry

R.J. Hoffmann was born and raised in St. Louis and received an MFA in fiction from Columbia College Chicago. Hoffmann’s writing has appeared in Barely South Review, The Sun, Harpur Palate, The Roanoke Review, Booth, and Lunch Ticket. He is the winner of The Madison Review’s 2018 Chris O’Malley Prize for Fiction and a finalist for The Missouri Review’s 2019 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors Prize. He lives in Elmhurst, Illinois with his wife and two children.

At CrimeReads Hoffmann tagged six books featuring adoptions gone awry, including:
Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

Molly is a rebellious seventeen-year-old foster child, struggling to stay at yet another humiliating placement. When she’s caught stealing a library book (Bronte, by the way) and finds herself sentenced to fifty hours of community service, she stumbles across Vivian, a ninety-one-year-old widow living in a stately mansion with an attic that needs organizing. We learn that Vivian is an orphan, too, sent west from New York City just before the Great Depression on an ‘orphan train’, the early twentieth century’s answer to foster care. Memories emerge from the boxes in the attic, and as Molly pries the past from Vivian, they learn how much they have in common. The crimes against them, even the many that didn’t break the letter of the law, help prepare both for what comes next.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Elissa Grossell Dickey

From my Q&A with Elissa Grossell Dickey, author of The Speed of Light: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The book’s title, The Speed of Light, is perfect for the story in numerous ways. It refers to the fact that my main character and her love interest are both Star Wars fans, and they watch the movies throughout their relationship. It also refers to the fact that snowflakes falling against a windshield can make it look like you’re flying at light speed. Most of all, it refers to the fact that life can—and does—change quickly, for better or worse, be it a getting devastating diagnosis, meeting a handsome stranger, or enduring a chilling act of violence at work. You never know what life will throw at you, and The Speed of Light shows how one woman navigates this.

What's in a name?

I chose my main character’s name, Simone...[read on]
Visit Elissa Grossell Dickey's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Speed of Light.

The Page 69 Test: The Speed of Light.

Q&A with Elissa Grossell Dickey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Carol Dyhouse's "Love Lives"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Love Lives: From Cinderella to Frozen by Carol Dyhouse.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of how women's lives, loves, and dreams have been re-shaped since 1950, the year of Walt Disney's Cinderella and a time when teenage girls dreamed of marriage, Mr Right, and happy endings...

Cinderella stories captured the imagination of girls in the 1950s, when dreams of meeting the right man could seem like a happy ending, a solution to life's problems. But over the next fifty years women's lives were transformed, not by the magic wand of a fairy godmother, nor by marrying princes, but by education, work, birth control--and feminism. However, while widening opportunities for women were seen as progress, feminists were regularly caricatured as man-haters, cast in the role of ugly sisters, witches or wicked fairies in the fairy-tale.

This book is about the reshaping of women's lives, loves and dreams since 1950, the year in which Walt Disney's film Cinderella gave expression to popular ideas of romance, and at a time when marriage was a major determinant of female life chances and teenage girls dreamed of Mr Right and happy endings. It ends with the runaway success of Disney's Frozen, in 2013--a film with relevance to very different times. Along the way, it illuminates how women's expectations and emotional landscapes have shifted, asking bold questions about how women's lives have been transformed since 1950. How have women's changing life experiences been mirrored in new expectations about marriage, intimacy, and family life? How have new forms of independence through education and work, and greater control over childbearing, altered women's life ambitions? And were feminists right to believe that sexual equality would improve relationships between men and women?
Learn more about Love Lives at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Heartthrobs: A History of Women and Desire.

The Page 99 Test: Love Lives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 12, 2021

Nine top nature memoirs

Since traveling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. Her first book, The Salt Path, was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award. In The Wild Silence, Winn explores readjusting to life after homelessness. She lives in Cornwall with her husband Moth.

At Lit Hub Winn tagged nine books that reignited her connection to the wild, including:
Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk

Then I encountered one book that offered much more than just a response to the natural world. The narrative chronicles one woman’s experience of grief and how that led to her finding the wild place within herself. For me, this book moved nature memoir from simple recollections of time spent in the outdoors to memoirs of an emotional response to nature.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald is on one level a record of how she trained a goshawk, a mythical, mysterious, violent, beautiful bird of prey. But it is also the story of a woman drowning beneath a sea of grief following the death of her father. Macdonald writes of days spent together in a darkened room to months on windswept hillsides and in dank woods, the two become enmeshed in a wild bond. What emerges is a portrait of a powerful bird that may comply but will never be tamed and a woman who has become part bird herself, stronger, more resilient, free.
Read about another entry on the list.

H Is for Hawk is among Lit Hub's ten best memoirs of the decade, Sigrid Nunez's six favorite books that feature animals, Sam Miller's top ten books about fathers, Barack Obama's summer 2016 reading list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten books about justice and redemption, and Alex Hourston’s ten top unlikely friendships in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Louise Guy's "A Winning Betrayal," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: A Winning Betrayal by Louise Guy.

About the book, from the publisher:
While I love the idea of A Winning Betrayal being turned into a TV series or movie, I never picture actors in my characters' roles when writing a story. The physical details I provide are minimal as I know when I read myself, I will form an image of a character based on their personality and actions rather than how the author might describe them. There’s nothing worse than getting partway through a book where you’ve formed a picture of a character and then have the author remind you that they look like George Clooney (for example) when your vision is entirely different. After finishing a book, it is, however, a lot easier to dream cast.

While my stories are set in Australia, I immediately relocate them to America whenever I think of dream casting my books. The budgets are so much bigger, as is the audience. American films are accepted worldwide, whereas Australian films are often only successful within Australia.

Dream casting A Winning Betrayal would require a cast of contrasting characters.

Our female leads are opposites—quiet, introverted Frankie stars alongside opinionated, extroverted Shauna. Reese Witherspoon would make a great Shauna, and Keira Knightley (minus her British accent!) would be perfectly suited as Frankie. In the story, the two women are as…[read on]
Visit Louise Guy's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Life Worth Living.

My Book, The Movie: A Life Worth Living.

Q&A with Louise Guy (November 2020).

My Book, The Movie: A Winning Betrayal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Wallace Stroby's "Heaven's a Lie"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Heaven's a Lie by Wallace Stroby.

About the book, from the publisher:
When a young widow witnesses a fatal car accident outside a Jersey Shore motel, she's suddenly thrust into a nightmare of gang violence, guns, and money that she can't outrun in this action-packed novel by "one of the best writers in crime fiction" (Alison Gaylin).

Joette Harper's life brings new meaning to the phrase "paycheck to paycheck." Struggling to afford her mother's sky-high medical bills and also keep the lights on in her trailer home, Joette needs a break.

So, when she spies a bag full of money amongst the wreckage of a fiery car accident, she knows she can't just let it be. Inside is a bounty better than she could have dreamed—just shy of $300,000 in neatly stacked hundreds and fifties. Enough to pay off her debts, give her mother the care she deserves, and maybe even help out a few of her friends.

But, of course, the missing briefcase didn't go unnoticed by its original owner, Travis Clay—a ruthless dealer who'll stop at nothing to get back what's his.

Joette is way out of her depth, but can't seem to stop herself from participating in this cat-and-mouse chase. But can she beat Travis at his own game?
Learn more about the author and his novels at the official Wallace Stroby website and The Heartbreak Blog.

The Page 69 Test: Gone 'til November.

The Page 69 Test: Cold Shot to the Heart.

The Page 69 Test: Kings of Midnight.

The Page 69 Test: The Devil's Share.

Writers Read: Wallace Stroby (August 2018).

The Page 69 Test: Heaven's a Lie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Pg. 99: Michelle Nijhuis's "Beloved Beasts"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction by Michelle Nijhuis.

About the book, from the publisher:
A vibrant history of the modern conservation movement—told through the lives and ideas of the people who built it.

In the late nineteenth century, as humans came to realize that our rapidly industrializing and globalizing societies were driving other animal species to extinction, a movement to protect and conserve them was born. In Beloved Beasts, acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis traces the movement’s history: from early battles to save charismatic species such as the American bison and bald eagle to today’s global effort to defend life on a larger scale.

She describes the vital role of scientists and activists such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson as well as lesser-known figures in conservation history; she reveals the origins of vital organizations like the Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund; she explores current efforts to protect species such as the whooping crane and the black rhinoceros; and she confronts the darker side of conservation, long shadowed by racism and colonialism.

As the destruction of other species continues and the effects of climate change escalate, Beloved Beasts charts the ways conservation is becoming a movement for the protection of all species—including our own.
Learn more about the book and author at Michelle Nijhuis's website and the W.W. Norton website.

The Page 99 Test: Beloved Beasts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Dan Stout

From my Q&A with Dan Stout, author of Titan Song:
What's in a name?

I love this question. There is so much in a name, and my thoughts about character names changes with what stage the manuscript is in.

First, there’s the process of finding a name that works during the drafting process. This is really for me, in the very early stages. I spend a great deal of time trying on different options before settling on character names. Names have a “feel” to them, and I can be working with a character for a while, trying to find their voice, and then I change their name and immediately they start taking on a different persona.

But I also have to make sure that readers will recognize and remember the names. You can have great characters, but if they’re named Stan, Steve, and Steph, most readers will struggle to keep them separate.

On top of all that, Titan Song is a blend of fantasy and noir mystery. To pull off that combo, I need to deliver a mix of elements from both genres. I can use names to underscore each of those core genres, such as by mixing common 21st Century names with unusual variations or period names to emphasize the otherworldliness of the setting.

Finally, sometimes names are...[read on]
Visit Dan Stout's website.

My Book, The Movie: Titanshade.

Writers Read: Dan Stout (April 2019).

The Page 69 Test: Titanshade.

The Page 69 Test: Titan's Day.

My Book, The Movie: Titan's Day.

Q&A with Dan Stout.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tim Harford's six best books

Tim Harford, “the Undercover Economist,” is a Financial Times columnist, BBC broadcaster, and the author of nine books (most recently How To Make The World Add Up / The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics) and the podcast “Cautionary Tales.”

[Tim Harford: top 10 undercover economics booksThe Page 69 Test: The Undercover EconomistThe Page 69 Test:The Logic of LifeThe Page 99 Test: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with FailureThe Page 99 Test: The Undercover Economist Strikes BackThe Page 99 Test: The Data Detective]

At The Week magazine Harford tagged his six best books. One title on the list:
Thinking Strategically by Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff.

An introduction to game theory – the use of mathematics to understand cooperative and competitive interactions, from tennis to business to the cold war. This was the book that turned me into an economist. It’s full of clever counterintuitions and memorable stories.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Pg. 69: Elissa Grossell Dickey's "The Speed of Light"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Speed of Light: A Novel by Elissa Grossell Dickey.

About the book, from the publisher:
A compelling and provocative debut novel told in intersecting timelines over a tumultuous, defining year in one woman’s life.

Simone is trying her best not to think of what she’s lost. Diagnosed with MS, she awaits the results of another anxiety-inducing MRI. She’s just walked away from Connor, “a fixer” but possibly the love of her life. And nearing the holidays, the sights and sounds of winter in South Dakota only prick memories of better years gone by. Then, on a December morning at the university where she works, jarring gunshots pierce the halls. In a temporary safe place and terrified, Simone listens and pretends this will all be over soon.

As she waits for silence, her mind racing, Simone’s past year comes into focus. Falling in love and missing it. Finding strength in family and enduring friendships. Planning for the future, fearing it, and hoping against hope in dark places. Her life has been changing at the speed of light, and each crossroad brought Simone here, to this day, to endure the things she can’t control and to confront those that she can.
Visit Elissa Grossell Dickey's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Speed of Light.

The Page 69 Test: The Speed of Light.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top romance novels that tug at the heartstrings

Libby Hubscher is an author and scientist. She studied biology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and holds a doctor of philosophy in molecular toxicology from North Carolina State University. Her work has appeared online and in textbooks, scientific journals, and literary journals. Her short story “The Unwelcome Guest” was long-listed for the Wigleaf Top 50 in 2018. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two young children, and a menagerie of pets.

Hubscher's debut novel is Meet Me in Paradise.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten favorite romance novels that tug at the heartstrings, including:
Float Plan by Trish Doller

Doller’s adult debut novel begins a year after Anna has lost her fiancé to suicide, when she begins a journey they’d planned to take together. As she takes to sea aboard the boat he left her, her grief is ever present, a shifting current that pulls her along. Then Anna meets sailor Keane, who is dealing with a different kind of loss, and together they have to navigate the waters as well as their own complicated feelings. Float Plan is gentle, deeply emotional exploration of the fluidity of grief, the struggle that is moving on, and the resiliency of the heart in its capacity of love, even after heartbreak.
Read about another entry on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Trish Doller & Cobi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michela Wrong's "Do Not Disturb"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad by Michela Wrong.

About the book, from the publisher:
A powerful investigation into a grisly political murder and the authoritarian regime behind it: DO NOT DISTURB upends the narrative that Rwanda sold the world after the deadliest genocide of the twentieth century.

We think we know the story of Africa’s Great Lakes region. Following the Rwandan genocide, an idealistic group of young rebels overthrew the brutal regime in Kigali, ushering in an era of peace and stability that made Rwanda the donor darling of the West, winning comparisons with Switzerland and Singapore. But the truth was considerably more sinister.

Vividly sourcing her story with direct testimony from key participants, Wrong uses the story of the murder of Patrick Karegeya, once Rwanda’s head of external intelligence and a quicksilver operator of supple charm, to paint the portrait of a modern African dictatorship created in the chilling likeness of Paul Kagame, the president who sanctioned his former friend’s assassination.
Visit Michela Wrong's website.

The Page 99 Test: Do Not Disturb.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 09, 2021

Five SFF books about wicked women

Heather Walter has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with both English and Information Science degrees, books are–and always will be–a definitive part of her life. Her new novel is Malice.

As an author, Walter loves writing about what-ifs, flawed protagonists, and re-imagined history. Her favorite characters are usually villains.

When not writing, you can find her reading (duh), knitting, binging TV, and planning her next travel adventure.

At Tor.com Walter tagged five favorite books featuring fictional women who are, unashamedly, wicked. One title on the list:
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

A feminist, alternate history of my dreams! It’s 1893, and witches used to hold power—until the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, when witches were overthrown and their magic was forbidden. In New Salem, women—with their wily words and ways—are subservient to men. Witchcraft is a crime punishable by burning, and official witch-hunters patrol the city—hungry to sniff out even a hint of magic. Enter the Eastwood women—June, Agnes, and Beatrice—who join with a group of suffragists ready to topple the patriarchy. But soon these women want more than the vote—they want to bring back the magic that was stolen from them. Branded as outcasts and criminals for their subversive beliefs, the Eastwood sisters must band together despite the old wounds threatening to tear them apart. And as the officials close in, the witchy trio will use any means necessary—including illegal spells, manipulation, betrayal, and even starting some fires of their own—to claim what’s theirs. I was rooting for these women to cause as much havoc as possible.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Clay McLeod Chapman's "Whisper Down the Lane"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Whisper Down the Lane: A Novel by Clay McLeod Chapman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Inspired by the McMartin preschool trials and the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s, the critically acclaimed author of The Remaking delivers another pulse pounding, true-crime-based horror novel.

Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage to Tamara, a first chance at fatherhood to her son Elijah, and a quiet but pleasant life as an art teacher at Elijah’s elementary school in Danvers, Virginia. Then the body of a rabbit, ritualistically murdered, appears on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard tucked beneath it. Richard doesn’t have a birthday—but Sean does . . .

Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Greenfield, Virginia, with his mother. Like most mothers of the 1980s, she’s worried about bills, childcare, putting food on the table ... and an encroaching threat to American life that can take the face of anyone: a politician, a friendly neighbor, or even a teacher. When Sean’s school sends a letter to the parents revealing that Sean’s favorite teacher is under investigation, a white lie from Sean lights a fire that engulfs the entire nation—and Sean and his mother are left holding the match.

Now, thirty years later, someone is here to remind Richard that they remember what Sean did. And though Sean doesn’t exist anymore, someone needs to pay the price for his lies.
Visit Clay McLeod Chapman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Remaking.

The Page 69 Test: The Remaking.

My Book, The Movie: Whisper Down the Lane.

Q&A with Clay McLeod Chapman.

The Page 69 Test: Whisper Down the Lane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Donis Casey

From my Q&A with Donis Casey, author of Valentino Will Die:
How much does your title do to take readers into the story?

I usually suffer trying to come up with the perfect title. Only one time did I leave the title to the publisher, and I was not happy with what they chose. So for Valentino Will Die, I did it myself, and the reader can pretty much glean exactly what the story is about from the title. Most of my titles are taken from something one of the characters says, and Valentino Will Die is no exception. In fact it's Rudolph Valentino himself who utters the fateful line to our heroine, movie star Bianca LaBelle, one evening beside her swimming pool. She prods Rudy to tell her what has been bothering him for several weeks, and he replies he has been receiving threatening notes that say “Valentino will die.” I thought about having the notes say “Valentino must die,” but “must die” titles have been done to death, as it were. Instead, let's be decisive and say he “will die”.
What's in a name?

My protagonist was born Blanche Tucker, the eighth of ten children growing up on a horse farm in Oklahoma during the 1910s. She's originally named after...[read on]
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.

My Book, The Movie: Valentino Will Die.

The Page 69 Test: Valentino Will Die.

Q&A with Donis Casey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Elissa Grossell Dickey's "The Speed of Light," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Speed of Light: A Novel by Elissa Grossell Dickey.

The entry begins:
The Speed of Light is book club fiction following a tumultuous year in the life of a woman grappling with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, a new love, and a terrifying workplace incident. Now, call me biased, but I think The Speed of Light would make a fantastic movie, with its mix of excitement, emotion, and romance. If I’m ever lucky enough for that to happen, here’s who I imagine playing the lead roles:

Simone Archer: Simone would be played by Shailene Woodley. To be honest, I’ve always had trouble imagining who would play my main character. But when I posed the question to family and friends, multiple people suggested Shailene, who of course is famous for...[read on]
Visit Elissa Grossell Dickey's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Speed of Light.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Edward B. Westermann's "Drunk on Genocide"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany by Edward B. Westermann.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Drunk on Genocide, Edward B. Westermann reveals how, over the course of the Third Reich, scenes involving alcohol consumption and revelry among the SS and police became a routine part of rituals of humiliation in the camps, ghettos, and killing fields of Eastern Europe.

Westermann draws on a vast range of newly unearthed material to explore how alcohol consumption served as a literal and metaphorical lubricant for mass murder. It facilitated "performative masculinity," expressly linked to physical or sexual violence. Such inebriated exhibitions extended from meetings of top Nazi officials to the rank and file, celebrating at the grave sites of their victims. Westermann argues that, contrary to the common misconception of the SS and police as stone-cold killers, they were, in fact, intoxicated with the act of murder itself.

Drunk on Genocide highlights the intersections of masculinity, drinking ritual, sexual violence, and mass murder to expose the role of alcohol and celebratory ritual in the Nazi genocide of European Jews. Its surprising and disturbing findings offer a new perspective on the mindset, motivation, and mentality of killers as they prepared for, and participated in, mass extermination.
Learn more about Drunk on Genocide at the Cornell University Press.

The Page 99 Test: Drunk on Genocide.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten homecomings in fiction

Catherine Menon is Australian-British, has Malaysian heritage and lives in London. She is a University lecturer in robotics and has both a PhD in pure mathematics and an MA in Creative Writing.

Her short story collection, Subjunctive Moods, was published in 2018. Her short stories have won or been placed in a number of competitions. Her work has been broadcast on radio, and she’s been a judge for several international short fiction competitions.

Fragile Monsters is Menon's debut novel.

At the Guardian she tagged ten "books [that] offer intimate, startling perspectives on homecomings: some that celebrate it, some that examine the challenges and others that question the nature of what it means to return." One title on the list:
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing is a dazzling, fractal spin of a novel, with homecomings repeated on varying scales throughout. Spanning nine generations of a single family, Gyasi’s debut traces the journey from Ghana to the US and back again. Within this structure, each generation has their own returns home to deal with: from prison, from slavery, from loneliness and self-enforced exiles. The sheer sweep and grandeur of this story is complemented by Gyasi’s impeccable prose, which brings the reader eye to eye with the minuscule, memorable detail of the characters’ lives.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Thirteen books that explore codependent relationships

Sam Cohen was born and raised in suburban Detroit. Her fiction is published in Fence, Bomb, Diagram, and Gulf Coast, among others. The recipient of a MacDowell fellowship and a PhD fellow at the University of Southern California, Cohen lives in Los Angeles.

Her new story collection is Sarahland.

At Electric Lit Cohen tagged thirteen "books that explore the earth-shattering capacity of the power of two," including:
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Nan, a dorky small town oyster shucker in 19th century England, is obsessed with Kitty, a cross-dressing cabaret performer in a can’t-tell-if-you-wanna-fuck-her-or-be-her way. She spends all her oyster money on seeing Kitty’s show every single night and then, on the road as Kitty’s assistant, she ends up doing both, fucking Kitty and becoming her. Kitty trains Nan as a performer and they’re madly in love and have a successful cabaret show as cross-dressed twins. I love this novel for its portrayal of how recognition of queer desire can blow apart the world, completely reshaping one’s identity and way of moving.
Read about another entry on the list.

Tipping the Velvet is among Kate Davies's ten top books about coming out.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Clay McLeod Chapman

From my Q&A with Clay McLeod Chapman, author of Whisper Down the Lane: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Quite a lot, I think... Whisper Down the Lane, or Telephone, is a game of rumors. A group of children sit in a circle. One child whispers a sentence -- I like to eat Lucky Charms in my pajamas -- into their neighbor's ear, then that child whispers the sentence into their neighbor's ear, going around the circle until the whispered statement returns to its originator. But when it goes around the circle, the phrase tends to mutate. Words are forgotten and replaced. Even the original intent behind the sentence alters itself. When it comes full circle and the originator gets to hear the sentence returned to them, they say it out loud (usually to laughter): Eyes do harm to unlucky lamas.

My novel, Whisper Down the Lane, is about the adult version of this childhood game... The rumors that spread and pervert themselves from one neighbor to the next. How something relatively harmless that someone says can take on a life of its own and become dangerous. How lives can be...[read on]
Visit Clay McLeod Chapman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Remaking.

The Page 69 Test: The Remaking.

My Book, The Movie: Whisper Down the Lane.

Q&A with Clay McLeod Chapman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tasha Alexander's "The Dark Heart of Florence"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Dark Heart of Florence: A Lady Emily Mystery (Volume 15) by Tasha Alexander.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the next Lady Emily Mystery, The Dark Heart of Florence, critically acclaimed author Tasha Alexander transports readers to the legendary city of Florence, where Lady Emily and Colin must solve a murder with clues leading back to the time of the Medici.

In 1903, tensions between Britain and Germany are starting to loom over Europe, something that has not gone unnoticed by Lady Emily and her husband, Colin Hargreaves. An agent of the Crown, Colin carries the weight of the Empire, but his focus is drawn to Italy by a series of burglaries at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence—burglaries that might have international ramifications. He and Emily travel to Tuscany where, soon after their arrival, a stranger is thrown to his death from the roof onto the marble palazzo floor.

Colin’s trusted colleague and fellow agent, Darius Benton-Stone, arrives to assist Colin, who insists their mission must remain top secret. Finding herself excluded from the investigation, Emily secretly launches her own clandestine inquiry into the murder, aided by her spirited and witty friend, Cécile. They soon discover that the palazzo may contain a hidden treasure dating back to the days of the Medici and the violent reign of the fanatic monk, Savonarola—days that resonate in the troubled early twentieth century, an uneasy time full of intrigue, duplicity, and warring ideologies.

Emily and Cécile race to untangle the cryptic clues leading them through the Renaissance city, but an unimagined danger follows closely behind. And when another violent death puts Emily directly in the path of a killer, there’s much more than treasure at stake…
Visit Tasha Alexander's website.

Q&A with Tasha Alexander.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Heart of Florence.

--Marshal Zeringue