Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What is Mark Denny reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Mark Denny, author of The Science of Navigation: From Dead Reckoning to GPS.

His entry begins:
I’m an avid reader, usually with three or four books on the go at any one time—a book by my bed, a book in the living room, another in my truck and one in my car. (No, I don’t read while driving.) So it is particularly easy or hard for me to describe what I’m reading, depending on who is asking. The editor of this blog wants to know about all my current reading, so he is making it hard, but I’m happy to oblige.

First thing in the morning these days (after making my wife a pot of tea) I am re-reading Little Dorrit. I’m a trained scientist—no sophisticate in literary appreciation—and I just can’t get past nineteenth century English fiction (Sherlock Holmes is a perennial favorite, though I have daringly ventured into the early twentieth century with G.K. Chesterton’s amazing Father Brown stories). Dickens is just jaw-droppingly good, especially for history buffs who appreciate the contemporary social references. His characters are so strange and so real (though Little Dorrit herself is irritatingly idealized) and he uses...[read on]
About The Science of Navigation, from the publisher:
In today's world of online maps and travel directions delivered wirelessly to hand-held devices, getting from place to place requires little thought from most of us—which is a good thing, since accurate navigation can be tricky. Get your bearings with Mark Denny—an expert at explaining scientific concepts in non-technical language—in this all-encompassing look at the history and science of navigation.

Denny's tour kicks off with key facts about the earth and how its physical properties affect travel. He discusses cartography and early mapmakers, revealing fascinating tidbits such as how changes over time of the direction of true north, as well as of magnetic north, impacted navigation. Denny details the evolution of navigation from the days of coastal piloting to GPS and other modern-day technologies. He explains the scientific breakthroughs in accessible, amusing terms and provides an insightful look at their effects on societies, cultures, and human advancement. Throughout, Denny frames the long history of navigation with amazing tales of such people as Pytheas, an ancient Greek navigator, and Sir Francis Drake and of such discoveries as the magnetic compass and radio direction finding.

Whether you have an interest in orienteering and geocaching or want to know more about the critical role navigation has played in human survival and progress since ancient people learned to use lodestones, The Science of Navigation is for you. With it you'll finally understand the why of wayfinding.
Learn more about The Science of Navigation at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Science of Navigation.

Writers Read: Mark Denny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten indispensable visual art works

One of Michael Bracewell's ten indispensable visual art works, as told to the Guardian:
The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe

As contrary as it is hilarious, Wolfe's classic analysis of the world of modern art seems if anything to have become more astute since its first publication in 1975. The relationship between downtown talent ("warm and wet from the loft") and uptown patronage is described with a comedic verve that remains as relevant to our own era of supersized art fairs as it did to Manhattan's pioneer collectors of pop art. This is essential reading for any art student and all art teachers. Ironically, Wolfe's distrust of pop art is confounded by the fact that his own prose style seems surely to be pop at its most classic.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sean F. McEnroe's "From Colony to Nationhood in Mexico"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: From Colony to Nationhood in Mexico: Laying the Foundations, 1560-1840 by Sean F. McEnroe.

About the book, from the publisher:
In an age of revolution, Mexico's creole leaders held aloft the Virgin of Guadalupe and brandished an Aztec eagle perched upon a European tricolor. Their new constitution proclaimed "the Mexican Nation is forever free and independent." Yet the genealogy of this new nation is not easy to trace. Colonial Mexico was a patchwork state whose new-world vassals served the crown, extended the empire's frontiers, and lived out their civic lives in parallel Spanish and Indian republics. Theirs was a world of complex intercultural alliances, interlocking corporate structures, and shared spiritual and temporal ambitions. Sean F. McEnroe describes this history at the greatest and smallest geographical scales, reconsidering what it meant to be an Indian vassal, nobleman, soldier, or citizen over three centuries in northeastern Mexico. He argues that the Mexican municipality, state, and citizen were not so much the sudden creations of a revolutionary age as the progeny of a mature multiethnic empire.
Learn more about From Colony to Nationhood in Mexico at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: From Colony to Nationhood in Mexico.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Chris Nickson's "The Constant Lovers"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Constant Lovers by Chris Nickson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A tale of greed, ambition and thwarted love in eighteenth-century Leeds

July, 1732. On a hot summer morning, Richard Nottingham, Constable of Leeds, is called out when a young woman is found stabbed to death among the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey. In her pocket is a love note: 'Soon we'll be together and our hearts can sing loud, my love, W.' What happened to the maid who accompanied her mistress on her final, fatal journey? Who is the mysterious 'W' who signed the note? Nottingham must delve into the dark secrets of the rich and influential to uncover the truth.
Learn more about the book and author at Chris Nickson's website, and view the book trailer for The Constant Lovers.

My Book, The Movie: The Constant Lovers.

The Page 69 Test: The Constant Lovers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jeffrey Wilson's "The Donors," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Donors by Jeffrey Wilson.

The entry begins:
So the premise of who would play whom in a movie version of my book, The Donors, is incredibly fun, but really not something I had ever thought about before (no, really-- I know that everyone thinks all authors write for the movie rights). Don’t get me wrong, a movie deal on any of my books would be fantastic-- I simply don’t write with that mindset. For me, writing is like watching a movie, but one about very real people played by-- well, themselves. The characters are very real for me, and when I’m writing I see them in my head as real people, not as Matt Damon or Brad Pitt.

So, enough of the disclaimer. Now that I am thinking about The Donors as a movie, the thought of picking the characters is really fun. Let’s start with those evil demons-- the Lizard men as my five year old protagonist calls them, for that’s how he sees them in the “other world” of his dreams. Max Van Sydow, especially as he appeared in the movie adaptation of...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jeffrey Wilson's website.

Wilson has at one time worked as an actor, a firefighter, a paramedic, a jet pilot, a diving instructor, a Naval Officer, and a Vascular and Trauma Surgeon. He also served two tours in Iraq as a combat surgeon with both the Marines and with a Joint Special Operations Task Force.

My Book, The Movie: The Donors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 30, 2012

What is Jeff Crook reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Jeff Crook, author of The Sleeping and the Dead.

His entry begins:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I make it a habit to read, every year, a few of the classics. I had originally set my heart on A Tale of Two Cities, as I had several copies in my library and I hadn't read it since high school. But when I went to find one of them, I could find none of them. Apparently I had sold each copy in a garage sale, believing I still had at least one on the shelf. I set out for the used bookstore and again failed to find a single copy. So I picked up Great Expectations, as I had...[read on]
About The Sleeping and the Dead, from the publisher:
A new mystery series starring a Memphis crime scene photographer with ghostly assistance

Jackie Lyons is a former vice detective with the Memphis Police Department who is trying to put her life back together: her husband has sent divorce papers, she's broke, and needs a place to live. But a failed marriage, unemployment, and most recently a fire in her apartment aren’t her only problems: she also sees ghosts.

Since Jackie left the force, she’s been making ends meet by photographing crime scenes for her old friends on the force, and for the occasional collector. When she is called to the murder scene of the Playhouse Killer's latest victim, she starts seeing crime scenes from a different perspective-- her new camera captures images of ghosts. As her new camera brings her occasional ghostly visitors into sharper relief, it also points her toward clues the ex-detective in her won’t let go: did the man she has just started dating kill his wife? Is the Playhouse Killer someone she knows?

As Jackie works to separate natural from supernatural, friend from foe, and light from dark, the spirit world and her own difficult past become the only things she can depend on to solve the case.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Crook's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Sleeping and the Dead.

Writers Read: Jeff Crook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: William Romanowski's "Reforming Hollywood"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Reforming Hollywood: How American Protestants Fought for Freedom at the Movies by William D. Romanowski.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hollywood and Christianity often seem to be at war. Indeed, there is a long list of movies that have attracted religious condemnation, from Gone with the Wind with its notorious "damn," to The Life of Brian and The Last Temptation of Christ. But the reality, writes William Romanowski, has been far more complicated--and remarkable.

In Reforming Hollywood, Romanowski, a leading historian of popular culture, explores the long and varied efforts of Protestants to influence the film industry. He shows how a broad spectrum of religious forces have played a role in Hollywood, from Presbyterians and Episcopalians to fundamentalists and evangelicals. Drawing on personal interviews and previously untouched sources, he describes how mainline church leaders lobbied filmmakers to promote the nation's moral health and, perhaps surprisingly, how they have by and large opposed government censorship, preferring instead self-regulation by both the industry and individual conscience. "It is this human choice," noted one Protestant leader, "that is the basis of our religion." Tensions with Catholics, too, have loomed large--many Protestant clergy feared the influence of the Legion of Decency more than Hollywood's corrupting power. Romanowski shows that the rise of the evangelical movement in the 1970s radically altered the picture, in contradictory ways. Even as born-again clergy denounced "Hollywood elites," major studios noted the emergence of a lucrative evangelical market. 20th Century-Fox formed FoxFaith to go after the "Passion dollar," and Disney took on evangelical Philip Anschutz as a partner to bring The Chronicles of Narnia to the big screen.

William Romanowski is an award-winning commentator on the intersection of religion and popular culture. Reforming Hollywood is his most revealing, provocative, and groundbreaking work on this vital area of American society.
Visit the Reforming Hollywood Facebook page and William Romanowski's webpage.

The Page 99 Test: Reforming Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Linda Castillo's "Gone Missing"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Gone Missing by Linda Castillo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Linda Castillo’s bestselling series has been called “gripping” [People] and “impossible to put down” [Bookpage] and the “teeth chattering suspense” [USA Today] continues with GONE MISSING—a deeply chilling novel about a rite of passage gone horribly wrong.

Rumspringa is the time when Amish teens are allowed to experience life without the rules. It’s an exciting time of personal discovery and growth before committing to the church. But when a young teen disappears without a trace, the carefree fun comes to an abrupt and sinister end, and fear spreads through the community like a contagion.

A missing child is a nightmare to all parents, and never more so than in the Amish community, where family ties run deep. When the search for the presumed runaway turns up a dead body, the case quickly becomes a murder investigation. And chief of Police Kate Burkholder knows that in order to solve this case she will have to call upon everything she has to give not only as a cop, but as a woman whose own Amish roots run deep.

Kate and state agent, John Tomasetti, delve into the lives of the missing teen and discover links to cold cases that may go back years. But will Kate piece together all the parts of this sinister puzzle in time to save the missing teen and the Amish community from a devastating fate? Or will she find herself locked in a fight to the death with a merciless killer?
Learn more about the author and her work at Linda Castillo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Sworn to Silence.

My Book, The Movie: Pray for Silence.

The Page 69 Test: Gone Missing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best closing lines of books

At the Observer, Robert McCrum came up with ten of the best closing lines of novels, including:
Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad

“The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky – seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.” Conrad’s merciless short novel opens on the Thames and ends there, too. The last line of Marlowe’s astounding confession is an admission of his complicity in the terrible events he has just described. It also executes a highly effective narrative diminuendo in an extraordinary fictional nightmare.
Read about another entry on the list.

Heart of Darkness also appears on Mark Malloch-Brown's lis of six favorite novels of empire, John Mullan's list of ten of the best fogs in literature, Tim Butcher's list of the top 10 books about Congo, Martin Meredith's list of ten books to read on Africa, Thomas Perry's best books list, and is #9 on the 100 best last lines from novels list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rob Reid's 6 favorite books

Rob Reid is the founder of the digital music service Rhapsody. His debut novel is Year Zero.

One of his six favorite books, as told to The Week magazine:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Much as the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's affected every brainy rock album that followed it, Adams's Hitchhiker series has influenced every work of playful science fiction since the Carter era. Adams taught us that aliens can be bumbling, petty, sarcastic, or vain — and not strictly terrifying, omniscient, or gooey.
Read about another book on Reid's list.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy appears on Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of ten of the best bars in science fiction, Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten satirical novels that could teach you to survive the future, Don Calame's top ten list of funny teen boy books, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best instances of invisibility in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Stephen Eric Bronner's "Modernism at the Barricades"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Modernism at the Barricades: Aesthetics, Politics, Utopia by Stephen Eric Bronner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Stephen Eric Bronner revisits the modernist project’s groundbreaking innovations, its experimental imagination, and its utopian politics. Reading the artistic and intellectual achievements of the movement’s leading figures against larger social, political, and cultural trends, he follows the rise of a flawed yet salient effort at liberation and its confrontation with modernity.

Modernism at the Barricades features chapters on expressionism, futurism, surrealism, and revolutionary art and includes fresh perspectives on the work of Arnold Schoenberg, Wassily Kandinsky, and Emil Nolde, among others. The volume illuminates an international avant garde intent on resisting bureaucracy, standardization, scientific rationality, and the increasing commodification of mass culture. Modernists sought new ways of feeling, new forms of expression, and new possibilities of experience while seeking to refashion society. Liberation was their aim, along with the invigoration of daily life—yet their process entangled political resistance with the cultural.

Exploring both the political responsibility of the artist and the manipulation of authorial intention, Bronner reconfigures the modernist movement for contemporary progressive purposes and offers insight into the problems still complicating cultural politics. He ultimately reasserts the political dimension of developments often understood in purely aesthetic terms and confronts the self-indulgence and political irresponsibility of certain so-called modernists today. The result is a long overdue reinterpretation and rehabilitation of the modernist legacy for a new age.
Learn more about Modernism at the Barricades at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Modernism at the Barricades.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Lanier Scott Isom reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Lanier Scott Isom, author of Lilly Ledbetter’s memoir, Grace and Grit: How I Won My Fight for Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond.

The entry begins:
I typically have several books on my nightstand and a stack of magazines I subscribe to---Tin House, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Poets and Writers, Creative Nonfiction and Writer’s Digest. If I’m lucky, I’m able to read snippets from each book before bed at night and find a moment during the day to catch up on the latest issue of one of my magazines. If I’m lucky, that is. Gone are the days I enjoyed chunks of time to gobbled up books. Now, I read late at night, absorbing what I read in bits and pieces. Most of the time, my reading choices are connected to particular experiences or person in my life, as I’ve noted for each choice.

Since I’ve spent the past couple of years writing Lilly Ledbetter’s memoir, Grace and Grit, I’m always reading a memoir. Currently, I’m reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. I read memoirs for the same reason we all do: to discover the emotional truths someone else has wrested from their life’s journey. I also read memoirs to see how writers craft a narrative from the messy facts of life, how they shape their experiences into an object of beauty, and how they crystallize a moment into its essence much like a poet does. At the beginning of her memoir, Strand reflects, “I’d set out on the trail so I could reflect upon my life, to think about everything that had broken me and make myself whole again.” What she finds is she’s consumed with her most immediate cause of physical suffering. But as she navigates the hardships she encounters in the wilderness, she...[read on]
About Grace and Grit, from the publisher:
The courageous story of the woman at the center of the historic discrimination case that inspired the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act--her fight for equal rights in the workplace, and how her determination became a victory for the nation.

Lilly Ledbetter was born in a house with no running water or electricity in the small town of Possum Trot, Alabama. She knew that she was destined for something more, and in 1979, Lilly applied for her dream job at the Goodyear tire factory. Even though the only women she’d seen there were secretaries in the front offices where she’d submitted her application, she got the job—one of the first women hired at the management level.

Though she faced daily discrimination and sexual harassment, Lilly pressed onward, believing that eventually things would change. Until, nineteen years later, Lilly received an anonymous note revealing that she was making thousands less per year than the men in her position. Devastated, she filed a sex discrimination case against Goodyear, which she won—and then heartbreakingly lost on appeal. Over the next eight years, her case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where she lost again: the court ruled that she should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck--despite the fact that she had no way of knowing that she was being paid unfairly all those years. In a dramatic moment, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, urging Lilly to fight back.

And fight Lilly did, becoming the namesake of President Barack Obama's first official piece of legislation. Today, she is a tireless advocate for change, traveling the country to urge women and minorities to claim their civil rights. Both a deeply inspiring memoir and a powerful call to arms, Grace and Grit is the story of a true American icon.
Visit Lanier Scott Isom's website and blog.

Writers Read: Lanier Scott Isom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Claire and Mia Fontaine's "Have Mother, Will Travel," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Have Mother, Will Travel by Claire and Mia Fontaine.

The entry begins:
Two of the most significant characters in the book aren’t people, they’re the world itself and the mysterious, medieval Avignon, France, where we lived for four months. So the director is key. Some locations can be faked, many would be shot on location or in the region – Katmandu; Beijing; Cairo; Budapest; Meteora, Greece; ancient sites unique to Bulgaria; Dracula’s castle; Provence; Singapore, among many others. It would need someone who’s worked in a big arena, who can convey global grandeur as well as the intimacy of the intense, primal relationship of a mother and daughter. It would also have to be an American. The more we traveled the more we learned that while some things about mothers and daughters are universal, the experience, POV and attitude of American women in general, and the American mother/daughter dynamic in particular, is distinct and unique. You couldn’t possibly know the subtleties unless you were raised here, an audience of American women will pick up on it. Director Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Oscar for The Hurt Locker, would be perfect.

The perfect actress to portray Claire would be a cross between Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who’s earthy, emotional and funny (as in we’re laughing with you, Julia, not at you. Really!), and the aloof, guarded...[read on]
Learn more about the book and authors at Claire and Mia Fontaine’s website and the Have Mother, Will Travel Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Have Mother, Will Travel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pg. 69: John Verdon's "Let the Devil Sleep"

This weekend's feature at the Page 69 Test: Let the Devil Sleep by John Verdon.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this latest novel from bestselling author John Verdon, ingenious puzzle solver Dave Gurney puts under the magnifying glass a notorious serial murder case – one whose motives have been enshrined as law-enforcement dogma - and discovers that everyone has it wrong.

The most decorated homicide detective in NYPD history, Dave Gurney is still trying to adjust to his life of quasi-retirement in upstate New York when a young woman who is producing a documentary on a notorious murder spree seeks his counsel. Soon after, Gurney begins feeling threatened: a razor-sharp hunting arrow lands in his yard, and he narrowly escapes serious injury in a booby-trapped basement. As things grow more bizarre, he finds himself reexamining the case of The Good Shepherd, which ten years before involved a series of roadside shootings and a rage-against-the-rich manifesto. The killings ceased, and a cult of analysis grew up around the case with a consensus opinion that no one would dream of challenging -- no one, that is, but Dave Gurney.

Mocked even by some who’d been his supporters in previous investigations, Dave realizes that the killer is too clever to ever be found. The only gambit that may make sense is also the most dangerous – to make himself a target and get the killer to come to him.

To survive, Gurney must rely on three allies: his beloved wife Madeleine, impressively intuitive and a beacon of light in the gathering darkness; his de-facto investigative “partner” Jack Hardwick, always ready to spit in authority’s face but wily when it counts; and his son Kyle, who has come back into Gurney’s life with surprising force, love and loyalty.

Displaying all the hallmarks for which the Dave Gurney series is lauded -- well-etched characters, deft black humor, and ingenious deduction that ends in a climactic showdown – Let the Devil Sleep is something more: a reminder of the power of self-belief in a world that contains too little of it.
Learn more about the book and author at John Verdon's website and Facebook page.

John Verdon is a former Manhattan advertising executive who lives with his wife in the mountains of upstate New York. His first two Dave Gurney novels, Think of a Number and Shut Your Eyes Tight, are both international bestsellers.

The Page 69 Test: Let the Devil Sleep.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: R. Ford Denison's "Darwinian Agriculture"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Darwinian Agriculture: How Understanding Evolution Can Improve Agriculture by R. Ford Denison.

About the book, from the publisher:
As human populations grow and resources are depleted, agriculture will need to use land, water, and other resources more efficiently and without sacrificing long-term sustainability. Darwinian Agriculture presents an entirely new approach to these challenges, one that draws on the principles of evolution and natural selection.

R. Ford Denison shows how both biotechnology and traditional plant breeding can use Darwinian insights to identify promising routes for crop genetic improvement and avoid costly dead ends. Denison explains why plant traits that have been genetically optimized by individual selection--such as photosynthesis and drought tolerance--are bad candidates for genetic improvement. Traits like plant height and leaf angle, which determine the collective performance of plant communities, offer more room for improvement. Agriculturalists can also benefit from more sophisticated comparisons among natural communities and from the study of wild species in the landscapes where they evolved.

Darwinian Agriculture reveals why it is sometimes better to slow or even reverse evolutionary trends when they are inconsistent with our present goals, and how we can glean new ideas from natural selection's marvelous innovations in wild species.
Learn more about Darwinian Agriculture at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Darwinian Agriculture.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best classic whodunits

John Lanchester's novels include the widely translated The Debt to Pleasure and the newly released Capital. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and was awarded the 2008 E.M. Forster Award. He lives in London.

For the Wall Street Journal he named a five best list of mystery stories that don't get old. One title on the list:
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
by Agatha Christie (1926)

Her prose is flat and formulaic, her plots are lavishly riddled with holes, her most famous character, a vain, moustache-twirling Belgian, is arguably the least likely fictional detective of all—and yet Agatha Christie's work continues to grip. That's partly because she was so deliberately unwriterly in her prose. Her more ambitious contemporaries from the golden age of detective fiction wrote more colorfully, and for exactly that reason they have dated much more badly. Christie's work is sometimes seen as cozy, which in one sense is correct, since there is after all something profoundly comforting about the classic thriller. (As Oscar Wilde's Miss Prism says in "The Importance of Being Earnest," "the good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.") At the same time, though, her work chronicles much social change—the 20th century is her principal character, and most of her mysteries are based on a very modern anxiety about people being other than who they seem. She also fascinates me as a kind of modernist, someone who was always setting strategic challenges for herself. She wrote novels where a pattern drives the story ("The ABC Murders"), or where the title kicks off the action ("Why Didn't They Ask Evans?"), or where all the characters are killed ("And Then There Were None"). "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd," concerning the death of a widower after he reveals the story of another murder, finds Christie taking on a cracker of a formal challenge. This novel, with an audacious twist, is justifiably her most famous.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is on John Curran's top ten list of Agatha Christie mysteries and Lisa Scottoline's top ten list of books about justice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 27, 2012

What is D.B. Jackson reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: D.B. Jackson, author of Thieftaker.

His entry begins:
What I am reading now, and what I have been reading recently are closely related. I have just started reading Shades of Milk and Honey, by award-winning fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal. I'm only a short ways into the book, but already I'm enjoying it thoroughly.

I should pause here in the dual interests of full disclosure and larger context, to say that Mary and I are friends, and so I am predisposed to like her work. But more than that, I came to Shades of Milk and Honey with a feeling of some inadequacy. You see, Mary's work is written as a sort of fantasy homage to the work of Jane Austen, and...[read on]
About Thieftaker, from the publisher:
Boston, 1767: In D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.

Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed—and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can't stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see.
Learn more about the book and author at D. B. Jackson's website and blog.

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of a dozen fantasy novels.

The Page 69 Test: Thieftaker.

Writers Read: D.B. Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable books on clouds

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on clouds:
Atmosphere, Clouds, and Climate
by David Randall

One of the Princeton Primers in Climate, this slim volume offers just the right level of scientific detail -- equations, graphs, and charts that are illuminating rather than intimidating -- to teach readers the basics of the energy cycle on our planet. Whether acting as blankets, sponges, or shields, clouds play important roles in earth's ecosystems, which the author explores before embarking on a deeper consideration of feedbacks involving other atmospheric phenomena.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Natalie Serber's "Shout Her Lovely Name"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mothers and daughters ride the familial tide of joy, regret, loathing, and love in these stories of resilient and flawed women. In a battle between a teenage daughter and her mother, wheat bread and plain yogurt become weapons. An aimless college student, married to her much older professor, sneaks cigarettes while caring for their newborn son. On the eve of her husband’s fiftieth birthday, a pilfered fifth of rum, an unexpected tattoo, and rogue teenagers leave a woman questioning her place. And in a suite of stories, we follow capricious, ambitious single mother Ruby and her cautious, steadfast daughter Nora through their tumultuous life—stray men, stray cats, and psychedelic drugs—in 1970s California.

Gimlet-eyed and emotionally generous, achingly real and beautifully written, these unforgettable stories lay bare the connection and conflict in families. Shout Her Lovely Name heralds the arrival of a powerful new writer.
Learn more about the book and author at Natalie Serber's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Shout Her Lovely Name.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Donna Bohanan's "Fashion beyond Versailles"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Fashion beyond Versailles: Consumption and Design in Seventeenth-Century France by Donna Bohanan.

About the book, from the publisher:
As the epicenters of style and innovation, the cities of Paris and Versailles dominate studies of consumerism in seventeenth-century France, but little scholarship exists on the material culture, fashion, and consumption patterns in the provinces. Donna J. Bohanan’s Fashion beyond Versailles fills this historiographical gap by examining the household inventories of French nobles and elites in the southern province of Dauphiné.

Much more than a simple study of the decorative arts, Fashion beyond Versailles investigates the meaning of material ownership. By examining postmortem registries and archival publications, Bohanan reveals the social imperatives, local politics, and high fashion trends that spurred the consumption patterns of provincial communities.

In doing so, she reveals a closer relationship between consumer behavior of Versailles and the provinces than most historians have maintained. Far-reaching in its sociological and psychological implications, Fashion beyond Versailles both makes use of and contributes to the burgeoning literature on material culture, fashion, and consumption.
Learn more about Fashion beyond Versailles at the LSU Press website.

Donna J. Bohanan is the Joseph A. Kicklighter Professor of History at Auburn University. She is the author of Old and New Nobility in Aix-en-Provence, 1600–1695 and Crown and Nobility in Early Modern France.

The Page 99 Test: Fashion beyond Versailles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Stephen Blackmoore's "City of the Lost," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore.

The entry begins:
I've been wracking my brains for a while now wondering who would make a good Joe Sunday, the protagonist of my urban fantasy, City of the Lost. He's not a nice man. He's a thug. He's brutal. He's borderline psychopath, if not already well over the top.

He's not the one you call to rough up some guy who owes you money. He's the one you call when you need to stick that guy's hand down a garbage disposal until he tells you where the money is then light him on fire after sticking him to the wall with a nailgun.

Like I said, he's not a nice man.

It gets worse in that he's killed and brought back as an undead monster. Because, you know, a regular human monster just isn't scary enough.

So, yeah, I've been having trouble figuring out who would make a good Joe Sunday.

Until a few days ago when I saw...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Blackmoore's website.

My Book, The Movie: City of the Lost.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What is Scott Lasser reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Scott Lasser, author of Say Nice Things About Detroit.

His entry begins:
I find that an unexpected benefit of attending a summer writers’ conference is that I explore certain books because I might actually meet the author. It was through this process that I came to Benjamin Percy’s first novel, The Wilding. At its heart it’s the story of a grandfather, father, and son who go on a camping trip in eastern Oregon. But it’s much more than that: the pristine land through which they’re traveling is about to be...[read on]
About Say Nice Things About Detroit, from the publisher:
A novel about second chances from a writer of "stirring, poignant, and profound" work (Wally Lamb).

Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape—from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie’s sister, he will discover that both he and his hometown have reasons to hope.

As compelling an urban portrait as The Wire and a touching love story, Say Nice Things About Detroit takes place in a racially polarized, economically collapsing city that doesn't seem like a place for rebirth. But as David tries to make sense of the mystery behind Natalie’s death and puts back the pieces of his own life, he is forced to answer a simple question: if you want to go home again, what do you do if home is Detroit?
Learn more about the author and his work at Scott Lasser's website and blog.

Lasser is the author of three previous novels: Battle Creek, All I Could Get, and The Year That Follows. He recently completed a screenplay adaptation of Say Nice Things About Detroit for Steve Carell’s Carousel Productions.

The Page 69 Test: The Year That Follows.

The Page 69 Test: Say Nice Things About Detroit.

Writers Read: Scott Lasser.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ben H. Winters's "The Last Policeman"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters.

About the book, from the publisher:
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? Detective Hank Palace has asked this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. Several kilometers wide, it’s on a collision course with planet Earth, with just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. Industry is grinding to a halt. Most people have abandoned their jobs. But not Hank Palace. As our story opens, he’s investigating the latest suicide in a city that’s full of suicides—only this one feels wrong. This one feels like homicide. And Palace is the only one who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die?

The Last Policeman offers a story we’ve never read before: A police procedural set on the brink of an apocalypse. What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?
Learn more about the book and author at the official Ben H. Winters website.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Greg Woolf's "Rome: An Empire's Story"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Rome: An Empire's Story by Greg Woolf.

About the book, from the publisher:
The very idea of empire was created in ancient Rome and even today traces of its monuments, literature, and institutions can be found across Europe, the Near East, and North Africa--and sometimes even further afield.

In Rome, historian Greg Woolf expertly recounts how this mammoth empire was created, how it was sustained in crisis, and how it shaped the world of its rulers and subjects--a story spanning a millennium and a half of history. The personalities and events of Roman history have become part of the West's cultural lexicon, and Woolf provides brilliant retellings of each of these, from the war with Carthage to Octavian's victory over Cleopatra, from the height of territorial expansion under the emperors Trajan and Hadrian to the founding of Constantinople and the barbarian invasions which resulted in Rome's ultimate collapse. Throughout, Woolf carefully considers the conditions that made Rome's success possible and so durable, covering topics as diverse as ecology, slavery, and religion. Woolf also compares Rome to other ancient empires and to its many later imitators, bringing into vivid relief the Empire's most distinctive and enduring features.

As Woolf demonstrates, nobody ever planned to create a state that would last more than a millennium and a half, yet Rome was able, in the end, to survive barbarian migrations, economic collapse and even the conflicts between a series of world religions that had grown up within its borders, in the process generating an image and a myth of empire that is apparently indestructible. Based on new research and compellingly told, this sweeping account promises to eclipse all previously published histories of the empire.
Learn more about Rome: An Empire's Story at the Oxford University Press website.

Greg Woolf is Professor of Ancient History at the University of St. Andrews. He is the author of Et Tu, Brute?: A Short History of Political Murder and editor of The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Roman World.

The Page 99 Test: Rome: An Empire's Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five best books that explore marriage

Edward Mendelson is a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and author of books including Early Auden and The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life. In 2008 he named a five best list of "works [that] explore marriage with uncommon clarity" for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on his list:
Riceyman Steps (1923)
by Arnold Bennett

Marriage, George Eliot wrote in "Middlemarch," is a state of awesome "nearness." Arnold Bennett's greatest novel is a terrifying and exhilarating story of the nearness that joins the miserly London bookseller Henry Earlforward to his wife, Violet, as they shut themselves off from a threatening outside world -- and also shut themselves off from their uncontrollable inner passions. The only person who intrudes on their solitude is their servant, Elsie, who has very different ideas about her relation to her shell-shocked lover, Joe, and to the world around her. Bennett is best known as the quiet realist of "The Old Wives' Tale," but "Riceyman Steps" probes the unsettling psychological and symbolic depths of a marriage that becomes too close. "Astounding Story of Love and Death," shouts a newspaper headline in the last chapter. This partly describes Bennett's novel, although Elsie and Joe counter it with an equally astounding story of love and life.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What is Joy Castro reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Joy Castro, author of Hell or High Water.

Her entry begins:
Teaching in Seville recently, I came across an old Penguin paperback of John le Carré’s academic mystery A Murder of Quality on the bookshelves of my apartment there. Though it fell apart in my hands, I read it in two nights, delighted by the genuine suspense and le Carré’s witty, knowing takedowns of academic presumptions. When we got back to the States, I had to have more, and I’ve been reading...[read on]
About Hell or High Water, from the publisher:
Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, finally catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length feature. While investigating her story, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in the French Quarter. As Nola’s work leads her into a violent criminal underworld, she’s forced to face disturbing truths from her own past and is confronted with the question: In the aftermath of devastation, who is responsible for rebuilding what's been broken?

Vividly rendered in razor-sharp prose, this haunting thriller is a riveting journey of trust betrayed—and the courageous struggle to rebuild. Fast-paced, atmospheric, and with a knockout twist, Hell or High Water features an unforgettable heroine as fascinating and multilayered as New Orleans itself.
Learn more about the book and author at Joy Castro’s website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Hell or High Water.

Writers Read: Joy Castro.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 comic book-classic mashups

Will Brooker is Reader and Director of Research in Film and Television at Kingston University, London. He is a leading expert on the Dark Knight, author of the cultural history of Batman, Batman Unmasked. His other books include Using the Force and Alice’s Adventures. He edited the Audience Studies Reader and The Blade Runner Experience, and wrote the BFI Film Classics volume on Star Wars.

Brooker's new book is Hunting the Dark Knight: Twenty-First Century Batman.

For the Guardian, he named his top 10 comic book-classic mashups--examples that "demonstrate the criss-crossing, intertextual relationship between comic books and more traditionally literary texts." One entry on his list:
The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot

Talbot, a veteran of 2000AD and Batman, explores gentler territory with this story of a teenage girl running away from domestic abuse and following in the footsteps of her heroine, Beatrix Potter. What begins as a grim, street-level narrative becomes a pilgrimage, a heritage tour and finally a literary epiphany as Helen, accompanied by her imaginary rat-friend and drawing strength from her favourite books, confronts her abuser and embraces a new life in the hills of the Lake District. Talbot's final pages, written and drawn in the style of Potter, wrap up the happy ending.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jim Krusoe's "Parsifal"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Parsifal by Jim Krusoe.

About the book, from the publisher:
There's a war going on between the earth and the sky, but that doesn’t stop Parsifal, a humble fountain-pen repairman, from revisiting the forest where he was raised. On his journey, Parsifal—a wise fool if there ever was one—encounters several librarians, a therapist, numerous blind people, and Misty, a beautiful woman who may well be under the influence of recreational drugs.

Head-spinning and hilarious, Parsifal is a book like no other about the entanglement of the past and present, as well as the limitations of the future.
The Page 69 Test: Girl Factory.

The Page 69 Test: Erased.

The Page 69 Test: Toward You.

Writers Read: Jim Krusoe.

The Page 69 Test: Parsifal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Richard Whatmore's "Against War and Empire"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Against War and Empire: Geneva, Britain, and France in the Eighteenth Century by Richard Whatmore.

About the book, from the publisher:
As Britain and France became more powerful during the eighteenth century, small states such as Geneva could no longer stand militarily against these commercial monarchies. Furthermore, many Genevans felt that they were being drawn into a corrupt commercial world dominated by amoral aristocrats dedicated to the unprincipled pursuit of wealth. In this book Richard Whatmore presents an intellectual history of republicans who strove to ensure Geneva’s survival as an independent state. Whatmore shows how the Genevan republicans grappled with the ideas of Rousseau, Voltaire, Bentham, and others in seeking to make modern Europe safe for small states, by vanquishing the threats presented by war and by empire.
Learn more about Against War and Empire at the Yale University Press website.

Richard Whatmore is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex UK and director of the Sussex Centre for Intellectual History.

The Page 99 Test: Against War and Empire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Amy Franklin-Willis's "The Lost Saints of Tennessee," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Lost Saints of Tennessee by Amy Franklin-Willis.

The entry begins:
It would be a denial of epic proportions to say I’ve never considered who might play the lead characters in a film adaptation of The Lost Saints of Tennessee. Here’s the dream cast I think could make my story about three generations of a working-class Tennessee family come alive on the screen.

Ezekiel is our main character/anti-hero. When we meet him, he’s 42 and living in a converted shed behind his mother’s house in Clayton, Tennessee. After the loss of his twin brother in a mysterious drowning ten years before, grief and guilt have wrapped themselves around Zeke so tightly that he withdraws from life. My top pick to play Zeke is Matt Damon. This might seem an odd match since Lost Saints is a fair distance from Jason Bourne but I’ve seen Mr. Damon in “softer” movies of late like The Informant and We Bought a Zoo and he possesses the key element for Zeke—vulnerability. Damon also has a high likability factor and if the audience is going to go along for the ride on this redemption story/hero’s journey, they must like Zeke. His character will prove frustrating and the audience may want to throw things at the screen when he makes one of his dumb decisions but they must like him enough to want to see him triumph in the end. Women are drawn to Zeke’s handsome face and innate, though complicated, goodness and Damon is certainly easy on the eyes.

After Zeke, we have to cast his mother Lillian—who is in her early sixties and facing a life-threatening illness. Lillian exists in that pantheon of grand Southern mothers who can chain-smoke, dominate their families, and look fantastically tragic all at that same time. Casting requires making the choice to use a younger actress who can pull off the scenes that take place when Zeke is growing up and then aging her as the story moves through time or using two different actresses, a younger one and an older one. If we choose the two actresses route...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Amy Franklin-Willis's website, her Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Lost Saints of Tennessee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What is Cathi Hanauer reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Cathi Hanauer, author of Gone.

Her entry begins:
I'm a short way into Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, because it sounded intriguing and because how can you not read a book with almost the same name as your own that came out at the same time and is jumping off the shelves? It's gripping so far, very well written--a young love/hate story that's both gritty and funny, and I look forward to having time to...[read on]
About Gone, from the publisher:
For the past fourteen years, Eve Adams has worked part-time while raising her two children and emotionally supporting her sculptor husband, Eric, through his early fame and success. Now, at forty-two, she suddenly finds herself with a growing career of her own—a private nutritionist practice and a book deal—even as Eric’s career sinks deeper into the slump it slipped into a few years ago.

After a dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate Eve’s success, Eric drives the babysitter home and, simply, doesn’t come back. Eve must now shift the family in possibly irreparable ways, forcing her to realize that competence in one area of life doesn’t always keep things from unraveling in another.

Gone is an outstanding novel about change and about redefining, in middle age, everything from one’s marriage to one’s career to one’s role as a best friend, parent, and spouse. It is a novel about passion and forgiveness and knowing when to let something go and when to fight to hold on to it, about learning to say goodbye—but, if you’re lucky, not forever.
Learn more about the book and author at Cathi Hanauer's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gone.

The Page 69 Test: Gone.

Writers Read: Cathi Hanauer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Elly Griffiths's "A Room Full of Bones"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths.

About the book, from the publisher:
It’s Halloween and Ruth is attending a bizarre ceremony at a local museum – the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. When Ruth arrives early she finds the museum’s curator lying dead beside the coffin. Nelson is called in to investigate; a difficult encounter as it’s the first time Ruth has seen Nelson since his wife learnt the truth about Kate’s parentage. Nelson discovers that the museum houses a collection of Aborigine bones and that the curator had been receiving threatening letters demanding the return of the relics. When the museum’s owner, aristocratic racehorse trainer Lord Danforth Smith, is found dead, events take an even more sinister and surreal turn...
Learn more about the book and author at Elly Griffiths's website. A Room Full of Bones is the 4th book in the Ruth Galloway series.

The Page 69 Test: The Crossing Places.

My Book, The Movie: The House at Sea’s End.

The Page 69 Test: A Room Full of Bones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mark Denny's "The Science of Navigation"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Science of Navigation: From Dead Reckoning to GPS by Mark Denny.

About the book, from the publisher:
In today's world of online maps and travel directions delivered wirelessly to hand-held devices, getting from place to place requires little thought from most of us—which is a good thing, since accurate navigation can be tricky. Get your bearings with Mark Denny—an expert at explaining scientific concepts in non-technical language—in this all-encompassing look at the history and science of navigation.

Denny's tour kicks off with key facts about the earth and how its physical properties affect travel. He discusses cartography and early mapmakers, revealing fascinating tidbits such as how changes over time of the direction of true north, as well as of magnetic north, impacted navigation. Denny details the evolution of navigation from the days of coastal piloting to GPS and other modern-day technologies. He explains the scientific breakthroughs in accessible, amusing terms and provides an insightful look at their effects on societies, cultures, and human advancement. Throughout, Denny frames the long history of navigation with amazing tales of such people as Pytheas, an ancient Greek navigator, and Sir Francis Drake and of such discoveries as the magnetic compass and radio direction finding.

Whether you have an interest in orienteering and geocaching or want to know more about the critical role navigation has played in human survival and progress since ancient people learned to use lodestones, The Science of Navigation is for you. With it you'll finally understand the why of wayfinding.
Learn more about The Science of Navigation at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Science of Navigation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Kurt Andersen’s 5 favorite ’60s books

Kurt Andersen is the author of the novels Heyday and Turn of the Century, among other books. He writes for television, film, and the stage, contributes to Vanity Fair, and hosts the public radio program Studio 360. He has previously been a columnist for New York, The New Yorker, and Time, editor in chief of New York, and co-founder of Spy.

His new novel is True Believers.

One of Andersen’s favorite ’60s books, as told to The Daily Beast:
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1972)
by Hunter S. Thompson

When I was 17, two years after Tom Wolfe had rewired my sensibility, Hunter Thompson provided a tune-up with his magical-realist chronicle of a journalistic expedition to Las Vegas to a) report on a National District Attorneys Association conference on drugs, and b) consume huge quantities of drugs (LSD, mescaline, cocaine, ether, etc.). Thompson went all in, and then further still. If Mailer embodied a certain Northeastern middle-aged male variant of the ’60s, Thompson was its iconic Western cowboy iteration. An inscribed copy of the book (like my copy of Catch-22, signed by Joseph Heller) is one of my treasures.
Read about another book on the list.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is among Samuel Muston's 10 best travel books and Willie Geist's six favorite humor books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 23, 2012

What is Rebecca Cantrell reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Rebecca Cantrell, author of the Hannah Vogel mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s, including A Trace of Smoke, A Night of Long Knives, A Game of Lies, and the newly released A City of Broken Glass.

Her entry begins:
Right now I’m reading two books at the same time.

The first is a collection of essays about Berlin. It’s in German, and it’s called Berlin literarisch or Literary Berlin and is edited by Jürgen Engler.

It’s a literary romp through Berlin as seen through the eyes of the writers who have lived or visited here at some time during the last three hundred years. Some love it, some hate it, but all of them are drawn into the mysterious energy that is Berlin....[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
In Rebecca Cantrell's A City of Broken Glass, journalist Hannah Vogel is in Poland with her son Anton to cover the 1938 St. Martin festival when she hears that 12,000 Polish Jews have been deported from Germany. Hannah drops everything to get the story on the refugees, and walks directly into danger.

Kidnapped by the SS, and driven across the German border, Hannah is rescued by Anton and her lover, Lars Lang, who she had presumed dead two years before. Hannah doesn’t know if she can trust Lars again, with her heart or with her life, but she has little choice. Injured in the escape attempt and wanted by the Gestapo, Hannah and Anton are trapped with Lars in Berlin. While Hannah works on an exit strategy, she helps to search for Ruth, the missing toddler of her Jewish friend Paul, who was disappeared during the deportation.

Trapped in Nazi Germany with her son just days before Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, Hannah knows the dangers of staying any longer than needed. But she can’t turn her back on this one little girl, even if it plunges her and her family into danger.
Learn more about the book and author at Rebecca Cantrell's website and blog.

Read "The Story Behind the Story: A City of Broken Glass" at The Rap Sheet.

The Page 69 Test: A Trace of Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Trace of Smoke.

The Page 69 Test: A Game of Lies.

My Book, The Movie: A Game of Lies.

Writers Read: Rebecca Cantrell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable books on London

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on London:
City of Ravens
by Boria Sax

According to legend, Charles II warned that if there were no ravens at the Tower of London, the British Nation would collapse. The truth behind how these clever birds became tourist attractions is unpacked by natural historian Boria Sax, who combines a study of the storied relationship between humans and ravens with a romp through London's recent history. The result is a captivating exploration of how we make myths and endow animals with unique meaning.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see: Five novels on the spirit and history of London.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Courtney Summers's "This is Not a Test"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers.

About the book, from the publisher:
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
Learn more about the book and author at Courtney Summers' website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Cracked Up to Be.

The Page 69 Test: Some Girls Are.

The Page 69 Test: This Is Not a Test.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jack McCallum's "Dream Team"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever by Jack McCallum.

About the book, from the publisher:
They were the Beatles of basketball, the Mercury Seven in sneakers.

In Dream Team, acclaimed sports journalist Jack McCallum delivers the untold story of the greatest team ever assembled: the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team that captivated the world, kindled the hoop dreams of countless children around the planet, and remade the NBA into a global sensation.

As a senior staff writer for Sports Illustrated, McCallum enjoyed a courtside seat for the most exciting basketball spectacle on earth, covering the Dream Team from its inception to the gold medal ceremony in Barcelona. For the duration of the Olympics, he lived with, golfed with, and—most important—drank with some of the greatest players of the NBA’s Golden Age: Magic Johnson, the ebullient showman who shrugged off his recent diagnosis of HIV to become the team’s unquestioned captain and leader; Michael Jordan, the transcendent talent at the height of his powers as a player—and a marketing juggernaut; and Charles Barkley, the outspoken iconoclast whose utterances on and off the court threatened to ignite an international incident. Presiding over the entire traveling circus was the Dream Team’s beloved coach, Chuck Daly, whose laissez-faire approach proved instrumental in getting the most out of such disparate personalities and superstars such as Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, and Scottie Pippen.

Drawing on fresh interviews with the players, McCallum provides the definitive account of the Dream Team phenomenon. He offers a behind-the-scenes look at the controversial selection process. He takes us inside the team’s Olympic suites for late-night card games and bull sessions where the players debate both the finer points of basketball and their respective places in the NBA pantheon. And he narrates a riveting possession-by-possession account of the legendary July 1992 intrasquad scrimmage that pitted the Dream Teamers against one another in what may have been the greatest pickup game—and the greatest exhibition of trash talk—in history.

In the twenty years since the Dream Team first captivated the world’s attention, its mystique has only grown—and so has its influence. The NBA is now flush with international stars, many of them inspired by the exuberant spirit of ’92. Dream Team vividly re-creates the moment when a once-in-a-millennium group of athletes came together, outperformed the hype, and changed the future of sports—one perfectly executed fast break at a time.
Learn more about the book and author at Jack McCallum's website and blog.

Writers Read: Jack McCallum.

The Page 99 Test: Dream Team.

--Marshal Zeringue