Thursday, October 31, 2013

Free book: "A Massacre in Memphis"

Hill and Wang and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War by Stephen V. Ash.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type Massacre in Memphis.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Monday, November 25th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Learn more about A Massacre in Memphis at the Hill and Wang website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twelve books to read whenever you want the chills

At The Hairpin Jia Tolentino came up with a list of twelve books to creep yourself out with, including:
Louis Sachar, Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Sometimes I think that no better books have ever been written than the Wayside School books, which depict that blandly cruel Brechtian funhouse of an institution, in which kids fall out of windows, are punished by being turned into apples, and wind up in basements, interrogated by bald men and asked to choose between "freedom" or "safety." All three books consist of 30 loosely linked stories that operate on the same insane logic: the 19th chapter is always about the 19th floor (a nightmarish limbo controlled by Mrs. Zarves, who may not exist), the 17th chapter runs backwards, and Mrs. Jewls silently racks up names on the DISCIPLINE list.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Henry Gee's "The Accidental Species"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution by Henry Gee.

About The Accidental Species, from the publisher:
The idea of a missing link between humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and popular science and actually has religious roots in the deist concept of the Great Chain of Being. Yet, the metaphor has lodged itself in the contemporary imagination, and new fossil discoveries are often hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the moment when we stopped being “animal” and started being “human.” In The Accidental Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe.

Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy. He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience. He reveals each of these attributes to be alive and well throughout the animal world—they are not, indeed, unique to our species.

The Accidental Species combines Gee’s firsthand experience on the editorial side of many incredible paleontological findings with healthy skepticism and humor to create a book that aims to overturn popular thinking on human evolution—the key is not what’s missing, but how we’re linked.
Visit Henry Gee's The End Of The Pier Show blog and follow the author on Twitter.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Henry Gee & Heidi and Saffron.

The Page 99 Test: The Accidental Species.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Robert Klara reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Robert Klara, author of The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America's Most Famous Residence.

His entry begins:
Before I finished The Hidden White House, I tried to count the number of books I’d consulted about the famed mansion and gave up somewhere around 150. Having digested about as much as anyone can stand about that fine old pile on Pennsylvania Avenue, I’m happy to report that my leisure-reading list has nothing to do with the White House or Washington, D.C. A few of my favorites from the last few months:

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Viking, 2013) is one of those rare books about a sport that actually appeals to readers who don’t much care about sports at all. Taking advantage of a rare and fleeting chance to interview an ailing Joe Rantz, lone surviving member of the American crew team to take gold in the 1936 Olympics, Brown conjures Great Depression-era Seattle, where eight very poor and very remarkable young men managed to become the greatest crew team in American history. Brown’s writing is rich in anecdote and his treatment of prewar Berlin is chilling. Best of all...[read on]
About The Hidden White House, from the publisher:
Critically acclaimed author Robert Klara leads readers through an unmatched tale of political ambition and technical skill: the Truman administration’s controversial rebuilding of the White House.

In 1948, President Harry Truman, enjoying a bath on the White House’s second floor, almost plunged through the ceiling of the Blue Room into a tea party for the Daughters of the American Revolution. A handpicked team of the country’s top architects conducted a secret inspection of the troubled mansion and, after discovering it was in imminent danger of collapse, insisted that the First Family be evicted immediately. What followed would be the most historically significant and politically complex home-improvement job in American history. While the Trumans camped across the street at Blair House, Congress debated whether to bulldoze the White House completely, and the Soviets exploded their first atomic bomb, starting the Cold War.

Indefatigable researcher Robert Klara reveals what has, until now, been little understood about this episode: America’s most famous historic home was basically demolished, giving birth to today’s White House. Leaving only the mansion’s facade untouched, workmen gutted everything within, replacing it with a steel frame and a complex labyrinth deep below ground that soon came to include a top-secret nuclear fallout shelter.

The story of Truman’s rebuilding of the White House is a snapshot of postwar America and its first Cold War leader, undertaking a job that changed the centerpiece of the country’s national heritage. The job was by no means perfect, but it was remarkable—and, until now, all but forgotten.
Learn more about the book and author at Robert Klara's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Hidden White House.

Writers Read: Robert Klara.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top horror books

Joseph D’Lacey is best known for his shocking eco-horror novel Meat. The book has been widely translated and prompted Stephen King to say “Joseph D’Lacey rocks!” His other published works to-date include Garbage Man, Snake Eyes, The Kill Crew, The Failing Flesh and Splinters – a collection of his best short stories. He won the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer in 2009.

D’Lacey named his top ten horror books for the Guardian. One title on the list:
The Rats by James Herbert

I was 10 when I read this; a portal to a new world of shock and gore. I forget how many times I've read it but several of its scenes linger even now, as though they were my own memories. I think it's safe to say that the late James Herbert is responsible for my chosen career. Wherever you are now, Mr H, I salute you.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Rats also appears on Tony Hadley's six best books list and Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on rats.

--Marshal Zeringue

G. R. Mannering's "Roses," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Roses by G. R. Mannering.

The entry begins:
I think choosing someone to play my main character, Beauty, is the most difficult. Whoever they are, they would have to be happy to go through a few hours of make-up (Beauty has silver skin and white hair). She ages over the course of the book too so there would have to be a younger version and an older version. But I guess that right now, I get to choose, so I think that I would go for someone ethereal-looking like Saoirse Ronan or maybe Dakota Fanning.

The Beast would spend most of the movie as... a beast, so I think that I would have to focus on his voice and in an ideal world I'd go for someone like Richard...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at G. R. Mannering's website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Roses.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pg. 69: Diane Hammond's "Friday's Harbor"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Friday's Harbor: A Novel by Diane Hammond.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hannah the elephant is thriving in her new home, peacemaker Truman Levy is the new director of the Max L. Biedelman Zoo, and life in Bladenham, Washington, has finally settled down ... or has it? From his eccentric aunt Ivy, Truman learns of the plight of a desperately sick, captive killer whale named Friday.

Reluctantly Truman agrees to give the orca a new home—and a new lease on life—at the zoo. But not everybody believes in his captivity. Soon the Max L. Biedelman Zoo is embroiled in a whale-size controversy and Friday's fate is up for grabs.

Like The Art of Racing in the Rain and Water for Elephants, Friday's Harbor beautifully illuminates the special bond between animals and humans.
Learn more about the book and author at Diane Hammond's website and follow her on Facebook.

The Page 69 TestHannah’s Dream.

The Page 69 Test: Seeing Stars.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Diane Hammond & Petey and Haagen.

The Page 69 Test: Friday's Harbor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight notable fictional literary crushes

The Barnes & Noble Book Blog contributors shared their biggest fictional literary crushes. Josh Sorokach's pick:
Jordan Baker

I completely understand how absurd a crush on The Great Gatsby’s Jordan Baker sounds, but crushes are rarely synonymous with rational thought. I’m certain JB, as I would lovingly refer to her until tersely reprimanded, is the type of person you’d initially find intriguing, then eventually grow to despise. Logically, I understand that we’d never succeed as a couple. One, she’s fictional. People with fictional girlfriends are doomed to spend their lives attending weddings alone. Two, she’s kind of awful. Awful in a charming, slightly enigmatic way, but awful nonetheless. I’m reminded of Nick Carraway’s words on ending it with Jordan Baker: “Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away.” A relationship that can evoke that type of passion, even of the fleeting variety, is worth experiencing. Every well-lived life contains a few necessary sojourns of the Jordan Baker variety.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Great Gatsby appears among Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books, Elizabeth Wilhide's nine illustrious houses in fiction, Suzette Field's top ten literary party hosts, Robert McCrums's ten best closing lines in literature, Molly Driscoll's ten best literary lessons about love, Jim Lehrer's six favorite 20th century novels, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best clocks in literature and ten of the best misdirected messages, Tad Friend's seven best novels about WASPs, Kate Atkinson's top ten novels, Garrett Peck's best books about Prohibition, Robert McCrum's top ten books for Obama officials, Jackie Collins' six best books, and John Krasinski's six best books, and is on the American Book Review's list of the 100 best last lines from novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sandra Dallas reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Sandra Dallas, author of Fallen Women.

Her entry begins:
I’m half-way through Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, the story of the murder of President James Garfield by the madman Charles Guiteau. It’s my husband’s book, and I picked it up by default. My sister said once that hell for us is being someplace without a book. Since there was nothing else in the house to take with me on a trip, I chose this book. Besides, I’d heard that Guiteau’s former wife had a Colorado connection and was curious about that. Destiny of the Republic is a superb history/biography of Garfield and of the delusional Guiteau, who thought...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
From the ballrooms and mansions of Denver’s newly wealthy, to the seamy life of desperate women, Fallen Women illuminates the darkest places of the human heart.

It is the spring of 1885 and wealthy New York socialite Beret Osmundsen has been estranged from her younger sister, Lillie, for a year when she gets word from her aunt and uncle that Lillie has died suddenly in Denver. What they do not tell her is that Lillie had become a prostitute and was brutally murdered in the brothel where she had been living. When Beret discovers the sordid truth of Lillie’s death, she makes her way to Denver, determined to find her sister’s murderer. Detective Mick McCauley may not want her involved in the case, but Beret is determined, and the investigation soon takes her from the dangerous, seedy underworld of Denver’s tenderloin to the highest levels of Denver society. Along the way, Beret not only learns the depths of Lillie’s depravity, but also exposes the sinister side of Gilded Age ambition in the process.

Sandra Dallas once again delivers a page-turner filled with mystery, intrigue, and the kind of intricate detail that truly transports you to another time and place.
Learn more about the book and author at Sandra Dallas's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Sandra Dallas (May 2011).

Writers Read: Sandra Dallas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Free book: "Want Not"

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of Want Not by Jonathan Miles.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type Want Not.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Monday, November 18th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Read more about Want Not at Jonathan Miles's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Orly Lobel's "Talent Wants to Be Free"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding by Orly Lobel.

About the book, from the publisher:
This timely book challenges conventional business wisdom about competition, secrecy, motivation, and creativity. Orly Lobel, an internationally acclaimed expert in the law and economics of human capital, warns that a set of counterproductive mentalities are stifling innovation in many regions and companies. Lobel asks how innovators, entrepreneurs, research teams, and every one of us who experiences the occasional spark of creativity can triumph in today’s innovation ecosystems.

In every industry and every market, battles to recruit, retain, train, energize, and motivate the best people are fierce. From Facebook to Google, Coca-Cola to Intel, JetBlue to Mattel, Lobel uncovers specific factors that produce winners or losers in the talent wars. Combining original behavioral experiments with sharp observations of contemporary battles over ideas, secrets, and skill, Lobel identifies motivation, relationships, and mobility as the most important ingredients for successful innovation. Yet many companies embrace a control mentality—relying more on patents, copyright, branding, espionage, and aggressive restrictions of their own talent and secrets than on creative energies that are waiting to be unleashed. Lobel presents a set of positive changes in corporate strategies, industry norms, regional policies, and national laws that will incentivize talent flow, creativity, and growth. This vital and exciting reading reveals why everyone wins when talent is set free.
Learn more about the book and author at Orly Lobel's website and blog.

The Page 99 Test: Talent Wants to Be Free.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best meals in literature

The Telegraph tagged ten great meals in literature, including:
To Kill a Mockingbird

“The kitchen table was loaded with enough food to bury the family: hunks of salt pork, tomatoes, beans, even scuppernongs.” Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel focuses on racial injustice in the Deep South. When Tom Robinson, a black man, is wrongly accused of raping a young white woman, Atticus Finch (the narrator’s father) decides to defend Tom in court. The black community of the town bring gifts of food to thank Atticus for his sincere defence of Tom.
Read about another entry on the list.

To Kill a Mockingbird made Nicole Hill's list of fourteen characters their creators should have spared, Isla Blair's six best books list, Lauren Passell's list of ten pairs of books made better when read together, Charlie Fletcher's top ten list of adventure classics, Sheila Bair's 6 favorite books list, Kathryn Erskine's top ten list of first person narratives, Julia Donaldson's six best books list, TIME magazine's top 10 list of books you were forced to read in school, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lawyers in literature, John Cusack's list of books that made a difference to him, Lisa Scottoline's top ten list of books about justice, and Luke Leitch's list of ten literary one-hit wonders. It is one of Sanjeev Bhaskar's six best books and one of Alexandra Styron's five best stories of fathers and daughters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Free book: "The Baby Chase"

St. Martin's Press and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of The Baby Chase: How Surrogacy Is Transforming the American Family by Leslie Morgan Steiner.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type The Baby Chase.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Monday, November 11th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Read more about The Baby Chase at Leslie Morgan Steiner's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Trudy Ludwig reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Trudy Ludwig, author of The Invisible Boy.

Her entry begins:
I thought I’d start off by letting you know what I’ve recently read: Rosalind Wiseman’s Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Your Son Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Test, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World. As a mother of a 15-year-oId son, I found Wiseman’s advice both practical and helpful. In her book, Wiseman shares the opinions and viewpoints of boys in upper elementary, middle school, and high school with whom she has collaborated to help readers recognize, appreciate, and understand the challenges boys face in their offline and online social world. It also challenges adults with respect to how our own assumptions and emotional baggage can build up or break down our relationships with...[read on]
About The Invisible Boy, from the publisher:
Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party ... until, that is, a new kid comes to class.

When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine.

From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig and acclaimed illustrator Patrice Barton, this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor looking for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find The Invisible Boy a valuable and important resource.
Visit Trudy Ludwig's websiteFacebook page, and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Trudy Ludwig and Hannah.

Writers Read: Trudy Ludwig.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Darrin M. McMahon's "Divine Fury"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Divine Fury: A History of Genius by Darrin M. McMahon.

About the book, from the publisher:
Genius. With hints of madness and mystery, moral license and visionary force, the word suggests an almost otherworldly power: the power to create, to divine the secrets of the universe, even to destroy. Yet the notion of genius has been diluted in recent times. Today, rock stars, football coaches, and entrepreneurs are labeled 'geniuses,' and the word is applied so widely that it has obscured the sense of special election and superhuman authority that long accompanied it.

As acclaimed historian Darrin M. McMahon explains, the concept of genius has roots in antiquity, when men of prodigious insight were thought to possess — or to be possessed by — demons and gods. Adapted in the centuries that followed and applied to a variety of religious figures, including prophets, apostles, sorcerers, and saints, abiding notions of transcendent human power were invoked at the time of the Renaissance to explain the miraculous creativity of men like Leonardo and Michelangelo.

Yet it was only in the eighteenth century that the genius was truly born, idolized as a new model of the highest human type. Assuming prominence in figures as varied as Newton and Napoleon, the modern genius emerged in tension with a growing belief in human equality. Contesting the notion that all are created equal, geniuses served to dramatize the exception of extraordinary individuals not governed by ordinary laws. The phenomenon of genius drew scientific scrutiny and extensive public commentary into the 20th century, but it also drew religious and political longings that could be abused. In the genius cult of the Nazis and the outpouring of reverence for the redemptive figure of Einstein, genius achieved both its apotheosis and its Armageddon.

The first comprehensive history of this elusive concept, Divine Fury follows the fortunes of genius and geniuses through the ages down to the present day, showing how — despite its many permutations and recent democratization — genius remains a potent force in our lives, reflecting modern needs, hopes, and fears.
Visit the Divine Fury website and Darrin McMahon's website.

The Page 69 Test: Darrin McMahon's Happiness: A History.

The Page 99 Test: Divine Fury.

--Marshal Zeringue

Maria Lennon's "Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child by Maria T. Lennon.

The entry begins:
Who Do I Want to Star in my Book?

A Tragic Question.

The movie business is weird. Way weirder than the publishing business that’s for sure. When Harper Collins bought the manuscript, Hollywood agents came calling the same week. They loved Charlie. And what’s not to love?

She’s a major pain in the butt. Got kicked out of school in Malibu. She bullies her way through life to get her way. She’s got a gifted older sister and an angel of a baby brother.

She lives in the Houdini Mansion while her dad rebuilds the original house that burnt down in 1953.

She actually finds the tunnels that go under Laurel Canyon Blvd. and have been rumored to exist for decades.

It would make a great movie right?

Jaden Smith for Bobby...[read on]
Visit the Confessions of a So-called Middle Child website, and follow Maria T. Lennon on Facebook and Twitter.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Maria T. Lennon and Frida.

My Book, The Movie: Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty of the best books under 200 pages

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Scott Greenstone tagged twenty of the best books with fewer than 200 pages, including:
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White.

If you didn’t read this book as a kid, you missed out on one of the saddest moments in children’s literature: the death of—never mind, I can’t speak of it without getting choked up.
Read about another book on the list. 

Charlotte's Web is among Mohsin Hamid's six favorite books and Sarah Lean's top ten animal stories; it is a book Kate DiCamillo hopes parents will read to their kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Mike Maden's "Drone"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Drone by Mike Maden.

About the book, from the publisher:
Troy Pearce is the CEO of Pearce Systems, a private security firm that is the best in the world at drone technologies. A former CIA SOG operative, Pearce used his intelligence and combat skills to hunt down America’s sworn enemies in the War on Terror. But after a decade of clandestine special ops, Pearce opted out. Too many of his friends had been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Now Pearce and his team chose which battles he will take on by deploying his land, sea, and air drones with surgical precision.

Pearce thinks he’s done with the U.S. government for good, until a pair of drug cartel hit men assault a group of American students on American soil. New U.S. president Margaret Meyers then secretly authorizes Pearce Systems to locate and destroy the killers sheltered in Mexico. Pearce and his team go to work, and they are soon thrust into a showdown with the hidden powers behind the El Paso attack—unleashing a host of unexpected repercussions.

A Ph.D., lecturer, and consultant on political science and international conflict, Mike Maden has crafted an intense, page-turning novel that is action-packed and frighteningly real—blurring the lines between fiction and the reality of a new stage in warfare.
Read more about Drone, and follow Mike Maden on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Drone by Mike Maden.

The Page 69 Test: Drone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 28, 2013

Six of the best books to save for the zombie apocalypse

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Josh Sorokach tagged six books you’ll need to survive the zombie apocalypse, including:
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

Zombies are irrational. If I went up to a zombie and said, “Greetings, zombie. My name’s Josh. If you don’t eat me, I’ll give you a jet ski. It’s pretty warm outside, right? Little humid. I bet a cool, relaxing ride on a jet ski would feel quite refreshing right about now. What do you say, Old Sport? Do we have ourselves a deal?”

Read about another entry on the list.

Also see: Ten paranoid science fiction stories that could help you survive and Ten satires to teach you to survive the future.

--Marshal Zeringue

Free book: "House of Earth"

Harper and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of House of Earth: A Novel by Woody Guthrie, edited and introduced by historian Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type House of Earth.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Monday, October 28st.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Read more about House of Earth at the Harper website.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Don Waters reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Don Waters, author of Sunland.

His entry begins:
Lately I’ve been reading an equal amount of nonfiction and fiction. Usually when I’m writing a short story, or a longer piece, I try to limit my fiction reading because, as nearly every writer always says, it can tinker with your own voice—but really, I just prefer spending time in one fictional universe at a time. I’ve been steadily working on a longer nonfiction piece, so these days I find I’m reading more short stories, and novels.

One of those novels is Beautiful Fools, written by my pal R. Clifton Spargo. Clifton manages to bring to life the last adventures of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s a reimagining of a real event—the couple’s final trip to Cuba. And the novel is such a wondrous surprise. Not only does he give Scott and Zelda a pulse, he shows us their love, anxieties, thoughts, dreams, and fears. Beautiful Fools is also a great way to travel to Cuba alongside...[read on]
About Sunland, from the publisher:
Sid Dulaney, in his midthirties, between jobs and short on funds, has moved back to Tucson to take care of his beloved grandmother. To hold down the cost of her prescriptions, he reluctantly starts smuggling medications over the border. His picaresque misadventures involve the lovable eccentrics at her retirement village, Mexican gang threats, a voluptuous former babysitter, midnight voice mails from his exasperated ex-girlfriend, and, perplexingly, a giraffe. This first novel by the winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award proves Waters is an important new voice in American fiction. A big, rollicking, character-filled novel, Sunland is an entertaining and humane view at life on the margins in America today.
Visit Don Waters' website.

Writers Read: Don Waters (October 2009).

Writers Read: Don Waters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top fictional fashion icons

At the Telegraph Kate Finnigan tagged ten literary characters who have been her style inspiration, including:
Camilla Macaulay, The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Wispy, secretive, intellectual Camilla is the female half of a pair of twins who look like angels and wear a lot of white clothes. And commit murder. Sigh. At one point Gwyneth Paltrow was due to ruin her whole legend by playing Camilla in a film adaptation. Thank God that never happened.
Read about the other fashion icons on the list.

The Secret History is on a top ten list of the best Twinkies in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Rahul Sagar's "Secrets and Leaks"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy by Rahul Sagar.

About the book, from the publisher:
Secrets and Leaks examines the complex relationships among executive power, national security, and secrecy. State secrecy is vital for national security, but it can also be used to conceal wrongdoing. How then can we ensure that this power is used responsibly? Typically, the onus is put on lawmakers and judges, who are expected to oversee the executive. Yet because these actors lack access to the relevant information and the ability to determine the harm likely to be caused by its disclosure, they often defer to the executive's claims about the need for secrecy. As a result, potential abuses are more often exposed by unauthorized disclosures published in the press.

But should such disclosures, which violate the law, be condoned? Drawing on several cases, Rahul Sagar argues that though whistleblowing can be morally justified, the fear of retaliation usually prompts officials to act anonymously--that is, to "leak" information. As a result, it becomes difficult for the public to discern when an unauthorized disclosure is intended to further partisan interests. Because such disclosures are the only credible means of checking the executive, Sagar writes, they must be tolerated. However, the public should treat such disclosures skeptically and subject irresponsible journalism to concerted criticism.
Learn more about Secrets and Leaks at the Princeton University Press website.

Rahul Sagar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton University.

The Page 99 Test: Secrets and Leaks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Robert Klara's "The Hidden White House," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America's Most Famous Residence by Robert Klara.

The entry begins:
If they make my book into a film (and if they do, sweethearts, you’ll all be invited aboard my steam yacht), the casting director is in for a monstrous time: It took many, many people to rebuild the White House, and many of them are recurring characters in my book. So we’ll stick with the top few. I won’t let mortality get in my way nor, as you will note, will I let probable lack of financing do the same.

President Harry Truman should be played by the late Harry Morgan. Best known as Col. Potter in the M*A*S*H TV series, Morgan actually did play Truman—with uncanny brilliance—in the 1979 miniseries Backstairs at the White House. So I’d simply like a return engagement.

I would love to see what Meryl Streep could do with the role of...[read on]
Visit Robert Klara's website and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Hidden White House.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top romantic spy heroes and heroines

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Sara Brady tagged six romantic heroes and heroines who play the spy game successfully, including:
The Black Hawk, Joanna Bourne. The fourth in Bourne’s series of historical romances set during the Napoleonic wars, The Black Hawk follows English spy Adrian Hawker and French secret agent Justine as they meet as children, spar and fall in love as teenagers, and then, as adults, are reunited by a murderous plot. Bourne weaves an intricate, engrossing story with an ear for language that makes you feel like you’re in an abandoned Paris cafĂ©, hiding from enemy troops.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Black Hawk is one of Sara Brady's four best romance novels.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Joanna Bourne and Brittany.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tina Connolly's "Copperhead"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Copperhead by Tina Connolly.

About Copperhead, from the publisher:
Set in an alternate version of early 1900s England, Copperhead is the sequel to Tina Connolly's stunning historical fantasy debut, Ironskin.

Helen Huntingdon is beautiful—so beautiful she has to wear an iron mask.

Six months ago her sister Jane uncovered a fey plot to take over the city. Too late for Helen, who opted for fey beauty in her face—and now has to cover her face with iron so she won’t be taken over, her personality erased by the bodiless fey.

Not that Helen would mind that some days. Stuck in a marriage with the wealthy and controlling Alistair, she lives at the edges of her life, secretly helping Jane remove the dangerous fey beauty from the wealthy society women who paid for it. But when the chancy procedure turns deadly, Jane goes missing—and is implicated in a murder.

Meanwhile, Alistair’s influential clique Copperhead—whose emblem is the poisonous copperhead hydra—is out to restore humans to their “rightful” place, even to the point of destroying the dwarvven who have always been allies.

Helen is determined to find her missing sister, as well as continue the good fight against the fey. But when that pits her against her own husband—and when she meets an enigmatic young revolutionary—she’s pushed to discover how far she’ll bend society’s rules to do what’s right. It may be more than her beauty at stake. It may be her honor...and her heart.
Learn more about the book and author at Tina Connolly's website, blog, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Copperhead.

Writers Read: Tina Connolly.

The Page 69 Test: Copperhead.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Susann Cokal reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Susann Cokal, author of The Kingdom of Little Wounds.

Her entry begins:
Like many people with jittery minds, I always have a few books going at once. A novel for every mood, a book or two for classes, some history, some vintage magazines for research ... I may sound a bit ADHD, but I'm also OCD, so I have to finish them all at some point. Sometimes a book that was just fine in the first half (say, Keith Donohue's The Lost Child) really grabs me after a hiatus--I devoured that second half and am his devoted fan for life.

So. Right now. For my class on the Modern Novel, I'm reading Woolf's Between the Acts. It's my favorite of her novels--all that dreamy oscillation between memory and "current" life that is her signature, along with wonderful character sketches, patterns of imagery, and commentary on English history via a play-within-the-novel. It's her last book; she killed herself before she made the final fiddly edits, and I love it partly because...[read on]
About The Kingdom of Little Wounds, from the publisher:
A young seamstress and a royal nursemaid find themselves at the center of an epic power struggle in this stunning young-adult debut.

On the eve of Princess Sophia’s wedding, the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn prepares to fete the occasion with a sumptuous display of riches: brocade and satin and jewels, feasts of sugar fruit and sweet spiced wine. Yet beneath the veneer of celebration, a shiver of darkness creeps through the palace halls. A mysterious illness plagues the royal family, threatening the lives of the throne’s heirs, and a courtier’s wolfish hunger for the king’s favors sets a devious plot in motion. Here in the palace at Skyggehavn, things are seldom as they seem — and when a single errant prick of a needle sets off a series of events that will alter the course of history, the fates of seamstress Ava Bingen and mute nursemaid Midi Sorte become irrevocably intertwined with that of mad Queen Isabel. As they navigate a tangled web of palace intrigue, power-lust, and deception, Ava and Midi must carve out their own survival any way they can.
Learn more about the book and author at Susann Cokal's website.

Writers Read: Susann Cokal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ten of the best short story collections

Carolyn Cooke's new story collection is Amor and Psycho. For Publishers Weekly, she named ten legendary short story collections, including:
Selected Stories by Alice Munro

Munro’s stories feel expansive, but are in fact masterpieces of compression. On the inside cover of my brutally used copy of Munro’s Selected Stories (1996) is written: “She is an insight machine.” A few Munro sentences can capture a provincial girl in itchy clothes waiting for the Canadian National Railroad to take her to her destiny--while some cosmic rearview mirror unfurls the whole arc of a life.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Free book: "The World is Round"

Harper Design and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of the new 75th anniversary edition of The World Is Round by Gertrude Stein, illustrated by Clement Hurd.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type The World Is Round.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Monday, October 28st.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Read more about The World Is Round at the Harper Design website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Daniel Kalla's "Rising Sun, Falling Shadow"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Rising Sun, Falling Shadow by Daniel Kalla.

About Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, from the publisher:
Return to World War II Shanghai in Dan Kalla's thrilling historical novel Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, the sequel to The Far Side of the Sky

It’s 1943 and the Japanese juggernaut has swallowed Shanghai and the rest of eastern China, snaring droves of American and British along with thousands of “stateless” German Jewish refugees. Despite the hostile environs, newlyweds Dr. Franz Adler and his wife, Sunny, adjust to life running the city’s only hospital for refugee Jews.

Bowing to Nazi pressure, the Japanese force twenty thousand Jewish refugees, including the Adlers, to relocate to a one-square-kilometer “Shanghai Ghetto.” Heat, hunger, and tropical diseases are constant threats. But the ghetto also breeds miraculous resilience. Music, theater, sports, and Jewish culture thrive despite what are at times subhuman conditions.

Navigating subversion and espionage, Nazi treachery and ever-worsening conditions while living under the heel of the Japanese military, the Adlers struggle to keep the hospital open and their family safe and united.
Visit Daniel Kalla's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Daniel Kalla.

The Page 99 Test: Rising Sun, Falling Shadow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top works of baseball fiction

Leigh Montville's books include biographies of baseball greats Ted Williams and Babe Ruth, NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt, 7-foot-7 basketball player Manute Bol, motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel, and the Mysterious Mantague, a forgotten golfer from the 1930s. He was a sports columnist at the Boston Globe for 21 years and a senior writer at Sports Illustrated for nine years.

One of five enduring works of baseball fiction he tagged for the Wall Street Journal:
The Brothers K
by David James Duncan (1992)

This is the baseball entry in The Best Book Ever Written contest. David James Duncan pounds out a family saga that collects thoughts about life, death, religion, the Vietnam War, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Darwin, Porky Pig and the cosmos, wraps them inside a horsehide cover, and sews up the seams with red thread. How good is this book? Papa Chance, the patriarch and a former minor-league pitcher, tells this story about Ted Williams: "One bleak Boston winter's day Mr. Theodore No-Nonsense Garbo Splinter Williams finally grants some overjoyed worm of a writer an exclusive audience. Just asks the guy over, sets him down in his comfortablest chair, lets him fire away with the questions. Of course the dolt starts off with the usual: 'What's your favorite breakfast cereal?' 'Who do you like for President the next election?' 'What's the meaning of life?' 'How long's your weenie?' and so on." There has been no better description—ever—of a sportswriter at work. And I'm a sportswriter.
Read about another entry on Montville's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Mike Maden's "Drone," the movie

Now showing at My Book, The Movie: Drone by Mike Maden.

The entry begins:
This is a tough question. For the series lead, Troy Pearce, I’d cast Gary Sinise. He has the quiet swagger and thoughtful demeanor that Troy possesses. In Mr. Sinise’s private life, he does a lot of great things for the right people and mostly he does it quietly. On his recent television series, you never heard him raise his voice, but would you ever want...[read on]
Read more about Drone, and follow Mike Maden on Facebook and Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Drone by Mike Maden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 25, 2013

Free book: "The Death of Bees"

Harper Perennial and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a paperback copy of The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell.

HOW TO ENTER: (1) send an email to this address:

(2) In the subject line, type The Death of Bees.

(3) Include your name (or alias or whatever you wish to be called if I email you to tell you you've won the book) in the body of the email.

[I will not sell or share your email address; nor will I be in touch with you unless it is to tell you you have won the book.  I promise.]

Contest closes on Monday, November 11th.

Only one entry per person, please.

Winner must have a US mailing address.

Learn more about the book and author at Lisa O'Donnell's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Death of Bees.

Writers Read: Lisa O'Donnell.

My Book, The Movie: The Death of Bees.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jane Tesh reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Jane Tesh, author of Now You See It.

Her entry begins:
In the Ununited Kingdom, magic is running out, and young foundling Jennifer Strange is in charge of the Kazam Mystical Arts Management, a hotel/employment agency for all the wizards and sorceresses who are gradually losing work. When Jennifer finds out she’s the last Dragonslayer and must kill the last dragon, which will release the beautiful unspoiled Dragonlands to a greedy population and start a war between two kingdoms, Jennifer, along with her faithful, hideous Quarkbeast, must solve all these problems, plus one more: Big Magic is coming, and no one has any idea what this means.

The Last Dragonslayer, the first in the Chronicles of Kazam, like all of Jasper Fforde’s work, has his trademark inventiveness, humor, and plot twists you never see coming. I have...[read on]
About Now You See It, from the publisher:
Private investigator David Randall, still struggling with guilt over his daughter Lindsey’s death, can’t bring himself to look at the DVD of her dance recitals. Fortunately, he’s distracted by two cases: socialite Sandy Olaf’s missing diamond bracelet, and a missing box magicians Taft and Lucas Finch say belonged to Houdini.

When Taft is found dead in a trunk at the Magic Club, Randall’s suspects include the owner, Rahnee Nevis, who was in love with Taft; punk magician, WizBoy, who wants to run the club; the bartender, Jilly, who was also in love with Taft; and Jolly Bob, a washed up magician.

Meanwhile, Randall’s friend Camden is concerned with losing his voice, his girlfriend Kary insists on being a magician’s assistant, and Cam’s girlfriend, Ellin, has to deal with overbearing Sheila Kirk, wife of a potential sponsor who insists on hosting the PSN’s programs.

When Randall discovers Taft had a phone call the night he died, he assembles all the magicians to Lucas’s house for a special magic show. Pretending that Taft had forwarded his message to Lucas, he forces Jilly to admit she’s the killer. Angry at Taft for his attention to Rahnee , she lured him to the club saying she’d found the box, doctored his drink with aspirin, and asked to see the escape trick. When a disoriented Taft got into the trunk, Jilly locked him in.

His cases solved, Randall finally decides he wants to see Lindsey’s video and is comforted seeing her dance once more.
Learn more about the book and author at Jane Tesh's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mixed Signals (Grace Street Mystery #2).

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Jane Tesh and Winkie.

The Page 69 Test: Now You See It.

Writers Read: Jane Tesh.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books built on stories that were too good to be true

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Lauren Passell tagged seven books that seemed too good to be true...and were, including:
Three Cups Of Tea, by Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson’s book Three Cups Of Tea told a beautiful story of Mortenson’s humanitarian efforts to “fight terrorism and build nations…one school at a time.” But author Jon Krakauer claimed there was something was fishy about Mortenson’s story, and a lawsuit later charged that Mortenson lied about how he built the schools as well as other events described in his books. Krakauer wrote his own ebook in response to Mortenson, Three Cups of Deceit (zing!).
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jeri Westerson's "Shadow of the Alchemist"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Shadow of the Alchemist: A Medieval Noir (Volume 6 of 6) by Jeri Westerson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Once a Knight of the Realm, Crispin Guest was stripped of his title and his lands and must now earn his meager living through his wits. With the help of his young apprentice, reformed thief Jack Tucker, Guest is known to certain populations as The Tracker, the man who can find anything—for a price. It is for that reason that Guest is sought out by Nicholas Flamel, an absent-minded alchemist. Both Flamel’s wife and his apprentice are missing, and he wants Guest to find them and bring them home.

Before he can even begin looking, Guest discovers that Flamel’s house has been ransacked. Then Flamel’s assistant turns up—dead, hanging from the rafters with a note pinned to his chest by a dagger. It is a ransom note that promises the safe return of his wife in exchange for the Philosopher’s Stone, which is reputed to turn lead into gold and create the elixir of life. And the kidnappers aren’t the only ones after it. From the highest nobility to Flamel’s fellow alchemists, everyone is seeking the stone for themselves. Guest must rescue the missing wife and find the stone before it falls into unworthy hands, in Jeri Westerson's Shadow of the Alchemist.
Learn more about the author and her work at Jeri Westerson's website and her "Getting Medieval" blog.

Westerson's first five books featuring Crispin Guest are Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, The Demon's Parchment, Troubled Bones, and Blood Lance.

The Page 69 Test: Veil of Lies.

The Page 69 Test: Serpent in the Thorns.

The Page 69 Test: The Demon's Parchment.

Writers Read: Jeri Westerson.

My Book, The Movie: The Demon's Parchment.

The Page 69 Test: Troubled Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Lance.

The Page 69 Test: Shadow of the Alchemist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pg. 99: Gary J. Bass's "The Blood Telegram"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide by Gary J. Bass.

About the book, from the publisher:
A riveting history—the first full account—of the involvement of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in the 1971 atrocities in Bangladesh that led to war between India and Pakistan, shaped the fate of Asia, and left in their wake a host of major strategic consequences for the world today.

Giving an astonishing inside view of how the White House really works in a crisis, The Blood Telegram is an unprecedented chronicle of a pivotal but little-known chapter of the Cold War. Gary J. Bass shows how Nixon and Kissinger supported Pakistan’s military dictatorship as it brutally quashed the results of a historic free election. The Pakistani army launched a crackdown on what was then East Pakistan (today an independent Bangladesh), killing hundreds of thousands of people and sending ten million refugees fleeing to India—one of the worst humanitarian crises of the twentieth century.

Nixon and Kissinger, unswayed by detailed warnings of genocide from American diplomats witnessing the bloodshed, stood behind Pakistan’s military rulers. Driven not just by Cold War realpolitik but by a bitter personal dislike of India and its leader Indira Gandhi, Nixon and Kissinger actively helped the Pakistani government even as it careened toward a devastating war against India. They silenced American officials who dared to speak up, secretly encouraged China to mass troops on the Indian border, and illegally supplied weapons to the Pakistani military—an overlooked scandal that presages Watergate.

Drawing on previously unheard White House tapes, recently declassified documents, and extensive interviews with White House staffers and Indian military leaders, The Blood Telegram tells this thrilling, shadowy story in full. Bringing us into the drama of a crisis exploding into war, Bass follows reporters, consuls, and guerrilla warriors on the ground—from the desperate refugee camps to the most secretive conversations in the Oval Office.

Bass makes clear how the United States’ embrace of the military dictatorship in Islamabad would mold Asia’s destiny for decades, and confronts for the first time Nixon and Kissinger’s hidden role in a tragedy that was far bloodier than Bosnia. This is a revelatory, compulsively readable work of politics, personalities, military confrontation, and Cold War brinksmanship.
Learn more about The Blood Telegram at the Knopf website.

Writers Read: Gary J. Bass (January 2008).

The Page 99 Test: The Blood Telegram.

--Marshal Zeringue