Friday, February 28, 2014

Six top science fiction romance novels

At USA Today, Veronica Scott compiled a short reading list of great SF romances, including:
Girl Gone Nova (Project Enterprise) by Pauline Baird Jones

Delilah Oliver Clementyne's orders are simple: Do the impossible and do it yesterday. A genius who kicks butt, Doc does the impossible on a regular basis. But this time the impossible is complicated by an imminent war between the Earth expedition to the Garradian Galaxy and the Gadi, an encounter with some wife-hunting aliens, and not one but two bands of time travelers. The only way it could get worse? If the heart she didn't know she had starts beating for the wrong guy…
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Allison Gutknecht's "Don't Wear Polka-Dot Underwear with White Pants"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Don't Wear Polka-Dot Underwear with White Pants: (And Other Lessons I've Learned) by Allison Gutknecht.

About the book, from the publisher:
Eight-year-old Mandy Berr learns life lessons with patriotic pizazz in the first adventure of a new chapter book series.

Eight-year-old Mandy Berr has a lot going on. She has to share her parents’ attention with her newborn twin siblings, who are always crying, and her little brother, Timmy, who is constantly in her way. And she also has to find a way to deal with her nemesis, Dennis, who has a knack for getting under her skin.

At least Mandy has the upcoming Presidential Pageant to look forward to at school. She is determined to be President George Washington—she is perfect for the lead part, after all. But when Mandy’s teacher makes a surprising choice, it looks like Mandy will have to keep sharing the spotlight. Can she find her own way to shine?

Mandy has some valuable life lessons to learns in this adorable chapter book—including the fact that white pants and polka dot underwear are never a good combination.
Visit Allison Gutknecht's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Wear Polka-Dot Underwear with White Pants.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David Auerswald & Stephen Saideman's "NATO in Afghanistan"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone by David P. Auerswald & Stephen M. Saideman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Modern warfare is almost always multilateral to one degree or another, requiring countries to cooperate as allies or coalition partners. Yet as the war in Afghanistan has made abundantly clear, multilateral cooperation is neither straightforward nor guaranteed. Countries differ significantly in what they are willing to do and how and where they are willing to do it. Some refuse to participate in dangerous or offensive missions. Others change tactical objectives with each new commander. Some countries defer to their commanders while others hold them to strict account.

NATO in Afghanistan explores how government structures and party politics in NATO countries shape how battles are waged in the field. Drawing on more than 250 interviews with senior officials from around the world, David Auerswald and Stephen Saideman find that domestic constraints in presidential and single-party parliamentary systems--in countries such as the United States and Britain respectively--differ from those in countries with coalition governments, such as Germany and the Netherlands. As a result, different countries craft different guidelines for their forces overseas, most notably in the form of military caveats, the often-controversial limits placed on deployed troops.

Providing critical insights into the realities of alliance and coalition warfare, NATO in Afghanistan also looks at non-NATO partners such as Australia, and assesses NATO's performance in the 2011 Libyan campaign to show how these domestic political dynamics are by no means unique to Afghanistan.
Learn more about NATO in Afghanistan at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: NATO in Afghanistan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top Berliners in literature

Rory MacLean's newest book is Berlin: Portrait of a City Through the Centuries.

One of his top ten Berliners in literature, as shared at the Guardian:
Franz Biberkopf in Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin

Any portrait which hopes to reflect the city's creative nature needs to let invention cohabit with reality, to juxtapose fiction with fact. In Döblin's innovative masterpiece – the most important work of literature in the Weimar years – the story of small-time crook Biberkopf is told through speeches, songs, newspaper articles and above all from multiple points of view. On the cusp of the Nazis rise to power, through an inner voice filled with remorse, contradiction and indecision, Biberkopf's life – like that of every other resident – is swept forward by events beyond his control.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Steve Kettmann's ten best books about Germany and Germans and Steve Ozment's five best books about Germany & Germans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Justin Gustainis's "Known Devil," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Known Devil by Justin Gustainis.

The entry begins:
Adapting my “Haunted Scranton” series (Hard Spell, Evil Dark, and Known Devil), or any part thereof, as a movie would present several challenges. The biggest of these would be getting the tone right. Although the books contain moments of humor (at least, I hope they do), the overall tone is deadly serious. In the alternate universe where the series is set, all the monsters from your nightmares are real: vampires, werewolves, witches, demons, ghouls – the whole crew. It’s true, not all of them act like monsters, but the danger is ever-present. Being a cop in a world like that, especially a cop like Stan Markowski, who specializes in supernatural crimes, would be stressful, indeed. Some years back, there was a short-lived TV series called Special Unit 2 that had cops dealing with supernaturals – but it tipped the balance in favor of farce much too often, in my opinion. On the other hand, True Blood mostly gets the attitude right, but it lacks the police procedural element that is central to my books.

And, of course, you’d have to shoot the exteriors in Scranton. The city is as much a character in my books as any of the humans (or non-humans, for that matter).

If some Hollywood producer ever had the good taste to adapt my novels into a series of movies, these are the casting recommendations I’d make:

Stan Markowski -- the late Jack Webb was sort of the inspiration for Stan, but the character of Joe Friday is utterly lacking in both humor and a sense of irony. That’s not Stan. Karl Malden, in his Streets of San Francisco days, would have been pretty good, too. Among working actors, I’d pick James...[read on]
Learn more the book and author at Justin Gustainis' website.

The Page 69 Test: Known Devil.

My Book, The Movie: Known Devil.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Five books ripe for silver screen adaptations

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books ready to be brought to the silver screen:
Mr. Peanut
by Adam Ross

If Christopher Nolan or Vince Gilligan are looking for their next gritty existentialist noir, they need look no further than Adam Ross's clever and surreal enigma, built around the foggy death of a young woman who may have been killed by her husband - and whose case is investigated by one sleuth who wants to murder his own wife, and another once wrongly accused of doing so. A narrative fortune cookie with Hitchcockian overtones.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see: Fifteen top film adaptations of literary classics; Five great books that worked as films; and The Daily Telegraph's top 25 book to film adaptations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Keith Thomson's "7 Grams of Lead"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Seven Grams of Lead by Keith Thomson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A brand-new heart-pounding technothriller from Keith Thomson, acclaimed author of ONCE A SPY.

Russ Thornton is a hard-hitting journalist known for his ability to take on big targets in government and in business. An old flame, now a Capitol Hill staffer, contacts him out of the blue wanting to disclose some top-secret information. But she is gunned down in cold blood, right in front of him. Worse, the killers are concerned about what Thornton knows, and who he may tell. He finds himself in a game of cat-and-mouse, where the stakes are life and death and the surveillance technology is so sophisticated that he wouldn’t believe it existed—if it weren't implanted in his own head.
Learn more about the book and author at Keith Thomson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Once A Spy.

The Page 69 Test: 7 Grams of Lead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Virginia Berridge's "Demons"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Demons: Our changing attitudes to alcohol, tobacco, and drugs by Virginia Berridge.

About the book, from the publisher:
Binge drinking, particularly in young women, has become big news. Debates about the regulation and classification of cannabis are frequently voiced. Cigarette smoking is banned in public places, and emotive public health campaigns seek to reduce its use still further. Yet there are many sides to each of these arguments, and if we look back over the last 150 years, we see massive variety in the ways societies and states have related to drugs, drink, and tobacco.

Virginia Berridge offers a much-needed long view, which helps illuminate our current concerns, and shows how three separate stories overlap and inter-connect. She takes us to the socially-acceptable opium dens of Dickens's London; to the absinthe craze of fin-de-siecle Paris. She asks whether prohibition in America proved to be helpful or harmful. She looks at how tobacco was promoted as a medicinal benefit. She considers the medical use of cannabis, LSD, and other drugs. And through all this, she traces the changes in scientific and medical knowledge.

This is a complex story of whether, and how, the state should intervene. How do we balance the interests of personal freedom, public well-being, healthcare, and the economy? Is substance abuse a social issue, or a medical one? As governments, health services, and the World Health Organisation grapple with these issues, the wisdom and experience of history can help map the way forward.
Learn more about Demons at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Demons.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Cindy Chupack & Tinkerbell

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Cindy Chupack & Tinkerbell.

The author, on Tinkerbell's influence on her writing:
She is usually a really comforting, calm presence when I’m writing, but if she feels ignored for too long she will lay on my laptop (since I like to write in bed).... If you read The Longest Date you will see that Tink is a large part of it, and she not only made me a better writer, she made me a better person....[read on]
About Chupack's new book, The Longest Date: Life as a Wife:
The bestselling author of The Between Boyfriends Book and an award-winning writer for Sex and the City and Modern Family takes a hilarious, heartbreaking look at marriage

Cindy Chupack has spent much of her adult life writing about dating and relationships for several hit TV series and as a sex columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine. At the age of thirty-nine, she finally found The One—and a wealth of new material.

Marriage, Cindy discovered, was more of an adventure than she ever imagined, and in this collection of essays she deftly examines the comedy and cringe-worthy aspects of matrimony. Soulful yet self-deprecating, The Longest Date recounts her first marriage (he was gay) and the meeting of Husband No. 2, Ian.

After the courtship and ceremony, both Cindy and Ian realized that happily ever after takes some practice, and near constant negotiation over everyday matters like cooking, sex, holidays, monogamy, and houseguests. The Longest Date takes a serious turn when it comes to infertility.

The Longest Date is the perfect companion for anyone navigating a serious relationship, be it newlyweds or couples moving in that direction.
Visit Cindy Chupack's website and Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Cindy Chupack and Tinkerbell.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is J. T. Ellison reading?

Featured at Writers Read: J. T. Ellison, author of When Shadows Fall.

Her entry begins:
I’m on deadline, so I’m looking to read books similar in tone and setting to my own, so I can be swept up in the pace and story and excitement and intensity of a thriller. I’ve just finished The English Girl by Daniel Silva, who is one of my favorite writers. I adore his Gabriel Allon books, love the depth of the characters, and I’m always...[read on]
About When Shadows Fall, from the publisher:
Dear Dr. Owens,

If you are reading this letter, I am dead and I would be most grateful if you could solve my murder…

Forensic pathologist Dr. Samantha Owens thought life was finally returning to normal after she suffered a terrible personal loss. Settling into her new job at Georgetown University, the illusion is shattered when she receives a disturbing letter from a dead man imploring her to solve his murder. There's only one catch. Timothy Savage's death was so obviously the suicide of a demented individual that the case has been closed.

When Sam learns Savage left a will requesting she autopsy his body, she feels compelled to look into the case. Sam's own postmortem discovers clear signs that Savage was indeed murdered. And she finds DNA from a child who went missing years earlier and has never been found.

The investigation takes Sam into the shadows of a twenty-year-old mystery that must be solved to determine what really happened to Timothy Savage. Nothing about the case makes sense, but it is clear someone is unwilling to let anyone, especially Samantha Owens, discover the truth.
Visit J.T. Ellison's website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Writers Read: J.T. Ellison (November 2012).

The Page 69 Test: Edge of Black.

Writers Read: J. T. Ellison.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Michelle Wildgen's "Bread and Butter," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Bread and Butter by Michelle Wildgen.

The entry begins:
The first thing that would probably be jettisoned in making Bread and Butter a film would be the family tendency toward red hair. I mean, there are only so many out there. But I can try.

The oldest of the three brothers, Leo, is the sort who might take a few glances to see the attraction: reserved, a little serious, a little hard to know, a little rumpled. Oh, wait--actually, this is easy: Louis CK. He’s brilliant, unpredictable, perfect for Leo, and he and I have been looking for a project to do together. (Note: This last part is not actually true.)

Britt is the handsome, stylish middle brother, one of those annoying people who is always more chic than anyone else even though you can’t put your finger on why. Paul...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Michelle Wildgen's website.

The Page 99 Test: You’re Not You.

The Page 69 Test: But Not for Long.

The Page 69 Test: Bread and Butter.

Writers Read: Michelle Wildgen.

My Book, The Movie: Bread and Butter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books for "Orange Is The New Black" fans

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Rebecca Jane Stokes tagged seven books for fans of Orange Is The New Black, including:
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

You know it, you love it, and you immediately picture Jack Nicholson when thinking about it. I don’t fault you for that. This might seem like a stretch, but one of the most fascinating things about OITNB is watching Piper go from outsider to institutionalized insider. Sound familiar? Bring on Nurse Ratched!
Read about another entry on the list.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is on Gavin Extence's list of ten of the best underdogs in literature, Melvin Burgess's list of five notable books on drugs, and Darren Shan's top ten list of books about outsiders for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: T. Birkhead, J. Wimpenny & B. Montgomerie's "Ten Thousand Birds"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Ten Thousand Birds: Ornithology since Darwin by Tim Birkhead, Jo Wimpenny & Bob Montgomerie.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ten Thousand Birds provides a thoroughly engaging and authoritative history of modern ornithology, tracing how the study of birds has been shaped by a succession of visionary and often-controversial personalities, and by the unique social and scientific contexts in which these extraordinary individuals worked. This beautifully illustrated book opens in the middle of the nineteenth century when ornithology was a museum-based discipline focused almost exclusively on the anatomy, taxonomy, and classification of dead birds. It describes how in the early 1900s pioneering individuals such as Erwin Stresemann, Ernst Mayr, and Julian Huxley recognized the importance of studying live birds in the field, and how this shift thrust ornithology into the mainstream of the biological sciences. The book tells the stories of eccentrics like Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, a pathological liar who stole specimens from museums and quite likely murdered his wife, and describes the breathtaking insights and discoveries of ambitious and influential figures such as David Lack, Niko Tinbergen, Robert MacArthur, and others who through their studies of birds transformed entire fields of biology.

Ten Thousand Birds brings this history vividly to life through the work and achievements of those who advanced the field. Drawing on a wealth of archival material and in-depth interviews, this fascinating book reveals how research on birds has contributed more to our understanding of animal biology than the study of just about any other group of organisms.
Learn more about this book and the scientific study of birds at

The Page 99 Test: Ten Thousand Birds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable crime novels that double as great literature

Adam Sternbergh is the culture editor of the New York Times Magazine and the author of Shovel Ready, a future-noir thriller about a garbageman-turned-hitman set in a dystopian New York City. One of his six favorite crime novels that double as great literature, as shared at The Week magazine:
Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Abbott transplants the treachery of classic noir to a high school cheerleading squad. Equal parts shadowy malevolence and raging teenage hormones, Dare Me plays out like Spring Breakers meets Carrie meets All About Eve.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Carly Anne West's "The Murmurings"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Murmurings by Carly Anne West.

About the book, from the publisher:
The voices in her head are not her own...

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…
Learn more about the book and author at Carly Anne West's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Murmurings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Erin Lindsay McCabe's "I Shall Be Near To You," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe.

From the entry:
I still remember watching the movie Winter’s Bone in the only art-house east of Oakland, CA (since demolished). We were barely into the movie when I leaned over to my husband and whispered, “That’s Rosetta.”

I had no idea who the actress was, but I knew almost the instant she appeared on screen that she was perfect to play the part of Rosetta, the feisty, strong-willed young woman who disguises herself as a man and enlists in the Union Army with her new husband in my novel I Shall Be Near To You. After the movie ended, we stayed to watch the credits and find out who that actress was.

“Jennifer Lawrence,” I said when her name rolled up the screen. “She’s my girl.” At the time, I had a draft of my novel finished and I had no idea if my book would be published, let alone if it might ever be made into a movie. And of course, that was before Jennifer Lawrence became Jennifer Lawrence. But...[read on]
Visit Erin Lindsay McCabe's website and Facebook page.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Erin Lindsay McCabe & Roxy.

My Book, The Movie: I Shall Be Near To You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top fictional works on winter sports

At the Guardian John Dugdale tagged ten notable fictional works on winter sports, including:
Ian Fleming – slalom, biathlon, skeleton

All in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, where Blofeld is based in the Alps. In the climax Bond pursues him on a skeleton bob, descending at 40mph-plus. The national icon's excellence on the flimsy one-man bob nicely foreshadows the run of medals in the one winter sport where Britain has been consistently successful.
Read about another entry on the list.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is among Alexandra Silverman's fourteen best wrathful stories.

Blofeld appears on Eoin Colfer's top ten list villains in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best secret societies in literature, and Marcus Sedgwick's top 10 list of tales from cold climes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Noel Leo Erskine's "Plantation Church"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Plantation Church: How African American Religion Was Born in Caribbean Slavery by Noel Leo Erskine.

About the book, from the publisher:
Noel Leo Erskine investigates the history of the Black Church as it developed both in the United States and the Caribbean after the arrival of enslaved Africans. Typically, when people talk about "the Black Church" they are referring to African-American churches in the U.S., but in fact, the majority of African slaves were brought to the Caribbean. It was there, Erskine argues, that the Black religious experience was born. The massive Afro-Caribbean population was able to establish a form of Christianity that preserved African Gods and practices, but fused them with Christian teachings, resulting in religions such as Cuba's Santería. The Black religious experience in the U.S. was markedly different because African Americans were a political and cultural minority. The Plantation Church became a place of solace and resistance that provided its members with a sense of kinship, not only to each other but also to their ancestral past.

Despite their common origins, the Caribbean and African American Church are almost never studied together. Plantation Church examines the parallel histories of these two strands of the Black Church, showing where their historical ties remain strong and where different circumstances have led them down unexpectedly divergent paths. The result will be a work that illuminates the histories, theologies, politics, and practices of both branches of the Black Church.
Learn more about Plantation Church at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Plantation Church.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best fictional crimes

Simon Mason is a British author of novels for young readers as well as adults, and the nonfiction book The Rough Guide to Classic Novels.

He named his top ten chilling fictional crimes for the Guardian, including:
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Crime as revenge, as an honour killing. Marquez was a magician. In the first sentence of the book he tells us what will happen: that Santiago Nasar will be stabbed to death by the Vicario brothers. On the last page it happens. In between, he mesmerizes us with the story of why Nasar must die – a murder in which the whole town is implicated.
Read about another entry on the list.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold is on Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten list of wild parties in literature and Dan Rhodes's top ten list of short books.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Alan de Queiroz reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Alan de Queiroz, author of The Monkey's Voyage: How Improbable Journeys Shaped the History of Life.

His entry begins:
Like many people, when browsing for something to read, I often choose a book based on its first lines. I suppose what I’m hoping to find is some immediate connection, either in subject matter or, more often, in the author’s “voice.” It doesn’t always work out, of course; sometimes those first lines are misleading, and the hoped-for connection isn’t actually there.

On the other hand, sometimes it works the other way around.

For the past couple of years, my wife, Tara, has been raving about Animal, Mineral, Radical, a collection of essays by B. K. Loren. As a result, several times I’ve picked up the book and read its opening lines: “Writing is listening,” Loren proclaims. “I have never believed writing has anything to do with having something to say.” And I’ve thought to myself, “That is really not me. I wrote a book precisely because I did have something to say.” And then I’ve put the book down.

But Tara kept raving about Loren’s book, so eventually I read on…and...[read on]
About The Monkey's Voyage, from the publisher:
Throughout the world, closely related species are found on landmasses separated by wide stretches of ocean. What explains these far-flung distributions? Why are such species found where they are across the Earth?

Since the discovery of plate tectonics, scientists have conjectured that plants and animals were scattered over the globe by riding pieces of ancient supercontinents as they broke up. In the past decade, however, that theory has foundered, as the genomic revolution has made reams of new data available. And the data has revealed an extraordinary, stranger-than-fiction story that has sparked a scientific upheaval.

In The Monkey’s Voyage, biologist Alan de Queiroz describes the radical new view of how fragmented distributions came into being: frogs and mammals rode on rafts and icebergs, tiny spiders drifted on storm winds, and plant seeds were carried in the plumage of sea-going birds to create the map of life we see today. In other words, these organisms were not simply constrained by continental fate; they were the makers of their own geographic destiny. And as de Queiroz shows, the effects of oceanic dispersal have been crucial in generating the diversity of life on Earth, from monkeys and guinea pigs in South America to beech trees and kiwi birds in New Zealand. By toppling the idea that the slow process of continental drift is the main force behind the odd distributions of organisms, this theory highlights the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the history of life.

In the tradition of John McPhee’s Basin and Range, The Monkey’s Voyage is a beautifully told narrative that strikingly reveals the importance of contingency in history and the nature of scientific discovery.
Visit The Monkey's Voyage website.

Writers Read: Alan de Queiroz.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 24, 2014

Steven Cassedy's "Connected," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Connected: How Trains, Genes, Pineapples, Piano Keys, and a Few Disasters Transformed Americans at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century by Steven Cassedy.

The entry begins:
The movie version of this book would definitely be tricky. I actually started out with fictional characters as part of the book, each representing a social “type” from the era. Every chapter began with a story about one of the characters, to illustrate something about the topic of that chapter. My editor wisely talked me out of using the characters in the final version—they made the book a little too weirdly hybrid for most readers, she rightly thought—plus the little stories were, well, kind of boring.

But the book tells a number of real-life stories that could make terrific movies—or at least be part of some terrific movies. Perhaps one thing I’ve done in Connected is provide technical advising services for a great big movie that’s set in this era—but a movie part of whose point is exactly that it evokes an era and a place. Think of last year’s Inside Llewyn Davis, for example, which brings you back (with one or two goofs on the part of the Coen brothers) into New York City at the beginning of the 1960s. If you were...[read on]
Learn more about Connected at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Connected.

My Book, The Movie: Connected.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top military-themed YA novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged five great military-themed YA novels, including:
If I Lie, by Corinne Jackson

This is the story of a girl left behind by her soldier best friend and the secret they share, but it’s also the story of a town left behind—one that’s swaddled in hero worship and black-and-white ideals. Quinn lives with the pain of everyone in town, including her father, thinking she committed the unthinkable act of betrayal against a saint—perfectly on par with the theme of the personal sacrifices we make for what we deem to be the greater good, and when it’s time to put yourself first. Of all the books on this list, this one definitely drew the most tears from me, but they were by no means entirely sad ones.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: J.C. Carleson's "The Tyrant's Daughter"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson.

About the book, from the publisher:
From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs.

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics.
Learn more about the book and author at J.C. Carleson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Tyrant's Daughter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Eileen Cook & Cairo

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Eileen Cook & Cairo.

The author, on how she and Cairo were united:
I've always had dogs. When my Scottish terrier, Kahlua, passed away at first I didn't think I could love another dog, but then I discovered there might be room in my heart for another. There was an advertisement that there were some dogs in need of loving forever homes. Cairo was the product of some type of illicit love affair, his mother wasn't talking about who the possible father might be. He needed a home and it turned out we needed him too. When we went to see him the first time I kept insisting that I wasn't there to pick out a dog. I was simply looking. I'm including a puppy photo so you can see how irresistible he was. I didn't stand a chance when...[read on]
About Cook's new novel Year of Mistaken Discoveries, from the publisher:
Friendship is a bond stronger than secrets in this novel from the author of The Almost Truth and Unraveling Isobel.

As first graders, Avery and Nora bonded over a special trait they shared—they were both adopted.

Years later, Avery is smart, popular, and on the cheerleading squad, while Nora spends her time on the fringes of school society, wearing black, reading esoteric poetry, and listening to obscure music. They never interact...until the night Nora approaches Avery at a party, saying it’s urgent. She tells Avery that she thought she found her birth mom—but it turned out to be a cruel lie. Avery feels for Nora, but returns to her friends at the party.

Then Avery learns that Nora overdosed on pills. Left to cope with Nora’s loss and questioning her own actions, Avery decides to honor her friend by launching a search for her own birth mother. Aided by Brody, a friend of Nora’s who is also looking for a way to respect Nora’s legacy, Avery embarks on an emotional quest. But what she’s really seeking might go far deeper than just genetics…
Visit Eileen Cook's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Year of Mistaken Discoveries.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Eileen Cook & Cairo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jennifer Stromer-Galley's "Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age by Jennifer Stromer-Galley.

About the book, from the publisher:
As the plugged-in presidential campaign has arguably reached maturity, Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age challenges popular claims about the democratizing effect of Digital Communication Technologies (DCTs). Analyzing campaign strategies, structures, and tactics from the past five presidential election cycles, Stromer-Galley reveals how, for all their vaunted inclusivity and tantalizing promise of increased two-way communication between candidates and the individuals who support them, DCTs have done little to change the fundamental dynamics of campaigns. The expansion of new technologies has presented candidates with greater opportunities to micro-target potential voters, cheaper and easier ways to raise money, and faster and more innovative ways to respond to opponents. The need for communication control and management, however, has made campaigns slow and loathe to experiment with truly interactive internet communication technologies.

Citizen involvement in the campaign historically has been and, as this book shows, continues to be a means to an end: winning the election for the candidate. For all the proliferation of apps to download, polls to click, videos to watch, and messages to forward, the decidedly undemocratic view of controlled interactivity is how most campaigns continue to operate.

Contributing to the field a much-needed historical understanding of the shifting communication practices of presidential campaigns, Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age examines election cycles from 1996, when the World Wide Web was first used for presidential campaigning, through 2012, when practices were being tuned to perfection using data analytics for carefully targeting and mobilizing particular voter segments. As the book charts changes in internet communication technologies, it shows how, even as campaigns have moved responsively from a mass mediated to a networked paradigm, and from fundraising to organizing, the possibilities these shifts in interactivity seem to promise for citizen input and empowerment remain much farther than a click away.
Learn more about Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Michael Rosen's 6 best books

Michael Rosen is an English poet, scriptwriter, broadcaster, and performer, has been writing for children since 1970. His books include We're Going on a Bear Hunt. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
by Maurice Sendak

A great modern fairytale about a naughty boy who gets sent to his room and travels to the Land Of The Wild Things.

He tames them but finds that he misses someone who loves him best of all. This is a tale about anger and the power we have to overcome our own destructive feelings.
Read about another book on the list. 

Where the Wild Things Are is among Jessica Ahlberg's top ten family-themed picture books, Edward Carey's top ten writer/illustrators, Sara Maitland's top ten books of the forest, and Anthony Browne's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jennie Shortridge's "Love Water Memory," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge.

The entry begins:
Love Water Memory is the story of a couple parted by amnesia and reunited, and the mystery of what happened and what will happen next, set in Seattle. I would love to see it produced as an independent film right here in the Northwest, where we have great filmmakers like Lynn Shelton and Gus Van Sant. And I’d love Northwest music to play a major role in the sound of it. Modest Mouse is already written into the story.

As for actors, I get my dream cast, right? So let’s say Toni Colette as Lucie, an amnesiac who has fled from her fiancé Grady (who is half Native American and difficult to cast, so I’m thinking the casting director might put out a call for auditions.) The strange and mysterious Aunt Helen would be well served by the talents of...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jennie Shortridge's website.

The Page 69 Test: Love Water Memory.

My Book, The Movie: Love Water Memory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top fictional bookstores

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Nicole Hill tagged five of the best fictional bookstores, including:
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (from the book of the same title, by Robin Sloan)

You can’t beat the hours, even if the selection isn’t always exactly what you seek. The wonderfully, nerdishly complex world of Penumbra’s bookstore and its patrons at the Unbroken Spine semi-secret society offer a small slice of San Franciscan beauty. The people-watching opportunities are spectacular, as the code-cracking regulars manically stumble through the door. And people who take typography as seriously as these characters are good apples, as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t take a Google machine to know that.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Claire Cameron reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Claire Cameron, author of The Bear.

One book she tagged:
Pilgrim's Wilderness by Tom Kizzia

A work of non-fiction described by the publisher as Into the Wild meets Helter Skelter. This is exactly right. This is the true story of the Pilgrim family, a Papa, his wife and fifteen children, who ended up in McCarthy, Alaska, near where Kizzia has a cabin. It's the author's balanced approach to the story and his role in it that makes for...[read on]
About The Bear, from the publisher:
A powerful suspense story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother after a brutal bear attack

While camping with her family on a remote island, five-year-old Anna awakes in the night to the sound of her mother screaming. A rogue black bear, three hundred pounds of fury, is attacking the family's campsite -- and pouncing on her parents as prey.

At her dying mother's faint urging, Anna manages to get her brother into the family's canoe and paddle away. But when the canoe runs aground on the edge of the woods, the sister and brother must battle hunger, the elements, and a wilderness alive with danger. Lost and completely alone, they find that their only hope resides in Anna's heartbreaking love for her family, and her struggle to be brave when nothing in her world seems safe anymore.

This is a story with a small narrator and a big heart. Cameron gracefully plumbs Anna's young perspective on family, responsibility, and hope, charting both a tragically premature loss of innocence and a startling evolution as Anna reasons through the impossible situations that confront her.

Lean and confident, and told in the innocent and honest voice of a five-year-old, THE BEAR is a transporting tale of loss -- but also a poignant and surprisingly funny adventure about love and the raw instincts that enable us to survive.
Visit Claire Cameron's website, blog, and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Line Painter.

Writers Read: Claire Cameron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ten top heart-breakingly tragic love stories

At Thought Catalog, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi tagged ten tragic love stories that will break your heart, including:
Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen

I had the privilege of reading Under the Jeweled Sky while it was still in draft form, and I hadn’t read such a brilliant and beautiful, emotionally-charged love story in so long. I followed the main character Sophie from her gardens in India to the gloom of London, and back again. It’s a deep exploration into forbidden love, scandal, and leaving a beloved and magical place behind. You’ll be teary-eyed at the end but you’ll have become attached to Sophie, and you’ll be better for it.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Under The Jewelled Sky.

The Page 69 Test: Under the Jeweled Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Daniella Martin's "Edible"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet by Daniella Martin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Edible offers a fascinating look into the world of entomophagy and how eating bugs may save the planet. Martin takes readers to the front lines of the next big trend in the global food movement. She argues that bugs have long been an important part of indigenous diets and cuisines around the world, and that insects are an efficient and sustainable food source.

Daniella travels to Thailand where the government is subsidizing local farmers to raise crickets, meets with Dutch researchers who have received a $4 million euro grant to study the potential of insects as food, and introduces readers to world class chefs like Jose Andres who are already incorporating bugs into their elegant dishes. She profiles entomophagist pioneers like Monica Martinez, who is launching the first all-bug street food cart.

Whether you love or hate them, Edible will radically change the way you think about the global food movement and, perhaps, persuade you that they’re much more than a common pest.
Learn more about the book and author at Daniella Martin's website.

The Page 99 Test: Edible.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books for readers inspired by Nora Ephron

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Chrissie Gruebel tagged five books for readers inspired by Nora Ephron fans, including:
If you heart Nora Ephron’s wit:

READ THIS: The Portable Dorothy Parker, by Dorothy Parker

Parker used to bust out her word-swords on everyone all over the place all the time and it was awesome. She would corral her smart, hilarious friends to meet for lunch every day so they could talk in a smart, hilarious way about the world (“throwing shade,” in fancy 1920s parlance) and then get their bon mots printed in the newspappies.

AND THEN…watch Gilmore Girls, a show in which sparkling banter flies at the speed of light.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Donna Jo Napoli's "Storm"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Storm by Donna Jo Napoli.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sixteen-year-old stowaway discovers her destiny on Noah’s ark in this riveting reimagining from award-winning author Donna Jo Napoli, available in time for the March 2014 major motion picture Noah.

The rain starts suddenly, hard and fast. After days of downpour, her family lost, Sebah takes shelter in a tree, eating pine cones and the raw meat of animals that float by. With each passing day, her companion, a boy named Aban, grows weaker. When their tree is struck by lightning, Sebah is tempted just to die in the flames rather than succumb to a slow, watery death. Instead, she and Aban build a raft. What they find on the stormy seas is beyond imagining: a gigantic ark. But Sebah does not know what she’ll find on board, and Aban is too weak to leave their raft.

Themes of family, loss, and ultimately, survival and love make for a timeless story. Donna Jo Napoli has imagined a new protagonist to tell the story of Noah and his ark. As rain batters the earth, Noah, his family, and hordes of animals wait out the storm, ready to carry out their duty of repopulating the earth. Hidden below deck…is Sebah.
Visit Donna Jo Napoli's website.

Writers Read: Donna Jo Napoli (June 2009).

The Page 69 Test: Storm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 21, 2014

Five of the best books on the life and work of Thomas Hardy

At the Telegraph Christopher Nicholson recommended five books that illuminate the life and work of Thomas Hardy, including:
Hardy’s tragic masterpiece, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), is the haunting story of a vulnerable young village woman. Highly critical of 19th-century morals, it is also wonderfully exuberant in its descriptions of the English countryside.
Read about another book Nicholson tagged.

--Marshal Zeringue

Drew Chapman's "The Ascendant," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Ascendant by Drew Chapman.

The entry begins:
Who do I want to see cast in the movie version of my book? Good question. But here’s the problem. I’m a screenwriter as well as a novelist. I’ve seen firsthand how important it is to get the right person to bring your words to life. But here’s the additional problem: I’m also a producer on the shows I write. Which can lead to conflicting goals—and complicated internal dialogue. It’s my job to make the show sophisticated, but also as widely watched as possible. I just sold The Ascendant to Fox to turn into a TV show, so the conversation going on in my head runs something like this:

Novelist Chapman: I was talking to a friend and she said she thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be wonderful for the Garrett Reilly part.

Producer Chapman: Gordon-Levitt? He won’t do TV anymore. He’s a movie star. Plus, he’s...[read on]
Visit Drew Chapman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Ascendant.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books for visiting Mars

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on visiting Mars:
Geographies of Mars
by K. Maria D. Lane

Mars has long fascinated us, and inspired a sense of awe in late nineteenth century public upon the release of Mars, a landmark 1895 work of controversial astronomy from author Percival Lowell. As Adam Kirsch wrote in his BNR review of Geographies, a fascinating look at Lowell and his contemporaries' impressions of Mars, "these fantasies, Lane argues, have much to tell us about the way turn-of-the-century Americans and Europeans thought about space, knowledge, and power."
Read about another book on the list.

See--Kim Stanley Robinson's 10 favorite Mars novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Michelle Wildgen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Michelle Wildgen, author of Bread and Butter.

Her entry begins:
I’m prepping for a food writing class I’ll teach in a couple of months, which means I’m reading a lot of delicious stuff like Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate. Steingarten is one of my great favorites for his incredible erudition, laugh-out-loud wit, and wide range of interests. He’s witnessed pig slaughters in France, immersed himself (almost literally, one suspects) in choucroute garnie in Alsace, and tortured a series of assistants with a never-ending series of...[read on]
About Bread and Butter, from the publisher:
Kitchen Confidential meets Three Junes in this mouthwatering novel about three brothers who run competing restaurants, and the culinary snobbery, staff stealing, and secret affairs that unfold in the back of the house.

Britt and Leo have spent ten years running Winesap, the best restaurant in their small Pennsylvania town. They cater to their loyal customers; they don't sleep with the staff; and business is good, even if their temperamental pastry chef is bored with making the same chocolate cake night after night. But when their younger brother, Harry, opens his own restaurant—a hip little joint serving an aggressive lamb neck dish—Britt and Leo find their own restaurant thrown off-kilter. Britt becomes fascinated by a customer who arrives night after night, each time with a different dinner companion. Their pastry chef, Hector, quits, only to reappear at Harry's restaurant. And Leo finds himself falling for his executive chef-tempted to break the cardinal rule of restaurant ownership. Filled with hilarious insider detail—the one-upmanship of staff meals before the shift begins, the rivalry between bartender and hostess, the seedy bar where waitstaff and chefs go to drink off their workday—Bread and Butter is both an incisive novel of family and a gleeful romp through the inner workings of restaurant kitchens.
Learn more about the author and her work at Michelle Wildgen's website.

The Page 99 Test: You’re Not You.

The Page 69 Test: But Not for Long.

The Page 69 Test: Bread and Butter.

Writers Read: Michelle Wildgen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pg. 99: Charles Kenny's "The Upside of Down"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Upside of Down: Why the Rise of the Rest is Good for the West by Charles Kenny.

About the book, from the publisher:
America is in decline, and the rise of the East suggests a bleak future for the world’s only superpower – so goes the conventional wisdom. But what if the traditional measures of national status are no longer as important as they once were? What if America’s well-being was assessed according to entirely different factors?

In The Upside of Down, Charles Kenny argues that America’s so-called decline is only relative to the newfound success of other countries. And there is tremendous upside to life in a wealthier world: Americans can benefit from better choices and cheaper prices offered by schools and hospitals in rising countries, and, without leaving home, avail themselves of the new inventions and products those countries will produce. The key to thriving in this world is to move past the jeremiads about America’s deteriorating status and figure out how best to take advantage of its new role in a multipolar world. A refreshing antidote to prophecies of American decline, The Upside of Down offers a fresh and highly optimistic look at America’s future in a wealthier world.
Visit Charles Kenny's blog and learn about his six favorite books.

The Page 99 Test: The Upside of Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Cynthia Leitich Smith's "Feral Curse"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Feral Curse by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
The second installment of New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s thrilling Feral series delivers danger, romance, and suspense in an all new action-packed adventure.

The adopted daughter of two respectable human parents, Kayla is a werecat in the closet. All she knows is the human world. When she comes out to her boyfriend, tragedy ensues, and her determination to know and embrace her heritage grows. Help appears in the lithe form of sexy male werecat Yoshi, backed up by Aimee and Clyde, as the four set out to solve the mystery of a possessed antique carousel while fielding miscast magic, obsessive strangers, and mounting species intolerance. Paranormal fans will go wild for this rousing second Feral adventure.
Learn more about the book and author at Cynthia Leitich Smith's website and blog.

Writers Read: Cynthia Leitich Smith (March 2009).

The Page 69 Test: Feral Curse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jason Porter's "Why Are You So Sad?," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Why Are You So Sad? by Jason Porter.

The entry begins:
This question is tricky for me. I regularly speculate about these things, but from the standpoint of a skeptical filmgoer who believes most Hollywood movies are awful, and one element of that awfulness is the terrible casting choices they make that always insert either the most beautiful person or Tom Hanks into any role. So when I think of who would star in the adaptation of my novel, it’s hard not to assume the worst.

The narrator is about forty. He’s sad but not without a sense of humor, though sometimes he doesn’t intend to be making a joke when he is, and other times he tries and it falls flat. I think Hollywood would try to plug in one from the following list: Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Jason Bateman, Paul Giamatti, or John C. Reilly. I like all of them, but I am so aware of them as celebrities it seems like they would overshadow or replace entirely the character who currently lives in my mind. I would love it if they chose...[read on]
Visit Jason Porter's website.

My Book, The Movie: Why Are You So Sad?.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top computer books

Vikram Chandra's first nonfiction book, Geek Sublime: Writing Fiction, Coding Software, came from his own lived experience as novelist and sometimes-programmer.

One of Chandra's top ten computer books, as shared with the Guardian:
Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution by Fred Vogelstein

Here, the hackers have grown up and become ruthless corporate overlords. They betray each other, lie, engage in endless battles over the billions of dollars at stake in mobile computing, and "go nuclear" with patent lawsuits. Vogelstein is a veteran journalist who has reported on Silicon Valley for decades, and his patiently cultivated sources reveal the truth behind all those choreographed product presentations that have so beguiled journalists and consumers: "yelling, screaming, backstabbing, dejection, panic and fear".
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Jeffery Deaver's top ten novels featuring the internet or computers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Shannon Stoker & Nucky

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Shannon Stoker & Nucky.

The author, on Nucky's contribution to her writing:
The whole reason I decided to seriously try writing is because I was working long hours at a law firm and I missed Nucky so bad! I thought maybe if I got something published I could spend more time at home with him. So he is a huge inspiration for my writing. Sometimes he wants to pets though and will jump on my lap while using his head to knock my hands away from the keyboard until I pay attention to him. If I ever try to...[read on]
About Shannon Stoker's latest book, The Collection, from the publisher:
How far would you go to control your own destiny?

Mia Morrissey has escaped: from America, from the Registry, from the role she was raised to play—a perfect bride auctioned to the highest bidder. She's enemy number one to the world's largest power, and there's no turning back now.

From the moment she and her friends Andrew and Carter cross the border into Mexico, it's clear their troubles are only beginning. Mexico may have laws to protect runaway brides, but as U.S. Army deserters, Andrew and Carter face deportation or worse. The young men are immediately picked up by a violent and omnipotent militia—the Collection—and it's Mia's turn to rescue them.

With time running out, her ex-fiancé's henchman on her trail, and a dangerous tide shifting back in America, Mia will do whatever she has to. Even if that means risking everything and putting herself back on an auction block. The price of freedom is never too high . . . but what if the cost is her life?
Visit Shannon Stoker's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Shannon Stoker & Nucky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q & A: Tara Ellison

From a Q & A with Tara Ellison, author of Synchronized Breathing:
How would you complete this line: "You might well enjoy my book if you like..."?

You might well enjoy my book if you like… Bridget Jones or if those old reruns of Sex in the City still make you laugh. Movies and books about dating mishaps have always grabbed my attention and everyone can relate to a romance derailing or a bad break-up. When I decided to write Synchronized Breathing (the story of a marriage imploding and one woman’s disastrous efforts to get back in the dating game), I knew exactly...[read on]
Visit Tara Ellison's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue