Monday, March 31, 2014

Ten top books about intelligent animals

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections.

One of her top ten books about intelligent animals, as shared at the Guardian:
Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley

A capacious and audacious novel about the world of horseracing, which includes several horse narrators – Froney's Sis, Epic Steam, Residual – but my favorite is Justa Bob, a gelding with a good attitude despite his long, hard fall down.
Read about another entry on the list.

Horse Heaven is on Megan Wasson's list of eight great books about horses.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tricia Fields's "Wrecked"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Wrecked: A Mystery by Tricia Fields.

About the book, from the publisher:
Police Chief Josie Gray is living every cop’s worst nightmare: a murder suspect who she knows personally. Even worse, it’s her longtime boyfriend, Dillon Reese.

Dillon’s secretary has been murdered, and now Dillon’s disappeared. Josie has no choice but to relinquish the investigation to a fellow officer, giving up control of a case that matters more than any other. As suspicions split the department, Josie struggles with her choices on the night she last saw Dillon. If she had acted on her instincts, would the innocent woman still be alive?

Unable to stay on the sidelines, Josie investigates on her own terms--and uncovers a plot that could bring the killer millions. Now she must make a choice between her oath as an officer and her personal desire to get revenge.

Tricia Fields’s Wrecked continues the Hillerman Prize-winning mystery series that captures the unique landscape and characters who populate the small towns of West Texas.
Learn more about the book and author at Tricia Fields's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Territory.

The Page 69 Test: Scratchgravel Road.

Writers Read: Tricia Fields.

The Page 69 Test: Wrecked.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Patrick Allitt's "A Climate of Crisis"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism by Patrick Allitt.

About the book, from the publisher:
A provocative history of the environmental movement in America, showing how this rise to political and social prominence produced a culture of alarmism that has often distorted the facts

Few issues today excite more passion or alarm than the specter of climate change. In A Climate of Crisis, historian Patrick Allitt shows that our present climate of crisis is far from exceptional. Indeed, the environmental debates of the last half century are defined by exaggeration and fearmongering from all sides, often at the expense of the facts.

In a real sense, Allitt shows us, collective anxiety about widespread environmental danger began with the atomic bomb. As postwar suburbanization transformed the American landscape, more research and better tools for measurement began to reveal the consequences of economic success. A climate of anxiety became a climate of alarm, often at odds with reality. The sixties generation transformed environmentalism from a set of special interests into a mass movement. By the first Earth Day in 1970, journalists and politicians alike were urging major initiatives to remedy environmental harm. In fact, the work of the new Environmental Protection Agency and a series of clean air and water acts from a responsive Congress inaugurated a largely successful cleanup.

Political polarization around environmental questions after 1980 had consequences that we still feel today. Since then, the general polarization of American politics has mirrored that of environmental politics, as pro-environmentalists and their critics attribute to one another the worst possible motives. Environmentalists see their critics as greedy special interest groups that show no conscience as they plunder the earth while skeptics see their adversaries as enemies of economic growth whose plans stifle initiative under an avalanche of bureaucratic regulation.

There may be a germ of truth in both views, but more than a germ of falsehood too. America’s worst environmental problems have proven to be manageable; the regulations and cleanups of the last sixty years have often worked, and science and technology have continued to improve industrial efficiency. Our present situation is serious, argues Allitt, but it is far from hopeless. Sweeping and provocative, A Climate of Crisis challenges our basic assumptions about the environment, no matter where we fall along the spectrum—reminding us that the answers to our most pressing questions are sometimes found in understanding the past.
Learn more about A Climate of Crisis at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Conservatives.

Writers Read: Patrick Allitt.

The Page 99 Test: A Climate of Crisis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Kathryn Erskine & Fletcher

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Kathryn Erskine & Fletcher.

The author, on how Fletcher got his name:
We agreed on a two syllable name because there's something more satisfying about calling out a 2-syllable name. I suspect the name Fletcher was influenced by the Middle Ages novel I was working on since the main character is the son of a bowyer and fletcher, a bow and arrow maker. Some aliases: Fletch. Babe. Devil...[read on]
About Kathryn Erskine's Seeing Red, from the publisher:
National Book Award winner Kathryn Erskine delivers a powerful story of family, friendship, and race relations in the South.

Life will never be the same for Red Porter. He's a kid growing up around black car grease, white fence paint, and the backward attitudes of the folks who live in his hometown, Rocky Gap, Virginia.

Red's daddy, his idol, has just died, leaving Red and Mama with some hard decisions and a whole lot of doubt. Should they sell the Porter family business, a gas station, repair shop, and convenience store rolled into one, where the slogan -- "Porter's: We Fix it Right!" -- has been shouting the family's pride for as long as anyone can remember?

With Daddy gone, everything's different. Through his friendship with Thomas, Beau, and Miss Georgia, Red starts to see there's a lot more than car motors and rusty fenders that need fixing in his world.

When Red discovers the injustices that have been happening in Rocky Gap since before he was born, he's faced with unsettling questions about his family's legacy.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Erskine's website.

Check out Erskine's top 10 first person narratives.

My Book, The Movie: Seeing Red.

The Page 69 Test: Seeing Red.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Kathryn Erskine & Fletcher.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Janie Chodosh reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Janie Chodosh, author of Death Spiral: A Faith Flores Mystery.

The entry begins:
Since I write for a young adult audience, I read a lot of YA fiction. I just finished Laurie Halse Anderson’s The Impossible Knife of Memory. She is one of my favorite young adult writers, and this book did not disappoint me. What I loved most about this book was the snappy dialogue between Hayley, the protagonist, and her eventual love interest, Finn. Their banter, which ranges from snarky/sarcastic to hilarious to poignant, hums with real-life teenage vitality. Teens do so love to take linguistic jabs at each other, and the dialogue perfectly captures that artful use of language. There is a deeper side to this story, too, the relationship between a veteran father suffering from PTSD and his teenage daughter. Haley’s first person narration is interwoven with her father’s flashbacks of his devastating war experience, allowing the reader a glimpse into the root of his suffering. The book is nuanced with themes of memory and trust and how to...[read on]
About Death Spiral, from the publisher:
Life is tough when you have a junkie for a mom. But when sixteen-year-old Faith Flores— scientist wannabe, loner, new girl in town—finds her mom dead on the bathroom floor, she refuses to believe her mom really OD'd. But the cops have closed the case and her Aunt T, with whom she now lives in the Philly ‘burbs, wants Faith to let go and move on.

But a note from Melinda, her mom's junkie friend, leads Faith to a seedy downtown methadone clinic. Were her mom and Melinda trying to get clean?

When Melinda dies of an overdose, Faith tracks down the scientists behind the trial running at the methadone clinic. Soon she's cutting school and lying to everyone—her aunt, her best friend, even the cops. Everyone, that is, except the strangely alluring Jesse, who believes the “real” education's on the street and whose in-your-face honesty threatens to invade Faith's self-imposed “no-dating” rule. A drug-dealer named Rat-Catcher warns Faith to back off, but it doesn't stop Faith from confronting a genetics professor with a guilty conscience. When the medical examiner's body winds up in the Schuylkill River, Faith realizes if she doesn't act fast, she may be the next body in the morgue. Can Faith stop this deal gone bad from taking a sharp turn for the worse?

Death Spiral is a smart, surprising novel featuring an in-your-face heroine sure to appeal to teens and adults alike.
Visit Janie Chodosh's website.

Writers Read: Janie Chodosh.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ten top books for fans of "House of Cards"

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ester Bloom recommended ten books for fans of the television series House of Cards, including:
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

Historical fiction you can really sink your teeth into, this Booker Prize–winning epic throws you into the high-stakes court of Henry VIII alongside the pragmatic, indispensable Thomas Cromwell.
Read about another entry on the list. 

Wolf Hall made Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Kathryn Williams's reading list on pride, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of books on baby-watching in Great Britain, Julie Buntin's top ten list of literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Hermione Norris's 6 best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best cardinals in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on dangerous minds and Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009, and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Caroline Bock's "Before My Eyes"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Before My Eyes by Caroline Bock.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Caroline Bock's Before My Eyes, Claire has spent the last few months taking care of her six-year-old sister, Izzy, as their mother lies in a hospital bed. Claire believes she has everything under control until she meets a guy online who appears to be a kindred spirit. Claire is initially flattered by the attention but when she meets Max, the shy state senator’s son, her feelings become complicated. Working alongside Max at a beachfront food stand is Barkley. Lonely and obsessive, Barkley has been hearing a voice in his head.

Narrated in turns by Claire, Max, and Barkley, Before My Eyes captures a moment when possibilities should be opening up, but instead everything teeters on the brink of destruction.
Visit Caroline Bock's website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Before My Eyes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top mothers in children's books

Sophie McKenzie is the bestselling author of more than fifteen novels for children and teens in the UK, including the award winning Girl, Missing and Blood Ties. She has won numerous awards, was one of the first Richard and Judy children’s book club winners, and has twice been longlisted for the prestigious Carnegie Medal.

One of her top ten mothers in children's books, as shared at the Guardian:
Marmee in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Back to the traditional with Marmee, the epitome of the solid adult figure. She holds her family together while dad is away, much like the mother in E Nesbit's The Railway Children. She is never central to the story, but she is the moral compass for her daughters and provides them with a stable home from which they can venture and grow. Without her the girls would be lost.
Read about another entry on the list.

Little Women also appears among John Dugdale's ten notable fictional works on winter sports, Melissa Albert's five favorite YA books that might make one cry, Anjelica Huston's seven favorite coming-of-age books, Bidisha's ten top books about women, Katherine Rundell's top ten descriptions of food in fiction, Gwyneth Rees's ten top books about siblings, Maya Angelou's 6 favorite books, Tim Lewis's ten best Christmas lunches in literature, and on the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Erin Blakemore's list of five gutsy heroines to channel on an off day, Kate Saunders' critic's chart of mothers and daughters in literature, and Zoë Heller's list of five memorable portraits of sisters. It is a book that disappointed Geraldine Brooks on re-reading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Anne Clinard Barnhill's "Queen Elizabeth's Daughter," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Queen Elizabeth's Daughter by Anne Clinard Barnhill.

The entry begins:
In Queen Elizabeth's Daughter, there is no question about who should play Elizabeth Tudor. Cate Blanchett has already proven she understands the complexity of the queen in two movies, Elizabeth and Elizabeth, The Golden Age. She has the skill to expose the many layers that make up the woman for whom an age is named, and could easily handle the tender and sometimes brutal scenes required.

As her royal ward and ‘daughter,’ Mary Shelton, Emma...[read on]
Visit Anne Clinard Barnhill's website.

The Page 69 Test: Queen Elizabeth's Daughter.

My Book, The Movie: Queen Elizabeth's Daughter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five unconventional fictional families

Emma Donoghue's latest novel is Frog Music.

The author tagged five favorite unconventional fictional families for the Telegraph, including:
Rewatching the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1813), I was struck by what an oddly tough-minded portrayal of a family Jane Austen’s novel is: that crass mother, that feeble but likeable father, and those five daughters, most of whom have nothing in common and no liking for each other.
Read about another entry on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Melissa Albert's list of recommended reading for eight villains, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bethany Hagen's "Landry Park"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Landry Park by Bethany Hagen.

About the book, from the publisher:
“Downton Abbey” meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal

Sixteen-year-old Madeline Landry is practically Gentry royalty. Her ancestor developed the nuclear energy that has replaced electricity, and her parents exemplify the glamour of the upper class. As for Madeline, she would much rather read a book than attend yet another debutante ball. But when she learns about the devastating impact the Gentry lifestyle—her lifestyle—is having on those less fortunate, her whole world is turned upside down. As Madeline begins to question everything she has been told, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana, who seems to be hiding secrets of his own. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty—her family and the estate she loves dearly—and desire.

Fans of Ally Condie, Kiera Cass, Veronica Roth, and even Jane Austen will be enthralled by this breathtaking read.
Visit Bethany Hagen's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Landry Park.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Molly Caro May's "The Map of Enough"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Map of Enough: One Woman's Search for Place by Molly Caro May.

About the book, from the publisher:
Molly Caro May grew up as part of a nomadic family, one proud of their international sensibilities, a tribe that never settled in one place for very long. Growing up moving from foreign country to foreign country, just like her father and grandfather, she became attached to her identity as a global woman from nowhere. But, with Molly on the verge of turning thirty years old, everything changes.

In The Map of Enough, Molly and her fiancé Chris suddenly move to 107 acres in Montana, land her family owns but rarely visits, with the idea of staying for only a year. surrounded by tall grass, deep woods, and the presence of predators, the young couple starts the challenging and often messy process of building a traditional Mongolian yurt from scratch. They finally finish just on the cusp of winter, in a snowstorm with temperatures below zero degrees. For Molly it is her first real home, yet a nomadic one, meant to be disassembled and moved at will.

Yurt life exposes the couple to nature, to the elements, to the wildlife all around them. It also feels contrary to the modern world, and this triggers in Molly an exploration of what home means to the emergent generation. In today’s age, have globalization and technology taught us that something better, the next best thing, is always out there? How does any young adult establish roots, and how do we decide what kind of life we want to lead? How much, ever, is enough?
Visit Molly Caro May's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Map of Enough.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top names in literature to give your dog

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Nicole Hill tagged the best names in literature to give your dog, including:
Argos (The Odyssey, by Homer)

For the dog who knows the true you, even if you’ve been gone for multiple decades. Note: for your dog’s sanity, please do not be gone for multiple decades.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Odyssey is among Alexandra Silverman's biggest fictional literary crushes, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello's top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian seas, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten fictional female friends who would make good real-life friends, James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello's top ten journeys across the Mediterranean and Caspian Sea, Tony Bradman's top 10 list of father and son stories, John Mullan's lists ten of the best shipwrecks in literature, ten of the best monsters in literature, ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, and ten of the best caves in literature, as well as Madeline Miller's top ten list of classical books, Justin Somper's top ten list of pirate books, and Carsten Jensen's list of the top ten seafaring tales.

Learn about two dogs named Argos by their writer-humans: Ceiridwen Terrill & Argos and Jehanne Dubrow & Argos.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nose in a book: Paul W. Hankins & "The Summer of Letting Go"

Who: Paul W. Hankins, Reader/Writer/Teacher in Southern Indiana

What: The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

When: March 26th, 2014

Where: Home

Photo credit: Selfie

Visit Gae Polisner's website.

Writers Read: Gae Polisner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ben Tarnoff's "The Bohemians," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff.

The entry begins:
A lot of actors have played Mark Twain over the years. Hal Holbrook might be the best known, but Val Kilmer has also suited up for the role. There’s also that time-traveling episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Twain helps rescue Captain Picard.

These Twains are invariably the Twain of popular imagination: the man in the white suit, with the electric shock of white hair, chomping on a cigar, dispensing witty one-liners. This was Twain in his later years, when he was a national icon and an international celebrity, and his best work was behind him. My book focuses on the younger Twain, when he was just embarking on his literary career, and he hadn’t yet learned how to conceal his tumultuous inner life under a genial grandfatherly façade. Twain in his twenties and early thirties was tormented by depression, mania, professional uncertainty, financial fears. He was an extremist, prone to excesses of all kinds and terrifying flights of rage.

I’d give the part to Matthew...[read on]
View the trailer for The Bohemians, and visit Ben Tarnoff's website.

Writers Read: Ben Tarnoff.

The Page 99 Test: The Bohemians.

My Book, The Movie: The Bohemians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Hazel Gaynor's "The Girl Who Came Home"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor.

About the book, from the publisher:
A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman....

Ireland, 1912...

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982...

Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about Titanic that she's harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy's impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.
Visit Hazel Gaynor's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Came Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Margarita Engle reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Margarita Engle, author of Silver People, Voices From the Panama Canal.

Her entry begins:
Frankly, I’m always shocked when I hear people who say they love books begin to brag about only buying books online, at bargain prices. I love books, and I love bookstores, so I make a point of buying new hardback poetry in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s a matter of principle. I want bookstores to survive. I also want bookstores to carry poetry. My most recent hardback poetry purchases are The Moon Before Morning, by W.S. Merwin, and a bilingual edition of All The Odes, by Pablo Neruda, edited by Ilan Stevens. Both are gorgeous, and I know that...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
One hundred years ago, the world celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, which connected the world’s two largest oceans and signaled America’s emergence as a global superpower. It was a miracle, this path of water where a mountain had stood—and creating a miracle is no easy thing. Thousands lost their lives, and those who survived worked under the harshest conditions for only a few silver coins a day.

From the young "silver people" whose back-breaking labor built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, as only Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle could tell it.
Visit Margarita Engle's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Margarita Engle & Maggi and Chance.

My Book, The Movie: The Lightning Dreamer.

My Book, The Movie: Mountain Dog.

Writers Read: Margarita Engle (August 2013).

Writers Read: Margarita Engle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books about failed marriages

Jean Hanff Korelitz's new novel is You Should Have Known.

One of her favorite books about failed marriages, as shared at The Daily Beast:
The Good Soldier
by Ford Madox Ford

Ford Madox Ford’s landmark 1915 novel considers two married couples who are so harmoniously attuned to one another that they rise from the dinner table in silent, un-cued synchronicity. Alas, the decidedly unreliable narrator knows far more about these four than he initially tells, and the truth comes out in a masterful unwinding of secrets and viciousness. One young woman, unfortunate enough to have wandered into this marital minefield, is nearly catatonic by the end of the novel, and can only utter a single word, the divinely appropriate: “Shuttlecocks!”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Good Soldier also appears on Penelope Lively's six favorite books list, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best spas in literature, ten of the best failed couplings in literature, and ten great novels with terrible original titles, and on the Guardian's list of ten of the best unconsummated passions in fiction and Adam Haslett's list of the five best novelists on grief. One line from the novel appears among Stanley Fish's top five sentences.

The Page 99 Test: The Good Soldier.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pg. 99: Ryan K. Balot's "Courage in the Democratic Polis"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Courage in the Democratic Polis: Ideology and Critique in Classical Athens by Ryan K. Balot.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this careful and compelling study, Ryan K. Balot brings together political theory, classical history, and ancient philosophy in order to reinterpret courage as a specifically democratic virtue. Ranging from Thucydides and Aristophanes to the Greek tragedians and Plato, Balot shows that the ancient Athenians constructed a novel vision of courage that linked this virtue to fundamental democratic ideals such as freedom, equality, and practical rationality. The Athenian ideology of courage had practical implications for the conduct of war, for gender relations, and for the citizens' self-image as democrats. In revising traditional ideals, Balot argues, the Athenians reimagined the emotional and cognitive motivations for courage in ways that will unsettle and transform our contemporary discourses. Without losing sight of political tensions and practical conflicts, Balot illustrates the merits of the Athenian ideal, provocatively explaining its potential to enlarge our contemporary understandings of politics and ethics. The result is a remarkably interdisciplinary work that has significant implications for the theory and practice of democracy, both ancient and modern.
Learn more about Courage in the Democratic Polis at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Courage in the Democratic Polis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books on March Madness

One title on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on March Madness:
Wooden: A Coach's Life
by Seth Davis

Modest in his public face, unyieldingly authoritarian in his management of his players, UCLA coach John Wooden's reign over the court in the 1960s and 70s was supreme. His 10 championships -- six of them an unbroken string -- would make him a legend, but Wooden's transformation of the game itself was even more profound. Sports Illustrated writer Davis has already delivered the definitive accounts of the explosion of interest in the NCAA tournament in How March Went Mad. With Wooden, he takes readers back to the roots of modern college basketball itself.
Read about another book on the list.

Also see: Majorie Kehe's ten best books about college basketball.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: David Oppegaard's "And the Hills Opened Up"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: And the Hills Opened Up by David Oppegaard.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the Dennison Mining Company tunnels too far, a bloodthirsty creature is set loose upon the isolated mountain town of Red Earth, Wyoming. If a reluctant alliance of outlaws, miners, misfits, and whores cannot stop the Charred Man, everyone in Red Earth will be dead by morning.

A blend of old school horror and gritty Western shootout, And the Hills Opened Up is about fighting for life in the midst of death.
Visit David Oppegaard's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Suicide Collectors.

The Page 69 Test: Wormwood, Nevada.

The Page 69 Test: And the Hills Opened Up.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Gayle Rosengren & Fiona

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Gayle Rosengren & Fiona.

The author, on how Fiona got her name:
Fiona was named by the woman who rescued her from a Milwaukee humane society shelter. The woman runs a Bichon Rescue agency outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where I live. Most of the dogs she saves come from auctions of puppy mill victims. Fiona was one of the lucky ones. Somehow she ended up on the streets, but it seemed pretty clear she'd been well taken care of prior to that and she was very well-trained. She couldn't have been on the streets for long. Why no one claimed her is beyond me, but their loss turned out to be my great good fortune. She's a sweetheart. I could have changed her name to anything I wanted, but I loved it. She really is a...[read on]
About Rosengren's new book, What the Moon Said, from the publisher:
Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can't keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther's family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.

Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.
Visit Gayle Rosengren's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Gayle Rosengren & Fiona.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jill Kelly's "Fog of Dead Souls," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Fog of Dead Souls by Jill Kelly.

The entry begins:
About halfway through the writing of Fog, I knew I had a great movie as well as a great read in the making. Why? Because I was writing about three substantial characters in their 60s—a female college professor, a male detective, and a cowboy—and there are a number of terrific older actors who are making great movies and original series for TV.

Ellie McKay is a professor of French whose surgeon boyfriend is murdered in their hotel room on a weekend trip to Gettysburg. Already struggling with alcoholism, Ellie gets tipped over the edge by the violence she experiences. The incomparable Meryl Streep has the versatility to play this role. She could brilliantly do the wounded and the brazen sides of Ellie that we come to see. However, I’d be more inclined to beg Debra...[read on]
Visit Jill Kelly's website.

The Page 69 Test: Fog of Dead Souls.

My Book, The Movie: Fog of Dead Souls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pg. 99: Ben Tarnoff's "The Bohemians"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff.

About the book, from the publisher:
The unforgettable story of the birth of modern America and the western writers who gave voice to its emerging identity

The Bohemians begins in 1860s San Francisco. The Gold Rush has ended; the Civil War threatens to tear apart the country. Far from the front lines, the city at the western edge roars. A global seaport, home to immigrants from five continents, San Francisco has become a complex urban society virtually overnight. The bards of the moment are the Bohemians: a young Mark Twain, fleeing the draft and seeking adventure; literary golden boy Bret Harte; struggling gay poet Charles Warren Stoddard; and beautiful, haunted Ina Coolbrith, poet and protectorate of the group. Ben Tarnoff’s elegant, atmospheric history reveals how these four pioneering western writers would together create a new American literature, unfettered by the heavy European influence that dominated the East.

Twain arrives by stagecoach in San Francisco in 1863 and is fast drunk on champagne, oysters, and the city’s intoxicating energy. He finds that the war has only made California richer: the economy booms, newspapers and magazines thrive, and the dream of transcontinental train travel promises to soon become a reality. Twain and the Bohemians find inspiration in their surroundings: the dark ironies of frontier humor, the extravagant tales told around the campfires, and the youthful irreverence of the new world being formed in the west. The star of the moment is Bret Harte, a rising figure on the national scene and mentor to both Stoddard and Coolbrith. Young and ambitious, Twain and Harte form the Bohemian core. But as Harte’s star ascends—drawing attention from eastern taste makers such as the Atlantic Monthly—Twain flounders, questioning whether he should be a writer at all.

The Bohemian moment would continue in Boston, New York, and London, and would achieve immortality in the writings of Mark Twain. San Francisco gave him his education as a writer and helped inspire the astonishing innovations that radically reimagined American literature. At once an intimate portrait of an eclectic, unforgettable group of writers and a history of a cultural revolution in America, The Bohemians reveals how a brief moment on the western frontier changed our country forever.
View the trailer for The Bohemians, and visit Ben Tarnoff's website.

Writers Read: Ben Tarnoff.

The Page 99 Test: The Bohemians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Molly Antopol's 6 favorite books

Molly Antopol's debut story collection is The UnAmericans.

One of the author's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin

Only when I first read Baldwin did I see how emotionally direct stories can be while never approaching sappiness. It's as if every one of his stories is something Baldwin felt he needed to write, that he was more interested in being honest than in wowing the reader with his cleverness.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Peter Higgins's "Truth and Fear"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Truth and Fear by Peter Higgins.

About the book, from the publisher:
Investigator Lom returns to Mirgorod and finds the city in the throes of a crisis. The war against the Archipelago is not going well. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air raids are a daily occurrence and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defense of the city.

But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city.

But will the horrors of war overtake all their plans?
Visit Peter Higgins's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Truth and Fear.

--Marshal Zeringue

The top six dragons in literature

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Becky Ferreira tagged the six best dragons in literature, including:
Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion (A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R.R. Martin)

Similar to Saphira [in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini], the three dragons born to Daenerys Targaryen immediately bond with her, and become her fierce defenders as they mature. All the Houses in Martin’s brutal fantasy have their own secret weapons, but we have to admit, dragons are a pretty epic ace in the hole. All sweet Dany has to say is “Dracarys” and boom—empires topple. She and her fire-breathing offspring are a force to be reckoned with.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Song of Ice and Fire is among Joel Cunningham's seven top books featuring long winters. The Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords is one of Becky Ferreira top six most momentous weddings in fiction. The Lannister family from A Game of Thrones is one of Jami Attenberg's top ten dysfunctional families in literature. A Game of Thrones is one of Nicole Hill's top six books on gluttony.

Also see John Mullan's list of ten of the best dragons in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Gae Polisner reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Gae Polisner, author of The Summer of Letting Go.

Her entry begins:
I am literally today just about to finish Matthew Quick’s terrific Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. I’m embarrassed to admit it’s my first Matthew Quick book (since I hear they are all pretty stellar), which is reason number one why I’m reading it. Besides that, the theme of a teen boy with plans, on the day of his 18th birthday, to kill his former best friend them himself, resonated with me against the backdrop of the spate of recent school shootings. What would bring a kid to feel so hopeless and distraught? What might bring him back from the brink? Hope? Questions we ...[read on]
About  The Summer of Letting Go, from the publisher:
Just when everything seems to be going wrong, hope—and love—can appear in the most unexpected places.

Summer has begun, the beach beckons—and Francesca Schnell is going nowhere. Four years ago, Francesca’s little brother, Simon, drowned, and Francesca’s the one who should have been watching. Now Francesca is about to turn sixteen, but guilt keeps her stuck in the past. Meanwhile, her best friend, Lisette, is moving on—most recently with the boy Francesca wants but can’t have. At loose ends, Francesca trails her father, who may be having an affair, to the local country club. There she meets four-year-old Frankie Sky, a little boy who bears an almost eerie resemblance to Simon, and Francesca begins to wonder if it’s possible Frankie could be his reincarnation. Knowing Frankie leads Francesca to places she thought she’d never dare to go—and it begins to seem possible to forgive herself, grow up, and even fall in love, whether or not she solves the riddle of Frankie Sky.
Visit Gae Polisner's website.

Writers Read: Gae Polisner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pg. 99: Andrew Buchanan's "American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean During World War II"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II by Andrew Buchanan.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book offers a thorough reinterpretation of U.S. engagement with the Mediterranean during World War II. Andrew Buchanan argues that the United States was far from being a reluctant participant in a “peripheral” theater, and that Washington had a major grand-strategic interest in the region. By the end of the war the Mediterranean was essentially an American lake, and the United States had substantial political and economic interests extending from North Africa, via Italy and the Balkans, to the Middle East. This book examines the military, diplomatic, and economic processes by which this hegemonic position was assembled and consolidated. It discusses the changing character of the Anglo-American alliance, the establishment of post-war spheres of influence, the nature of presidential leadership, and the common interest of all the leaders of the “Grand Alliance” in blocking the development of potentially revolutionary movements emerging from the chaos of war, occupation, and economic breakdown.
Read more about American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: American Grand Strategy in the Mediterranean during World War II.

--Marshal Zeringue

Yiyun Li's 6 favorite novels

Yiyun Li's new novel is Kinder Than Solitude.

One of her six favorite books, as shared with The Week magazine:
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

At the center of this novel are two close sisters who have survived abandonments and deaths together. But after the arrival of their eccentric guardian, Aunt Sylvie, they drift apart. "Once alone," the eldest explains, "it is impossible to believe that one could ever have been otherwise. Loneliness is an absolute discovery."
Read about another book on the list.

Housekeeping is among Claire Cameron's five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Sara Zarr's top ten family dramas, Philip Connors's top 10 wilderness books, Kate Walbert's best books, and Aryn Kyle's favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Cari Lynn & Kellie Martin's "Madam"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Madam by Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin.

About the book, from the publisher:
When vice had a legal home and jazz was being born—the captivating story of an infamous true-life madam

New Orleans, 1900. Mary Deubler makes a meager living as an “alley whore.” That all changes when bible-thumping Alderman Sidney Story forces the creation of a red-light district that’s mockingly dubbed “Storyville.” Mary believes there’s no place for a lowly girl like her in the high-class bordellos of Storyville’s Basin Street, where Champagne flows and beautiful girls turn tricks in luxurious bedrooms. But with gumption, twists of fate, even a touch of Voodoo, Mary rises above her hopeless lot to become the notorious Madame Josie Arlington.

Filled with fascinating historical details and cameos by Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and E. J. Bellocq, Madam is a fantastic romp through The Big Easy and the irresistible story of a woman who rose to power long before the era of equal rights.
Read more about Madam, and visit the websites of Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin.

The Page 69 Test: Madam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Daniel Sutherland's "Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake by Daniel E. Sutherland.

The entry begins:
Actually, it is not pure speculation on my part to consider the lead roles in a movie biography of James Whistler. I was a consultant for the script and will appear as one of several “talking heads” in a film documentary about the artist, James McNeill Whistler and the Case for Beauty, to be broadcast on PBS this fall (probably September). Our producer was lucky enough to snag Angelica Huston as narrator and Kevin Kline as the voice of Whistler. (Vanessa Redgrave was to have supplied the voice of Anna Whistler, his mother, but had to bow out for contractual reasons). As for Kline, he will not appear on screen, and is now a bit long in the tooth to play the young Whistler, but I think he would still be perfect as an aging Whistler (he is now 66 years old, Whistler died at age 69).

So who to play the young and middle-age artist? No one else but...[read on]
Visit Daniel Sutherland's faculty webpage, and learn more about Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A Savage Conflict.

The Page 99 Test: Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake.

My Book, The Movie: Whistler: A Life for Art's Sake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable fictional fashion icons

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Chrissie Gruebel tagged some of her favorite fictional fashion icons, including:
Cinna (The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins)

In the midst of all the tacky disasters running around the Capitol with wings and face tattoos and ruffles bigger than your head, Cinna rocks simple gold eyeliner like a boss. And considering the fact that we all know what that man’s hands are capable of (dresses that can erupt in flames or start a revolution, etc), it’s a testament to his fashion dominance that he’s down with the “less is more” aesthetic. So talented. So beautiful. We shall never stop firing our cannons in the air for you, Cinna.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

Also see: Kate Finnigan's list of ten literary characters who have been her style inspiration.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 24, 2014

What is David Handler reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Handler, author of The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb.

His entry begins:
The brutally long, cold winter is still hanging on here in Southern New England. The news headlines seem to be getting bleaker and more depressing every day. Me? I’m curled up with my favorite hard-boiled crime novel of all time, Build My Gallows High, by the late, great Geoffrey Homes, which was the pen name of a San Francisco newspaperman named Daniel Mainwaring.

If you don’t know Geoffrey Homes you really should. He was one of the very best hard-boiled crime writers of the 1940s. And if you don’t know Build My Gallows High -- a twisty, wicked tale of a detective who goes searching for a gangster’s treacherous girlfriend only to end up falling for her himself -- well, yes, you do. Or you do if you’re a fan of film noir. When Homes adapted Build My Gallows High as a screenplay for RKO in 1947 the title got changed to...[read on]
About The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb, from the publisher:
The historic New England village of Dorset has actually elected a living, breathing woman as its First Selectman. And now she’s about to undertake the Historic District’s biggest public works project in a generation–the widening and re-grading of Dorset Street. The job has needed doing for ages but the previous First Selectman, Bob Paffin, always opposed it. So did a lot of Dorset’s blue-blooded old guard.

The long put-off dig uncovers a body buried underneath the pavement in front of the Congregational Church. It belongs to Lt. Lance Paffin, Bob Paffin’s older brother, a dashing U.S. Navy flyer who went missing off his sailboat the night of the country club’s spring dance more than forty years ago. Everyone had assumed he just left town. But now it's clear Lance has been under Dorset Street this whole time, and that he was murdered.

Des and Mitch soon discover that there are deep, dark secrets surrounding Dorset's elite, and some very distinguished careers have been built on lies. Coal Black Asphalt Tomb is the tenth in David Handler's original and very funny Berger and Mitry mystery series featuring this engaging biracial couple.
Learn more about the book and author at David Handler's website.

Writers Read: David Handler (October 2011).

Writers Read: David Handler (October 2012).

Writers Read: David Handler (August 2013).

Writers Read: David Handler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nose in a book: Eileen Elliott Pearce & "Poisoned Ground"

Who: Eileen Elliott Pearce, Adult Services Librarian at the Windsor Locks (CT) Public Library, and Pepper, who makes a guest appearance in the story

What: Poisoned Ground by Sandra Parshall

When: March 2014

Where: undisclosed location

Photo credit: Robert Pearce

Visit Sandra Parshall's website.

The Page 69 Test: Poisoned Ground.

My Book, The Movie: Poisoned Ground.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Louis Bayard's "Roosevelt's Beast"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Roosevelt's Beast: A Novel by Louis Bayard.

About the book, from the publisher:
A reimagining of Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt’s ill-fated 1914 Amazon expedition—a psychological twist on the smart historical thriller that first put Louis Bayard on the map

1914. Brazil’s Rio da Dúvida, the River of Doubt. Plagued by hunger and suffering the lingering effects of malaria, Theodore Roosevelt, his son Kermit, and the other members of the now-ravaged Roosevelt-Rondon scientific expedition are traveling deeper and deeper into the jungle. When Kermit and Teddy are kidnapped by a never-before-seen Amazonian tribe, the great hunters are asked one thing in exchange for their freedom: find and kill a beast that leaves no tracks and that no member of the tribe has ever seen. But what are the origins of this beast, and how do they escape its brutal wrath?

Roosevelt's Beast is a story of the impossible things that become possible when civilization is miles away, when the mind plays tricks on itself, and when old family secrets refuse to stay buried. With his characteristically rich storytelling and a touch of old-fashioned horror, the bestselling and critically acclaimed Louis Bayard turns the story of the well-known Roosevelt-Rondon expedition on its head and dares to ask: Are the beasts among us more frightening than the beasts within?
Learn more about the book and author at Louis Bayard's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Black Tower.

The Page 69 Test: The Pale Blue Eye.

The Page 69 Test: The School of Night.

The Page 69 Test: Roosevelt's Beast.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top teens in trouble

After graduating from Trinity College Cambridge, Non Pratt became a nonfiction editor at Usborne, working on the bestselling Sticker Dolly Dressing and the Things to Make and Do series before moving across to fiction. She ran the list at Catnip Publishing from 2009 to 2013. She lives in Enfield with her husband and small(ish) child. Trouble is her first novel.

Pratt tagged her top ten teens in trouble for the Guardian, including:
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Elise is the girl no one likes at school and the effect on her is (unsurprisingly) damaging. When she comes across Start, an underground nightclub, and she starts DJ-ing, she finds a place where people don't just accept her – they like her. The depiction of classroom bullying stripped back the years, leaving me as raw as if they happened yesterday afternoon, but Elise's journey provides the kind of hope I could have used growing up. (Her music tips would have helped too!)
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tim Townsend's "Mission at Nuremberg"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend.

About the book, from the publisher:
The gripping story of the American army chaplain sent to save the souls of the Nazis incarcerated at Nuremberg

Lutheran minister Henry Gerecke was fifty years old when he enlisted as an army chaplain during World War II. As two of his three sons faced danger and death on the battlefield, Gerecke tended to the battered bodies and souls of wounded and dying GIs outside London. But at the close of the European theater, with Hitler defeated and scores of American troops returning home to resume their lives, Gerecke received his most challenging assignment: he was sent to Nuremberg to minister to the twenty-one imprisoned Nazi leaders awaiting trial for crimes against humanity.

A crucial yet largely untold coda to the horrors of World War II, Mission at Nuremberg unearths groundbreaking new research and compelling firsthand accounts to take us deep inside the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, into the very cells of the accused and the courtroom where they answered to the world for their crimes. Never before in modern history had man accomplished mass slaughter with such precision. These twenty-one Nazis had sat at the right hand of Adolf Hitler; Hermann Goering, Albert Speer, Wilhelm Keitel, Hans Frank, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner were the orchestrators, and in some cases the direct perpetrators, of the most methodical genocide in history.

As the drama leading to the court's final judgments unfolds, Tim Townsend brings Henry Gerecke's impossible moral quandary to life: How, having risked his own life (and those of his sons) to eliminate the Nazi threat, could he now win the confidence of these men? In the months after the war ended, Gerecke had visited Dachau. He had touched the walls of the camp's crematorium. He had seen the consequences of the choices these men had made, the orders they had given and carried out. As he worked to form compassionate relationships with them, how could he preach the gospel of mercy, knowing full well the devastating nature of the atrocities they had committed? And as the day came nearer when he had to escort these men to the gallows, what comfort could he offer—and what promises of salvation could he make—to evil itself?

Detailed, harrowing, and emotionally charged, Mission at Nuremberg is an incisive new history of the Nuremberg trials as well as a nuanced reflection on the nature of morality and sin, the price of empathy, and the limits of forgiveness.
Visit the Mission at Nuremberg website.

The Page 99 Test: Mission at Nuremberg.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ten of the best readers of fiction in fiction

Hannah Jane Parkinson is a writer on pop culture, lifestyle and the arts, and performs poetry around Oxford, on evenings when Coronation Street isn't on. She likes reading, sauvignon blanc, laughing and Liverpool FC.

At the Guardian she tagged ten top readers of fiction in fiction, including:
The Great Gatsby – read by D’Angelo Barksdale, The Wire

One of the most underrated scenes in The Wire is this one in which D’Angelo Barksdale, after listening patiently to his fellow inmates in the prison book club, gives an astute analysis of The Great Gatsby. (He has been working in the prison library). “He’s saying that the past is always with us. Where we come from, what we go through, how we go through it – all that shit matters,” he tells the group. An important life lesson for any of The Wire’s characters, and indeed, anyone at all.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Great Gatsby appears among Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of five of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, 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. Gatsby's Jordan Baker is Josh Sorokach's biggest fictional literary crush.

--Marshal Zeringue