Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Pg. 99: G.R.F. Ferrari's "The Messages We Send"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Messages We Send: Social Signals and Storytelling by G. R. F. Ferrari.

About the book, from the publisher:
G. R. F. Ferrari offers a new framework for understanding different ways in which we communicate with each other. He explores the idea of "intimations": social interactions that approach outright communication but do not quite reach it. The metaphor from which he starts is that of a communicative scale or switch, which goes from "off" (no communication intended) to fully "on" (outright communication). Intimations lie in between. Three intermediate positions are identified: quarter-on, half-on, and three-quarters-on. Progression along the communicative scale is determined by the extent to which what comes across in the transmission is required to come across by recognition of the intention of the transmitting party. At a quarter-on, it is required not to; at half-on, it is neither required to nor required not to; at three-quarters-on, it is required to, but only partially; at full-on, it is required to, and the recognition is complete. The half-on intimation is primarily used for impression-management in social life. To illustrate it, the book concentrates on fashion and the "messages" we send with our clothes. With the quarter-on and three-quarters-on intimation, the focus of argument is on the fact that transmissions at the same position of the communicative scale have the same underlying structure, whether they are made in the formal arts or in daily life outside the arts. For the quarter-on intimation, the formal art is lyric poetry; for the three-quarters-on intimation, it is storytelling. The book discusses storytelling at length, and at the end investigates its connection to situational irony.
Learn more about The Messages We Send at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Messages We Send.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Smithsonian" magazine's 10 best history books of 2017

One of Smithsonian magazine's ten best history books of 2017:
Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics by Marjorie J. Spruill.

Thirty years ago, long before the Women’s Marches of 2017, women like Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King and Coretta Scott King tried to put feminist issues on the national agenda. Ms. Magazine famous dubbed the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston “Four Days That Changed the World,” but the changes were complicated, as Spruill describes over the course of her book. “Women’s libbers” sparked a countermovement led by Phyllis Schlafly, which held a “Pro-Life, Pro-Family Rally” in Houston at the same time as the conference. Spruill is a professor of women’s, Southern and recent American history at the University of South Carolina, and she brings her unique academic perspective to explain why feminist initiatives like the Equal Rights Amendment never saw the light of day.
Learn about another entry on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Divided We Stand.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Shelley Tougas reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Shelley Tougas, author of Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life.

Her entry begins:
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rose Howard loves her homonyms—so much that she names a dog found lost in a storm “Rain” (rein, reign). Rose, who has autism, is pushed to her limits when Rain disappears again, and she has to make the toughest decision of her life. This tugs at your heart but never goes over the top with sentimentality. Lovely....[read on]
About Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life, from the publisher:
A life on the prairie is not all its cracked up to be for one girl whose mom takes her love of the Little House series just a bit too far.

Charlotte’s mom has just moved the family across the country to live in Walnut Grove, “childhood home of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Mom’s idea is that the spirit of Laura Ingalls will help her write a bestselling book. But Charlotte knows better: Walnut Grove is just another town where Mom can avoid responsibility. And this place is worse than everywhere else the family has lived—it’s freezing in the winter, it’s small with nothing to do, and the people talk about Laura Ingalls all the time. Charlotte’s convinced her family will not be able to make a life on the prairie—until the spirit of Laura Ingalls starts getting to her, too.
Visit Shelley Tougas's website.

Writers Read: Shelley Tougas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 11, 2017

Six top books about self-deception

Emily Fridlund is the author of the story collection Catapult and History of Wolves, a debut novel that was a finalist for the Man Booker Award. One of her six favorite books about self-deception, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

I first read this collection of brutal Vietnam War stories as a teenager. It has never left me. It is the book I return to whenever I need to think through again how the stories we tell can obscure truths, yes, but also — crucially and sometimes despite ourselves — expose them.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Things They Carried is among Janine di Giovanni's top ten books of war reportage, The American Scholar editors' eleven best sentences in literature, Simon Mawer's five top war novels, Olen Steinhauer's six favorite books, and is one of Roger “R.J.” Ellory's five favorite human dramas. Melinda L. Pash, author of In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation: The Americans Who Fought the Korean War, says The Things They Carried changed her life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Steven Cooper's "Desert Remains," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Desert Remains by Steven Cooper.

The entry begins:
I never cast my characters while writing a book. They come to me organically, appearing as strangers I’ve never seen before. They’re not unlike the new, unfamiliar faces that pop up in dreams. After a while, once the book is out, once I’m not so close to these people, I might then see an actor or actress who appears very close to the characters I imagined. Recently I watched a series on Hulu called Casual and it occurred to me that the male lead, Tommy Dewey, would make a convincing Gus Parker. The role must be authentic surfer dude, not a spoof or a caricature. When Gus makes me laugh, I...[read on]
Visit Steven Cooper's website.

My Book, The Movie: Desert Remains.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tara Goedjen's "The Breathless"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Breathless by Tara Goedjen.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/548795/the-breathless-by-tara-goedjen/About the book, from the publisher:
For fans of the dark family secrets of We Were Liars and the page-turning suspense of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Breathless is a haunting tale of deeply buried secrets, forbidden love, and how far some will go to bring back what’s long dead.

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.

Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.

And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.

And maybe there are secrets so dark, they should never see the light of day.
Visit Tara Goedjen's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Breathless.

Writers Read: Tara Goedjen.

The Page 69 Test: The Breathless.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seventeen books for "Jane Eyre" fans

At Bustle, Kristian Wilson tagged seventeen books for Jane Eyre lovers, including:
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

In Lena Coakley's novel, the Brontë siblings bring the fantastic worlds of Gondal and Verdopolis to life with their pens, providing an escape from the banalities of everyday life. But when Branwell's mind begins to slip, his sisters must reconsider their relationship with the lands they have created.
Read about the another entry on the list.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow is among Melissa Albert's  six magically weird YA fantasy books.

The Page 69 Test: Worlds of Ink and Shadow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pg. 99: Maria Belodubrovskaya's "Not According to Plan"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Not According to Plan: Filmmaking under Stalin by Maria Belodubrovskaya.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Not According to Plan, Maria Belodubrovskaya reveals the limits on the power of even the most repressive totalitarian regimes to create and control propaganda. Belodubrovskaya’s revisionist account of Soviet filmmaking between 1930 and 1953 highlights the extent to which the Soviet film industry remained stubbornly artisanal in its methods, especially in contrast to the more industrial approach of the Hollywood studio system. Not According to Plan shows that even though Josef Stalin recognized cinema as a "mighty instrument of mass agitation and propaganda" and strove to harness the Soviet film industry to serve the state, directors such as Eisenstein, Alexandrov, and Pudovkin had far more creative control than did party-appointed executives and censors.

The Stalinist party-state, despite explicit intent and grandiose plans to build a "Soviet Hollywood" that would release a thousand features per year, failed to construct even a modest mass propaganda cinema. Belodubrovskaya’s wealth of evidence shows that the regime’s desire to disseminate propaganda on a vast scale was consistently at odds with its compulsion to control quality and with Stalin’s intolerance of imperfection. Not According to Plan is a landmark in Soviet cultural history and the global history of cinema.
Learn more about Not According to Plan at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Not According to Plan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best middle grade mysteries

At the BN Kids Blog Maria Burel tagged "seven middle grade mysteries to cozy up with on dreary days," including:
Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko

In 1900 San Francisco, 13-year-old Lizzie is stuck in a girls’ finishing school, when she’d much rather be studying science. It’s while on house call visits with her physician father that she discovers the underbelly of the city, a world as far removed from finishing school as one can get. When Chinatown is quarantined amidst rumors of the plague, Lizzie breaks all social class rules and befriends Noah, their Chinese cook’s son, who has been hiding in the servant’s quarters. Together, the two attempt to unravel the medical mystery that has taken over San Francisco. If you’re looking for a fast-paced blend of historical fiction, medical drama, and mystery, this one is for you.
Read about another entry on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Gennifer Choldenko & Sasha.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Irene Radford reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Irene Radford, author of A Spoonful of Magic.

Her entry begins:
When I am writing Urban Fanatsy I cannot read Urban Fantasy. When I’m writing Historical Fantasy, after I’ve done the initial research, I cannot read a similar genre. My default popcorn books are cozy mysteries, with or without ghosts and paranormal elements as long as the mystery is the core of the story. Rhys Bowen and Carola Dunn are current favorites in...[read on]
About A Spoonful of Magic, from the publisher:
A delightful new urban fantasy about a kitchen witch and her magical family

Daphne “Daffy” Rose Wallace Deschants has an ideal suburban life—three wonderful and talented children; a coffee shop and bakery, owned and run with her best friend; a nearly perfect husband, Gabriel, or “G” to his friends and family. Life could hardly be better.

But G’s perfection hides dangerous secrets. When Daffy uncovers evidence of his infidelity, her perfect life seems to be in ruins. On their wedding anniversary, Daffy prepares to confront him, only to be stopped in her tracks when he foils a mugging attempt using wizard-level magic.

Suddenly, Daphne is part of a world she never imagined–where her husband is not a traveling troubleshooter for a software company, but the sheriff of the International Guild of Wizards, and her brilliant children are also budding magicians. Even she herself is not just a great baker and barista—she’s actually a kitchen witch. And her discovery of her powers is only just beginning.

But even the midst of her chaotic new life, another problem is brewing. G’s ex-wife, a dangerous witch, has escaped from her magical prison. Revenge-bent and blind, she needs the eyes of her son to restore her sight—the son Daffy has raised as her own since he was a year old. Now Daphne must find a way to harness her new powers and protect her family—or risk losing everything she holds dear.
Visit Irene Radford's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Broken Dragon.

The Page 69 Test: The Broken Dragon.

My Book, The Movie: A Spoonful of Magic.

Writers Read: Irene Radford.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Jesse Blackadder

Jesse Blackadder is an author and screenwriter. She has published seven books for adults and children. Her latest novel, Sixty Seconds, is about a family's journey to forgiveness after their toddler son drowns. One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE PASSION - Jeanette Winterson

Dazzling, inventive and boundary-pushing, The Passion blew my undergraduate mind by showing me what was possible in a novel. The story of a Venetian boatman's daughter and a soldier in Napoleon's army turned everything I knew about writing on its head, and inspired me to become a writer.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Pg. 69: Janet Fitch's "The Revolution of Marina M."

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the mega-bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black, a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman

St. Petersburg, New Year's Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers' rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.

As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina's own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman's journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.
Visit Janet Fitch's website.

The Page 99 Test: Janet Fitch's Paint It Black.

The Page 69 Test: The Revolution of Marina M..

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top food books for history buffs

At B&N Reads Madina Papadopoulos tagged five top food history books, including:
Beans: A History, by Ken Albala

Eminent food historian and Professor of History at University of the Pacific, Ken Albala, has written copious amounts of texts on the subject of culinary history. With a plant-based movement taking root in the food world, it is intriguing to take a look at the history of the bean. Looking at societies and change through the lens of this food, Albala tells captivating tales of cuisines and culture.
Read about another entry on the list.

Writers Read: Ken Albala (September 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David N. Schwartz's "The Last Man Who Knew Everything"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age by David N. Schwartz.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1942, a team at the University of Chicago achieved what no one had before: a nuclear chain reaction. At the forefront of this breakthrough stood Enrico Fermi. Straddling the ages of classical physics and quantum mechanics, equally at ease with theory and experiment, Fermi truly was the last man who knew everything-at least about physics. But he was also a complex figure who was a part of both the Italian Fascist Party and the Manhattan Project, and a less-than-ideal father and husband who nevertheless remained one of history's greatest mentors. Based on new archival material and exclusive interviews, The Last Man Who Knew Everything lays bare the enigmatic life of a colossus of twentieth century physics.
Visit David N. Schwartz's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Last Man Who Knew Everything.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 08, 2017

Ten top books of the American West

Alex Higley's new novel is Old Open.

One of the author's ten favorite books about the American West, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams

On the wrinkled soft quarter-sheet of paper I used as a bookmark while rereading The Quick and the Dead some years back there are 17 words written down. Most of them are illegible. I can make out the following: “rusk,” “telluric,” “decedent,” “descanso,” “Fleetwood Brougham,” “ischemic.” Here’s a portion from the introduction of my favorite character: “Ray didn’t drink or do drugs but various ischemic incidents had given him an eager, erratic nature and a variety of facial contortions that allowed permanent employment to elude him. He hated selling shoes. He wanted to sell boots, but the manager disliked him.” This is my favorite Joy Williams novel, but who cares, read every word she writes.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tara Goedjen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tara Goedjen, author of The Breathless.

Her entry begins:
I’ve been touring for The Breathless and have just gotten the chance to pick up a book by a writer friend, Amanda Searcy, called The Truth Beneath the Lies. Since I write within the mystery/thriller genre, I tend to reach for those books first, and the cover of Searcy’s novel makes me want to read it: the jagged streaks of color hint at the darkness and danger within. Karen McManus, another writer I admire, described it as “A smart, suspenseful, and unpredictable thriller that will keep readers turning pages until every last lie is revealed.” These are the sorts of books I...[read on]
About The Breathless, from the publisher:
For fans of the dark family secrets of We Were Liars and the page-turning suspense of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Breathless is a haunting tale of deeply buried secrets, forbidden love, and how far some will go to bring back what’s long dead.

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/548795/the-breathless-by-tara-goedjen/been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.

Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.

And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.

And maybe there are secrets so dark, they should never see the light of day.
Visit Tara Goedjen's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Breathless.

Writers Read: Tara Goedjen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten highly unlikely SFF love stories

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten times sci-fi & fantasy went looking for love outside our species, including:
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke

At the core of this heartbreaking, low-key sci-fi gem is an unusual romance between a human woman and a robot. Catarina is five years old the day her father returns home with an android named Finn, the first of his kind. There have been automata and AI in this scorched, rebuilding world, but Finn is unique—more and less human than anything that came before. As Cat grows, her relationship with Finn shifts from guardianship to friendship to something resembling love, though a love that strictly violates social norms and creates emotional upheaval for both woman and robot. We already emotionally invest in digital avatars, virtual pets, and entire virtual communities, so once we have robots that resemble humans physically and emotionally, it’ll only be a matter of time before we start falling in love with them, right? After all, we already have an official robot citizen.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Catherine Reef's "Victoria: Portrait of a Queen," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen by Catherine Reef.

The entry begins:
It is autumn 1861, and Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, is a student at Cambridge. Away from his parents and palace life, the future king, then called Bertie, is happy. He has been enjoying love—or at least sex—with an actress named Nellie Clifden. Suddenly he is confronted by his father, Prince Albert. It seems word of Bertie’s romance has reached Buckingham Palace, and the prince consort has come to admonish. The two take a long walk in the rain, and Albert informs Bertie that the affair must end, and that he must marry a suitable woman. This is Albert’s decision as well as the queen’s. So the film begins.

Bertie resists, and Prince Albert—well, Albert gets sick. As happened often in nineteenth-century literature and lore, exposure to wet weather has given him a cold. Albert, however, was already ill with an unknown ailment, and on December 13, Bertie is summoned to his father’s bedside. Prince Albert...[read on]
Visit Catherine Reef's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Catherine Reef & Nandi.

The Page 69 Test: Frida & Diego.

My Book, The Movie: Noah Webster.

The Page 99 Test: Florence Nightingale.

My Book, The Movie: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Coffee with a canine: Casey Daniels & Lucy

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Casey Daniels & Lucy.

The author, on how she and Lucy were united:
Lucy is a prison dog who I found online at a site called Terriers in Need. She was dropped at a shelter when she was about four months old and she lived there for a bit, then was part of a prison training program. Lucy lived with an inmate in a prison for about six months as part of a terrific program where along with compassion and responsibility, the inmate learns a skill (dog training) and the dog is taught basic commands. She was well trained when she came to us. Well, except for...[read on]
About Casey Daniels's Smoke and Mirrors, from the publisher:
Introducing museum curator and amateur sleuth Miss Evie Barnum in the first of a deliciously quirky new historical mystery series.

Evie Barnum is in charge of her brother's museum, a place teeming with scientific specimens and wonders, including Jeffrey, the Lizard Man. When an old friend shows up and begs for her help, but is then found dead in front of the exhibit of the Feejee Mermaid, suspicion for the murder falls on Jeffrey, and Evie becomes determined to solve the mystery of her friend's murder.
Visit Casey Daniels's website.

Writers Read: Casey Daniels.

Coffee with a Canine: Casey Daniels & Lucy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Hilary Bonner's "Deadly Dance"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Deadly Dance by Hilary Bonner.

About the book, from the publisher:
This compelling novel of psychological suspense is the first in an intriguing new series featuring Bristol detective, DI David Vogel.

The discovery of the partially-clothed body of a teenage girl in Bristol's red light district indicates a tragic yet familiar scenario for DI David Vogel. But this marks the start of a murder investigation where nothing is as it seems. A darkly complex secret lies behind Melanie's death - and its ultimate revelation will shock Vogel to the core.
Visit Hilary Bonner's website.

Writers Read: Hilary Bonner.

The Page 69 Test: Deadly Dance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books for getting a feel for the South Carolina Lowcountry

At MapQuest Travel Rebecca Robertson tagged five top books for getting a feel for the South Carolina Lowcountry, including:
South of Broad by Pat Conroy

A list about the Lowcountry is not complete without author Pat Conroy. The iconic writer known for The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini released South of Broad in 2009. The book follows the tumultuous life of Leopold Bloom King and his group of friends. The story is set in Charleston and spans two decades, drawing on themes of friendship, race, family, and love.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Alexander Thurston's "Boko Haram"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement by Alexander Thurston.

About the book, from the publisher:
A comprehensive history of one of the world's deadliest jihadist groups

Boko Haram is one of the world’s deadliest jihadist groups. It has killed more than twenty thousand people and displaced more than two million in a campaign of terror that began in Nigeria but has since spread to Chad, Niger, and Cameroon as well. This is the first book to tell the full story of this West African affiliate of the Islamic State, from its beginnings in the early 2000s to its most infamous violence, including the 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls.

Drawing on sources in Arabic and Hausa, rare documents, propaganda videos, press reports, and interviews with experts in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger, Alexander Thurston sheds new light on Boko Haram’s development. He shows that the group, far from being a simple or static terrorist organization, has evolved in its worldview and ideology in reaction to events. Chief among these has been Boko Haram’s escalating war with the Nigerian state and civilian vigilantes.

The book closely examines both the behavior and beliefs that are the keys to understanding Boko Haram. Putting the group’s violence in the context of the complex religious and political environment of Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, the book examines how Boko Haram relates to states, politicians, Salafis, Sufis, Muslim civilians, and Christians. It also probes Boko Haram’s international connections, including its loose former ties to al-Qaida and its 2015 pledge of allegiance to ISIS.

An in-depth account of a group that is menacing Africa’s most populous and richest country, the book also illuminates the dynamics of civil war in Africa and jihadist movements in other parts of the world.
Visit Alexander Thurston's blog.

The Page 99 Test: Boko Haram.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

What is Jeff Wheeler reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jeff Wheeler, author of The Forsaken Throne (The Kingfountain Series).

His entry begins:
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

I was recently given a copy of this book while visiting its publisher in New York. My friend, and previous editor, said it was the book he was looking forward to most. City of Brass is story of djinn and ancient magic set in Napoleonic Egypt. I’m not done yet but it’s reminded me a bit of...[read on]
About The Forsaken Throne, from the publisher:
In the thrilling conclusion to the Wall Street Journal bestselling Kingfountain Series, a conflicted champion must navigate a treacherous world to secure the peace.

A devastating disaster has left the Forbidden Court in ashes, its fountains destroyed, and its magic at risk. It was destined as the site of Trynne Kiskaddon’s coronation as empress. Now, all Trynne can imagine is the roar of flames, the cries of Gahalatine’s people, and the smell of cinders in a city gone dark. Tragic as the threat to Kingfountain is, it’s nowhere near as foul as the treachery posed by Morwenna. Saboteur, conspirator, and full-blood sister of the king, she is prepared to set forth a wave of destruction that will eliminate everything that stands between her and possession of the throne.

But Trynne has her weapons, too—her magic, her resilience, her skills at intrigue, and especially, Fallon. The man who once swore his allegiance to Morwenna now stands by Trynne’s side as they venture into the unknown to protect those they love, reunite with a family scattered by diabolical forces, and safeguard a kingdom…as well as the destiny the Fountain has for each of them.
Visit Jeff Wheeler's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Queen's Poisoner.

My Book, The Movie: The Queen's Poisoner.

Writers Read: Jeff Wheeler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top novels about God

Neil Griffiths is the author of Betrayal in Naples, winner of Authors' Club Best First Novel, and Saving Caravaggio, shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel of the Year. His new novel is As a God Might Be. One of the author's top ten novels about God, as shared at the Guardian:
Roger’s Version by John Updike

Roger Lambert, former Methodist minister, ageing theology professor, a disciple of Karl Barth, is a curmudgeon, adulterer and consumer of pornography. Dale Kohler, is a graduate student, evangelical Christian and computer scientist. The latter thinks he can discover God through mathematics.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

David Clary's "Gangsters to Governors," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America by David Clary.

The entry begins:
My nonfiction book, Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America, explores how and why states have encouraged and promoted the expansion of legalized gambling in America. The book, published by Rutgers University Press, touches on the evolution and expansion of lotteries, tribal gaming, commercial casinos, sports gambling, daily fantasy, racetrack betting, and much more.

My six years of research and writing led me to a rogue’s gallery of colorful characters, from John “Old Smoke” Morrissey, the Irish-born gangster who built Saratoga into a gambling haven in the nineteenth century, to Bugsy Siegel, the gangster who completed the Flamingo hotel-casino in Las Vegas only to be assassinated months later. Daniel Day-Lewis would be outstanding as Morrissey because he portrayed his arch-rival Bill the Butcher Poole in the film Gangs of New York. For Siegel, Tom...[read on]
Visit David Clary's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gangsters to Governors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the biggest sycophants from literature and history

Deborah Parker is Professor of Italian at the University of Virginia. Mark Parker is Professor of English at James Madison University. They are coauthors of Inferno Revealed: From Dante to Dan Brown and Sucking Up: A Brief Consideration of Sycophancy.

One of their ten biggest bootlickers from literature and history, as shared at Electric Lit:
Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada explores the self-loathing endured by sycophants. Everyone who works at the fashion magazine Runway sucks up to its abusive editor, Miranda Priestly. The novel humorously exposes the sycophantic world that envelopes Miranda, who requires and ruthlessly enforces outrageous displays of ingratiation. Runway’s staff, fashion designers, restaurant owners all grovel before the diabolical Miranda. Here the “devil” seems to mete out just punishment for those willing to debase themselves in pursuit of some vacuous conception of access or success. The protagonist’s crushing humiliation is a perplexing act of self-nullification.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Devil Wears Prada is among Joseph Connolly's ten top novels about style.

The Page 99 Test: Sucking Up.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

What is A. J. Cross reading?

Featured at Writers Read: A. J. Cross, author of Something Evil Comes.

Her entry begins:
Crime fiction has been one of my joys over many years. However, since I began writing it myself I read much less of it. The reason? I appear to have acquired a possibly irrational fear that I might subconsciously purloin another author’s plot, theme or twist as my own. Consequently, I tend to read biographies or, in this case a diary: Alan Bennett’s Keeping On Keeping On. It is very heavy but only in terms of its seven hundred-plus pages. It is exactly what one might expect of Bennett but there’s another aspect which I found completely unexpected.

What was anticipated of course  was the humour: consider this, the single entry for 18th October, 2005 where Bennett quotes a critic remarking that  he can have too much of Alan Bennett to which Bennett adds: ‘I wonder how he thinks I feel.’ Economical, modest and understated. I’m willing to bet that response wasn’t worked for but arrived as quick, clean truth. There’s a precision about his observations of people, creatures and things which is a delight. He describes the inside of a bean pod, ‘shaped to the bean and furred like the inside of a violin case.’ It’s not necessary to have seen the pod. Thanks to Bennett, we know it. We can picture it.

Despite his enormous success as a playwright and commentator on ‘ordinary’ people’s lives, the diary describes Bennett’s...[read on]
About Something Evil Comes, from the publisher:
Dr Kate Hanson and the Unsolved Crime Unit are baffled as to motive when the body of a young man is discovered.

When a body of a young man is discovered locked inside a church crypt, his throat torn out, Kate Hanson and her cold case team are baffled as to motive. The evidence reveals careful planning but also loss of control. It makes no sense. Then Kate discovers that another young man is missing - and the case takes a disturbing twist.
Learn more about Something Evil Comes.

My Book, The Movie: Something Evil Comes.

The Page 69 Test: Something Evil Comes.

Writers Read: A. J. Cross.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: David Walton's "The Genius Plague"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Genius Plague by David Walton.

About the book, from the publisher:
THE CONTAGION IS IN YOUR MIND

In this science fiction thriller, brothers are pitted against each other as a pandemic threatens to destabilize world governments by exerting a subtle mind control over survivors.

Neil Johns has just started his dream job as a code breaker in the NSA when his brother, Paul, a mycologist, goes missing on a trip to collect samples in the Amazon jungle. Paul returns with a gap in his memory and a fungal infection that almost kills him. But once he recuperates, he has enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. Meanwhile, something is happening in South America; others, like Paul, have also fallen ill and recovered with abilities they didn't have before.

But that's not the only pattern--the survivors, from entire remote Brazilian tribes to American tourists, all seem to be working toward a common, and deadly, goal. Neil soon uncovers a secret, and unexplained alliance between governments that have traditionally been enemies while Paul is becomes increasingly secretive and erratic.

Paul sees the fungus as the next stage of human evolution, while Neil is convinced that it is driving its human hosts to destruction. Brother must oppose brother on an increasingly fraught international stage, with the stakes: the free will of every human on earth. Can humanity use this force for good, or are we becoming the pawns of an utterly alien intelligence?
Learn more about the book and author at David Walton's website.

Writers Read: David Walton (May 2013).

The Page 69 Test: Quintessence.

My Book, The Movie: Quintessence.

The Page 69 Test: The Genius Plague.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ursula K. Le Guin's six top timeless novels

Ursula K. Le Guin is America's reigning queen of literary science fiction. Her new essay collection is No Time to Spare. One of the author's six favorite timeless novels, as shared at The Week magazine:
Silas Marner by George Eliot

Silas Marner was probably on the 1945 high school curriculum because it was short and not about sex. I hated it — didn't have a clue what it was about. Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans) writes with a dry, adult humor and depth of experience of pain I could only appreciate when I finally finished growing up.
Read about another entry on the list.

Silas Marner appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best foundlings in literature and ten of the best misers in literature and Alexandra Styron's list of the five best books about fathers and daughters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Annegret Fauser's "Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" by Annegret Fauser.

About the book, from the publisher:
Appalachian Spring, with music by Aaron Copland and choreography by Martha Graham, counts among the best known American contributions to the global concert hall and stage. In the years since its premiere-as a dance work at the Library of Congress in 1944-it has become one of Copland's most widely performed scores, and the Martha Graham Dance Company still treats it as a signature work. Over the decades, the dance and the music have taken on a range of meanings that have transformed a wartime production into a seemingly timeless expression of American identity, both musically and visually. In this Oxford Keynotes volume, distinguished musicologist Annegret Fauser follows the work from its inception in the midst of World War II to its intersections with contemporary American culture, whether in the form of choreographic reinterpretations or musical ones, as by John Williams, in 2009, for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

A concise and lively introduction to the history of the work, its realization on stage, and its transformations over time, this volume combines deep archival research and cultural interpretations to recount the creation of Appalachian Spring as a collaboration between three creative giants of twentieth-century American art: Graham, Copland, and Isamu Noguchi. Building on past and current scholarship, Fauser critiques the myths that remain associated with the work and its history, including Copland's famous disclaimer that Appalachian Spring had nothing to do with the eponymous Southern mountain region. This simultaneous endeavor in both dance and music studies presents an incisive exploration this work, situating it in various contexts of collaborative and individual creation.
Learn more about Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring".

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 04, 2017

What is Hilary Bonner reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Hilary Bonner, author of Deadly Dance.

Part of her entry:
I ... particularly like to read books written by friends. I have two on the go at the moment. Handsome Brute is true life crime; the story of notorious British serial killer Neville Heath, written by Sean O’Connor who is also an acclaimed UK based producer and director working in film, TV and theatre. It’s a masterful piece of work...[read on]
About Deadly Dance, from the publisher:
This compelling novel of psychological suspense is the first in an intriguing new series featuring Bristol detective, DI David Vogel.

The discovery of the partially-clothed body of a teenage girl in Bristol's red light district indicates a tragic yet familiar scenario for DI David Vogel. But this marks the start of a murder investigation where nothing is as it seems. A darkly complex secret lies behind Melanie's death - and its ultimate revelation will shock Vogel to the core.
Visit Hilary Bonner's website.

Writers Read: Hilary Bonner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top "Snow White" retellings

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five of the best Snow White retellings, including:
The Fairest Beauty, by Melanie Dickerson

Let’s dive into some backlist! Sophie wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and she finds her out: Gabe, the brother of the man she’s betrothed to. As they flee her stepmother to the Cottage of the Seven, they find themselves falling for each other, even as the danger around them grows.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Dennis Glover's "The Last Man in Europe," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Last Man in Europe by Dennis Glover.

The entry begins:
While writing The Last Man in Europe, I knew exactly who I wanted to play George Orwell as he struggled to give the world Nineteen Eighty-Four: Benedict Cumberbatch. In The Imitation Game, which is about Alan Turing, inventor of the modern computer, Cumberbatch showed his ability to play socially awkward and intellectually complex characters from the period. Turing and Orwell were near contemporaries, and Cumberbatch and Orwell even look alike: tall, gaunt, dark featured.

For the role of Eileen O’Shaughnessy – Orwell’s brave, witty and tragic wife – who else but...[read on]
Visit Dennis Glover's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Man in Europe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: A. J. Cross's "Something Evil Comes"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Something Evil Comes by A. J. Cross.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dr Kate Hanson and the Unsolved Crime Unit are baffled as to motive when the body of a young man is discovered.

When a body of a young man is discovered locked inside a church crypt, his throat torn out, Kate Hanson and her cold case team are baffled as to motive. The evidence reveals careful planning but also loss of control. It makes no sense. Then Kate discovers that another young man is missing - and the case takes a disturbing twist.
Learn more about Something Evil Comes.

My Book, The Movie: Something Evil Comes.

The Page 69 Test: Something Evil Comes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Coffee with a canine: Jennifer Kincheloe & Monkey

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Kincheloe & Monkey.

The author, on how she and Monkey were united:
It started in the 90s when my husband and I were first married. We were thinking about getting a dog. Our breed book had a picture of this creature who looked like Oscar the Grouch, but not much like a dog. It was kind of a running joke for us. We laughed about it for years. The breed was Brussels Griffon, and pretty rare in the west. I’d never actually seen one.

Fast forward to 2013. I saw...[read on]
About Kincheloe's new novel The Woman in the Camphor Trunk, from the publisher:
Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover.

If news about the murder gets out, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna work to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret, reluctantly helped by the good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent local leader.

Meanwhile, the kidnapping of two slave girls fuels existing tensions, leaving Chinatown poised on the verge of a bloody tong war. Joe orders Anna to stay away, but Anna is determined to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.
Visit Jennifer Kincheloe's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk.

Coffee with a Canine: Jennifer Kincheloe & Monkey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top works of SF with weird insect behavior

Spencer Ellsworth’s newest novel in the Starfire Trilogy is Shadow Sun Seven. At Tor.com he tagged five top works of SF that turn weird bug behavior into great fiction, including:
God’s War and Remote-Controlled Beetles

This one is more of weird human behavior imposing on the poor bugs.

The “bugpunk” of Kameron Hurley’s God’s War and the rest of the Bel Dame Apocrypha series is, on its surface, magic, but it’s really a refined science, using pheromones and other stimulants to control a wide variety of bugs, big and small. In this sense, the “magicians” of the book are more like electricians.

We might not need to spread various forms of human culture across a wide swath of planets to get bugpunked, though—scientists at DARPA have been working for several years to create “cybugs,” bugs who are injected with microchips during larval or chrysalis stages. (Which kind of makes humans the parasitic wasps in this scenario. Hmm…)

The “cybugs” would then have all sorts of interesting applications for the humans who control them—scouting out a battlefield or a rescue zone, or even generating electricity from the rotations of their wings. The last would pretty much put us on a path to God’s War. As the setting of God’s War is a bit of a rough place, aspiring Nyxissas, hit the dojo now.
Read about another entry on the list.

God’s War is among Jeff Somers's twelve top kick-ass women from sci-fi and fantasy, Adrian Tchaikovsky's top five books featuring adventuring parties, and Joel Cunningham's seven top sci-fi books featuring strong women.

My Book, The Movie: God’s War and Infidel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gavin Ehringer's "Leaving The Wild"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Leaving the Wild: The Unnatural History of Dogs, Cats, Cows, and Horses by Gavin Ehringer.

About the book, from the publisher:
A thought-provoking and surprising book that explores the ever-evolving relationship between humans and domesticated animals.

The domestication of animals changed the course of human history. But what about the animals who abandoned their wild existence in exchange for our care and protection? Domestication has proven to be a wildly successful survival strategy. But this success has not been without its drawbacks. A modern dairy cow’s daily energy output equals that of a Tour de France rider. Feral cats overpopulate urban areas. And our methods of breeding horses and dogs have resulted in debilitating and sometimes lethal genetic diseases. But these problems and more can be addressed, if we have the will and the compassion.

Human values and choices determine an animal’s lot in life even before he or she is born. Just as a sculptor’s hands shape clay, so human values shape our animals—for good and or ill. The little-examined, yet omnipresent act of breeding lies at the core of Gavin Ehringer's eye-opening book. You’ll meet cows cloned from steaks, a Quarter horse stallion valued at $7.5 million, Chinese dogs that glow in the dark, and visit a Denver cat show featuring naked cats and other cuddly mutants. Is this what the animals bargained for all those millennia ago, when they first joined us by the fire?
Visit Gavin Ehringer's website.

The Page 99 Test: Leaving the Wild.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is David Walton reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Walton, author of The Genius Plague.

His entry begins:
The books I'm currently reading are Infomocracy, by Malka Older, and Noumenon, by Marina Lostetter.  I had wanted to read Infomocracy for some time, because I liked the idea of exploring a new political concept.  The book explores the idea of "micro-democracy", where every group of 100,000 people around the world gets to vote on which one of a set of available governments they want, once every ten years.  I'm most of the way through the book now, and enjoying it -- great mystery, great characters, and interesting...[read on]
About The Genius Plague, from the publisher:
THE CONTAGION IS IN YOUR MIND

In this science fiction thriller, brothers are pitted against each other as a pandemic threatens to destabilize world governments by exerting a subtle mind control over survivors.

Neil Johns has just started his dream job as a code breaker in the NSA when his brother, Paul, a mycologist, goes missing on a trip to collect samples in the Amazon jungle. Paul returns with a gap in his memory and a fungal infection that almost kills him. But once he recuperates, he has enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. Meanwhile, something is happening in South America; others, like Paul, have also fallen ill and recovered with abilities they didn't have before.

But that's not the only pattern--the survivors, from entire remote Brazilian tribes to American tourists, all seem to be working toward a common, and deadly, goal. Neil soon uncovers a secret, and unexplained alliance between governments that have traditionally been enemies while Paul is becomes increasingly secretive and erratic.

Paul sees the fungus as the next stage of human evolution, while Neil is convinced that it is driving its human hosts to destruction. Brother must oppose brother on an increasingly fraught international stage, with the stakes: the free will of every human on earth. Can humanity use this force for good, or are we becoming the pawns of an utterly alien intelligence?
Learn more about the book and author at David Walton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Quintessence.

My Book, The Movie: Quintessence.

Writers Read: David Walton.

--Marshal Zeringue