Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pg. 69: Julie E. Czerneda's "The Gossamer Mage"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czerneda.

About the book, from the publisher:
From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a new fantasy epic in which one mage must stand against a Deathless Goddess who controls all magic.

Only in Tananen do people worship a single deity: the Deathless Goddess. Only in this small, forbidden realm are there those haunted by words of no language known to woman or man. The words are Her Gift, and they summon magic.

Mage scribes learn to write Her words as intentions: spells to make beasts or plants, designed to any purpose. If an intention is flawed, what the mage creates is a gossamer: a magical creature as wild and free as it is costly for the mage.

For Her Gift comes at a steep price. Each successful intention ages a mage until they dare no more. But her magic demands to be used; the Deathless Goddess will take her fee, and mages will die.

To end this terrible toll, the greatest mage in Tananen vows to find and destroy Her. He has yet to learn She is all that protects Tananen from what waits outside. And all that keeps magic alive.
Visit Julie E. Czerneda's website.

The Page 69 Test: To Guard Against the Dark.

The Page 69 Test: The Gossamer Mage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about humans making a mess of things

Rob Hart's new novel is The Warehouse.

At Tor.com he tagged "five books that mold our current state of constant anxiety into thoughtful, timely, terrifying fiction." One title on the list:
Infomocracy by Malka Older

Remember when we thought our elections were fair and free of interference by hostile nations? Oh what a world that was. It could be worse, like in Infomocracy, about an attempt to streamline the process by creating micro-democracies with the help of a search engine monopoly.

Older brings an extensive resume as an academic and international aid worker to this whip-smart debut that examines and challenges the core concepts of democracy. And it reinforces some disturbing truths—like the way technology is supposed to make things better and usually makes it worse, and the way information, in the wrong hands, can be used to manipulate rather than inform.
Read about another entry on the list.

Infomocracy is among Jeff Somers's eighteen SFF novels that get serious about economics and fifty science fiction essentials written by women, Emily Wenstrom's eight science fiction novels that explore the human dilemma, Joel Cunningham's twelve science fiction & fantasy books for the post-truth era, and Sam Reader's six most intriguing political systems in fantasy and science fiction.

The Page 69 Test: Infomocracy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 19, 2019

Louisa Treger's "The Dragon Lady," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger.

From the entry:
The Dragon Lady blends fact with fiction to tell the story of Lady Virginia Courtauld – beautiful and defiant, with a scandalous past and a tattoo of a snake running the length of one leg. After a brief marriage to an Italian aristocrat, she wed Stephen Courtauld, a war hero, mountaineer, orchid collector, and heir to a textile fortune. Ostracized for being a foreign divorcee at the time of Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Virginia moved with Stephen to Rhodesia, where their philanthropic attempts to better the lives of all the colony’s inhabitants, black and white, led to anonymous death threats, misunderstandings and a shooting. Many people had reason to dislike Virginia, but who had reason enough to pull the trigger?

Virginia is vibrant, capricious and captivating. She is also insecure - desperate for social acceptance and a comfortable, comforting place to call home. I think that Rachel Weisz would portray every one of her qualities to perfection.

Stephen would have to be played by...[read on]
Visit Louisa Treger's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Louisa Treger & Monty.

The Page 69 Test: The Lodger.

My Book, The Movie: The Lodger.

My Book, The Movie: The Dragon Lady.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best New York City biographies

Christopher Bonanos is city editor at New York magazine, where he covers arts and culture and urban affairs. He is the National Book Critics Circle Award–winning author of Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous and Instant: The Story of Polaroid.

At The Week magazine Bonanos tagged six favorite New York City biographies, including:
The Man in the Glass House by Mark Lamster (2018).

Here's all 98 years of the life of that wily rich-kid-aesthete-fascist-turned-­corporate-smooth-talker Philip Johnson, who never met an architectural trend he didn't glom onto. What a career! At one point in the 1980s, he proposed a Manhattan skyscraper entered via a drawbridge over a moat full of alligators. It was designed, you will perhaps not be surprised to learn, for Donald Trump.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Craig DiLouie reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Craig DiLouie, author of Our War.

His entry begins:
Right now, I’m nearly finished with Grady Hendrix’s very solid We Sold Our Souls, a clever horror tale about a metal band destroyed after one of its members makes a deal with the Devil. It’s a lot of fun and far exceeding my expectations. Hendrix did his homework to capture the daily life of a rock band, weaving a rich tapestry of references and details, while never taking his eye off...[read on]
About Our War, from the publisher:
A prescient and gripping novel of a second American civil war, and the children caught in the conflict, forced to fight.

Our children are our soldiers.


After his impeachment, the president of the United States refuses to leave office, and the country erupts into a fractured and violent war. Orphaned by the fighting and looking for a home, 10-year-old Hannah Miller joins a citizen militia in a besieged Indianapolis.

In the Free Women militia, Hannah finds a makeshift family. They’ll teach her how to survive. They’ll give her hope. And they’ll show her how to use a gun.

Hannah’s older brother, Alex, is a soldier too. But he’s loyal to other side, and has found his place in a militant group of fighters who see themselves as the last bastion of their America. By following their orders, Alex will soon make the ultimate decision behind the trigger.

On the battlefields of America, Hannah and Alex will risk everything for their country, but in the end they’ll fight for the only cause that truly matters – each other.
Visit Craig DiLouie's website.

My Book, The Movie: One of Us.

The Page 69 Test: One of Us.

Writers Read: Craig DiLouie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top thrillers featuring a small group of friends

Cambria Brockman grew up in Houston, London, and Scotland and attended Holderness School in New Hampshire. She graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, with a degree in English literature. She owns an award-winning wedding and portrait photography company, Cambria Grace, along with its popular Instagram account. Brockman lives in Boston with her husband, son, and dog.

Tell Me Everything is her first novel.

At CrimeReads Brockman tagged five thrillers featuring a small group of friends, including:
The Perfect Mother, by Aimee Molloy

Oh no, oh no, wow wow wow oh no wow = my thoughts reading this kidnapping novel, which I strangely chose to do with a sleeping infant in my arms. This book follows a group of new mothers, dubbed the May Mothers, who meet weekly in the idyllic Prospect Park of Brooklyn. When the mothers go out for a night on the town—which they never do—one of the babies gets taken from his crib—of course. What ensues is a race to find baby Midas as we follow the mothers turned close friends. Secrets are revealed and friendships are ruined. Will they find baby Midas in time? If you’re a new mom, stress read until you find out!
Read about another entry on the list.

The Perfect Mother is among Kristyn Kusek Lewis's eight shocking thrillers that feature scandals.

The Page 69 Test: The Perfect Mother.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Pg. 99: Rachel Kahn Best's "Common Enemies"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Common Enemies: Disease Campaigns in America by Rachel Kahn Best.

About the book, from the publisher:
For over a hundred years, millions of Americans have joined together to fight a common enemy by campaigning against diseases. In Common Enemies, Rachel Kahn Best asks why disease campaigns have dominated a century of American philanthropy and health policy and how the fixation on diseases shapes efforts to improve lives. Combining quantitative and qualitative analyses in an unprecedented history of disease politics, Best shows that to achieve consensus, disease campaigns tend to neglect stigmatized diseases and avoid controversial goals. But despite their limitations, disease campaigns do not crowd out efforts to solve other problems. Instead, they teach Americans to give and volunteer and build up public health infrastructure, bringing us together to solve problems and improve our lives.
Learn more about Common Enemies at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Common Enemies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Spencer Quinn's "Heart of Barkness"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Heart of Barkness (A Chet & Bernie Mystery, Volume 9) by Spencer Quinn.

About the book, from the publisher:
Spencer Quinn's Heart of Barkness is the latest in the New York Times bestselling series that the Los Angeles Times called “nothing short of masterful"…

Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in all of crime fiction” (Boston Globe) and P.I. Bernie encounter heartache and much worse in the world of country music. They’re both music lovers, so when Lotty Pilgrim, a country singer from long ago, turns up at a local bar, they drive out to catch her act. Bernie’s surprised to see someone who was once so big performing in such a dive, and drops a C-note the Little Detective Agency can’t afford to part with into the tip jar. The C-note is stolen right from under their noses – even from under Chet’s, the nose that misses nothing – and before the night is over, it’s stolen again.

Soon they’re working the most puzzling case of their career, a case that takes them back in time in search of old border-town secrets, and into present-day danger where powerful people want those secrets to stay hidden. Chet and Bernie find themselves sucked into a real-life murder ballad where there is no one to trust but each other.
Visit Spencer Quinn's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Peter Abrahams and Audrey (September 2011).

Coffee with a Canine: Peter Abrahams and Pearl (August 2012).

The Page 69 Test: The Dog Who Knew Too Much.

The Page 69 Test: Paw and Order.

The Page 69 Test: Scents and Sensibility.

The Page 69 Test: Bow Wow.

The Page 69 Test: Heart of Barkness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven of the best books about/with cats

Jessie Burton is the author of three novels, The Miniaturist (2014), and The Muse (2016), published in 38 languages, and The Confession which publishes September 2019. The Miniaturist and The Muse were Sunday Times no.1 bestsellers, New York Times bestsellers, and Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.

At the Guardian Burton tagged some of her favorite books about/with cats, including:
My favourite literary feline is Marlinspike, the impish black kitten given by Cardinal Wolsey to Thomas Cromwell in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. He’d run off by the sequel Bring Up the Bodies, “as cats do, to make his career elsewhere”, but I live in hope that he’ll make a triumphant return in next year’s The Mirror and the Light.
Read about another entry on the list.

Wolf Hall made Pete Buttigieg’s ten favorite books list, Ruby Bentall's six best books list, Rula Lenska's six favorite books list, Deborah Cadbury's top ten list of books about royal families, Peter Stanford's top ten list of Protestants in fiction, Melissa Harrsion's ten top depictions of British rain, the Telegraph's list of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels, BBC Culture's list of the 21st century’s twelve greatest novels, Ester Bloom's ten list of books for fans of the television series House of Cards, 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

Saturday, August 17, 2019

T. Greenwood's "Keeping Lucy," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Keeping Lucy: A Novel by T. Greenwood.

From the entry:
I love this game! Here is my dream cast:

Ginny: Brie Larson.

Ab Jr.: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he's a bit older than Ab, but has a boyish quality to him).

Ab Sr.: Ralph Fiennes.

Marsha: Shailene Woodley or Ellen...[read on]
Visit T. Greenwood's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rust and Stardust.

The Page 69 Test: Rust and Stardust.

Writers Read: T. Greenwood.

The Page 69 Test: Keeping Lucy.

My Book, The Movie: Keeping Lucy.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Reese Hogan reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Reese Hogan, author of Shrouded Loyalties.

Her entry begins:
I’ve read so many good books lately, it’s hard to know where to start! I just finished an ARC of Double-Crossing the Bridge by Sarah Sover, a fun fantasy story that puts a twist on the trolls-under-the-bridge tale by making the bridge a monopolistic corporation and the trolls into the team pulling a heist on it. I especially loved the stakes of being turned into stone if they got caught out in the...[read on]
About Shrouded Loyalties, from the publisher:
Naval officer Mila Blackwood is determined to keep her country’s most powerful secret – shrouding, the ability to traverse their planet in seconds through an alternate realm – out of enemy hands. But spies are everywhere: her submarine has been infiltrated by a Dhavnak agent, and her teenage brother has been seduced by an enemy soldier. When Blackwood’s submarine is attacked by a monster, she and fellow sailor, Holland, are marked with special abilities, whose manifestations could end the war – but in whose favor? Forced to submit to military scientists in her paranoid and war-torn home, Blackwood soon learns that the only people she can trust might also be the enemy.
Visit Reese Hogan's website.

My Book, The Movie: Shrouded Loyalties.

Writers Read: Reese Hogan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven great mysteries about rare books and bibliophiles

Born near Boston, Marlowe Benn grew up in an Illinois college town along the Mississippi River. She holds a master’s degree in the book arts from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in the history of books from the University of California, Berkeley. A former editor, college teacher, and letterpress printer, Benn lives with her husband on an island near Seattle. Relative Fortunes is her first novel.

At CrimeReads Benn tagged seven great mysteries about bibliophiles and rare books, including:
Charlie Lovett, The Bookman’s Tale (Viking, 2013)

Peter Byerly is a recently widowed young antiquarian book dealer slowly regaining his pleasure in the hunt for important rare volumes. When he seeks to authenticate what appears to be his “holy grail” find—an Elizabethan volume whose marginalia proves Shakespeare wrote the plays credited to him—he steps straight into danger. Interwoven with Peter’s discoveries are chapters narrating the book’s provenance, tracing its precarious passage through the hands of various owners over the centuries, from its rakish author to avaricious collectors and murderous forgers.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Bookman's Tale.

My Book, The Movie: The Bookman's Tale.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 16, 2019

Pg. 69: Janet Fitch's "Chimes of a Lost Cathedral"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Chimes of a Lost Cathedral by Janet Fitch.

About the book, from the publisher:
The story of The Revolution of Marina M. continues in bestselling author Janet Fitch’s sweeping epic about a young woman’s coming into her own against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution.

After the events of The Revolution of Marina M., the young Marina Makarova finds herself on her own amid the devastation of the Russian Civil War—pregnant and adrift in the Russian countryside, forced onto her own resourcefulness to find a place to wait out the birth of her child. She finds new strength and self-reliance to fortify her in her sojourn, and to prepare her for the hardships and dilemmas still to come.

When she finally returns to Petrograd, the city almost unrecognizable after two years of revolution, the haunted, half-emptied, starving Capital of Once Had Been, she finds the streets teeming with homeless children, victims of war. Now fully a woman, she takes on the challenge of caring for these civil war orphans, until they become the tool of tragedy from an unexpected direction.

But despite the ordeal of war and revolution, betrayal and privation and unimaginable loss, Marina at last emerges as the poet she was always meant to be.

Chimes of a Lost Cathedral finishes the epic story of Marina’s journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century—as a woman and an artist, entering her full power, passion, and creativity just as her revolution reveals its true direction for the future.
Visit Janet Fitch's website.

The Page 99 Test: Paint It Black.

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

My Book, The Movie: Chimes of a Lost Cathedral.

The Page 69 Test: Chimes of a Lost Cathedral.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best tigers in fiction

Katy Yocom was born and raised in Atchison, Kansas. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism, she moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where she has lived ever since. Her new novel, Three Ways to Disappear, won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature and was a finalist for the Dzanc Books Disquiet Open Borders Book Prize and the UNO Press Publishing Lab Prize.

In researching the novel, Yocom traveled to India, funded by a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. In 2019, she received an Al Smith Fellowship Award for artistic excellence from the Kentucky Arts Council. She has also received grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and served as writer-in-residence at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Crosshatch Hill House, and PLAYA. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, Salon, LitHub, American Way (the American Airlines magazine), The Louisville Review, decomP magazinE, and elsewhere. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University.

Yocom lives with her family in Louisville and serves as associate director of the low-residency graduate writing programs of the School of Creative and Professional Writing at Spalding University, where it's her great good fortune to work with writers every day.

At LitHub she tagged the ten best tigers in fiction, including:
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

My first tiger as an adult was Richard Parker, and I loved him passionately. True, he wanted to eat Pi, but every time Pi tended to him and Richard Parker allowed it, my heart lifted. The privilege of that contact moved me: the human serving the wild beast. Take that literally or metaphorically—and the novel invites you to decide for yourself—the relationship between Richard Parker and Pi is a master class on storytelling, faith, and the terrible will to live.
Read about another entry on the list.

Life of Pi is on Jodi Picoult's recommended list, Martyn Ford's top ten list of fantastical pets in children's literature, Off the Shelf's list of eight great books told by child narrators, Janis MacKay's top ten list of books set on the ocean, Kathryn Williams's list of six notable novels set in just one place, Scott Greenstone's list of seven top allegorical novels, Sara Gruen's six favorite books list, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on castaways, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best zoos in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ricky W. Law's "Transnational Nazism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Transnational Nazism: Ideology and Culture in German-Japanese Relations, 1919-1936 by Ricky W. Law.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1936, Nazi Germany and militarist Japan built a partnership which culminated in the Tokyo-Berlin Axis. This study of interwar German-Japanese relations is the first to employ sources in both languages. Transnational Nazism was an ideological and cultural outlook that attracted non-Germans to become adherents of Hitler and National Socialism, and convinced German Nazis to identify with certain non-Aryans. Because of the distance between Germany and Japan, mass media was instrumental in shaping mutual perceptions and spreading transnational Nazism. This work surveys the two national media to examine the impact of transnational Nazism. When Hitler and the Nazi movement gained prominence, Japanese newspapers, lectures and pamphlets, nonfiction, and language textbooks transformed to promote the man and his party. Meanwhile, the ascendancy of Hitler and his regime created a niche for Japan in the Nazi worldview and Nazified newspapers, films, nonfiction, and voluntary associations.
Learn more about Transnational Nazism at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Transnational Nazism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Reese Hogan's "Shrouded Loyalties," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Shrouded Loyalties by Reese Hogan.

The entry begins:
I never thought about a cast for Shrouded Loyalties until I participated in a Twitter chat prompt for debut authors, and this came up as one of the questions. I ended up getting really into it, and making an aesthetics board to post on that day. I took a lot of time scouring the internet and picking the perfect person for each role. Here were my choices for the top five main characters:

Mila Blackwood: Letitia Wright. I fell in love with Letitia Wright when I watched Black Panther, and I think she could really pull off Blackwood’s military-minded submariner character who struggles with anger issues.

Klara Yana Hollanelea: Erika Linder. Klara Yana is a female spy who disguises herself as a male for the entirety of the book, and I have never seen anyone pull this off as convincingly as Erika Linder. The second I found her...[read on]
Visit Reese Hogan's website.

My Book, The Movie: Shrouded Loyalties.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top sympathetic fictional psychopaths

Elizabeth Macneal's debut novel is The Doll Factory.

At CrimeReads she tagged five sympathetic fictional psychopaths, including:
Tom Ripley from The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a character more than I’ve rooted for Tom Ripley. I yearned for him to get away with his crimes, and even felt relief when the tension of a situation was resolved by him committing murder. This did not make me feel good about myself. In fact, I finished the book utterly appalled at what I would forgive and even cheer on in his behavior, but also deeply impressed by Patricia Highsmith’s skill in constructing such a character.

How did she do it? Tom Ripley is the classic underdog—the character with whom everyone can empathize. Tasked with traveling to Italy to bring the privileged and extravagant Dickie Greenleaf home, we quickly learn that Tom has a difficult background and craves acceptance—to the extent he is willing to impersonate others to fit in. But it is not only this endearing awkwardness, but also his cleverness and his hardworking nature that makes him so likable, and makes us want him to succeed at any cost. What’s more, Highsmith only gives us his perspective—we understand his problems, his desires and his emotions, while the characters around him always feel at one remove, filtered through Tom’s eyes. I smarted at their dismissive treatment of him, and ultimately their deaths didn’t feel like a loss at all. It’s only fiction, I told myself when I was reading the book, though I felt uneasy, as if I’d been complicit in his crimes.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Laurence Scott's list of seven top books about doppelgangers, J.S. Monroe's list of seven suspenseful literary thrillers, Simon Lelic's top ten list of false identities in fiction, Jeff Somers's list of fifty novels that changed novels, Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, Roz Chast's six favorite books list, Nicholas Searle's top five list of favorite deceivers in fiction, Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kira Jane Buxton's "Hollow Kingdom"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton.

About the book, from the publisher:
One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.

Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.
Visit Kira Jane Buxton's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kira Jane Buxton & Ewok.

My Book, The Movie: Hollow Kingdom.

The Page 69 Test: Hollow Kingdom.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Hallie Epron reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Hallie Ephron, author of Careful What You Wish For.

Her entry begins:
Right now I’m reading an advance copy of James Ziskin’s Turn to Stone, and relishing a return to Italy (I taught a writing workshop there this summer) in the company of Ellie Stone, one of my favorite protagonists. I’m also enjoying Michelle Obama’s Becoming, a real palate cleanser between mystery novels. It's so life-affirming and these difficult times. And then, back to crime novels with...[read on]
About Careful What You Wish For, from the publisher:
Emily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; she’s married to man who can’t drive past a yard sale without stopping. He’s filled their basement, attic, and garage with his finds.

Like other professionals who make a living decluttering peoples’ lives, Emily has devised a set of ironclad rules. When working with couples, she makes clear that the client is only allowed to declutter his or her own stuff. That stipulation has kept Emily’s own marriage together these past few years. She’d love nothing better than to toss out all her husband’s crap. He says he’s a collector. Emily knows better—he’s a hoarder. The larger his “collection” becomes, the deeper the distance grows between Emily and the man she married.

Luckily, Emily’s got two new clients to distract herself: an elderly widow whose husband left behind a storage unit she didn’t know existed, and a young wife whose husband won’t allow her stuff into their house. Emily’s initial meeting with the young wife takes a detour when, after too much wine, the women end up fantasizing about how much more pleasant life would be without their collecting spouses.

But the next day Emily finds herself in a mess that might be too big for her to clean up. Careful what you wish for, the old adage says ... now Emily might lose her freedom, her marriage . . . and possibly her life.
Learn more about the book and author at Hallie Ephron's website.

See Ephron's ten mysteries that harness unreliable narrators, top ten books for a good laugh, and ten best books for a good cry.

The Page 69 Test: Never Tell A Lie.

My Book, The Movie: There Was an Old Woman.

My Book, The Movie: You'll Never Know, Dear.

Writers Read: Hallie Ephron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Top ten absurd quests in fiction

Joanna Kavenna grew up in various parts of Britain, and has also lived in the USA, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Her first book The Ice Museum was about traveling in the remote North, among other things. Her second was a novel called Inglorious, which won the Orange Award for New Writing. It was followed by a novel called The Birth of Love, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Then came her novel Come to the Edge, a satire. Kavenna's latest novel is Zed, "a blistering, satirical novel about life under a global media and tech corporation that knows exactly what we think, what we want, and what we do--before we do."

At the Guardian, Kavenna tagged ten absurd quests in fiction, including:
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño (1998)

Two poets, Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, are searching for another, Cesárea Tinajero. This mock-detective quest is relayed by a dizzying cast of narrators, who disagree about almost everything. The prose is stunning, and full of lovely aphorisms such as: “In some lost fold of the past, we wanted to be lions and we’re no more than castrated cats.” This concisely describes the relationship between the absurdist quest and the lion-like heroic quest…
Read about another entry on the list.

The Savage Detectives appears among Tim Lewis's top ten stoners from the arts and entertainment, Sam Munson's six best stoner novels, and Benjamin Obler's top ten fictional coffee scenes; it is one of Edmund White's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Anna Sherman's "The Bells of Old Tokyo"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Bells of Old Tokyo: Meditations on Time and a City by Anna Sherman.

About the book, from the publisher:
An elegant and absorbing tour of Tokyo and its residents

From 1632 until 1854, Japan’s rulers restricted contact with foreign countries, a near isolation that fostered a remarkable and unique culture that endures to this day. In hypnotic prose and sensual detail, Anna Sherman describes searching for the great bells by which the inhabitants of Edo, later called Tokyo, kept the hours in the shoguns’ city.

An exploration of Tokyo becomes a meditation not just on time, but on history, memory, and impermanence. Through Sherman’s journeys around the city and her friendship with the owner of a small, exquisite cafe, who elevates the making and drinking of coffee to an art-form, The Bells of Old Tokyo follows haunting voices through the labyrinth that is the Japanese capital: an old woman remembers escaping from the American firebombs of World War II. A scientist builds the most accurate clock in the world, a clock that will not lose a second in five billion years. The head of the Tokugawa shogunal house reflects on the destruction of his grandfathers’ city: “A lost thing is lost. To chase it leads to darkness.”

The Bells of Old Tokyo marks the arrival of a dazzling new writer who presents an absorbing and alluring meditation on life in the guise of a tour through a city and its people.
Visit Anna Sherman's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Bells of Old Tokyo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Patrick Coleman's "The Churchgoer"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Churchgoer: A Novel by Patrick Coleman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A haunting debut literary noir about a former pastor’s search to find a missing woman in the toxic, contradictory underbelly of southern California.

In Mark Haines’s former life, he was an evangelical youth pastor, a role model, and a family man—until he abandoned his wife, his daughter, and his beliefs. Now he’s marking time between sunny days surfing and dark nights working security at an industrial complex. His isolation is broken when Cindy, a charming twenty-two-year old drifter he sees hitchhiking on the Pacific Coast Highway, hustles him for a breakfast and a place to crash—two cynical kindred spirits.

Then his co-worker is murdered in a robbery gone wrong and Cindy disappears on the same night. Haines knows he should let it go and return to his safe life of solitude. Instead, he’s driven to find out where Cindy went, under stranger and stranger circumstances. Soon Mark is chasing leads, each one taking him back into a world where his old life came crashing down—into the seedier side of southern California’s drug trade and ultimately into the secrets of an Evangelical megachurch where his past and his future are about to converge. What begins as an investigation becomes a haunting mystery and a psychological journey both for Mark, and for the elusive young stranger he won’t let get away.

Set in the early 2000s, The Churchgoer is a gripping noir, a quiet subversion of the genre, and a powerful meditation on belief, morality, and the nature of evil in contemporary life.
Visit Patrick Coleman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Churchgoer.

The Page 69 Test: The Churchgoer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books about working undercover

Dana Ridenour is a retired FBI agent and the author of three FBI undercover novels: Behind The Mask, Beyond The Cabin, and Below The Radar.

At CrimeReads she tagged five top books about working undercover, including:
Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia: a True Story by an FBI Agent by Joseph D. Pistone

This is probably the most famous book about FBI undercover life, later made into a feature film starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. Using the alias of Donnie Brasco, FBI Special Agent Joseph D. Pistone spent six years working undercover to infiltrate the mafia. Over the years, Pistone witnessed and sometimes was forced to participate in horrific acts while gathering enough evidence to send over 200 gangsters to jail. Pistone’s case was the greatest infiltration ever by a federal agent into the mafia. During my career, I worked two long-term undercover cases, the first lasted three years and the second one four years. I can tell you from personal experience, that being away from family and friends for long periods of time is difficult and painful. Pistone spent six years of his life relocating his family from place to place for safety reasons, yet rarely spending any quality time with them. Pistone’s book is a riveting must-read.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Heather Hepler's "We Were Beautiful," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: We Were Beautiful by Heather Hepler.

The entry begins:
Here is a quick synopsis of We Were Beautiful.

It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Mia Hopkins was in a car crash that killed her older sister, Rachel, and left her own face terribly scarred. The doctors tell her she was lucky to survive. Her therapist says it will take time to heal. The police reports claim there were trace amounts of alcohol in her bloodstream. But no matter how much she tries to reconstruct the events of that fateful night, Mia’s memory is spotty at best. She’s left with accusations, rumors, and guilt so powerful it is quickly consuming her. As the rest of Mia’s family struggles with their own grief, Mia is sent to New York City to spend the summer with a grandmother she’s never met. All Mia wants to do is hide from the world, but instead she’s stuck with a summer job in the bustling kitchens of the café down the street. There she meets Fig—blue-haired, friendly, and vivacious—who takes Mia under her wing. As Mia gets to know Fig and her friends—including Cooper, the artistic boy who’s always on Mia’s mind—she realizes that she’s not the only one with a painful past.

I’ve thought a lot about making this into a movie. The settings between coastal Maine and New York City were what initially drew me into Mia’s story. The cast is pretty straightforward for me. I’d pretty much just ask actors that I love. Here are my suggestions for some of the principals.

Cooper: Noah Centineo – because well he’s in everything recently, but mostly because he was the perfect love interest in Sierra Burgess is a Loser.

Mia: Chloë Grace Moretz – She’s...[read on]
Visit Heather Hepler's website.

My Book, The Movie: We Were Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eighteen SFF novels that get serious about economics

Jeff Somers is the author of Writing Without Rules, the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged eighteen science-fiction and fantasy novels that get serious about economics, including:
Infomocracy, by Malka Older

Older’s debut novel—the first of a now-complete trilogy—imagines a world where the entire population is divided into groups of 100,000, known as centenals. Each centenal can vote for the government they wish to belong to—governments ranging from corporate-dominated PhilipMorris, to policy-based groups with names like Liberty, while a global organization called Information seeks to police elections and ensure that the many governments keep their promises and play by the rules. Older doesn’t skimp on the economic aspects of such a world, as each government has its own approach (including, of course, a government called Economix whose entire focus is economic policy), ranging from the economies-of-scale focus (AfricanUnity) to large-scale corporate interests (Heritage). While the economics aren’t the main focus of the story, they’re important to it, and the structure of the fictional universe allows for a lot of fascinating exploration of economic concepts.
Read about another entry on the list.

Infomocracy is among Emily Wenstrom's eight science fiction novels that explore the human dilemma, Jeff Somers's fifty science fiction essentials written by women, Joel Cunningham's twelve science fiction & fantasy books for the post-truth era, and Sam Reader's six most intriguing political systems in fantasy and science fiction.

The Page 69 Test: Infomocracy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: T. Greenwood's "Keeping Lucy"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Keeping Lucy: A Novel by T. Greenwood.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dover, Massachusetts, 1969. Ginny Richardson's heart was torn open when her baby girl, Lucy, born with Down Syndrome, was taken from her. Under pressure from his powerful family, her husband, Ab, sent Lucy away to Willowridge, a special school for the “feeble-minded." Ab tried to convince Ginny it was for the best. That they should grieve for their daughter as though she were dead. That they should try to move on.

But two years later, when Ginny's best friend, Marsha, shows her a series of articles exposing Willowridge as a hell-on-earth--its squalid hallways filled with neglected children--she knows she can't leave her daughter there. With Ginny's six-year-old son in tow, Ginny and Marsha drive to the school to see Lucy for themselves. What they find sets their course on a heart-racing journey across state lines—turning Ginny into a fugitive.

For the first time, Ginny must test her own strength and face the world head-on as she fights Ab and his domineering father for the right to keep Lucy. Racing from Massachusetts to the beaches of Atlantic City, through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to a roadside mermaid show in Florida, Keeping Lucy is a searing portrait of just how far a mother’s love can take her.

Based on incredible true events, Keeping Lucy is the searing, heartfelt, and breathtaking story of just how far a mother’s love can take her.
Visit T. Greenwood's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rust and Stardust.

The Page 69 Test: Rust and Stardust.

Writers Read: T. Greenwood.

The Page 69 Test: Keeping Lucy.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Karen Katchur reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Karen Katchur, author of Cold Woods.

Her entry begins:
I mostly read books in my genre (crime fiction), but I also read out of my genre, which can be anything from horror to historical fiction. I do read nonfiction books for research, including true crime. It’s another way to get my horror fix.

Recently, I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh, which was released on August 6th. The story takes an honest look into the opioid crisis in a small town in Kansas. It’s told from the point of view of two women, Sadie Keller and Henley Pettit. Sadie is determined to find out how her brother died. Overdoses are on the rise, and the local police...[read on]
About Cold Woods, from the publisher:
Buried bones of the past rise to the surface in this chilling mystery from the bestselling author of River Bodies.

When the long-buried bones of a man turn up in the middle of December, Pennsylvania homicide detective Parker Reed knows he’s in for a cold case.

Trisha and her friends were teenagers when Trisha’s stepdad went missing. Now, thirty years later, his remains have been found in the mountains. The women have always known there was more to his disappearance than meets the eye, and they must confront their grim past. Secrets can stay secret a long time in the lonely Appalachian foothills—but not forever.

When Parker and his partner identify the remains, their investigation leads them to Trisha’s childhood home. But the deeper Parker digs into the crime, the more he realizes that the truth isn’t always simple. In fact, it’s so complicated that even Trisha and her friends don’t fully understand what really happened in those cold woods.
Visit Karen Katchur's website.

Writers Read: Karen Katchur.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 12, 2019

Six crime novels that explore the experience of veterans

Siobhan Adcock is the author of the novels, The Barter and The Completionist.

At CrimeReads she tagged "a few mysteries and thrillers by and about veterans that you might not have already read, and that open up an understanding of how combat experience can shape a story, and its storyteller," including:
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

The world as we know it has ended—humanity wiped out by a supervirus—and those lucky or unlucky enough to survive are either insanely competent, or a little bit insane. Or both. Hig, a former pilot, and Bangley, a former Navy SEAL, are among the survivors who are a bit of both, and who become almost reluctant allies in the face of common danger. In researching my own fiction I’ve read a lot of post-apocalyptic novels (and I mean a lot) and Heller’s novel is one of my all-time favorites: Beautiful, stark, often surprisingly humorous, and fueled by hope, as all great end-of-the-world novels are.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Noelle Salazar's "The Flight Girls"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar.

About the book, from the publisher:
A stunning story about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, whose courage during World War II turned ordinary women into extraordinary heroes

1941.
Audrey Coltrane has always wanted to fly. It’s why she implored her father to teach her at the little airfield back home in Texas. It’s why she signed up to train military pilots in Hawaii when the war in Europe began. And it’s why she insists she is not interested in any dream-derailing romantic involvements, even with the disarming Lieutenant James Hart, who fast becomes a friend as treasured as the women she flies with. Then one fateful day, she gets caught in the air over Pearl Harbor just as the bombs begin to fall, and suddenly, nowhere feels safe.

To make everything she’s lost count for something, Audrey joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots program. The bonds she forms with her fellow pilots reignite a spark of hope in the face of war, and—especially when James goes missing in action—give Audrey the strength to cross the front lines and fight for everything she holds dear.

Shining a light on a little-known piece of history, The Flight Girls is a sweeping portrayal of women’s fearlessness in the face of adversity, and the power of friendship to make us soar.
Visit Noelle Salazar's website.

Writers Read: Noelle Salazar.

My Book, The Movie: The Flight Girls.

The Page 69 Test: The Flight Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Frank O. Bowman III's "High Crimes and Misdemeanors"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump by Frank O. Bowman III.

About the book, from the publisher:
For the third time in forty-five years, America is talking about impeaching a president, but the impeachment provisions of the American constitution are widely misunderstood. In High Crimes and Misdemeanors, constitutional scholar Frank O. Bowman, III offers unprecedented clarity to the question of impeachment, tracing its roots to medieval England through its adoption in the Constitution and 250 years of American experience. By examining the human and political history of those who have faced impeachment, Bowman demonstrates that the Framers intended impeachment to be a flexible tool, adaptable to the needs of any age. Written in a lively, engaging style, the book combines a deep historical and constitutional analysis of the impeachment clauses, a coherent theory of when impeachment should be used to protect constitutional order against presidential misconduct, and a comprehensive presentation of the case for and against impeachment of President Trump. It is an indispensable work for the present moment.
Learn more about High Crimes and Misdemeanors at the Cambridge University Press website. 

The Page 99 Test: High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books shaped by place

Téa Obreht was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, and grew up in Cyprus and Egypt before eventually immigrating to the United States. Her debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction, and was a 2011 National Book Award finalist and an international bestseller.

Obreht's new novel is Inland.

One of the author's six favorite books shaped by place, as shared at The Week magazine:
Paper Lantern by Stuart Dybek (2014).

Dybek is without equal on a host of different levels. His greatest achievement in this stunner of a story collection centered on his hometown Chicago (about which he writes like no one else) is that he casts a haze between past and present, illusion and reality, then swoops among them all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Kira Jane Buxton's "Hollow Kingdom," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton.

The entry begins:
Given that Hollow Kingdom is told from the perspectives of animals, the production would have to be animated (it is interestingly also illegal to film a migrating domestic bird due to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). As I wrote, I actually hadn’t imagined a particular actor voicing S.T., the foul-mouthed crow and narrator (crowtagonist!). Robert Petkoff does all the voices for Hollow Kingdom’s audiobook perfectly, so I’d be thrilled if he also did the screen adaptation voice of our vociferous crow. I could imagine that based on his brilliant voicing of Rocket the raccoon from Guardians Of The Galaxy that Bradley Cooper would also do an incredible job. Or Steve...[read on]
Visit Kira Jane Buxton's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kira Jane Buxton & Ewok.

My Book, The Movie: Hollow Kingdom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books from a high school class on trauma literature

Kate McQuade is the author of the story collection Tell Me Who We Were.

At LitHub she tagged seven titles from a high school class on trauma literature, including:
Anne Valente, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down

Most of the books I teach in this course have their roots, one way or another, in war or transnational terrorism. Valente’s novel is an exception, belonging to what I think of as a relatively new (and unfortunately quickly growing) subgenre of trauma literature: the American school-shooting narrative. In Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down, Valente explores the aftermath of a shooting in a St. Louis suburb. The novel grapples less with cause than effect; Valente trains her focus not on what preoccupies many writers within this genre (the question of what motivated the shooter), but on how students and families cope in the aftermath, a grieving process further problematized when the victims’ houses begin burning down, one by one, at night.

Through this series of intertangled losses, we follow four student survivors—the staff of the yearbook club—tasked with memorializing those lost in the shooting. It’s the impossible assembly of this yearbook that gives the novel its sharpest metaphorical resonance, as the staffers face an immediate version of the problem we all face following catastrophe: How can we assemble a narrative that makes sense of something nonsensical? How, for that matter, can a single narrative ever suffice? As the novel progresses, yearbook entries are logged alongside medical reports, news articles, and scientific information about anatomy and fire—fact-based documents that reveal our narrators’ attempts not only to memorialize, but to understand. “We have tried to catalog the details,” the staffers confess, “. . .as if we shared the same memory, as if every student at Lewis and Clark bore the same witness. . .an attempt to archive. An attempt at futility.”

Like [Jonathan Safran] Foer’s [Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close], Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down suggests that the closure we seek after tragedy is both necessary and inevitably incomplete. Valente sets up a straightforward mystery in her novel’s early pages—who is lighting the fires?—then pushes that mystery well beyond the plane of its original conception. Her novel reminds us that loss sometimes transcends the reason, logic, and fact-based methodologies we use in our attempts to find unattainable answers.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue