Thursday, June 20, 2019

What is Michael Blumlein reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Michael Blumlein, author of Longer.

From his entry:
Recently, I was blown away by Cassandra at the Wedding, by Dorothy Baker. A brilliant, beautifully written, psychologically astute novel about twins, loss, attempted suicide and...I won't divulge the rest. With a brief but memorable appearance by a rarity in fiction: a sympathetic and very human psychiatrist. This is a book you'll want to...[read on]
About Longer, from the publisher:
In Longer, Michael Blumlein explores dauntingly epic topics—love, the expanse of the human lifespan, mortality—with a beautifully sharp story that glows with grace and good humor even as it forces us to confront deep, universal fears.

Gunjita and Cav are in orbit.

R&D scientists for pharmaceutical giant Gleem Galactic, they are wealthy enough to participate in rejuvenation: rebooting themselves from old age to jump their bodies back to their twenties. You get two chances. There can never be a third.

After Gunjita has juved for the second and final time and Cav has not, questions of life, death, morality, and test their relationship. Up among the stars, the research possibilities are infinite and first contact is possible, but their marriage may not survive the challenge.
Visit Michael Blumlein's website.

Writers Read: Michael Blumlein.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Twelve top recent mysteries that will get your blood racing

Trish Bendix is a writer and editor in Los Angeles, California.

At O: The Oprah Magazine Scharer tagged twelve of the best recent mystery novels. One title on the list:
Not a Sound: A Thriller

ER nurse Amelia Winn has lost her husband, her job, and her hearing after a tragic hit-and-run. Now a recovering alcoholic, depressed and with only her faithful service dog as company, she's attempting to rebuild her life in an Iowa cabin, working as a clerk for a local doctor. Her fragile peace is interrupted when she stumbles upon a co-worker's body on the riverbank near her home. That Gudenkauf's protagonist is deaf makes for a truly original, immersive experience.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Not A Sound.

The Page 69 Test: Not A Sound.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christopher E. Forth's "Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life by Christopher E. Forth.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fat. Such a little word evokes big responses. While "fat" describes the size and shape of bodies—their appearance—our negative reactions to corpulence also depend on something tangible and tactile. As this book argues, there is more to fat than meets the eye. Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life offers reflections on how fat has been perceived and imagined in the West since antiquity. Featuring fascinating historical accounts as well as philosophical, religious, and cultural analyses—including discussions of status, gender, and race—the book digs deep into the past for the roots of our current notions and prejudices. Two central themes emerge: how we have perceived and imagined corpulent bodies over the centuries, and how fat—as a substance as well as a description of body size—has been associated with vitality and fertility as well as perceptions of animality. By exploring the complex ways in which fat, fatness, and fattening have been perceived over time, this book provides rich insights into the stuff our stereotypes are made of.
Learn more about Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top novels about class-conscious narrators

Barbara Bourland is the author of the critically acclaimed I’ll Eat When I’m Dead, a Refinery29 Best Book of 2017 and an Irish Independent Book of the Year, and the newly released Fake Like Me.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten favorite novels about class-conscious narrators, including:
The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie

Nobody encompasses neurotic class consciousness quite like detective Hercule Poirot, who, while European, is Belgian, specifically, Walloonian. The Wallons are to the French as the coal workers of the Adirondacks are to the tennis set of Kennebunkport: that is to say, “not our class.” I grew up speaking Walloonian French and to this day, upon a single *efficient* utterance of “nennant” in lieu of “quatre-vignt-dix” (“ninety” instead of “four-times-twenty-plus-ten” for the number 90), the nearest “real French” person will simply begin speaking to someone else. Poirot’s affinity for his moustache, his desire for cleanliness at all costs, his obsession with “the best” of everything, his mere Belgian-ness, makes him the perfect foil to Christie’s high-class drawing room murders. This book, first in the series, is where you should begin.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bryan Reardon's "The Perfect Plan"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Perfect Plan by Bryan Reardon.

About the book, from the publisher:
From New York Times bestselling author Bryan Reardon comes a tense, twisting story about two brothers locked together in a dangerous game—and an unforgettable tale of a family’s dark secrets.

Liam Brennan teeters on the edge. Early one morning, he snaps, kidnapping a young woman who works for Drew Brennan, Liam’s older brother and the upstart candidate in a heated election. This sudden, vicious attack appears to be the beginning of an unthinkable spiral. But when it comes to the Brennan brothers, nothing is what it seems.

To the rest of the world, Liam is the troubled problem child who grew up to be his brother’s enforcer, while Drew has always been the perfect son and a charismatic leader who has his sights set on the governor’s mansion with his charming and beautiful wife, Patsy, by his side.

Now, as Liam tries to stay one step ahead of the authorities and his brother, every passing minute provides a deeper glimpse into the brothers’ past, long hidden behind a picture-perfect suburban veneer. With the threat of the truth surfacing, Liam and Drew are driven toward one final, desperate act…
Follow Bryan Reardon on Facebook and Twitter.

Writers Read: Bryan Reardon.

The Page 69 Test: The Perfect Plan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Four top books based on myths

Lucy Hughes-Hallett is the author of The Pike: Gabriele D'Annunzio, which won all three of the UK's most prestigious prizes for non-fiction - the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize and the Costa Biography Award - and the Political Book Awards Biography of the Year. Her other non-fiction books are the acclaimed cultural histories Heroes and Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams and Distortions. Cleopatra won the Fawcett Prize and the Emily Toth Award. In 2017 she published her first novel Peculiar Ground, which was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize.

Hughes-Hallett's new book is Fabulous, a collection of short stories.

At the Guardian she tagged some of the best books based on myths, including:
While [Muriel] Spark’s protagonist [in The Ballad of Peckham Rye] steps out of legend to stir up reality, the young women in Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber (sexually curious, wilfully disobedient) step out of 1970s reality into fairytale and turn the old stories inside out. Who wouldn’t (Carter asks the reader) prefer getting into bed with a handsome wolf-man to taking tea with Grandmother? The reversal of traditional moralising is entertaining, but what gives Carter’s stories their potency is that she lovingly celebrates the tradition she’s subverting. Full of jewels and furs, virgin blood and deep dark forests, incantatory sentences that meander from curse to enchantment to voluptuous celebration of sex, her stories are at once parodies of an archaic form, and gorgeous examples of it.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Bloody Chamber is among Dan Coxon's top ten folk tales in fiction, Sam Reader's top five books that give old legends a new spin, four books that changed Angelica Banks, four books that changed Justine Larbalestier, Stephanie Feldman's ten creepiest books, and Jonathan Stroud's favorite fantasy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Travis Rieder reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Travis Rieder, author of In Pain: A Bioethicist's Personal Struggle with Opioids.

His entry begins:
I’m just finishing Judith Grisel’s beautifully-written Never Enough, in which she combines her own experience as someone in long-term recovery with her expertise as a neuroscientist. I have a bit of a complicated relationship with this book, as I worry a bit about some of her central ways of framing the discussion around addiction—in particular, with the way that tolerance and physiological dependence is sometimes framed as part of the problem of addiction (I go to great lengths in my own book to show how dependence and addiction can come apart from one another). However, Grisel is a compelling teacher, and I learned a lot from...[read on]
About In Pain: A Bioethicist's Personal Struggle with Opioids, from the publisher:
A bioethicist’s eloquent and riveting memoir of opioid dependence and withdrawal—a harrowing personal reckoning and clarion call for change not only for government but medicine itself, revealing the lack of crucial resources and structures to handle this insidious nationwide epidemic.

Travis Rieder’s terrifying journey down the rabbit hole of opioid dependence began with a motorcycle accident in 2015. Enduring half a dozen surgeries, the drugs he received were both miraculous and essential to his recovery. But his most profound suffering came several months later when he went into acute opioid withdrawal while following his physician’s orders. Over the course of four excruciating weeks, Rieder learned what it means to be “dope sick”—the physical and mental agony caused by opioid dependence. Clueless how to manage his opioid taper, Travis’s doctors suggested he go back on the drugs and try again later. Yet returning to pills out of fear of withdrawal is one route to full-blown addiction. Instead, Rieder continued the painful process of weaning himself.

Rieder’s experience exposes a dark secret of American pain management: a healthcare system so conflicted about opioids, and so inept at managing them, that the crisis currently facing us is both unsurprising and inevitable. As he recounts his story, Rieder provides a fascinating look at the history of these drugs first invented in the 1800s, changing attitudes about pain management over the following decades, and the implementation of the pain scale at the beginning of the twenty-first century. He explores both the science of addiction and the systemic and cultural barriers we must overcome if we are to address the problem effectively in the contemporary American healthcare system.

In Pain is not only a gripping personal account of dependence, but a groundbreaking exploration of the intractable causes of America’s opioid problem and their implications for resolving the crisis. Rieder makes clear that the opioid crisis exists against a backdrop of real, debilitating pain—and that anyone can fall victim to this epidemic.
Visit Travis Rieder's website.

Writers Read: Travis Rieder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Roselle Lim's "Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim.

The entry begins:
If my book were turned into a film, I would love Lulu Wang to direct. As a Chinese filmmaker, director, and writer, I think she would capture the essential essence of the book. Her film, The Farewell, looks beautiful. I can't wait to watch.

For the lead, I’m open to anyone. I feel I haven’t yet found the right fit.

Ming-Na Wen would be ideal as Miranda, Natalie’s mother. (If the film had been made circa The Joy Luck Club, she would have been perfect as the lead. She portrayed the kind of vulnerability Natalie possesses.) I love her range for comedy, action, and drama. Her current stint as Melinda May on Agents of SHIELD is one of my favorite characters. I am confident she can portray Miranda and the complexities of agoraphobia, anxiety, and depression.

Old Wu to me has always been James...[read on]
Visit Roselle Lim's website.

The Page 69 Test: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune.

My Book, The Movie: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Laura Sibson & Nala

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Laura Sibson and Nala.

The author, on how Nala got her name:
When Nala came to us, our sons were 11 and 8 years old. My husband, sons and I made lists of possible names. Nala won because at that point, she looked like Nala from The Lion King. We also call her Fluffernutter because she’s fluffy and she’s the color of...[read on]
About Sibson's new novel, The Art of Breaking Things, from the publisher:
In the tradition of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr, one girl embraces the power of her voice: rules are meant to be broken and she won’t stay silent.

Weekends are for partying with friends while trying to survive the mindnumbingness that is high school. The countdown to graduation is on, and Skye has her sights set on escaping to art school and not looking back.

But her party-first-ask-questions-later lifestyle starts to crumble when her mom rekindles her romance with the man who betrayed Skye’s boundaries when he was supposed to be protecting her. She was too young to understand what was happening at the time, but now she doesn’t know whether to run as far away from him as possible or give up her dreams to save her little sister. The only problem is that no one knows what he did to her. How can she reveal the secret she’s guarded for so long?

With the help of her best friend and the only boy she’s ever trusted, Skye might just find the courage she needs to let her art speak for her when she’s out of words. After years of hiding her past, she must become her own best ally.
Visit Laura Sibson's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Laura Sibson and Nala.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 17, 2019

Pg. 69: D.B. Jackson's "Time’s Demon"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Time’s Demon by D.B. Jackson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan Walked back in time to prevent a war, but instead found himself trapped in an adult body, his king murdered and with an infant princess, Sofya, to protect. Now he has been joined by fellow Walker and Spanner, Mara, and together they must find a way to undo the timeline which orphaned the princess and destroyed their future. Arrayed against them are assassins who share their time-traveling powers, but have dark ambitions of their own, and the Tirribin demon, Droë, whose desperate quest for human love and Tobias leads her into alliances which threaten all of Islevale.
Learn more about the book and author at D. B. Jackson's website and blog.

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of a dozen fantasy novels.

The Page 69 Test: Thieftaker.

The Page 69 Test: Time’s Children.

Writers Read: D.B. Jackson.

The Page 69 Test: Time’s Demon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine notable seaside thrillers

Janna King is a screenwriter, playwright, and director. She has written TV movies and series for Lifetime and The Hallmark Channel, King World and more. Her two short films, “Mourning Glory” and “The Break Up,” which she wrote, directed and produced, were official selections at several film festivals.

King's debut novel is The Seasonaires; her new novel is the sequel, Malibu Bluff.

One of her nine best seaside thrillers, as shared at Crime Reads:
The Husband Hour, by Jamie Brenner

Ensconced alone in her family’s warm, familiar Jersey Shore house, Lauren, a young widow, struggles to heal over the death of her star hockey player-turned-soldier husband. But when her parents, competitive sister and her sister’s young son descend for a summer together, Lauren’s inner turmoil bubbles to the surface with the family’s dysfunction. Secrets are uncovered and threatened to be exposed in a documentary about her husband, forcing her to face the problems that plagued her seemingly perfect marriage. Brenner shows sensitivity while examining the tough subject of traumatic brain injuries in sports while keeping the fictional drama and tension high. This novel is about crimes of the heart and ethical questions as opposed to traditional whodunit elements, but the striking personal jeopardy makes for a thought-provoking and riveting read.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Laura Tucker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Laura Tucker, author of All the Greys on Greene Street.

Her entry begins:
I went on a bookseller tour last month, which meant I talked to a lot of children’s booksellers, and the middle-grade that many of them recommended was The Line Tender by Kate Allen. They were right. I devoured it—a beautiful, tough, funny, tender book about love and terrible loss.

Another middle-grade I loved recently is The Parker Inheritance, a tribute to another one of my favorites, The Westing Game. Varian Johnson skillfully sets his story against the backdrop of some very difficult American history. At one point (and I’m paraphrasing), an older character says to two modern-day kids: You...[read on]
About All the Greys on Greene Street, from the publisher:
SoHo, 1981. Twelve-year-old Olympia is an artist–and in her neighborhood, that’s normal. Her dad and his business partner Apollo bring antique paintings back to life, while her mother makes intricate sculptures in a corner of their loft, leaving Ollie to roam the streets of New York with her best friends Richard and Alex, drawing everything that catches her eye.

Then everything falls apart. Ollie’s dad disappears in the middle of the night, leaving her only a cryptic note and instructions to destroy it. Her mom has gone to bed, and she’s not getting up. Apollo is hiding something, Alex is acting strange, and Richard has questions about the mysterious stranger he saw outside. And someone keeps calling, looking for a missing piece of art....

Olympia knows her dad is the key–but first, she has to find him, and time is running out.
Visit Laura Tucker's website.

Writers Read: Laura Tucker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Robyn Arianrhod's "Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science by Robyn Arianrhod.

About the book, from the publisher:
As Robyn Arianrhod shows in this new biography, the most complete to date, Thomas Harriot was a pioneer in both the figurative and literal sense. Navigational adviser and loyal friend to Sir Walter Ralegh, Harriot--whose life was almost exactly contemporaneous to Shakespeare's--took part in the first expedition to colonize Virginia in 1585. Not only was he responsible for getting Ralegh's ships safely to harbor in the New World, he was also the first European to acquire a working knowledge of an indigenous language from what is today the US, and to record in detail the local people's way of life. In addition to his groundbreaking navigational, linguistic, and ethnological work, Harriot was the first to use a telescope to map the moon's surface, and, independently of Galileo, recorded the behavior of sunspots and discovered the law of free fall. He preceded Newton in his discovery of the properties of the prism and the nature of the rainbow, to name just two more of his unsung "firsts."

Indeed many have argued that Harriot was the best mathematician of his age, and one of the finest experimental scientists of all time. Yet he has remained an elusive figure. He had no close family to pass down records, and few of his letters survive. Most importantly, he never published his scientific discoveries, and not long after his death in 1621 had all but been forgotten. In recent decades, many scholars have been intent on restoring Harriot to his rightful place in scientific history, but Arianrhod's biography is the first to pull him fully into the limelight. She has done it the only way it can be done: through his science. Using Harriot's re-discovered manuscripts, Arianrhod illuminates the full extent of his scientific and cultural achievements, expertly guiding us through what makes them original and important, and the story behind them.

Harriot's papers provide unique insight into the scientific process itself. Though his thinking depended on a more natural, intuitive approach than those who followed him, and who achieved the lasting fame that escaped him, Harriot helped lay the foundations of what in Newton's time would become modern physics. Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science puts a human face to scientific inquiry in the Elizabethan and Jacobean worlds, and at long last gives proper due to the life and times of one of history's most remarkable minds.
Learn more about Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Seduced by Logic.

My Book, The Movie: Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science.

The Page 99 Test: Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Ten top books about fathers

Sam Miller was born and brought up in London, but has spent much of his adult life in India. His books include Fathers, an account of his own father, the editor, writer, critic and academic Karl Miller.

One of Miller's top ten books about fathers, as shared at the Guardian:
And When Did You Last See Your Father? by Blake Morrison

This 1993 portrait of Morrison’s father is often said to have inspired a generation of confessional writing. It has a superb opening scene, involving a long queue of cars outside a motor racing track, during the course of which key elements of Arthur Morrison’s character are established. And it gets better and better, funnier and sadder.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Becky Masterman's "We Were Killers Once"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: We Were Killers Once: A Thriller (Brigid Quinn Series, Volume 4) by Becky Masterman.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo's days as a prison chaplain--a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo's old things--has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he'd like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he'll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.

Becky Masterman's unputdownable thrillers featuring unique heroine Brigid Quinn continue with this fascinating alternative look at one of America's most famous crimes.
Visit Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

The Page 69 Test: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

The Page 69 Test: Fear the Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: A Twist of the Knife.

My Book, The Movie: We Were Killers Once.

The Page 69 Test: We Were Killers Once.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten father figures in literature

Allison Pataki is the New York Times bestselling author of The Traitor's Wife, The Accidental Empress, Sisi: Empress on Her Own, Where the Light Falls, Beauty in the Broken Places, and Nelly Takes New York.

At HuffPost she tagged ten top reads about great father figures in literature, including:
To Kill a Mockingbird: The name Atticus Finch might as well be synonymous with the title of “world’s greatest dad.” And of course Gregory Peck did even better things for the character when he played the role in the 1962 on-screen adaptation. In this Harper Lee classic, set in the 1930’s in racially-segregated Alabama, Atticus Finch teaches his two children, Scout and Jem, of the importance of respecting each individual, regardless of their skin color or socioeconomic status. Atticus, a widower, holds true to his principles even when to do so means to face social ostracism and outright threats. It’s hard not to be inspired by Atticus Finch and his quiet, humble brand of integrity and strength.
Read about another entry on the list.

To Kill a Mockingbird made Bonnie Kistler's list of four classic fictional trials that subverted the truth, Kathy Bates's ten desert island books list, Lavie Tidhar's list of five fantastical heroines in great children’s books, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Katy Guest's list of six top books for shy readers, Jeff Somers's top ten list of fictional characters based on actual people, Carol Wall's list of five books that changed her, John Bardinelli's list of five authors who became famous after publishing a single novel and never published another one, Ellie Irving's top ten list of quiet heroes and heroines, a list of five books that changed Richelle Mead, Robert Williams's top ten list of loners in fiction, Alyssa Bereznak's top ten list of literary heroes with weird names, Louise Doughty's top ten list of courtroom dramas, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epic epigraphs, the Telegraph's list of ten great meals in literature, Nicole Hill's list of fourteen characters their creators should have spared, Isla Blair's six best books list, Lauren Passell's list of ten pairs of books made better when read together, Charlie Fletcher's top ten list of adventure classics, Sheila Bair's 6 favorite books list, Kathryn Erskine's top ten list of first person narratives, Julia Donaldson's six best books list, TIME magazine's top 10 list of books you were forced to read in school, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lawyers in literature, John Cusack's list of books that made a difference to him, Lisa Scottoline's top ten list of books about justice, and Luke Leitch's list of ten literary one-hit wonders. It is one of Sanjeev Bhaskar's six best books and one of Alexandra Styron's five best stories of fathers and daughters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 15, 2019

What is Bryan Reardon reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Bryan Reardon, author of The Perfect Plan.

His entry begins:
I am a chronic re-reader. Since I started writing professionally (about twelve years ago), I found it harder and harder to read new material. Sometimes I wonder if I am competitive. Or if I'm afraid that other plotlines might influence my own. It might be that I spend hours a day reading, and the joy I used to find in it has become more of a labor.

Over the past year, however, I have been so lucky. My fortune brought me into contact with three amazing authors. Their books have rekindled my desire to read more. And I owe them greatly for that.

First, it was Karen Dionne and her amazing book The Marsh King's Daughter. In her work, I was transported to an entirely new world. Pick this book up, open to the first page, and you won't come up for air until it's over. You will visit a place so close, but so foreign, that you will wonder what...[read on]
About The Perfect Plan, from the publisher:
From New York Times bestselling author Bryan Reardon comes a tense, twisting story about two brothers locked together in a dangerous game—and an unforgettable tale of a family’s dark secrets.

Liam Brennan teeters on the edge. Early one morning, he snaps, kidnapping a young woman who works for Drew Brennan, Liam’s older brother and the upstart candidate in a heated election. This sudden, vicious attack appears to be the beginning of an unthinkable spiral. But when it comes to the Brennan brothers, nothing is what it seems.

To the rest of the world, Liam is the troubled problem child who grew up to be his brother’s enforcer, while Drew has always been the perfect son and a charismatic leader who has his sights set on the governor’s mansion with his charming and beautiful wife, Patsy, by his side.

Now, as Liam tries to stay one step ahead of the authorities and his brother, every passing minute provides a deeper glimpse into the brothers’ past, long hidden behind a picture-perfect suburban veneer. With the threat of the truth surfacing, Liam and Drew are driven toward one final, desperate act…
Follow Bryan Reardon on Facebook and Twitter.

Writers Read: Bryan Reardon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four good "bad dad" memoirs

Andrew G. S. Thurman is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh's MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. He is working on a book about his father. At LitHub he tagged four good Bad Dad memoirs, including:
Frank Conroy, Stop-Time

Michael Chabon refers to Stop-Time as the “great grandaddy” of literary memoir. He’s not quite right—Conroy was just one member of a larger movement legitimizing the artistic merit of nonfiction—but Stop-Time is still a model for young memoirists for a reason.

Between his father’s insanity, his stepfather’s incompetent grifting, and his mother’s ambivalence, Conroy is effectively forced to raise himself. He does so with grace, becoming a charismatic and effortlessly funny young man good at having his back to the wall—which, throughout the narrative, it often is.

By the end of the book, however, we begin to see a sad truth take shape: the comedic tic that defines him is not just a personality trait and storytelling device, but also a coping mechanism for latent trauma. What emerges is a surprisingly bitter ending from a work that otherwise seems to pride itself on being wry and detached.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John B. Kachuba's "Shapeshifters: A History"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Shapeshifters: A History by John B. Kachuba.

About the book, from the publisher:
There is something about a shapeshifter—a person who can transform into an animal—that captures our imagination; that causes us to want to howl at the moon, or flit through the night like a bat. Werewolves, vampires, demons, and other weird creatures appeal to our animal nature, our “dark side,” our desire to break free of the bonds of society and proper behavior. Real or imaginary, shapeshifters lurk deep in our psyches and remain formidable cultural icons.

The myths, magic, and meaning surrounding shapeshifters are brought vividly to life in John B. Kachuba’s compelling and original cultural history. Rituals in early cultures worldwide seemingly allowed shamans, sorcerers, witches, and wizards to transform at will into animals and back again. Today, there are millions of people who believe that shapeshifters walk among us and may even be world leaders. Featuring a fantastic and ghoulish array of examples from history, literature, film, TV, and computer games, Shapeshifters explores our secret desire to become something other than human.
Visit John B. Kachuba's website.

The Page 99 Test: Shapeshifters: A History.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 14, 2019

Eight top novels dealing with refugees

Michael Niemann's latest Valentin Vermeulen thriller is No Right Way.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight "novels of displacement, diaspora, and the traumas of exile," including:
The Collaborator of Bethlehem, Matt Rees

The single largest refugee population lives in Palestine. According to the UNHCR, 5.4 million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Administration for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA). The origin of this population has been hotly debated for decades. For years, the official Israeli position was that the Palestinians fled because they were told by Arab governments that they could go back as soon as the Israeli forces were defeated. Historical research after the opening of British and Israeli archives now show that the use of violence, including strategic massacres, and the fear of that violence propelled the vast majority to flee their homes. Matt Reese situates his first Omar Yussef novel in the Dehaisha refugee camp near Bethlehem. Yussef teaches history at an UNWRA school and appalled by the absence of nuance brought about by the morbid effects of decades of occupation. Resistance fighters squeeze off rounds at Israeli positions during the night, the Israeli army responds by destroying roads, buildings and targeted killings. One such killing leads to the arrest of Yussef’s good friend and former student as a collaborator. The evidence gathered by Yussef points into a different direction, but the battle lines have hardened so much that the collaborator is given the death penalty without even a hint of a fair trial. Yussef has but two days to prove his friend’s innocence in a climate where revenge is the popular emotion. Rees draws out the ignominy of Israeli occupation but also highlights the power of Palestinian militias and their not so clean business undertakings. The novel shows what happens when the refugee status becomes permanent without a resolution in sight. It’s a sad combination of resignation and anger. After a bomb goes off in the wee hours in the morning at his school, Yussef, leading a policeman past the destroyed classroom, spells this out, “He’s seen this kind of destruction many times. It doesn’t even concern him that this is his own daughter’s classroom.”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

My Book, The Movie: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Roselle Lim's "Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim.

About the book, from the publisher:
Lush and visual, chock-full of delicious recipes, Roselle Lim’s magical debut novel is about food, heritage, and finding family in the most unexpected places.

At the news of her mother’s death, Natalie Tan returns home. The two women hadn’t spoken since Natalie left in anger seven years ago, when her mother refused to support her chosen career as a chef. Natalie is shocked to discover the vibrant neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown that she remembers from her childhood is fading, with businesses failing and families moving out. She’s even more surprised to learn she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant.

The neighborhood seer reads the restaurant’s fortune in the leaves: Natalie must cook three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook to aid her struggling neighbors before the restaurant will succeed. Unfortunately, Natalie has no desire to help them try to turn things around—she resents the local shopkeepers for leaving her alone to take care of her agoraphobic mother when she was growing up. But with the support of a surprising new friend and a budding romance, Natalie starts to realize that maybe her neighbors really have been there for her all along.
Visit Roselle Lim's website.

The Page 69 Test: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune.

--Marshal Zeringue

Robyn Arianrhod's "Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science by Robyn Arianrhod.

The entry begins:
The long-lost Elizabethan scientific genius Thomas Harriot lived a dramatic and extraordinary life. Arriving in London as a brilliant young Oxford graduate from the wrong side of the tracks, he was soon swept up in the most glamorous of Elizabethan circles. His first boss – who became a lifelong friend – was the brilliant, impetuous Sir Walter Ralegh, favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.

Harriot is a mysterious character, and I have more to say about him. But first, who better to play the larger-than-life Sir Walter than Ioan Grufudd: tall, dark, handsome, and with the beard he sports in the TV series Harrow, he even sort of looks like Ralegh! And for Elizabeth I, the fabulous Fiona Shaw is terrific at playing powerful, morally ambivalent women – need I say more than Killing Eve? Or the legendary...[read on]
Learn more about Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Seduced by Logic.

My Book, The Movie: Thomas Harriot: A Life in Science.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 13, 2019

What is D.B. Jackson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: D.B. Jackson, author of Time’s Demon.

His entry begins:
Last fall, soon after the release of Time’s Children, the first book in my epic fantasy/time travel series, The Islevale Cycle, I wrote a “Writer’s Read” post for this site. At the time, as usual, I was reading a variety of things: novels, short stories, magazines. Like so many writers, I read widely and eclectically. Being a professional writer means as well being a professional reader.

Today, only a week or two removed from the release of Time’s Demon, the second Islevale novel, I could easily write a similar post. I’ve recently read Guy Gavriel Kay’s newest novel, A Brightness Long Ago, so that I could review it for another site. It’s brilliant, as is all of Kay’s work. And, as it happens, I am currently re-reading his Fionavar Tapestry, a favorite of mine from long ago that I return to again and again, like comfort food for the spirit. I have been reading the most recent issue of The New Yorker magazine, savoring articles about...[read on]
About Time’s Demon, from the publisher:
Fifteen year-old Tobias Doljan Walked back in time to prevent a war, but instead found himself trapped in an adult body, his king murdered and with an infant princess, Sofya, to protect. Now he has been joined by fellow Walker and Spanner, Mara, and together they must find a way to undo the timeline which orphaned the princess and destroyed their future. Arrayed against them are assassins who share their time-traveling powers, but have dark ambitions of their own, and the Tirribin demon, Droë, whose desperate quest for human love and Tobias leads her into alliances which threaten all of Islevale.
Learn more about the book and author at D. B. Jackson's website and blog.

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of a dozen fantasy novels.

The Page 69 Test: Thieftaker.

The Page 69 Test: Time’s Children.

Writers Read: D.B. Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Hannah Roche's "The Outside Thing"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Outside Thing: Modernist Lesbian Romance by Hannah Roche.

About the book, from the publisher:
In a lecture delivered before the University of Oxford’s Anglo-French Society in 1936, Gertrude Stein described romance as “the outside thing, that ... is always a thing to be felt inside.” Hannah Roche takes Stein’s definition as a principle for the reinterpretation of three major modernist lesbian writers, showing how literary and affective romance played a crucial yet overlooked role in the works of Stein, Radclyffe Hall, and Djuna Barnes. The Outside Thing offers original readings of both canonical and peripheral texts, including Stein’s first novel Q.E.D. (Things As They Are), Hall’s Adam’s Breed and The Well of Loneliness, and Barnes’s early writing alongside Nightwood.

Is there an inside space for lesbian writing, or must it always seek refuge elsewhere? Crossing established lines of demarcation between the in and the out, the real and the romantic, and the Victorian and the modernist, The Outside Thing presents romance as a heterosexual plot upon which lesbian writers willfully set up camp. These writers boldly adopted and adapted the romance genre, Roche argues, as a means of staking a queer claim on a heteronormative institution. Refusing to submit or surrender to the “straight” traditions of the romance plot, they turned the rules to their advantage. Drawing upon extensive archival research, The Outside Thing is a significant rethinking of the interconnections between queer writing, lesbian living, and literary modernism.
Learn more about The Outside Thing at the Columbia University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Outside Thing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top houseguests in fiction

Jessica Francis Kane is the author of This Close, The Report, and Bending Heaven. This Close was longlisted for The Story Prize and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, and The Report was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in a number of publications, including Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s, The Missouri Review, The Yale Review, A Public Space, and Granta.

Kane's new novel is Rules for Visiting.

At the Guardian she tagged ten notable houseguests in fiction, including:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Austen’s novels are filled with visiting. She wrote in an era when going to stay with family or friends was an established way for an unmarried woman to meet a husband or make herself useful to those who already had them. Thanks to a rainy day, Jane Bennet winds up a sickly houseguest and her sister Elizabeth must come to her rescue – initiating all the celebrated romantic attachments of the story.
Read about another entry on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on O: The Oprah Magazine's twenty greatest ever romance novels, Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Tara Sonin's lists of fifty must-read regency romances and seven sweet and swoony romances for wedding season, Grant Ginder's top ten list of book characters we love to hate, Katy Guest's list of six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, Garry Trudeau's six favorite books list, Ross Johnson's list of seven of the greatest rivalries in fiction, Helen Dunmore's six best books list, Jenny Kawecki's list of eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, Peter James's top ten list of works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Becky Masterman's "We Were Killers Once," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: We Were Killers Once: A Thriller (Brigid Quinn Series, Volume 4) by Becky Masterman.

The entry begins:
Despite being purchased last year by a production company, my first book Rage Against the Dying has yet to flicker onto a screen of any size. Since it was published I've fantasized about many an actress to play my aging yet powerful series protagonist, Brigid Quinn. Holly Hunter, Glenn Close, Emma Thompson, and Jamie Lee Curtis are all possibilities. But whenever I speak of the actor to play Brigid's husband Carlo DiForenza, I get disbelieving stares. Okay, so Carlo is an ex-Catholic priest who mildly quotes Bonhoeffer. But why not Jeff...[read on]
Visit Becky Masterman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rage Against the Dying.

The Page 69 Test: Rage Against the Dying.

My Book, The Movie: Fear the Darkness.

The Page 69 Test: Fear the Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: A Twist of the Knife.

My Book, The Movie: We Were Killers Once.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lisa Grunwald's "Time After Time"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Time After Time: A Novel by Lisa Grunwald.

About the book, from the publisher:
On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again—and again—will become the focus of his love and his life.

Nora, a fiercely independent aspiring artist, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.

As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.

Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time.
Visit Lisa Grunwald's website.

The Page 69 Test: Time After Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about Paris

Whitney Scharer holds a BA in English Literature from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous journals including New Flash Fiction Review, Cimarron Review, and Bellevue Literary Review. Her first novel, The Age of Light, based on the life of pioneering photographer Lee Miller, was published by Little, Brown (US) and Picador (UK) in February, 2019, and is forthcoming from over a dozen other countries. She lives with her husband and daughter in Arlington, MA.

At O: The Oprah Magazine Scharer tagged ten of the best books about Paris. One title on the list:
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

Millions of copies sold, multiple years on the New York Times bestseller list, and a Pulitzer Prize—Anthony Doerr probably doesn’t need another shout-out about his book, but I can’t help myself. The sections of the novel that take place in Paris, focalized through Marie-Laure, a blind girl whose father works at the Museum of Natural History, are some of the most sensually evocative descriptions of Paris I’ve ever read. I love the structure of the book, too—short chapters that read like prose poems.
Read about another entry on the list.

All the Light We Cannot See is among David Baldacci's six favorite books with an element of mystery, Jason Flemyng's six best books, Sandra Howard's six best books, Caitlin Kleinschmidt's twelve moving novels of the Second World War and Maureen Corrigan's 12 favorite books of 2014.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Pg. 99: Elizabeth Goldring's "Nicholas Hilliard"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist by Elizabeth Goldring.

About the book, from the publisher:
This illustrated biography follows Nicholas Hilliard’s long and remarkable life (c. 1547–1619) from the West Country to the heart of the Elizabethan and Jacobean courts. It showcases new archival research and stunning images, many reproduced in color for the first time. Hilliard’s portraits—some no larger than a watch-face—have decisively shaped perceptions of the appearances and personalities of many key figures in one of the most exciting, if volatile, periods in British history. His sitters included Elizabeth I, James I, and Mary, Queen of Scots; explorers Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh; and members of the emerging middle class from which he himself hailed. Hilliard counted the Medici, the Valois, the Habsburgs, and the Bourbons among his Continental European patrons and admirers. Published to mark the 400th anniversary of Hilliard’s death, this is the definitive biography of one of Britain’s most notable artists.
Learn more about Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist at the Yale University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist.

The Page 99 Test: Nicholas Hilliard: Life of an Artist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine top classic and contemporary spy novels

When Timothy Jay Smith quit an intriguing international career to become a full-time writer, he had a host of real life characters, places and events to inspire his stories. His first novel, Cooper’s Promise, in some ways is still the most autobiographical of his novels, though he was never an American deserter adrift in Africa. But he was in The Mining Pan bar and he did meet Lulay and he did stowaway on a barge that landed him in an African jail.

Now, in his third novel, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland in 1992, Smith looks back at the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, as witnessed through the eyes of an FBI Special Agent on assignment to stop a nuclear smuggling operation out of Russia. Smith’s newest book continues his style of page-turning thrillers steeped with colorful characters.

At CrimeReads he tagged nine notable spy thrillers, including:
An Honorable Man by Paul Vidich

Paul Vidich’s 2016 debut novel, An Honorable Man, is set in 1950s Washington DC, where the Cold War is heating up amidst the demagoguery of McCarthyism. Josef Stalin’s death has left a dangerous power vacuum in the Soviet Union. Inside the CIA, a presumed double agent, codenamed Protocol, is blamed for helping Moscow assassinate the CIA’s local assets and ruthlessly stop other operations. The CIA, only seven years old, knows McCarthy will destroy its public standing if word gets out about the Russian mole. The CIA hires George Mueller to ferret him out. Who could be more qualified? Yale-educated, he’s run missions in Eastern Europe, and is so dedicated he’s chosen job over wife. Mueller, though, has secrets of his own, and when it’s learned that he’s made contact with a Soviet agent, suspicion falls on him. Until Protocol is found, everyone is a suspect.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is David Drake reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Drake, author of To Clear Away the Shadows.

His entry begins:
Rustics in Rebellion/George Alfred Townsend

Townsend was a correspondent from Tidewater Maryland writing for northern papers during the Civil War. He was strongly opposed to Secession but he understood the common people who were doing the fighting--and who were being trampled by being in the path of the armies. He was one of those people himself.

This is an honest account of the civil war by a non-combatant who went where the fighting was so that he could report it. It is full of homely details, like writing a note for an illiterate private to his wife and baby girl before the Battle of Cedar Mountain, who says that he'll write more if he...[read on]
About To Clear Away the Shadows, from the publisher:
ADVENTURES BEYOND THE EDGE OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE

The truce between Cinnabar and the Alliance is holding, and the Republic of Cinnabar Navy is able to explore regions of the galaxy without the explorers being swept up in great power conflict.

The Far Traveller is probing sponge space to open routes for Cinnabar traders—and for RCN warships if war breaks out again. But besides astrogation, the Far Traveller is to survey and catalog life forms on the worlds it touches.

Harry Harper has just been posted to the Traveller. He's an RCN officer by convention, a scientist by training—and a member of one of the leading aristocratic families on Cinnabar by birth.

Lieutenant Rick Grenville would rather serve on a warship in the heart of battle, but peace and the whim of the Navy Board have put him on an exploration vessel instead. He finds that the dangers on the fringes of civilization are just as great as those from missiles and gunfire that he expected to face.

As internal struggles cause the Alliance to relax its iron grip, regional forces are attempting to increase their own power—and they're not fussy about the means they use.

Besides the biological answers that officials on Cinnabar expect the Far Traveller to find, the ship's Director of Science, Dr. Veil, has her own agenda: to learn more about the Archaic Spacefarers who roamed the universe tens of thousands of years before humans reached the stars.

The crew of the Far Traveller is poised to clear more of the shadows away from the deep past than ever before in human history—if they survive.
Visit David Drake's website.

Writers Read: David Drake.

--Marshal Zeringue