Saturday, December 14, 2019

Rahaman Ali's six best books

No one was closer to Muhammad Ali than Rahaman, his only sibling and best friend. The brothers lived together, trained together and shared pivotal experiences, from Ali's time in the Nation of Islam to the 'Rumble in the Jungle' fight against George Foreman. Rahman became Ali's best sparring partner and part of his inner circle, also acting as a personal bodyguard throughout his brother's career. Rahman retired from competing as a heavyweight himself in 1972, with a record of 14 wins, three losses and one draw. He is the author of My Brother, Muhammad Ali: The Definitive Biography.

One of Ali's six favorite books, as shared at the Daily Express:

Our father Cassius Clay Sr would always talk to us about the greatness of Jack Johnson.

So I already knew he must have been bold and courageous.

I really enjoyed reading about this great man who rose from poverty in the Jim Crow era to become the first black man to become the heavyweight champion of the world, despite the obstacle of racism being in front of him.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 13, 2019

Pg. 69: NoNieqa Ramos's "The Truth Is"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos.

About the book, from the publisher:
A powerful exploration of love, identity, and self-worth through the eyes of a fierce, questioning Puerto Rican teen.

Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn’t think she has time for love. She’s still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school—who happens to be trans—all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother’s disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.
Visit NoNieqa Ramos's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Truth Is.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jeremy Popkin's "A New World Begins"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution by Jeremy Popkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
From an award-winning historian, a magisterial account of the revolution that created the modern world

The principles of the French Revolution remain the only possible basis for a just society — even if, after more than two hundred years, they are more contested than ever before. In A New World Begins, Jeremy D. Popkin offers a riveting account of the revolution that puts the reader in the thick of the debates and the violence that led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a new society. We meet Mirabeau, Robespierre, and Danton, in all of their brilliance and vengefulness; we witness the failed escape and execution of Louis XVI; we see women demanding equal rights and black slaves wresting freedom from revolutionaries who hesitated to act on their own principles; and we follow the rise of Napoleon out of the ashes of the Reign of Terror.

Based on decades of scholarship, A New World Begins will stand as the definitive treatment of the French Revolution.
Learn more about A New World Begins at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: A New World Begins.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best crime novels of 2019

CrimeReads named their ten best crime novels of 2019. One title on the list:
Laura Lippman, Lady in the Lake (William Morrow)

Lippman’s new standalone mystery, set in 1960s Baltimore, is clearly a tale near and dear to her heart. A housewife leaves her husband to pursue a career as a reporter, and finds herself facing criticism from her own community even as she embarks on a passionate and transgressive affair and becomes obsessed with a dead woman found frozen in a fountain. Lady in the Lake is not baby boomer nostalgia—quite the contrary; the book is both empathetic to individuals and harshly critical of the divides and prejudices of the setting. A must-read!
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Lady in the Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Jacqueline Firkins's "Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins.

The entry begins:
I work in film and theatre as a prof and designer. I loosely based the appearances of my teenage characters on some of the acting students I was working with while I wrote the first draft. However, if a movie was made, I know star power would hold weight. So for my central trio, I’d propose the following:

-Edie Price: Millie Bobby Brown. As seen in Stranger Things, she’s brilliant at conveying a lot with silence, which works well for a character who likes to observe others. She can be angry but vulnerable at the same time. Strong but self-doubting. She does complicated well.

-Sebastian Summers: Asa Butterfield. He nails adorably awkward, sensitive, earnest, and self-deprecating. He’s the guy you...[read on]
Visit Jacqueline Firkins's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline Firkins & Ffiona.

My Book, The Movie: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ronni Davis's "When the Stars Lead to You"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis.

About the book, from the publisher:
Nicola Yoon meets Jenny Han in a heated first-love romance about two teens who are torn apart one summer by prejudice and mental illness, and find each other once again.

Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it, as she prepares for a future studying galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school.

Can she forgive and open her heart to him again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love.
Visit Ronni Davis's website.

My Book, The Movie: When the Stars Lead to You.

The Page 69 Test: When the Stars Lead to You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christopher Schaberg's "Searching for the Anthropocene"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Searching for the Anthropocene: A Journey into the Environmental Humanities by Christopher Schaberg.

About the book, from the publisher:
Debated, denied, unheard of, encompassing: The Anthropocene is a vexed topic, and requires interdisciplinary imagination.

Starting at the author's home in rural northern Michigan and zooming out to perceive a dizzying global matrix, Christopher Schaberg invites readers on an atmospheric, impressionistic adventure with the environmental humanities. Searching for the Anthropocene blends personal narrative, cultural criticism, and ecological thought to ponder human-driven catastrophe on a planetary scale.

This book is not about defining or settling the Anthropocene, but rather about articulating what it's like to live in the Anthropocene, to live with a sense of its nagging presence--even as the stakes grow higher with each passing year, each oncoming storm.
Learn more about Searching for the Anthropocene at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Searching for the Anthropocene.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten dinner parties in fiction

Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.

At the Guardian, they tagged ten top dinner parties in fiction, including:
Atonement by Ian McEwan

A sweltering summer day in 1935 with war on the horizon. A grand house. A clandestine affair just begun, a rape about to happen, a world about to unravel – and a very English dinner party in progress: roast meat and roast potatoes, wine not water, the windows won’t open and an aroma of “warm dust from the Persian carpet” Everything important is not being said. A tour de force in which desire, violence and encroaching disaster are accompanied by conversation about the weather and the implacable march of unwanted dishes to the table.
Read about another entry on the list.

Atonement also appears on Mark Skinner's list of ten of the best country house novels, Julia Dahl's top ten list of books about miscarriages of justice, Tim Lott's top ten list of summers in fiction, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, David Treuer's six favorite books list, Kirkus Reviews's list of eleven books whose final pages will shock you, Nicole Hill's list of eleven books in which the main character dies, Isla Blair's six best books list, Jessica Soffer's top ten list of book endings, Jane Ciabattari's list of five masterpieces of fiction that also worked as films, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best birthday parties in literature, ten of the best misdirected messages in literature, ten of the best scenes on London Underground, ten of the best breakages in literature, ten of the best weddings in literature, and ten of the best identical twins in fiction. It is one of Stephanie Beacham's six best books.

Also see Jeff Somers's five most disastrous dinner parties in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

What is Richard Baker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Richard Baker, author of Scornful Stars: Breaker of Empires (Volume 3).

His entry begins:
The two books sitting on my nightstand are The Fifth Season (by N.K. Jemisin) and Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands (by Dan Jones). I’m cheating just a little bit here since I actually finished The Fifth Season a couple of weeks ago, but it looms large in my mind at the moment and I’m still thinking about the story. I realize that I’m late to the party since The Fifth Season won a Hugo for Best Novel in 2016 and you probably already know all about it already, but better late than never. Let me tell you why I picked up those particular books.

First, Crusaders: This is a new, well-written “pop history” exploring the tangled story of the Crusades. I read a lot of nonfiction, and several times a year I pick a book off a store shelf for no other reason than it deals with a subject I want to know more about. Author Dan Jones does a couple of interesting things with this one. First, he uses a strongly “people-centric” approach that builds around the stories of individuals caught up in the times rather than...[read on]
About Scornful Stars, from the publisher:
Richard Baker continues his new military science fiction series, Breaker of Empires, with vivid space battles and elements of politics and cultural heritage, picking up where Valiant Dust and Restless Lightning have led.

Now a captain, Sikander Singh North commands the destroyer Decisive, assigned to Zerzura, a haven for piracy and the next playing-board in the Great Game. The Aquilan Commonwealth and the Empire of Dremark vie for the allegiance of local ruler Marid Pasha, a competition with stakes that reach far beyond the sector's pirate-infested limits.

Sikander must stop the pirate attacks while charting his course between the ambitions of Marid Pasha, a dubious alliance with a shipping magnate, and the inexperience of Decisive’s crew...a situation that only grows more complicated when an old enemy returns.
Visit Richard Baker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Valiant Dust.

Writers Read: Richard Baker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kylie Brant's "Down the Darkest Road"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Down the Darkest Road by Kylie Brant.

About the book, from the publisher:
An obsessive killer, a witness with secrets, and a deputy US marshal with her own dark demons collide in this gripping mystery from the bestselling author of Cold Dark Places.

Dylan was only a child when he and his friend stumbled onto a crime scene deep in the woods. His friend was killed that night. And Bruce Forrester, the man who had chased the boys in the woods, disappeared. But he’s never stopped looking for the only living witness. Ever since, Dylan and his family have been on the run.

Deputy US Marshal Cady Maddix knows what it’s like to be haunted by a traumatizing childhood. She’s determined to track Forrester down and give Dylan the peace of mind he deserves. Only the more Cady delves into the case, the more pieces of a strange puzzle emerge—about Forrester, Dylan, and Cady’s own inescapable demons.

As Cady grows closer to separating the truth from the lies, someone is determined to stop her at all costs. And the consequences of putting the past to rest could prove deadly.
Read more about Kylie Brant's work at her website.

The Page 69 Test: Pretty Girls Dancing.

The Page 69 Test: Down the Darkest Road.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Guy Crosby's "Cook, Taste, Learn"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Cook, Taste, Learn: How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking by Guy Crosby.

About the book, from the publisher:
Cooking food is one of the activities that makes humanity unique. It’s not just about what tastes good: advances in cooking technology have been a constant part of our progress, from the ability to control fire to the emergence of agriculture to modern science’s understanding of what happens at a molecular level when we apply heat to food. Mastering new ways of feeding ourselves has resulted in leaps in longevity and explosions in population—and the potential of cooking science is still largely untapped.

In Cook, Taste, Learn, the food scientist and best-selling author Guy Crosby offers a lively tour of the history and science behind the art of cooking, with a focus on achieving a healthy daily diet. He traces the evolution of cooking from its earliest origins, recounting the innovations that have unraveled the mysteries of health and taste. Crosby explains why both home cooks and professional chefs should learn how to apply cooking science, arguing that we can improve the nutritional quality and gastronomic delight of everyday eating. Science-driven changes in the way we cook can help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and enhance our quality of life. The book features accessible explanations of complex topics as well as a selection of recipes that illustrate scientific principles. Cook, Taste, Learn reveals the possibilities for transforming cooking from a craft into the perfect blend of art and science.
Visit Guy Crosby's website.

The Page 99 Test: Cook, Taste, Learn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top mysteries set between the World Wars

Donis Casey is the author of The Wrong Girl, the first episode of a fresh new series starring Bianca LaBelle, star of the silent screen action serial, The Adventures of Bianca Dangereuse. In addition to this coming-of-age tale of a girl in the glamorous 1920s, Casey is also the author of the Alafair Tucker Mysteries, an award-winning series featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children, set in Oklahoma during the booming 1910s.

At CrimeReads, Casey tagged five mysteries set in the 1920s and 1930s, including:
Jess Montgomery, The Hollows

In much of the United States, the only thing that changed after the first war was that women were left to pick up the pieces when their men either died at the front or returned irreparably damaged. The Hollows (Jan. 2020), set in the fall of 1926, is Jess Montgomery’s evocative sequel to The Widows (2019) and continues the story of Bronwyn County, Ohio, Sheriff Lily Ross and her friends Hildy Lee Cooper and union organizer Marvena Whitcomb. Lily is called to investigate the death of an elderly woman who has fallen from the top of Moonvale Hollow tunnel into the path of an oncoming train. Lily learns that the woman, Thea Kincaide, has escaped from the Hollows Asylum for the Insane. In retracing Thea’s path from the asylum to the site of her death, Lily finds disturbing evidence that an evil spirit from the past is trying to rise again. Beautifully written, poetic, and full of fascinating historical detail, Montgomery masterfully portrays the strength of the brave women who became the pillars and support of their families in the face of of their own grief after losing their husbands.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ronni Davis's "When the Stars Lead to You," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis.

The entry begins:
If they When the Stars Lead to You into a film, here’s who I'd like to play the lead role(s).

Of course, this depends on timing. It takes so long for these things to come to fruition, if at all, and because my book stars teenagers who grow up really fast, I know that true casting would be super tricky, simply because teens change so much.

But I’d want Chloe Coleman to play Devon. Chloe just turned ten years old, so again, timing, but she has the exact skin color and precociousness I see in Devon. Also, her hair is magnificent and exactly what I pictured when I was writing the book.

The actual person I pictured when I was writing the book is a model named...[read on]
Visit Ronni Davis's website.

My Book, The Movie: When the Stars Lead to You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: A. R. Moxon's "The Revisionaries"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Revisionaries by A. R. Moxon.

About the book, from the publisher:
A street preacher decked out in denim robes and running shoes, a phony holy man for a misfit urban parish, Julius is a source of inspiration for a community that knows nothing of his scandalous origins.

But when a nearby mental hospital releases its patients to run amok in his neighborhood, his trusted if bedraggled flock turns expectantly to Julius to find out what’s going on. Amid the descending chaos, Julius encounters a hospital escapee who babbles prophecies of doom, and the growing palpable sense of impending danger intensifies... as does the feeling that everyone may be relying on a fake preacher just a little too much.

Still, fake or no, Julius decides he must confront the forces that threaten his congregation—including the peculiar followers of a religious cult, the mysterious men and women dressed all in red seen fleetingly amid the bedlam, and an enigmatic smoking figure who seems to know what’s going to happen just before it does.

The Revisionaries is, in the end, a wildly imaginative, masterfully rendered, and suspenseful tale of one man trying to differentiate between reality and fantasy in order to find the source of his faith. It will summon to mind the bold outlandishness stylishness of Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Moore—while being unlike anything that’s come before.
Visit A. R. Moxon's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Revisionaries.

The Page 69 Test: The Revisionaries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joyce Dalsheim's "Israel Has a Jewish Problem"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Israel Has a Jewish Problem: Self-Determination as Self-Elimination by Joyce Dalsheim.

About the book, from the publisher:
Examining the production and assimilation of Jews as "the nation" in the modern state of Israel, this book shows how identity is constrained through myriad struggles over the meanings and practices of being Jewish. Based on years of ethnographic engagement, the book employs Franz Kafka's writing as a theoretical lens in order to frame the seemingly bizarre and self-contradictory processes it describes. While other scholars have explained Jewish identity conflicts in Israel in terms of a dichotomy between the secular and the religious, this book suggests that such an analysis is inadequate. Instead, it traces these struggles to the definition of "religion" itself. It suggests that the problem lies in the way modern identity categories at once disarticulate "religion" from "nation" and at the same time conflate those categories in the figure of the Jew. The struggles over Jewishness that are part of the process of producing the ethnos for the ethno-national state call into question the notion that self-determination in the form of the nation-state is a liberating process. Modern democratic nation-states are meant to liberate citizens because they are understood to be ruled by "the people" and for "the people." But if "the people" exists for the state and its projects, then there is little liberating about the formula of sovereign citizenship. Instead, self-determination becomes a form of self-elimination, narrowing the possible forms of Jewishness. The case of Israel demonstrates that the classic "Jewish Question" in Europe has been transformed but not answered by political sovereignty.
Learn more about Israel Has a Jewish Problem at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Israel Has a Jewish Problem.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books to help you save the planet

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten top books to help you save the planet, including:
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference
Greta Thunberg

A celebration of our Author of the Year 2019, this special edition of Greta Thunberg’s No One is Too Small to Make a Difference is a defining record of a seismic political and cultural moment. Including five new speeches alongside intimate family photographs, this is essential reading from a voice for our time.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 09, 2019

What is Ann Howard Creel reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ann Howard Creel, author of Mercy Road.

Her entry begins:
I’m a voracious reader of historical fiction, and there’s no shortage of books in that genre that I could recommend. One that I just finished, Beyond the Horizon by Ella Carey, is a stand-out. Great openings always impress me, and this novel starts in a strong way that asks more questions than answers them. The author goes on to use parts of the same scene at the opening of each chapter. That device and the rest of the book illuminate the work of the WASPs—female pilots—during World War II, who completed many missions, but...[read on]
About Mercy Road, from the publisher:
Inspired by the true story of the World War I American Women’s Hospital, Mercy Road is a novel about love, courage, and a female ambulance driver who risks everything.

In 1917, after Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground, taking her father with it, she must find a way to support her mother and younger brother. If she doesn’t succeed, they will all be impoverished. Job opportunities are scarce, but then a daring possibility arises: the American Women’s Hospital needs ambulance drivers to join a trailblazing, all-female team of doctors and nurses bound for war-torn France.

On the front lines, Arlene and her fellow ambulance drivers work day and night to aid injured soldiers and civilians. In between dangerous ambulance runs, Arlene reunites with a childhood friend, Jimmy Tucker, now a soldier, who opens her heart like no one before. But she has also caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a charismatic army captain who harbors a dark, treacherous secret.

To expose Brohammer means risking her family’s future and the promise of love. Arlene must make a choice: stay in the safety of silence or take the greatest chance of her life.
Visit Ann Howard Creel's website.

The Page 69 Test: The River Widow.

My Book, The Movie: Mercy Road.

The Page 69 Test: Mercy Road.

Writers Read: Ann Howard Creel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten Brontë re-tellings

At Read It Forward Lorraine Berry tagged ten Brontë adaptations you need to read, including:
Jane Steele
Lyndsay Faye

If you ever longed for Jane to take revenge against the hateful Mrs. Reed and her awful children, this is the novel for you. Lyndsay Faye reimagines a different character, one who may share Jane’s name, but who approaches life from a different angle. This Jane has also been abused by her aunt, and when Jane is sent away to boarding school, her revenge takes the form of murders. She may be kind to her friends and fiercely loyal, but she also carries with her darkness and secrets. Lyndsay Faye gives voice to those Victorian women who struggled against a culture that spent more time telling them what they couldn’t do than it did offering to them opportunities. How Jane Steele moves through that culture makes for fascinating reading.
Read about another entry on the list.

Jane Steele is among Kristian Wilson's seventeen books for Jane Eyre lovers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: S. Elizabeth Penry's "The People Are King"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The People Are King: The Making of an Indigenous Andean Politics by S. Elizabeth Penry.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the sixteenth century, in what is now modern-day Peru and Bolivia, Andean communities were forcibly removed from their traditional villages by Spanish colonizers and resettled in planned, self-governed towns modeled after those in Spain. But rather than merely conforming to Spanish cultural and political norms, indigenous Andeans adopted and gradually refashioned the religious practices dedicated to Christian saints and political institutions imposed on them, laying claim to their own rights and the sovereignty of the collective. The People Are King shows how common Andean people produced a new kind of civil society over three centuries of colonialism, merging their traditional understanding of collective life with the Spanish notion of the común to demand participatory democracy. S. Elizabeth Penry explores how this hybrid concept of self-rule spurred the indigenous rebellions that erupted across Latin America in the eighteenth century, not only against Spanish rulers, but against native hereditary nobility, for acting against the will of the comuneros.

Through the letters and documents of the Andean people themselves, The People Are King gives voice to a vision of community-based democracy that played a central role in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions and continues to galvanize indigenous movements in Bolivia today.
Learn more about The People Are King at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The People Are King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books for a "kinder, gentler world"

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Story of Arthur Truluv, Open House (an Oprah's Book Club selection), Talk Before Sleep, and The Year of Pleasures, as well as the short story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. She adapted The Pull of the Moon into a play that enjoyed sold-out performances in Chicago and Indianapolis. Berg's work has been published in thirty countries, and three of her novels have been turned into television movies.

Her new novel is The Confession Club.

At The Week magazine, Berg tagged six books for a "kinder, gentler world," including:
The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman (2018).

In rural Australia in 1968, a sheep farmer recently deserted by his wife is asked to build shelves for a Holocaust survivor's new bookstore. From there, an extraordinary relationship develops. Wonderfully crafted, unsentimental, and deeply moving. I adored all the characters — even the sheep.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 08, 2019

A. R. Moxon's "The Revisionaries," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Revisionaries by A. R. Moxon.

The entry begins:
When I think of movie I tend to think of directors, not actors—in fact, a movie by a director I admire with unknown or little-known actors can frequently provide an experience a more familiar face, due solely to familiarity, can’t deliver. So, I’m going to make some perhaps unorthodox choices by focusing on “casting” not only on director, but a filmic style. The movie of my dreams based on The Revisionaries would be directed by Richard Linklater, made in the mode of his movies Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly—both of which (see them if you haven’t) utilize an advanced rotoscoping method to create a dreamlike sense of highly naturalistic performance other animation styles can't capture, coupled with a constant dreamlike sense of shift and flow well-suited to my book’s shifting viewpoints, perspectives, and realities, utilizing an artistic style that match the book’s own themes and motifs like none other I can imagine. Linklater’s own style, which I’d describe as...[read on]
Visit A. R. Moxon's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Revisionaries.

--Marshal Zeringue

The five best books about interstellar arrivals

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St. Andrews Universities and has a Ph.D. in astronomy. He stopped working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. Revelation Space and Pushing Ice were shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Revelation Space, Absolution Gap, Diamond Dogs, and Century Rain were shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Award, and Chasm City won the British Science Fiction Award.

At the Guardian Reynolds tagged five of the best books about interstellar arrivals, including:
A significant triumph in recent astronomy has been the detection of gravitational waves, finally achieved by an international consortium using immensely precise (and huge) laser interferometers. But the work to reach this discovery began a century ago, and encompasses a huge cast of heroes and dreamers – and its share of failure. In Black Hole Blues astrophysicist Janna Levin has written the definitive account of this grand quest, and it’s as insightful about the human protagonists in this story as it is about the mind-bending physics of black holes and warped spacetime.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Steve Robinson's "The Penmaker's Wife"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Penmaker's Wife by Steve Robinson.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Victorian England, a mother is on the run from her past—and the truth about what she did.

Birmingham, 1880. Angelica Chastain has fled from London with her young son, William. She promises him a better life, far away from the terrors they left behind.

Securing a job as a governess, Angelica captures the attention of wealthy widower Stanley Hampton. Soon they marry and the successful future Angelica envisaged for William starts to fall into place.

But the past will not let Angelica go. As the people in her husband’s circle, once captivated by her charm, begin to question her motives, it becomes clear that forgetting where she came from—and who she ran from—is impossible.

When tragedy threatens to expose her and destroy everything she’s built for herself and William, how far will she go to keep her secrets safe? And when does the love for one’s child tip over into dangerous obsession?

Alias Grace meets Peaky Blinders in this tale of obsession, ambition and murder in Victorian England.
Visit Steve Robinson's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Steve Robinson.

My Book, The Movie: The Penmaker's Wife.

The Page 69 Test: The Penmaker's Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline Firkins & Ffiona

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline Firkins & Ffiona.

The author, on how she and Ffiona were united:
I freelanced for many years. When I finally got a fulltime job I knew I could handle taking care of a pet. I grew up with big dogs, but I was living in a building with a 25 lb. size limit on pets. Despite having fostered dogs and fundraised for shelters, I wanted a puppy and I couldn't risk a rescue that grew larger than 25 lbs. I looked for a breed that had a big dog personality in a little dog body. I found....[read on]
About Firkins's new book Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, from the publisher:
In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Mansfield, Massachusetts, is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburban mothers and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. She’s got her own plans, and they don’t include any prince charming.

But as she dives into schoolwork and getting a scholarship for college, Edie finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys strumming for her attention: First, there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love, who’s sweet and smart and ... already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player who’s totally off limits—even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help herself from being caught between them. Now, she just has to make sure it isn’t her heart that breaks in the process.
Visit Jacqueline Firkins's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Jacqueline Firkins & Ffiona.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sean Grass's "The Commodification of Identity in Victorian Narrative"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Commodification of Identity in Victorian Narrative: Autobiography, Sensation, and the Literary Marketplace by Sean Grass.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the first half of the nineteenth century autobiography became, for the first time, an explicitly commercial genre. Drawing together quantitative data on the Victorian book market, insights from the business ledgers of Victorian publishers and close readings of mid-century novels, Sean Grass demonstrates the close links between these genres and broader Victorian textual and material cultures. This book offers fresh perspectives on major works by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins and Charles Reade, while also featuring archival research that reveals the volume, diversity, and marketability of Victorian autobiographical texts for the first time. Grass presents life-writing not as a stand-alone genre, but as an integral part of a broader movement of literary, cultural, legal and economic practices through which the Victorians transformed identity into a textual object of capitalist exchange.
Learn more about The Commodification of Identity in Victorian Narrative at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Commodification of Identity in Victorian Narrative.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten dark stories of children in peril

Zach Vasquez is a native of Los Angeles, California. He writes fiction and criticism.

At CrimeReads he tagged ten top novels and films "that put children up against the outsized terrors of the adult world," including:
The Death of Sweet Mister, by Daniel Woodrell (2001)

Next to Winter’s Bone (which could just as easily have taken this spot), The Death of Sweet Mister is Daniel Woodrell’s—the hardboiled laureate of the Ozarks—finest novel to-date. The story focuses on 13-year-old Shug Atkins, a lonely, overweight, and embittered youth living with his gorgeous, alcoholic mother Glenda and his maybe-father, the abusive and unhinged Red, who moves in and out of their lives at random, seemingly just to torment them. When Glenda starts an affair with a cool city slicker, it sets off a chain of events that lead to murder, torture and something far, far worse.

The Death of Sweet Mister is bildungsroman filtered through pitch-black noir and Greek tragedy. Of all the stories presented here, it is ultimately the most devastating in its depiction of the corruption of youth and death of childhood innocence.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 06, 2019

What is Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, author of Don't Tell the Nazis.

Her entry begins:
At the moment I'm reading Malcolm Gladwell's latest, Talking to Strangers, and am really enjoying it. I just finished reading A Door in the Earth by Amy Waldman. It's a novel about an idealistic American of Afghan heritage who decides to do research in a remote Afghan village that has become famous because of a memoir written by an American doctor who had spent time in the area. Parveen is certain that her presence will do the locals some good, but...[read on]
About Don't Tell the Nazis, from the publisher:
The year is 1941. Krystia lives in a small Ukrainian village under the cruel — sometimes violent — occupation of the Soviets. So when the Nazis march into town to liberate them, many of Krystia's neighbors welcome the troops with celebrations, hoping for a better life.

But conditions don't improve as expected. Krystia's friend Dolik and the other Jewish people in town warn that their new occupiers may only bring darker days.

The worst begins to happen when the Nazis blame the Jews for murders they didn't commit. As the Nazis force Jews into a ghetto, Krystia does what she can to help Dolik and his family. But what they really need is a place to hide. Faced with unimaginable tyranny and cruelty, will Krystia risk everything to protect her friends and neighbors?
Visit Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's website.

My Book, The Movie: Making Bombs for Hitler.

The Page 69 Test: Making Bombs for Hitler.

My Book, The Movie: Stolen Girl.

The Page 69 Test: Stolen Girl.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Tell the Nazis.

Writers Read: Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sara Driscoll's "No Man's Land"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: No Man's Land by Sara Driscoll.

About the book, from the publisher:
Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue dog are on the trail of a killer hiding where others fear to tread…

For Meg Jennings and her K-9 companion, Hawk, exploring the ruins of a deserted building is an exciting way to sharpen their skills without the life-or-death stakes they face as part of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team. But deep in the echoing rooms of an abandoned asylum, Hawk finds the body of an elderly woman. The victim couldn’t have made her way into the derelict building on her own. Before forty-eight hours pass, Meg learns of more cases of elders found dead in neglected urban structures.

There’s not enough evidence to link the deaths—yet. But Meg scents a pattern, and when she gets word of another senior gone missing, she and Hawk don’t hesitate. Meg is sure a murderer is hunting the elderly, and she can prove it if she can just find a connection. It will take the expert coordination of her whole team, along with help from Clay McCord and Todd Webb, to uncover the means, let alone a motive. And to stop someone who has operated in the dark for so long, Meg will need to risk more than she has to give...
Learn more about the FBI K-9 Novels.

Coffee with a Canine: M. Ann Vanderlaan & her dogs.

The Page 69 Test: Lone Wolf.

The Page 69 Test: Storm Rising.

The Page 69 Test: No Man's Land.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top British science fiction classics

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten top titles from the Golden Age of British Sci-Fi, including:
Edwin Abbott

Flatland takes place in a world where only length and breadth exist and where a mysterious visitor in three dimensions threatens to forever to collapse the natives’ conception of themselves. A waspish parody of Victorian society clad in a lively futuristic fable, Flatland broke new ground for the fledgling sci-fi genre.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Kimberly Gabriel's "Every Stolen Breath," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel.

The entry begins:
When I wrote Every Stolen Breath, the scenes played out in my head in a very cinematic fashion and I pictured actors playing each of these roles. However, because I don’t watch a lot of television, almost all of the actors I had cast would be too old to play my teen characters. Many of my answers include the younger teen version of the actors I listed below.

Lia, my main character: For Lia, I pictured a teen version of Jessica Chastain with whitish blonde hair. While writing, I would often think of Chastain’s portrayal of Maya in Zero Dark Thirty as a smart, serious woman with an unstoppable drive, which is very similar to Lia’s character in Every Stolen Breath. Chloë Grace Moretz might be perfect for Lia.

Ryan, the mysterious boy who may or may not have been responsible for her father’s death: I pictured a younger (more vulnerable) version of...[read on]
Visit Kimberly Gabriel's website.

My Book, The Movie: Every Stolen Breath.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books for fans of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"

Erin Mayer is a writer and editor specializing in personal essays and musings about face creams that probably won’t cure her anxiety (but hey, it’s worth a shot). Her work has appeared on Bustle, Literary Hub, Man Repeller, Book Riot, and more. She spends her free time drafting tweets she never finishes and reading in front of the television.

At Read it Forward she tagged ten books to read if you love The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, including:
The Chelsea Girls
Fiona Davis

For a look at the New York arts’ scene in the ‘40s through the ‘60s, check out The Chelsea Girls. It follows the friendship between Hazel Riley and Maxine Mead, a playwright and actress, as they inhabit the famous Chelsea Hotel and attempt to land a show on Broadway over the backdrop of the Red Scare.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Chelsea Girls.

The Page 69 Test: The Chelsea Girls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Camilla Townsend's "Fifth Sun"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs by Camilla Townsend.

About the book, from the publisher:
In November 1519, Hernando Cortés walked along a causeway leading to the capital of the Aztec kingdom and came face to face with Moctezuma. That story--and the story of what happened afterwards--has been told many times, but always following the narrative offered by the Spaniards. After all, we have been taught, it was the Europeans who held the pens. But the Native Americans were intrigued by the Roman alphabet and, unbeknownst to the newcomers, they used it to write detailed histories in their own language of Nahuatl. Until recently, these sources remained obscure, only partially translated, and rarely consulted by scholars.

For the first time, in Fifth Sun, the history of the Aztecs is offered in all its complexity based solely on the texts written by the indigenous people themselves. Camilla Townsend presents an accessible and humanized depiction of these native Mexicans, rather than seeing them as the exotic, bloody figures of European stereotypes. The conquest, in this work, is neither an apocalyptic moment, nor an origin story launching Mexicans into existence. The Mexica people had a history of their own long before the Europeans arrived and did not simply capitulate to Spanish culture and colonization. Instead, they realigned their political allegiances, accommodated new obligations, adopted new technologies, and endured.

This engaging revisionist history of the Aztecs, told through their own words, explores the experience of a once-powerful people facing the trauma of conquest and finding ways to survive, offering an empathetic interpretation for experts and non-specialists alike.
Learn more about Fifth Sun at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about comedy

Louis Barfe is expert on all aspects of the entertainment industry. He is the author of Where Have All The Good Times Gone? The Rise and Fall of the Record Industry (2004), Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment (2008) and The Trials and Triumphs of Les Dawson (2012).

His new book is Happiness and Tears: The Ken Dodd Story.

At the Guardian he tagged a (UK-centric) top ten list of books about comedy. One title on the list:
The Late Shift by Bill Carter (1994)

This book, by a New York Times correspondent, is an engrossing and hilarious account of the squabbles and politics involved in choosing a successor to Johnny Carson as host of a chatshow that was also the US’s leading showcase for standup comedy. It was a showcase that on one occasion sat Richard Pryor next to Rod Hull and Emu, so how could you fault it?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

What is Peter Riva reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Peter Riva, author of Kidnapped on Safari: A Thriller.

His entry begins:
I thoroughly enjoyed This Is Not America: Stories by Jordi Puntí. First off, translations are always suspect. Cadence can get destroyed. Seeing Puntí’s reputation for cadence (tested by public readings for which his work is known to play well), this translation was likely to fall short. It does not. The cadence is fluid, intelligent, words carefully placed, and a joy to read aloud. Cadence here is critical for the flow of the words and impact on the psyche of the reader—absorbing the deeper message meant to be simple but impactful.

At first I was puzzled by the title as it links so firmly to the David Bowie song of the same name. Frankly, the book can be interpreted in the same musical vein and, of course (because Puntí is that brilliant), without. There is no doubt that...[read on]
About Kidnapped on Safari, from the publisher:
The third book in the Mbuno & Pero series pulls terror from headlines to create a gripping international thriller for readers of John LeCarre, Daniel Silva, and Iris Johansen.

Expert safari guide Mbuno and wildlife television producer Pero Baltazar are filming on Lake Rudolf in Northern Kenya, East Africa, when they receive news that Mbuno’s son, himself an expert guide, has been kidnapped while on a safari five hundred miles away in Tanzania. After gathering the clues and resources needed to trek through the wilderness, they trace the kidnappers back to an illegal logging operation clear-cutting national park forests, manned by sinister Boko Haram mercenaries. There, they find not only Mbuno's son but also a shocking revelation that has terrifying and far-reaching consequences.

Relying on Mbuno’s legendary bush skills, the pair must overcome the danger both from inside and outside the camp to bring Mbuno’s son out alive. In doing so, Mbuno and Pero discover that kidnapping and deforestation are only the beginning of the terrorist group's aspirations, and they realize a threat that would herald an even more dangerous outcome for Tanzania—a coup. A rescue might just risk the entire stability of the region.

Exciting and expertly plotted using facts ripped from news’ headlines, Kidnapped on Safari is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller set in deepest, darkest, Machiavellian, East Africa.
Visit Peter Riva's website.

Writers Read: Peter Riva.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Declan Burke's "The Lammisters"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Lammisters by Declan Burke.

About the book, from the publisher:
Hollywood, 1923. Having ascended into the pantheon of America’s Most Wanted by dispatching his mortal foes to the holding pens where Cecil B. DeMille keeps his expendable extras, Irish bootlegger Rusty McGrew goes on the lam with the shimmering goddess Vanessa Hopgood, her enraptured swain Sir Archibald l’Estrange-B’stard, and Edward ‘Bugs’ Dooley, the hapless motion picture playwright who has stepped through the looking-glass into his very own Jazz Age adaptation of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Delighting in rapid-fire dialogue, subversive genre-bending and metafictional digressions, The Lammisters is a comic novel that will likely be declared a wholly original comedy classic by anyone who has yet to read Flann O’Brien, Jane Austen, PG Wodehouse or Laurence Sterne.
Learn more about the book and author at Burke's Crime Always Pays blog.

The Page 69 Test: Absolute Zero Cool.

My Book, The Movie: Absolute Zero Cool.

The Page 99 Test:: The Big O (Irish edition).

The Page 99 Test: The Big O.

Writers Read: Declan Burke.

My Book, The Movie: The Lammisters.

The Page 69 Test: The Lammisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gareth Russell's "The Ship of Dreams"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era by Gareth Russell.

About the book, from the publisher:
In April 1912, six notable people were among those privileged to experience the height of luxury—first class passage on “the ship of dreams,” the RMs Titanic: Lucy Leslie, Countess of Rothes; son of the British Empire, Tommy Andrews; American captain of industry John Thayer and his son Jack; Jewish-American immigrant Ida Straus; and American model and movie star Dorothy Gibson. Within a week of setting sail, they were all caught up in the horrifying disaster of the Titanic’s sinking, one of the biggest news stories of the century. Today, we can see their stories and the Titanic’s voyage as the beginning of the end of the established hierarchy of the Edwardian era.

Writing in his elegant signature prose and using previously unpublished sources, deck plans, journal entries, and surviving artifacts, Gareth Russell peers through the portholes of these first-class travelers to immerse us in a time of unprecedented change in British and American history. Through their intertwining lives, he examines social, technological, political, and economic forces such as the nuances of the British class system, the explosion of competition in the shipping trade, the birth of the movie industry, the Irish Home Rule Crisis, and the Jewish-American immigrant experience while also recounting their intimate stories of bravery, tragedy, and selflessness.

Masterful in its superb grasp of the forces of history, gripping in its moment-by-moment account of the sinking, revelatory in discounting long-held myths, and lavishly illustrated with color and black and white photographs, this absorbing, accessible, and authoritative account of the Titanic’s life and death is destined to become the definitive book on the subject.
Follow Gareth Russell on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Ship of Dreams.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books for fans of Atwood's "The Testaments"

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged seven books to read if you loved The Testaments, including:
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Gilead’s beginnings are not just rooted in patriarchy, but in a global health crisis: plummeting fertility rates force people into extreme panic, during which a fringe group seizes control. Station Eleven also begins with a health crisis, but a different one: an flu pandemic that ravages most of modern society, forcing the world into a version of the Dark Ages where people search for pockets of the civilization they once knew. This literary page-turner follows a group of actors as they perform Shakespeare twenty years after the collapse of modernity. When a dangerous prophet threatens the peaceful existence they’ve managed to carve out for themselves, the survivors have a choice to make that could determine their survival.
Read about another book on the list.

Station Eleven is among Maggie Stiefvater's five fantasy books about artists & the magic of creativity, Mark Skinner's five top literary dystopias, Claudia Gray's five essential books about plagues and pandemics, K Chess's five top fictional books inside of real books, Rebecca Kauffman's ten top musical novels, Nathan Englander’s ten favorite books, M.L. Rio’s five top novels inspired by Shakespeare, Anne Corlett's five top books with different takes on the apocalypse, Christopher Priest’s five top sci-fi books that make use of music, and Anne Charnock's five favorite books with fictitious works of art.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Steve Robinson's "The Penmaker's Wife," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Penmaker's Wife by Steve Robinson.

The entry begins:
I’ve had several social media discussions about this over the years with my earlier books, about who might play the characters if a TV or film adaptation was made. It’s always fun to imagine such things. The main character in The Penmaker’s Wife is a femme fatale called Angelica Chastain. I chose the surname for its French origins because Angelica was born in France, although she moved to England when she was quite young. The person I would choose to play her in the movie, shares the same surname, and perhaps this also helped to guide my choice. The actress is Jessica Chastain. She always seems to exude such confidence in her roles on screen, and is often portrayed as a strong woman who knows exactly what she wants. That’s the kind of character I was looking for when I imagined Angelica.

Another key character in the book is called Effie Wilmington-Reed, whom I see as Angelica’s opposite in many ways — a young and naive ‘English rose’ type of character that I can see someone like...[read on]
Visit Steve Robinson's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Steve Robinson.

My Book, The Movie: The Penmaker's Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top London novels by writers of color

J.R. Ramakrishnan is a writer and editor. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Electric Literature, Harper's Bazaar, Harper's, amongst other publications. Her fiction has appeared in [PANK] and Mixed Company.

At Electric Lit Ramakrishnan tagged seven novels that celebrates the 40% of Londoners who aren't white, including:
The Emperor’s Babe by Bernardine Evaristo

The lead character of Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe is Zuleika, the daughter of Sudanese immigrants who’ve made good in London, A.D. 211. After the ingestion of traditional English Literature at school, reading a novel of olden days London not centered on whiteness thrilled me when it was first published in 2001. Yes, there were black people in Roman London—the novel emerged from Evaristo’s residency and research at the Museum of London. This city is an outpost of another empire. The brilliant realignment of historical perception aside, Evaristo tells a gripping and hilarious story of Zuleika’s boredom, which is soon alleviated when Emperor Septimius Severus arrives in town and the two begin an affair—all in verse. I adore how Evaristo imagines the then-and-now topographies of London. She writes of “the humid jungle at Bayswater,” “mud huts by the Serpentine,” and “grasslands” of Mayfair. The contemporary also creeps in with “Wild@Heart, the trendy ‘flower boutique’ / on Cannon Street.” Zuleika and her crew’s partying ways will be familiar to anyone who’s been out on the town in London. Evaristo—whose debut, Lara, also in verse and based on her own British Nigerian family—should have won all the prizes back then. Her latest Girl, Woman, Other shared the 2019 Booker Prize.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue