Monday, September 30, 2019

What is Marina Budhos reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Marina Budhos, author of The Long Ride.

Her entry begins:
Right now I’m reading Paul Tough’s The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, both because he came to speak at my local bookstore, because I’m also an educator teaching many first-generation college students, and finally as a mother of a high schooler and college student. There is devastating reporting here, and I have to say, it makes me feel like there is a game out there, rigged even for someone like myself—well-educated, trying to give her own children the best. There are so many cultural signals and advantages that prop up the world of...[read on]
About The Long Ride, from the publisher:
In the tumult of 1970s New York City, seventh graders are bussed from their neighborhood in Queens to integrate a new school in South Jamaica.

Jamila Clarke. Josie Rivera. Francesca George. Three mixed-race girls, close friends whose immigrant parents worked hard to settle their families in a neighborhood with the best schools. The three girls are outsiders there, but they have each other.

Now, at the start seventh grade, they are told they will be part of an experiment, taking a long bus ride to a brand-new school built to “mix up the black and white kids.” Their parents don’t want them to be experiments. Francesca’s send her to a private school, leaving Jamila and Josie to take the bus ride without her.

While Francesca is testing her limits, Josie and Jamila find themselves outsiders again at the new school. As the year goes on, the Spanish girls welcome Josie, while Jamila develops a tender friendship with a boy–but it’s a relationship that can exist only at school.
Visit Marina Budhos's website.

My Book, The Movie: Watched.

The Page 69 Test: Watched.

Writers Read: Marina Budhos.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Alexandra Horowitz's "Our Dogs, Ourselves"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Our Dogs, Ourselves: The Story of a Singular Bond by Alexandra Horowitz.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Alexandra Horowitz, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside of a Dog, an eye-opening, informative, and wholly entertaining examination and celebration of the human-canine relationship for the curious dog owner and science-lover alike.

We keep dogs and are kept by them. We love dogs and (we assume) we are loved by them. We buy them sweaters, toys, shoes; we are concerned with their social lives, their food, and their health. The story of humans and dogs is thousands of years old but is far from understood. In Our Dogs, Ourselves, Alexandra Horowitz explores all aspects of this unique and complex interspecies pairing.

As Horowitz considers the current culture of dogdom, she reveals the odd, surprising, and contradictory ways we live with dogs. We celebrate their individuality but breed them for sameness. Despite our deep emotional relationships with dogs, legally they are property to be bought, sold, abandoned, or euthanized as we wish. Even the way we speak to our dogs is at once perplexing and delightful.

In thirteen thoughtful and charming chapters, Our Dogs, Ourselves affirms our profound affection for this most charismatic of animals—and opens our eyes to the companions at our sides as never before.
Visit Alexandra Horowitz's website and the Dog Cognition Lab website.

The Page 99 Test: Inside of a Dog.

The Page 99 Test: Our Dogs, Ourselves.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sara Faring's "The Tenth Girl"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring.

About the book, from the publisher:
A haunted Argentinian mansion.
A family curse.
A twist you'll never see coming.
Welcome to Vaccaro School.

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored... and one of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence.
Visit Sara Faring's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Tenth Girl.

The Page 69 Test: The Tenth Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven novels that influence Stephen Chbosky's writing

Stephen Chbosky's new novel is Imaginary Friend.

At The Week magazine the author tagged seven books that influence his writing, including:
The Long Walk by Richard Bachman (1979).

In a dystopian future, 100 teenage boys enter a televised competition, commencing a long walk from the Maine-Canada border into Massachusetts. The prize for the last one standing is whatever his young heart might desire. The punishment for the 99 who stop is death. That is the premise for the best war story ever told, even though there is technically no war in these pages. The dialogue that the boys engage in is as fresh today as it was when a certain college freshman with a very bright future wrote it under a pseudonym — more than a decade before he wrote The Stand under his own name.
Read about the other entries on his list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sibel Hodge's "Their Last Breath," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Their Last Breath by Sibel Hodge.

The entry begins:
Whenever I’m writing I always see the scenes play out in my head like a movie, and I think that helps to keep the narration quite visual. Sometimes I see the characters as actors I’m familiar with, sometimes they’re just faceless, but their traits and quirks are what shine through to me.

Their Last Breath has three main points of view. Detective Warren Carter is an experienced cop brought out of retirement to potentially investigate one of his own colleagues. He’s tenacious, driven, and has a strong sense of justice, but at the same time he’s prepared to break the rules to protect the most vulnerable. He’s also got a great British dry sense of humour. Even though Carter’s face was elusive to me when writing, I’d probably have a few choices: Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, or Liam Neeson, who are all incredibly talented.

Detective Becky Harris is the second POV. Mentored by Detective Carter and now working on a different team, she’s similar to him in a lot of ways. She’s feisty, with a good sense of humour, and prepared to take risks. Writing her, I always picture…[read on]
Visit Sibel Hodge's website.

My Book, The Movie: Untouchable.

My Book, The Movie: Into the Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: Their Last Breath.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Bear F. Braumoeller's "Only the Dead"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Only the Dead: The Persistence of War in the Modern Age by Bear Braumoeller.

About the book, from the publisher:
The idea that war is going out of style has become the conventional wisdom in recent years. But in Only the Dead, award-winning author Bear Braumoeller demonstrates that it shouldn't have. With a rare combination of historical expertise, statistical acumen, and accessible prose, Braumoeller shows that the evidence simply doesn't support the decline-of-war thesis propounded by scholars like Steven Pinker. He argues that the key to understanding trends in warfare lies, not in the spread of humanitarian values, but rather in the formation of international orders--sets of expectations about behavior that allow countries to work in concert, as they did in the Concert of Europe and have done in the postwar Western liberal order. With a nod toward the American sociologist Charles Tilly, who argued that "war made the state and the state made war," Braumoeller shows argues that the same is true of international orders: while they reduce conflict within their borders, they can also clash violently with one another, as the Western and communist orders did throughout the Cold War.

Both highly readable and rigorous, Only the Dead offers a realistic assessment of humanity's quest to abolish warfare. While pessimists have been too quick to discount the successes of our attempts to reduce international conflict, optimists are prone to put too much faith in human nature. Reality lies somewhere in between: While the aspirations of humankind to govern its behavior with reason and justice have had shocking success in moderating the harsh dictates of realpolitik, the institutions that we have created to prevent war are unlikely to achieve anything like total success--as evidenced by the multitude of conflicts in recent decades. As the old adage advises us, only the dead have seen the end of war.
Visit Bear F. Braumoeller's website.

The Page 99 Test: Only the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

The books we'll be reading in ten years

Emily Temple is a senior editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, will be published by William Morrow in 2020.

Temple polled her LitHub colleagues for "ten books from the last ten years that they thought we’d still be reading—for good or ill—ten years from now, circa 2030."

One popular title on the list:
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017)
Read about the title that made the most lists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Pg. 99: Stephanie Collins's "Group Duties"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Group Duties: Their Existence and Their Implications for Individuals by Stephanie Collins.

About the book, from the publisher:
Moral duties are regularly attributed to groups. In the media or on the street, we might hear that a specific country has a moral duty to defend human rights, that environmentalists have a moral duty to push for global systemic reform, or that the affluent have a moral duty to alleviate poverty. Do such attributions make conceptual sense or are they mere political rhetoric? And what does that imply for the individual members of these groups? Group Duties offers the first comprehensive answer to these questions. Stephanie Collins defends a Tripartite Model of group duties - so-called because it divides groups into three fundamental categories. First, we have combinations - collections of agents that don't have any goals or decision-making procedures in common. These groups cannot bear moral duties. Instead, we should re-cast their purported duties as a series of duties, one held by each agent in the combination. Each duty demands its bearer to 'I-reason': to do the best they can, given whatever they happen to believe the others will do. Second, there are groups whose members share goals but lack decision-making procedures. These are coalitions. Coalitions also cannot bear duties, but their alleged duties should be replaced with members' several duties to 'we-reason': to do one's part in a particular group pattern of actions, on the presumption that others will do likewise. Third and finally, collectives have group-level procedures for making decisions. They can bear duties. Collectives' duties imply duties for collectives' members to use their role in the collective with a view to the collective doing its duty. With the Tripartite Model in-hand, Collins argues that we can target our political demands at the right entities, in the right way, for the right reasons.
Visit Stephanie Collins's website.

The Page 99 Test: Group Duties.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Eileen Pollack's "The Professor of Immortality"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Professor of Immortality by Eileen Pollack.

About the book, from the publisher:
Professor Maxine Sayers once found her personal and professional life so fulfilling that she founded the Institute of Future Studies, a program dedicated to studying the effects of technology on our culture and finding ways to prolong human life. But when her beloved husband dies, she is so devastated she can barely get out of bed. To make matters worse, her son, Zach, has abruptly quit his job in Silicon Valley and been out of contact for seven months. Maxine is jolted from her grief by her sudden suspicion that a favorite former student (and a former close friend of her son) might be a terrorist called the Technobomber and that Zach might either be involved in or become a victim of this extremist’s bombing. Deserting her teaching responsibilities, her ailing mother, and an appealing suitor, Maxine feels compelled to set out and search for her son in order to warn and protect him, even as she knows she should report her suspicions to the FBI to prevent greater carnage.
Visit Eileen Pollack's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Perfect Life.

The Page 69 Test: The Professor of Immortality.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty books to help us navigate grief

At Read It Forward, Eliza Smith tagged twenty books to help you navigate grief, including:
Haunting Paris
Mamta Chaudhry

In 1989 Sylvie is mourning her lover, Julien, when she discovers a letter that sets her off on a remarkable journey. She’s searching for Julien’s long-lost niece, who might have survived the Holocaust—Julien never managed to find her, despite years of trying—and while Sylvie continues his work, Julien’s ghost stays nearby. Chaudry’s debut is a stunning tale of enduring love.
Read about another entry on the list.

Learn more about Haunting Paris.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 27, 2019

Pg. 99: Amy C. Offner's "Sorting Out the Mixed Economy"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sorting Out the Mixed Economy: The Rise and Fall of Welfare and Developmental States in the Americas by Amy C. Offner.

About the book, from the publisher:
The untold story of how U.S. development efforts in postwar Latin America helped lead to the dismantling of the U.S. welfare state

In the years after 1945, a flood of U.S. advisors swept into Latin America with dreams of building a new economic order and lifting the Third World out of poverty. These businessmen, economists, community workers, and architects went south with the gospel of the New Deal on their lips, but Latin American realities soon revealed unexpected possibilities within the New Deal itself. In Colombia, Latin Americans and U.S. advisors ended up decentralizing the state, privatizing public functions, and launching austere social welfare programs. By the 1960s, they had remade the country’s housing projects, river valleys, and universities. They had also generated new lessons for the United States itself. When the Johnson administration launched the War on Poverty, U.S. social movements, business associations, and government agencies all promised to repatriate the lessons of development, and they did so by multiplying the uses of austerity and for-profit contracting within their own welfare state. A decade later, ascendant right-wing movements seeking to dismantle the midcentury state did not need to reach for entirely new ideas: they redeployed policies already at hand.

In this groundbreaking book, Amy Offner brings readers to Colombia and back, showing the entanglement of American societies and the contradictory promises of midcentury statebuilding. The untold story of how the road from the New Deal to the Great Society ran through Latin America, Sorting Out the Mixed Economy also offers a surprising new account of the origins of neoliberalism.
Learn more about Sorting Out the Mixed Economy at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Sorting Out the Mixed Economy.

--Marshal Zeringue

The twenty best campus novels, ranked

Emily Temple is a senior editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, will be published by William Morrow in 2020.

At LitHub she tagged--and ranked--the twenty best campus novels. Number two on the list:
Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin

Oh, it’s a campus classic, one of the earliest and best examples of the form (at least as we understand it today), so we really can’t do without it—but why would we ever want to do without our bumbling, hapless émigré Professor Timofey Pnin, who struggles through a series of academic struggles and foibles in high comedic fashion? It’s not the greatest novel Nabokov ever wrote, but it may be his most charming—his Orlando, if you will.
Read about another entry on the list.

Pnin is among Elizabeth McKenzie's ten best squirrels in literature, W.B. Gooderham's ten favorite examples of book-giving in fiction and Matthew Kaminski's five best novels about immigrants in America, and Nabokov is on Ben Frederick's list of ten influential authors who came to the US as immigrants.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sara Faring's "The Tenth Girl," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring.

The entry begins:
We’re talking a feast on the screen. Imagine the melancholy, vintage, wood-paneled & long-haired feel of Luca Guadagnino's twisted Suspiria (the Call Me by Your Name director's remake of the art horror film set at a coven's dance academy) crossed with the indigo, blood-stained, midnight magic of Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (the brutal fairytale set in Francoist Spain). My grandmother is convinced that brilliant...[read on]
Visit Sara Faring's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Tenth Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Ten essential literary thrillers

Rachel Eve Moulton earned her BA at Antioch College and her MFA in fiction from Emerson College. Her work has appeared in The Beacon Street Review, Bellowing Ark, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Bryant Literary Review, among others.

Tinfoil Butterfly is her first novel.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten "favorite literary thrillers, the ones that will wake up your brain and your heart," including:
Don't I Know You? by Karen Shepard

Shepard intriguingly presents one murder from three different perspectives in three different time periods, revealing an unparalleled exploration of character. Twelve-year-old Steven comes home to find his mother Gina stabbed to death, and so the book begins from Steven’s perspective in the aftermath of this horrible loss. A year later we follow Lily Chen, whose boyfriend may have a link to the murder. Finally, we jump forward 10 years to meet Louise, who wonders if her son might be mixed up in Gina’s murder. Lives cross, impacting each other in ways unknown to the characters, and it is Shepard’s investment in showing how people trip over each other, mend together, and rip apart again that gives the novel its compelling cast.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Andrew Hindmoor's "Twelve Days that Made Modern Britain"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Twelve Days that Made Modern Britain by Andrew Hindmoor.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is the story of modern Britain, focusing on twelve formative days in the history of the United Kingdom over the last five decades. By describing what happened on those days and the subsequent consequences, Andrew Hindmoor paints a suggestive - and to some perhaps provocative - portrait of Britain today.

Everyone will have their own list of the truly formative moments in British history over the last five decades. The twelve days selected for this book are:

- The 28th of September 1976. The day Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan renounced Keynesian economics.
- The 4th of May 1979. The day Margaret Thatcher became Britain's first female prime minister.
- The 3rd of March 1985. The day the miners' strike ended.
- The 20th of September 1988. The day of Margaret Thatcher's 'Bruges speech'.
- The 18th of May 1992. The day the television rights for the Premier League were sold to BskyB.
- The 22nd of April 1993. The day that young black teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered by racist thugs.
- The 10th April 1998. The day of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.
- The 11th of September 2001. The day of the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States.
- The 5th of December 2005. The day Chris Cramp and Matthew Roche became the first gay couple in the UK to become civil partners under the Civil Partnership Act.
- The 13th of September 2007. The day the BBC reported that the Northern Rock bank was in trouble.
- The 8th of May 2009. The day The Daily Telegraph began to publish details of MPs' expense claims.
- The 1st of February 2017. The day the House of Commons voted to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.
Learn more about Twelve Days that Made Modern Britain at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Twelve Days that Made Modern Britain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ashley Weaver's "A Dangerous Engagement"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Dangerous Engagement (An Amory Ames Mystery, Volume 6) by Ashley Weaver.

About the book, from the publisher:
A Dangerous Engagement is the stylish, charming sixth novel in the Edgar-nominated Amory Ames mystery series by Ashley Weaver, set in 1930s New York.

As they travel by ship to New York for her childhood friend Tabitha’s wedding, Amory Ames gazes out at the city’s iconic skyline, excited by the prospect of being a bridesmaid. Her husband Milo, however, is convinced their trip will be deadly dull, since Prohibition is in full swing. But when a member of the wedding party is found murdered on the front steps of the bride’s home, the happy plans take a darker twist.

Amory discovers that the dead groomsman has links to the notorious—and notoriously handsome—gangster Leon De Lora, and soon she and Milo find themselves drawn into another mystery. While the police seem to think that New York’s criminal underworld is at play, Amory feels they can’t ignore the wedding party either. Tabitha’s fiancé Tom Smith appears to be a good man, but he has secrets of his own, and the others in the group seem strangely unaffected by the death of their friend . . .

In an unfamiliar city, not knowing who they can trust, Milo and Amory are drawn into the glamorous, dangerous world of nightclubs and bootleggers. But as they draw closer to unraveling the web of lies and half-truths the murdered man has left in his wake, the killer is weaving a web of his own.
Visit Ashley Weaver's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Most Novel Revenge.

The Page 69 Test: An Act of Villainy.

Writers Read: Ashley Weaver.

The Page 69 Test: A Dangerous Engagement.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten escapes in books

Toby Litt is best-known for writing his books – from Adventures in Capitalism to (so far) Patience – in alphabetical order (apart from the non-fiction ones); he is currently working on Q and R.

At the Guardian Litt tagged ten favorite escapes in books, including:
Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household

This novel begins with the most brutal chase sequence. Ten pages in, and you’ve winced so many times your face is aching. The main character is more like an animal fleeing a pack of hounds than a human protagonist. Eventually, he is forced to go to ground. And then the tension really starts. All of this is based on the gossamer premise that an English gentleman decides one day, out of curiosity, to see if he can assassinate Adolf Hitler.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Rogue Male is among Dan Smith's top ten fictional hunts, Philip Webb's top ten pulse-racing adventure books, Teju Cole's top ten novels of solitude, and John Mullan's top ten chases in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Pg. 99: Mari Yoshihara's "Dearest Lenny"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dearest Lenny: Letters from Japan and the Making of the World Maestro by Mari Yoshihara.

About the book, from the publisher:
Much has been written about Leonard Bernstein, a musician of extraordinary talent who was legendary for his passionate love of life and many relationships. In this work, Mari Yoshihara reveals the deeply emotional connections Bernstein formed with two little-known Japanese individuals, which she narrates through their personal letters that have never been seen before.

Dearest Lenny interweaves an intimate story of love and art with a history of Bernstein's transformation from an American icon to a world maestro during the second half of the twentieth century. The articulate, moving letters of Kazuko Amano--a woman who began writing fan letters to Bernstein in 1947 and became a close family friend--and Kunihiko Hashimoto--a young man who fell in love with the maestro in 1979 and later became his business representative--convey the meaning Bernstein and his music had at various stages of their lives. The letters also shed light on how Bernstein's compositions, recordings, and performances touched his audiences around the world. The book further traces the making of a global Bernstein amidst the shifting landscape of classical music that made this American celebrity turn increasingly to Europe and Japan. The dramatic change in Japan's place in the world and its relationship to the United States during the postwar decades shaped Bernstein's connection to the country. Ultimately, Dearest Lenny is a story of relationships--between the two individuals and Bernstein, the United States and the world, art and commerce, artists and the state, private and public, conventions and transgressions, dreams and realities--that were at the core of Bernstein's greatest achievements and challenges and that made him truly a maestro of the world.

Dearest Lenny paints a poignant portrait of individuals connected across cultures, languages, age, and status through correspondence and music--and the world that shaped their relationships.
Visit Mari Yoshihara's website.

The Page 99 Test: Dearest Lenny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best Maine thrillers

New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen earned international acclaim for her first novel of suspense, Harvest. She introduced Detective Jane Rizzoli in The Surgeon (2001) and Dr. Maura Isles in The Apprentice (2002) and has gone on to write numerous other titles in the celebrated Rizzoli & Isles series.

Her new novel is The Shape of Night.

At CrimeReads, Gerritsen tagged seven favorite Maine thrillers, including:
In The Poacher’s Son, author Paul Doiron introduced the hero of his much-loved mystery series featuring game warden Mike Bowditch. The author himself is a registered Maine guide and knows his way well around our woods. That knowledge shines in every detail as we watch Bowditch struggle to prove his father is innocent of a brutal murder.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Poacher's Son.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dave Hutchinson's "The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A thrilling science fiction masterwork of experimental disaster from the bestselling author of the Fractured Europe series The Guardian labelled ‘Magnificent’.

When Alex Dolan is hired by multibillionaire Stanislaw Clayton to write a book about the Sioux Crossing Supercollider, it seems like a dream job.

Then something goes wrong at the site. Very wrong.

After the incident, Dolan finds himself changed, and the only one who can stop the disaster from destroying us all.
Learn more about The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man.

Visit Dave Hutchinson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man.

The Page 69 Test: The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Five top books about surprisingly supernatural teens

Leah Schnelbach is a staff writer for the pop culture website, a fiction editor for the literary journal No Tokens, a sci-fi & fantasy columnist for Lithub’s Book Marks site and a former associate prose editor for Fairy Tale Review. Her fiction appears in Joyland, Volume 1 Brooklyn, Madcap Review, The Boiler, Anamesa, and Lumina. Her criticism has appeared in Tin House Online, Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, Speculative Fiction 2015, The Crooked Timber Symposium and Electric Literature.

At she tagged five favorite books about surprisingly supernatural teens, including:
The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts

I read this at some point in the blur of elementary school, and the reason I include it is that it seems like an innocuous coming-of-age tale, shelved with other stories of prepubescent misfits, and its world is entirely realistic. Katie Welker lives in an apartment with her mom and step-boyfriend, her somewhat abusive grandmother just died, she’s still trying to adjust to her family’s new paradigm, and she doesn’t have any friends. But… she has silver eyes!!! Not just grey, or even gray, but silver. And, as becomes clear to the reader—a bit sooner than it does to the character—she’s telekinetic! And she can talk to animals, kinda! She’s comfortable with her ability, and uses it to turn pages while she’s reading and turn lights off without getting up, but it makes everyone else nervous. Noticing this, she sometimes uses it to frighten babysitters. But her gift also makes her lonely, until she learns that she was probably born telekinetic because her mom worked at a pharmaceutical factory, and there might be others like her. And then because this book was written in the ’80s, when children left home in the morning and didn’t return until they were hungry, she’s able to go out alone and find the others—and it turns out they do have powers. At which point the book takes a hard turn back into social realism as the kids team up not to fight supervillains, but to investigate the mundanely evil pharmaceutical company.

Which, I mean that’s a choice, I guess?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Peter Finn's "A Guest of the Reich"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Guest of the Reich: The Story of American Heiress Gertrude Legendre’s Dramatic Captivity and Escape from Nazi Germany by Peter Finn.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the co-author of The Zhivago Affair, a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award, comes the dramatic story of a South Carolina heiress who joined the OSS and became the first American woman in uniform taken prisoner on the Western front—until her escape from Nazi Germany.

Gertrude “Gertie” Legendre was a big-game hunter from a wealthy industrial family who lived a charmed life in Jazz Age America. Her adventurous spirit made her the inspiration for the Broadway play Holiday, which became a film starring Katharine Hepburn. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Legendre, by then married and a mother of two, joined the OSS, the wartime spy organization that preceded the CIA. First in Washington and then in London, some of the most closely-held United States government secrets passed through her hands. In A Guest of the Reich, Peter Finn tells the gripping story of how in 1944, while on leave in liberated Paris, Legendre was captured by the Germans after accidentally crossing the front lines.

Subjected to repeated interrogations, including by the Gestapo, Legendre entered a daring game of lies with her captors. The Nazis treated her as a “special prisoner” of the SS and moved her from city to city throughout Germany, where she witnessed the collapse of Hitler’s Reich as no other American did. After six months in captivity, Legendre escaped into Switzerland.

A Guest of the Reich is a propulsive account of a little-known chapter in the history of World War II, as well as a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary woman.
Learn more about A Guest of the Reich at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvée.

The Page 99 Test: A Guest of the Reich.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books for understanding America's drug crisis

Ben Westhoff is an award-winning investigative journalist who writes about culture, drugs, and poverty. His books are taught around the country and have been translated into languages all over the world.

His new book is Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic.

At LitHub Westhoff tagged six books for understanding the American drug crisis, including:
Sam Quinones, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic

Most of America’s heroin comes from Mexico, but until the 1990s the cartels mainly trafficked it to the major cities. This left major swaths of the US map up for grabs, and so small groups of traffickers fanned out around the United States to previously under-served markets like Nashville, Tennessee, and Boise, Idaho. Most of them came from the small Mexican county of Xalisco; they were a steady pipeline of young men coming to America with hopes of getting rich. Unlike traditional dealers, however, they weren’t armed, and the focus was on customer service. They handed out business cards at methadone clinics, and made home deliveries.

Quinones shows how the overprescription of opioid pills by American doctors opened up this market, and how law-abiding citizens turned to the Xalisco heroin dealers when their prescriptions ran out. Dreamland is a monumental work of reporting and analysis. At its heart, the book is about the effects of a single molecule so powerful it can produce both the greatest pleasure possible, and the greatest suffering.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wendy Trimboli & Alicia Zaloga's "The Resurrectionist of Caligo," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga.

The entry begins:
This exercise provoked quite the discussion wherein we realized that neither of us had actors in our head when writing, nor did we find it easy to conjure them. Alicia only wished to cast the antagonists; Wendy discussed specific energy and clusters of emotions rather than any particular “look.” Nonetheless, we narrowed in on our cast, primarily focusing on the main players of the first two chapters, and though the actors don’t at all match the actual ages of the characters they’re playing, we’ll rely on the miracles of time-spanning magic.

For Roger, we’d have to go with James McAvoy. He has the intensity and emotional range, and we think he could lend this flawed character the right amount of empathy, too.

For Sibylla...[read on]
Visit Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Resurrectionist of Caligo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 23, 2019

Six top books that explain death in America

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, activist, and funeral industry rabble-rouser. In 2011 she founded the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death, which has spawned the death positive movement. Her books Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and From Here to Eternity were both New York Times bestsellers.

Doghty's newest book is Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death.

At The Week magazine she tagged six books that explain death in America, including:
The Land of Open Graves by Jason De León (2015).

The disappearance of Central and South American migrants during their desert crossings into the United States has become an invisible epidemic, encouraged and aided by decades of deadly public policy. Anthropologist Jason De León's account, illustrated with photos by Michael Wells, explains how and why the cruel Sonoran Desert consumes and vanishes the dead.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Corrie Wang's "City of Beasts"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: City of Beasts by Corrie Wang.

About the book, from the publisher:
“If you see a beast, and you have the shot, don’t hesitate. Kill it.” For seventeen years, fees have lived separate from beasts. The division of the sexes has kept their world peaceful. Glori Rhodes is like most other fees her age. She adores her neighborhood’s abandoned Costco, can bench her body weight, and she knew twenty-seven beast counterattack moves by the time she was seven. She has never questioned the separation of the sexes or the rules that keep her post-nuclear hometown safe. But when her mother secretly gives birth to a baby beast, Glori grows to love the child and can’t help wondering: What really is the difference between us and them? When her brother, at the age of five, is snatched in a vicious raid, Glori and her best friend, Su, do the unthinkable — covertly infiltrate the City of Beasts to get him back. What’s meant to be a smash-and-grab job quickly becomes the adventure of a lifetime as the fees team up with a fast-talking, T-shirt cannon-wielding beast named Sway, and Glori starts to see that there’s more to males, and her own history, than she’s been taught. Glori, Sway, and a motley cohort of friends will go to the ends of the earth to find her little brother. And maybe save their divided world while they’re at it.
Visit Corrie Wang's website.

The Page 69 Test: City of Beasts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Timothy Alborn's "All That Glittered"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: All That Glittered: Britain's Most Precious Metal from Adam Smith to the Gold Rush by Timothy Alborn.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the century after 1750, Great Britain absorbed much of the world's supply of gold into its pockets, cupboards, and coffers when it became the only major country to adopt the gold standard as the sole basis of its currency. Over the same period, the nation's emergence was marked by a powerful combination of Protestantism, commerce, and military might, alongside preservation of its older social hierarchy.

In this rich and broad-ranging work, Timothy Alborn argues for a close connection between gold and Britain's national identity. Beginning with Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, which validated Britain's position as an economic powerhouse, and running through the mid-nineteenth century gold rushes in California and Australia, Alborn draws on contemporary descriptions of gold's value to highlight its role in financial, political, and cultural realms. He begins by narrating British interests in gold mining globally to enable the smooth operation of the gold standard. In addition to explaining the metal's function in finance, he explores its uses in war expenditure, foreign trade, religious observance, and ornamentation at home and abroad. Britons criticized foreign cultures for their wasteful and inappropriate uses of gold, even as it became a prominent symbol of status in more traditional features of British society, including its royal family, aristocracy, and military. Although Britain had been ambivalent in its embrace of gold, ultimately it enabled the nation to become the world's most modern economy and to extend its imperial reach around the globe.

All That Glittered tells the story of gold as both a marker of value and a valuable commodity, while providing a new window onto Britain's ascendance after the 1750s.
Learn more about All That Glittered at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: All That Glittered.

--Marshal Zeringue

Three of the best novels depicting therapists & therapy

Bijal Shah is a poet, book therapist, and author of The Happiness Mindset.

At the Guardian she tagged three of the best depictions of therapists and therapy in fiction, including:
[T]ry Pat Conroy’s The Prince of Tides, about New York psychiatrist Susan Lowenstein’s attempt to untangle the dysfunctional family secrets of her suicidal patient, Savannah. Lowenstein persuades Savannah’s twin brother into therapy hoping he might offer much-needed insight. She soon discovers the twins’ deeply disturbing past, realising the significant task ahead of her, only to fall for her brother – her own turbulent past is not so different. Eloquently written, it’s harrowing and testing for any therapist.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Elisabeth Norebäck's list of seven thrillers featuring therapists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Dave Hutchinson's "The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson.

The entry begins:
This is an interesting one. I've noticed, quite recently, that I tend not to have a very strong image what most of my characters look like, just a general idea of height, hair colour, stuff like that. I guess this makes casting a movie a lot easier.

Having said that, there's an absolutely brilliant Scottish actor named Martin Compston who would be perfect to play Alex, the central character in Exploding Man.

I kind of imagined Ralph, his neighbour, as...[read on]
Learn more about The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man.

Visit Dave Hutchinson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Juliet Marillier's "The Harp of Kings"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier.

About the book, from the publisher:
A young woman is both a bard—and a warrior—in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels.

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and is a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the kingdom will be thrown into disarray. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision—and the consequences may break her heart.
Learn more about the book and author at Juliet Marillier's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Juliet Marillier & Pippa, Gretel, and Sara.

The Page 69 Test: Heart’s Blood.

The Page 69 Test: Seer of Sevenwaters.

The Page 69 Test: Flame of Sevenwaters.

The Page 69 Test: The Caller.

Writers Read: Juliet Marillier.

The Page 69 Test: The Harp of Kings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six thrillers set during the first Gulf War

Siri Mitchell is the author of over a dozen novels. She has also written two novels under the pseudonym of Iris Anthony. She graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and has worked in various levels of government.

Mitchell's newest novel is State of Lies.

One of her six favorite thrillers set during the first Gulf War, as shared at CrimeReads:
American Hero (reissued as Wag the Dog), by Larry Beinhart (1993)

This book scandalized the nation by calling into question the motives of politicians who lead countries into war. With the kismet of great timing, the book was published just as the public mood in the U.S. was turning from unquestioning patriotism to cynicism. He described war as an orchestrated production that might primarily serve not to free a country from an oppressor, but to re-elect a president.
Read about another book on the list.

Wag the Dog is among Megan Wasson's ten best classic political novels and Michael Kempner's five best books on public relations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Pg. 99: Derrick E. White's "Blood, Sweat, & Tears"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Jake Gaither, Florida A&M, and the History of Black College Football by Derrick E. White.

About the book, from the publisher:
Black college football began during the nadir of African American life after the Civil War. The first game occurred in 1892, a little less than four years before the Supreme Court ruled segregation legal in Plessy v. Ferguson. In spite of Jim Crow segregation, Black colleges produced some of the best football programs in the country. They mentored young men who became teachers, preachers, lawyers, and doctors--not to mention many other professions--and transformed Black communities. But when higher education was integrated, the programs faced existential challenges as predominately white institutions steadily set about recruiting their student athletes and hiring their coaches. Blood, Sweat, and Tears explores the legacy of Black college football, with Florida A&M’s Jake Gaither as its central character, one of the most successful coaches in its history. A paradoxical figure, Gaither led one of the most respected Black college football programs, yet many questioned his loyalties during the height of the civil rights movement.

Among the first broad-based histories of Black college athletics, Derrick E. White’s sweeping story complicates the heroic narrative of integration and grapples with the complexities and contradictions of one of the most important sources of Black pride in the twentieth century.
Learn more about Blood, Sweat, and Tears at The University of North Carolina Press website. Follow Derrick E. White on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top British country house novels

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten of the best country house novels, including:
Ian McEwan

A masterly evocation of the mores and morals of the 1930s upper class, McEwan’s rich, character-driven narrative examines the nature of guilt and the onerous quest for redemption. A moving love story brimming with repressed passion and festering jealousy, Atonement is a period novel of supreme acuity.
Read about another entry on the list.

Atonement also appears on 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.

--Marshal Zeringue

Lynn Cullen's "The Sisters of Summit Avenue," the movie

Featured at My Book, the Movie: The Sisters of Summit Avenue by Lynn Cullen.

About the book, from the publisher:
My dad, Bill Doughty, made a Christmas card every year. Each year he thought of new ways to present his family, proudly celebrating what it was like to be a Doughty (which was just being an ordinary middle-class American, but that did not dim his pride.) His everyday scenes included one of the eleven of us gathered around a birthday cake. Another showed us celebrating the seasons, some of us swinging tennis rackets, others in Halloween costumes, he himself pushing a lawn-mower. He told a story in pictures of his deep appreciation for his riches, which he always measured in family.

It has occurred to me that I'm doing something similar with The Sisters of Summit Avenue. A departure from my previous books because it centers around a fictitious family instead of a historical figure, (although there's plenty of Depression-era history in it,) I call it my It's a Wonderful Life. As in that favorite old film, the sisters in the book stand to lose what they do have because...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Lynn Cullen's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mrs. Poe.

The Page 69 Test: Mrs. Poe.

The Page 69 Test: Twain's End.

The Page 69 Test: The Sisters of Summit Avenue.

My Book, the Movie: The Sisters of Summit Avenue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 20, 2019

Pg. 99: David Sorkin's "Jewish Emancipation"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Jewish Emancipation: A History Across Five Centuries by David Sorkin.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comprehensive history of how Jews became citizens in the modern world

For all their unquestionable importance, the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel now loom so large in modern Jewish history that we have mostly lost sight of the fact that they are only part of—and indeed reactions to—the central event of that history: emancipation. In this book, David Sorkin seeks to reorient Jewish history by offering the first comprehensive account in any language of the process by which Jews became citizens with civil and political rights in the modern world. Ranging from the mid-sixteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first, Jewish Emancipation tells the ongoing story of how Jews have gained, kept, lost, and recovered rights in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the United States, and Israel.

Emancipation, Sorkin shows, was not a one-time or linear event that began with the Enlightenment or French Revolution and culminated with Jews' acquisition of rights in Central Europe in 1867–71 or Russia in 1917. Rather, emancipation was and is a complex, multidirectional, and ambiguous process characterized by deflections and reversals, defeats and successes, triumphs and tragedies. For example, American Jews mobilized twice for emancipation: in the nineteenth century for political rights, and in the twentieth for lost civil rights. Similarly, Israel itself has struggled from the start to institute equality among its heterogeneous citizens.

By telling the story of this foundational but neglected event, Jewish Emancipation reveals the lost contours of Jewish history over the past half millennium.
Learn more about Jewish Emancipation at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Jewish Emancipation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight novels with monstrous mothers

Evelyn Toynton’s most recent novel is Inheritance.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight favorite books which "contain mothers who regard their children chiefly as a means to their own gratification, or as obstacles to that gratification, without any concern for those children’s happiness." One title on the list:
Sigrid Nunez, A Feather on the Breath of God

It might be too harsh to call the German war bride in Sigrid Nunez’s deeply humane autobiographical novel an out-and-out monster, since her bitter disappointment with life may account for her failure to show her children the love they hunger for. Nor does Nunez present her as monstrous; she seems to feel more sympathy for her than this reader at least could muster. Still…”The everlasting struggle against the soiled collar and scuff-marked floor brought on true despair. In that struggle, as every housewife knows, children the worst enemy. Her big cleaning days were the darkest days of my childhood. She booted us out of one room after another, her mood growing steadily meaner.” Above all, though, it is her frequently voiced contempt for the sad, silent Chinese man she married, her lack of restraint about expressing that contempt to her daughters, that is hard to forgive. Again, I am talking about myself here. Clearly, Nunez herself has long since forgiven her. All the self-pity, the indignation, with which another writer might have imbued this story is wholly absent.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tyler Hayes's "The Imaginary Corpse"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes.

About the book, from the publisher:
Most ideas fade away when we’re done with them. Some we love enough to become Real. But what about the ones we love, and walk away from?

Tippy the triceratops was once a little girl’s imaginary friend, a dinosaur detective who could help her make sense of the world. But when her father died, Tippy fell into the Stillreal, the underbelly of the Imagination, where discarded ideas go when they’re too Real to disappear. Now, he passes time doing detective work for other unwanted ideas – until Tippy runs into the Man in the Coat, a nightmare monster who can do the impossible: kill an idea permanently. Now Tippy must overcome his own trauma and solve the case, before there’s nothing left but imaginary corpses.
Visit Tyler Hayes's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Imaginary Corpse.

The Page 69 Test: The Imaginary Corpse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Five top fantasy books steeped in history

Jennifer Giesbrecht's debut novel is The Monster of Elendhaven.

At she tagged five favorite fantasy books steeped in history, including:
The Poppy War—R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War is a lot of things: a coming of age story for its orphaned protagonist Rin, a curiously grim magical school romp, a brutal war drama. It’s also meant to be a rough analogue to the life of Mao Zedong. Kuang drew historical inspiration from her own family’s stories about China’s tumultuous 20th century to craft her startling debut. Direct allegories in spec fiction are a difficult balancing act to pull off, but The Poppy War is never once broad, nor didactic. It flawlessly weaves together its medieval fantasy school setting with a backdrop pulled from the Opium and Sino-Japanese Wars without missing a stitch. She avoids gratuity by using her historical influence to grapple with a very real historical question: what is the psychology of a dictator? Not a “fantasy” dictator—some evil King malingering away in his castle with a divine mandate—but the kind of dictator produced by the world we live in right now, one driven initially by virtues we recognize as inarguably good; one stepped in cultural ideas that are still relevant to us today. This makes The Poppy War something rare and exciting: a true fantasy novel of the current modern era, shining the light of empathetic verisimilitude on a subject difficult to conceptualize when approached factually.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Poppy War is among Ross Johnson's twenty-five epic fantasies for fans of Game of Thrones.

The Page 69 Test: The Poppy War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Enze Han's "Asymmetrical Neighbors"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Asymmetrical Neighbors: Borderland State Building between China and Southeast Asia by Enze Han.

About the book, from the publisher:
Is the process of state building a unilateral, national venture, or is it something more collaborative, taking place in the interstices between adjoining countries?

To answer this question, Asymmetrical Neighbors takes a comparative look at the state building process along China, Myanmar, and Thailand's common borderland area. It shows that the variations in state building among these neighboring countries are the result of an interactive process that occurs across national boundaries. Departing from existing approaches that look at such processes from the angle of singular, bounded territorial states, the book argues that a more fruitful method is to examine how state and nation building in one country can influence, and be influenced by, the same processes across borders. It argues that the success or failure of one country's state building is a process that extends beyond domestic factors such as war preparation, political institutions, and geographic and demographic variables. Rather, it shows that we should conceptualize state building as an interactive process heavily influenced by a "neighborhood effect." Furthermore, the book moves beyond the academic boundaries that divide arbitrarily China studies and Southeast Asian studies by providing an analysis that ties the state and nation building processes in China with those of Southeast Asia.
Learn more about Asymmetrical Neighbors at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Asymmetrical Neighbors.

--Marshal Zeringue