Thursday, October 31, 2019

Nine mind-bending novels about parallel universes

At Electric Lit, intern McKayla Coyle tagged nine mind-bending books about parallel universes, including:
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow

January Scaller feels trapped in the mansion of her father’s business partner, a man who collects magical and unusual objects. Until, that is, January’s father disappears and she discovers a mysterious book, and an even more mysterious door that can lead her to other worlds.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

--Marshal Zeringue

Liska Jacobs's "The Worst Kind of Want," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Worst Kind of Want: A Novel by Liska Jacobs.

The entry begins:
When I start a book, I make a mood board and cast all the characters—but I never use actors because I’m so easily influenced by what roles they’ve played. I use models, usually from old Vogues or those cheap hairstyle magazines you can buy at Walgreens. It’s only later that I start to think who could pull off the role.

For Cilla, I think Chloë Sevigny or Maggie Gyllenhaal would be phenomenal.

And Donato, well, it would have to be...[read on]
Visit Liska Jacobs's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Worst Kind of Want.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best memoirs of the decade

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

Temple and the Literary Hub staff picked the ten best memoirs of the decade. One title on the list:
Helen Macdonald, H is For Hawk (2015)

Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk was, to say the least, a surprise phenomenon in America. An erudite, lyric, very British memoir that describes the simultaneous grieving of a beloved parent, the mourning of a particular version of the English countryside, and the attempt to cohabitate with a ferocious raptor? Not what most publishers would consider a license to print money; add to that the embedded retelling of T.H. White’s own deeply troubled account of life with a fractious goshawk and “bestseller” seems unlikely at best. And though a book’s sales should factor fairly low (if at all) when considering its worthiness, one is tempted to make an exception for memoir, the genre that most wants to be read.

But it is neither the familiarity of the circumstances (they are decidedly not) nor the plainness of the language (this is the memoir of a poet!) that makes Macdonald’s memoir so universally accessible—it is the unrelenting honesty of a writer grappling on the page with the hard stuff most of us reserve for 4am: the finality of death, the paralysis of self-doubt, the loss of the natural world, and… the winged killing machine lurking in the other room. That Macdonald manages literary biography, pastoral meditation, grief diary, and falconry how-to all in one book is a true marvel, and will remain so as this nearly perfect memoir takes its rightful place in the canon. –Jonny Diamond, Lit Hub Editor-in-Chief
Read about another entry on the list.

H Is for Hawk is among Sigrid Nunez's six favorite books that feature animals, Sam Miller's top ten books about fathers, Barack Obama's summer 2016 reading list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten books about justice and redemption, and Alex Hourston’s ten top unlikely friendships in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Stephen Knott's "The Lost Soul of the American Presidency"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Lost Soul of the American Presidency: The Decline into Demagoguery and the Prospects for Renewal by Stephen F. Knott.

About the book, from the publisher:
The American presidency is not what it once was. Nor, Stephen F. Knott contends, what it was meant to be. Taking on an issue as timely as Donald Trump’s latest tweet and old as the American republic, the distinguished presidential scholar documents the devolution of the American presidency from the neutral, unifying office envisioned by the framers of the Constitution into the demagogic, partisan entity of our day.

The presidency of popular consent, or the majoritarian presidency that we have today, far predates its current incarnation. The executive office as James Madison, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton conceived it would be a source of national pride and unity, a check on the tyranny of the majority, and a neutral guarantor of the nation’s laws. The Lost Soul of the American Presidency shows how Thomas Jefferson’s “Revolution of 1800” remade the presidency, paving the way for Andrew Jackson to elevate “majority rule” into an unofficial constitutional principle—and contributing to the disenfranchisement, and worse, of African Americans and Native Americans. In Woodrow Wilson, Knott finds a worthy successor to Jefferson and Jackson. More than any of his predecessors, Wilson altered the nation’s expectations of what a president could be expected to achieve, putting in place the political machinery to support a “presidential government.”

As difficult as it might be to recover the lost soul of the American presidency, Knott reminds us of presidents who resisted pandering to public opinion and appealed to our better angels—George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and William Howard Taft, among others—whose presidencies suggest an alternative and offer hope for the future of the nation’s highest office.
Learn more about The Lost Soul of the American Presidency at the University Press of Kansas website.

The Page 99 Test: The Lost Soul of the American Presidency.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Top ten books about graveyards

David Barnett writes about books and comics for the Guardian. The graveyard, he writes,
is the main setting for [his] novel Things Can Only Get Better. It’s set in 1996, when Arthur, who is in his 70s, is so grief-stricken by the death of his wife Molly that he refuses to leave her graveside, eventually moving into and fixing up a derelict chapel and becoming a sort of unofficial caretaker.
At the Guardian, Barnett tagged his ten favorite books about graveyards, including:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

It stands to reason, for those of a certain bent, that cemeteries, being the resting places of the dead, will be home to ghosts. The spirits who haunt Neil Gaiman’s 2008 children’s book are benign, taking in and looking after Nobody “Bod” Owens, the only survivor of his family’s massacre at the hands of a serial killer called Jack. There are supernatural menaces to be overcome, but ultimately the real evil is done by the living.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Graveyard Book is among Christian McKay Heidicker's six of the best read-aloud books for grown-ups, Sophie Cleverly's ten top terrifying teachers in children’s books, Claire Barker's top ten haunted houses in fiction, Jon Walter's ten top first lines in children's and teen books, Helen Grant's ten "best books with settings that are strikingly brought to life" and Nevada Barr's 6 favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Andrew Skinner's "Steel Frame"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Steel Frame by Andrew Skinner.

About the book, from the publisher:

Rook is a jockey, a soldier trained and modified to fly ‘shells,’ huge robots that fight for the outer regions of settled space. When her shell is destroyed and her squad killed, Rook is imprisoned, left stranded, scarred and broken. Hollow and helpless without her steel frame, she’s ready to call it quits.

When her cohort of prisoners are sold into indenture to NorCol, a vast frontier corporation, Rook’s given another shell – a near-decrepit Juno, as broken as she is and decades older – and sent to a rusting bucket of a ship on the end of known space to patrol something called “the Eye,” a strange, unnerving permanent storm in space.

Where something is stirring...
Read more about Steel Frame; follow Andrew Skinner on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Steel Frame.

The Page 69 Test: Steel Frame.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Paula Munier reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Paula Munier, author of Blind Search (Mercy and Elvis Mysteries, Volume 2).

Her entry begins:
As an agent and an author, I read for a living, so when I read for fun, I read whatever strikes my fancy. Here are just some of the books cluttering my bedside table at the moment.

The novel I’m reading now

The Far Empty, by J. Todd Scott. I had just started what Craig Johnson calls “a powerful new voice in contemporary western crime fiction” when I found out that the author would be my tablemate at the Speed Dating at Bouchercon. Serendipity! And, happily, I can tell everyone participating what a great writer he is. He knows his bleak Texas borderlands, and it shows. This book is one of those gritty stories that...[read on]
About Blind Search, from the publisher:
Former Army MP Mercy Carr and her retired bomb-sniffing dog Elvis are back in Blind Search, the sequel to the page-turning, critically acclaimed A Borrowing of Bones

It’s October, hunting season in the Green Mountains—and the Vermont wilderness has never been more beautiful or more dangerous. Especially for nine-year-old Henry, who’s lost in the woods. Again. Only this time he sees something terrible. When a young woman is found shot through the heart with a fatal arrow, Mercy thinks that something is murder. But Henry, a math genius whose autism often silences him when he should speak up most, is not talking.

Now there’s a murderer hiding among the hunters in the forest—and Mercy and Elvis must team up with their crime-solving friends, game warden Troy Warner and search-and-rescue dog Susie Bear, to find the killer—before the killer finds Henry. When an early season blizzard hits the mountains, cutting them off from the rest of the world, the race is on to solve the crime, apprehend the murderer, and keep the boy safe until the snowplows get through.

Inspired by the true search-and-rescue case of an autistic boy who got lost in the Vermont wilderness, Paula Munier's mystery is a compelling roller coaster ride through the worst of winter—and human nature.
Visit Paula Munier's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Paula Munier & Bear.

My Book, The Movie: A Borrowing of Bones.

The Page 69 Test: A Borrowing of Bones.

Writers Read: Paula Munier.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thirteen of the fiercest feminist witches in modern literature

Pam Grossman is a writer, curator, and teacher of magical practice and history. She is the host of The Witch Wave podcast (“the Terry Gross of Witches” - Vulture) and the author of Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power and What Is A Witch.

At Electric Lit Grossman tagged thirteen stories about strong women with magical powers, including:
Circe in Circe by Madeline Miller

Many will recall Circe as the sorceress from The Odyssey who turns Odysseus’s men into pigs. But Miller’s expansion of this small episode into an entire book about Circe’s life is an act of great alchemy itself. This Circe is a black sheep—or disdained demi-goddess—whose witchy ways mean she doesn’t quite fit in with her illustrious Olympian family. However, her supernatural skills allow her to tap into the powers of plants and animals, and witchcraft becomes a means for her to protect those she cares about. Circe spends much of the novel in isolation on the island of Aiaia. But rather than feeling imprisoned, she turns her solitude into an oasis of self-actualization. Like any good witch, she relishes having sovereignty over her home—and herself.
Read about another entry on the list.

Circe is among Kris Waldherr's nine top books inspired by mythology, Katharine Duckett's eight novels that reexamine literature from the margins, and Steph Posts' thirteen top novels set in the world of myth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Pg. 99: Anne Nelson's "Shadow Network"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right by Anne Nelson.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1981, emboldened by Ronald Reagan's election, a group of some fifty Republican operatives, evangelicals, oil barons, and gun lobbyists met in a Washington suburb to coordinate their attack on civil liberties and the social safety net. These men and women called their coalition the Council for National Policy. Over four decades, this elite club has become a strategic nerve center for channeling money and mobilizing votes behind the scenes. Its secretive membership rolls represent a high-powered roster of fundamentalists, oligarchs, and their allies, from Oliver North, Ed Meese, and Tim LaHaye in the Council's early days to Kellyanne Conway, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, and the DeVos and Mercer families today.

In Shadow Network, award-winning author and media analyst Anne Nelson chronicles this astonishing history and illuminates the coalition's key figures and their tactics. She traces how the collapse of American local journalism laid the foundation for the Council for National Policy's information war and listens in on the hardline broadcasting its members control. And she reveals how the group has collaborated with the Koch brothers to outfit Radical Right organizations with state-of-the-art apps and a shared pool of captured voter data - outmaneuvering the Democratic Party in a digital arms race whose result has yet to be decided.

In a time of stark and growing threats to our most valued institutions and democratic freedoms, Shadow Network is essential reading.
Visit Anne Nelson's website.

The Page 99 Test: Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler by Anne Nelson.

The Page 99 Test: Shadow Network.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Siri Mitchell's "State of Lies"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: State of Lies by Siri Mitchell.

About the book, from the publisher:
The secrets of those closest to us can be the most dangerous of all.

Months after her husband, Sean, is killed by a hit-and-run driver, physicist Georgie Brennan discovers he lied to her about where he had been going that day. A cryptic notebook, a missing computer, and strange noises under her house soon have her questioning everything she thought she knew.

With her job hanging by a thread, her son struggling to cope with his father’s death, and her four-star general father up for confirmation as the next secretary of defense, Georgie quickly finds herself tangled in a web of political intrigue that has no clear agenda and dozens of likely villains.

Only one thing is clear: someone wants her dead too. And the more she digs for the truth, the fewer people she can trust.

Not her friends.

Not her parents.

Maybe not even herself.
Visit Siri Mitchell's website.

The Page 69 Test: State of Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top titles that delve into love’s complexity

Daniel Jones has edited the "Modern Love" column in the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times since its inception in October 2004. His books include two essay anthologies, Modern Love and The Bastard on the Couch, and a novel, After Lucy, which was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award.

At LitHub Jones tagged five books that taught him about love, including:
Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen Fisher

We are so eager to think about love and romance as being magical and fated that we often forget how chemical and biological attraction can be. If you want to know what’s really happening when we fall in love—or how we keep it, or lose it—you’ll need to read this book. You’ll find out, for example, how when we fall in love, the blood flow actually changes in our brains. And other places too, of course!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Kelly Simmons's "Where She Went," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Where She Went: A Novel by Kelly Simmons.

The entry begins:
With so many great actresses creating great TV and films these days – not to mention producing and directing – well, casting the movie version of my book is like being in a candy store. But I’m not gonna let that sway me. No. Okay, maybe I am. No, I’m not. I’m going to choose the right people, not the most famous ones. Okay, maybe the right people are the most famous ones? Don’t judge me.

Where She Went is written from the twin perspectives of a missing college student and her helicopter mother, who is trying to find her. We get to follow each woman’s path, a few days apart, as the daughter’s decisions go from bad to worse and the mother’s go from unhinged to intelligent. So the question becomes . . . who do I want to see unhinge?

For the daughter, Emma, I can’t help but long for Kaitlyn Dever, who is so amazing in the movie Booksmart. Her emotions radiate across her entire face, and her physical ability to play subtle or broad is admirable, too.

For the mom, Maggie, I’d like to see...[read on]
Visit Kelly Simmons's website.

The Page 69 Test: Standing Still.

My Book, The Movie: Standing Still.

The Page 69 Test: The Bird House.

My Book, The Movie: Where She Went.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 28, 2019

Six classic thrillers that explore the most human of monsters

Steven L. Kent and Nicholas Kaufmann are the authors of the bestselling horror novel 100 Fathoms Below.

At CrimeReads they tagged six favorite literary human monsters, including:
Major Sergei Sergeevich Pribuluda: Gorky Park by Martin Cruz-Smith

Three bodies are found in Gorky Park, in Moscow, in 1981—a decade before the fall of the Soviet Union. The bodies have been buried in snow. No telling how long they’ve been dead. Their faces have been cut. Their teeth are kicked in. Their fingers have been snipped off. In the pre-DNA days of the 1980s, they are unidentifiable. Only, a lowly inspector is assigned to identify them and catch the killer.

During the investigation the lowly policeman crosses paths with Major Pribluda of the KGB. These boys know each other, but they aren’t pals. They both enforce the law, more or less, but Pribluda’s definition of law enforcement includes driving “criminals” to the lake, stuffing rubber balls in their mouths so they can’t scream for help, and shooting them. . .all to protect the proletariat.

As monsters go, Pribluda is a chubby, dangerous sociopath with a heart. No joke. He is one of the more interesting and noble monsters we have encountered in our reading.
Read about another entry on the list.

Gorky Park is among John Verdon's ten best whodunits and Ann Shevchenko's top ten novels set in Moscow.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is S. C. Gwynne reading?

Featured at Writers Read: S. C. Gwynne, author of Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War.

His entry begins:
My recent reading tends away from the Civil War and the research required for my new book about the Civil War, Hymns of the Republic. If you had asked this question a year ago, I would have had to choose which of the 275 volumes in my office at that moment (all from the University of Texas Library), all about the Civil War and its era, that I would write about.

Here are some things I have been looking at:

The Slough House books by Mick Herron. I am currently reading Dead Lions, having just finished Slow Horses. I have been looking for a replacement for John Le Carre—one of my favorite writers—for a long time. Most spy fiction is cliche-ridden drivel. The good news is I have finally discovered someone who can really write in that genre. Herron does not try to copy Le Carre, exactly, but he...[read on]
About Hymns of the Republic, from the publisher:
From the New York Times bestselling, celebrated, and award-winning author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell comes the spellbinding, epic account of the dramatic conclusion of the Civil War.

The fourth and final year of the Civil War offers one of that era’s most compelling narratives, defining the nation and one of history’s great turning points. Now, S.C. Gwynne’s Hymns of the Republic addresses the time Ulysses S. Grant arrives to take command of all Union armies in March 1864 to the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox a year later. Gwynne breathes new life into the epic battle between Lee and Grant; the advent of 180,000 black soldiers in the Union army; William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea; the rise of Clara Barton; the election of 1864 (which Lincoln nearly lost); the wild and violent guerrilla war in Missouri; and the dramatic final events of the war, including the surrender at Appomattox and the murder of Abraham Lincoln.

Hymns of the Republic offers angles and insights on the war that will surprise many readers. Robert E. Lee, known as a great general and southern hero, is presented here as a man dealing with frustration, failure, and loss. Ulysses S. Grant is known for his prowess as a field commander, but in the final year of the war he largely fails at that. His most amazing accomplishments actually began the moment he stopped fighting. William Tecumseh Sherman, Gwynne argues, was a lousy general, but probably the single most brilliant man in the war. We also meet a different Clara Barton, one of the greatest and most compelling characters, who redefined the idea of medical care in wartime. And proper attention is paid to the role played by large numbers of black union soldiers—most of them former slaves. They changed the war and forced the South to come up with a plan to use its own black soldiers.

Popular history at its best, from Pulitzer Prize finalist S.C. Gwynne, Hymns of the Republic reveals the creation that arose from destruction in this thrilling read.
Visit S.C. Gwynne's website.

Writers Read: S. C. Gwynne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books on family roots and grief

Saeed Jones is the author of Prelude to Bruise, winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award. The poetry collection was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as awards from Lambda Literary and the Publishing Triangle in 2015.

Jones's new memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives, describes how owning his homosexuality required distancing himself from his mother's love, and was recently named winner of the nonfiction Kirkus Prize.

At The Week magazine he shared six favorite books on family roots and grief, including:
We the Animals by Justin Torres (2011).

Michael Cunningham rightfully called this autobiographical novel a "dark jewel." When I was working on my memoir, I often thought about how Torres uses lyricism to color the emotional nuances of the main character's coming-of-age experiences.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Stuart Schrader's "Badges without Borders"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Badges without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing by Stuart Schrader.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the Cold War through today, the U.S. has quietly assisted dozens of regimes around the world in suppressing civil unrest and securing the conditions for the smooth operation of capitalism. Casting a new light on American empire, Badges Without Borders shows, for the first time, that the very same people charged with global counterinsurgency also militarized American policing at home.

In this groundbreaking exposé, Stuart Schrader shows how the United States projected imperial power overseas through police training and technical assistance—and how this effort reverberated to shape the policing of city streets at home. Examining diverse records, from recently declassified national security and intelligence materials to police textbooks and professional magazines, Schrader reveals how U.S. police leaders envisioned the beat to be as wide as the globe and worked to put everyday policing at the core of the Cold War project of counterinsurgency. A “smoking gun” book, Badges without Borders offers a new account of the War on Crime, “law and order” politics, and global counterinsurgency, revealing the connections between foreign and domestic racial control.
Visit Stuart Schrader's website.

The Page 99 Test: Badges without Borders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Twelve titles about historical women to inspire a better future

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre, Touch, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, and the handbook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book, forthcoming from Catapult. Her writing has been widely published in such outlets as BuzzFeed; the New York Times; O, the Oprah Magazine; and Poets & Writers.

At Electric Lit she tagged twelve novels about historical women to inspire a better future, including:
The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

When you’ve got a long weekend ahead of you and a brain that needs some candy, treat yourself to Benjamin’s exuberant portrayal of socialite Babe Paley’s headline-making friendship with Truman Capote in the martini-fueled corridors of 1950s high-society New York.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Clay McLeod Chapman's "The Remaking"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Remaking: A Novel by Clay McLeod Chapman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Inspired by a true story, this supernatural thriller for fans of horror and true crime follows a tale as it evolves every twenty years—with terrifying results.

Ella Louise has lived in the woods surrounding Pilot’s Creek, Virginia, for nearly a decade. Publicly, she and her daughter, Jessica, are shunned by her upper-crust family and the local residents. Privately, desperate characters visit her apothecary for a cure to what ails them—until Ella Louise is blamed for the death of a prominent customer. Accused of witchcraft, Ella Louise and Jessica are burned at the stake in the middle of the night. Ella Louise’s burial site is never found, but the little girl has the most famous grave in the South: a steel-reinforced coffin surrounded by a fence of interconnected white crosses.

Their story will take the shape of an urban legend as it’s told around a campfire by a man forever marked by his childhood encounters with Jessica. Decades later, a boy at that campfire will cast Amber Pendleton as Jessica in a ’70s horror movie inspired by the Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek. Amber’s experiences on that set and its meta-remake in the ’90s will ripple through pop culture, ruining her life and career after she becomes the target of a witch hunt.

Amber’s best chance to break the cycle of horror comes when a true-crime investigator tracks her down to interview her for his popular podcast. But will this final act of storytelling redeem her—or will it bring the story full circle, ready to be told once again? And again. And again...
Visit Clay McLeod Chapman's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Remaking.

The Page 69 Test: The Remaking.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine top English village mysteries

Deborah Crombie is a New York Times bestselling author and a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She now lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, two cats, and two German shepherds.

Crombie's newest novel, A Bitter Feast, is her 18th Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged nine standout English village mysteries published from the Eighties onwards, including:
Wicked Autumn, by G.M. Malliet

In 2011, G.M. Malliet debuted the first in her Max Tudor series with a fresh take on the village mystery. Max Tudor, former MI5 agent, now ministers to his congregation in the tiny village of Nether Monkslip. But village life is not as idyllic as he imagined, and he soon must call on his old skills to solve a murder. A wickedly humorous skewering of the village trope, with modern sensibilities and depth of characterization.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Pg. 99: Kari Marie Norgaard's "Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People: Colonialism, Nature, and Social Action by Kari Marie Norgaard.

About the book, from the publisher:
Since time before memory, large numbers of salmon have made their way up and down the Klamath River. Indigenous management enabled the ecological abundance that formed the basis of capitalist wealth across North America. These activities on the landscape continue today, although they are often the site of intense political struggle. Not only has the magnitude of Native American genocide been of remarkable little sociological focus, the fact that this genocide has been coupled with a reorganization of the natural world represents a substantial theoretical void. Whereas much attention has (rightfully) focused on the structuring of capitalism, racism and patriarchy, few sociologists have attended to the ongoing process of North American colonialism. Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People draws upon nearly two decades of examples and insight from Karuk experiences on the Klamath River to illustrate how the ecological dynamics of settler-colonialism are essential for theorizing gender, race and social power today.
Learn more about Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People at the Rutgers University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels where criminals save the day

Alexandra Christo decided to write books when she was four and her teacher told her she couldn’t be a fairy. When she’s not busy making up stories, she can be found organizing food crawls over London and binge-watching Korean dramas. Christo has a BA in Creative Writing and currently lives in England with an abundance of cacti (because they’re the only plants she can keep alive). She is the author of To Kill a Kingdom and Into the Crooked Place.

At Christo tagged five books where criminals save the day, including:
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”
Lila lives in the real world, where she has to steal to survive. And Kell lives in a world of parallel Londons, where he is one of the last magic-wielders who can travel between them. Lila is a thief. Kell is a smuggler. And when the Londons start falling apart, they have to work together to stop the threads of magic from unravelling.

Now, I have a soft spot for Kell BUT… oh, Lila. The queen of thieves and snarky pirates.

Lila makes her living as a pick pocket in book one of this magical series (what? That’s a good pun!), and then she’s thrust into a world of different Londons and a boy with a strange, ever-changing coat, and a battle for magic and the safety of the world. And she takes it in her stride.

Lila longs for adventure, thirsts for the magic, and though she’s used to looking out for number one, when the world’s on the line, Lila has her knives at the ready.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Erica Wright's "Famous in Cedarville," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Famous in Cedarville by Erica Wright.

The entry begins:
Famous in Cedarville opens with the death of retired silver screen actress Barbara Lace, so cinema plays a big role (pun 100% intended) in this book. Each chapter begins with a glimpse of Barbara’s life, so I imagine the movie would have some flashbacks or film clips. And I just really want to cast this character! I imagine the older version played by someone like Glenn Close. I like how Close chooses unexpected, challenging parts. In real life, she seems tough and glamorous. A little fierce. For the younger version, maybe Rachel Brosnahan? I could watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel every night. Brosnahan is so delightful in the role and also has that element of ferocity.

For my slightly awkward lead Samson Delaware, I’d go with David...[read on]
Visit Erica Wright's website.

My Book, The Movie: Famous in Cedarville.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 25, 2019

Six top revenge thrillers featuring female protagonists

As a child Kate Kessler seemed to have a knack for finding trouble, and for it finding her. A former delinquent, Kessler now prefers to write about trouble rather than cause it, and spends her days writing about why people do the things they do. She lives in New England with her husband.

Kessler's latest thriller is Seven Crows.

At CrimeReads, she tagged six favorite revenge thrillers featuring female protagonists, including:
Sadie by Courtney Summers

This is a Young Adult novel, but the theme is just as powerful. Sadie is on a quest to avenge the death of her younger sister, Maddie. Sadie is bent, but not broken, despite the instability of the world in which she grew up. Maddie was a bright spot in her sister’s life and someone took her away. They need to pay for that. Told in Sadie’s POV as well as through a podcast about the girls, Sadie is a beautifully written, compelling story about how far we’ll go for the people we love.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Malcolm Fairbrother's "Free Traders"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Free Traders: Elites, Democracy, and the Rise of Globalization in North America by Malcolm Fairbrother.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today's global economy was largely established by political events and decisions in the 1980s and 90s, when scores of nations opened up their economies to the forces of globalization. In Free Traders, Malcolm Fairbrother argues that politicians' embrace of globalization was much less motivated by public preferences than by the agendas of businesspeople and other elites. Drawing on over one hundred interviews with decision-makers, and analyses of archival materials from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., Fairbrother tells the story of how each country negotiated and ratified two agreements that substantially opened and integrated their economies: the 1989 Canada-U.S. and trilateral 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Contrary to what many commentators believe, these agreements-like free trade elsewhere-were based less on mainstream, neoclassical economics than on the informal, self-serving economic ideas of business. While the stakes in the globalization debate remain high, Free Traders uses a comparative-historical approach to sharpen our understanding of how globalization arose in the past to provide us with clearer trajectory for how it will develop in the future.
Visit Malcolm Fairbrother's website.

The Page 99 Test: Free Traders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kerry Anne King's "Everything You Are"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Everything You Are: A Novel by Kerry Anne King.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of Whisper Me This comes a haunting and lyrical novel about the promises we make and the forgiveness we need when we break them.

One tragic twist of fate destroyed Braden Healey’s hands, his musical career, and his family. Now, unable to play, adrift in an alcoholic daze, and with only fragmented memories of his past, Braden wants desperately to escape the darkness of the last eleven years.

When his ex-wife and son are killed in a car accident, Braden returns home, hoping to forge a relationship with his troubled seventeen-year-old daughter, Allie. But how can he hope to rescue her from the curse that seems to shadow his family?

Ophelia “Phee” MacPhee, granddaughter of the eccentric old man who sold Braden his cello, believes the curse is real. She swore an oath to her dying grandfather that she would ensure Braden plays the cello as long as he lives. But he can’t play, and as the shadows deepen and Phee finds herself falling for Braden, she’ll do anything to save him. It will take a miracle of forgiveness and love to bring all three of them back to the healing power of music.
Visit Kerry Anne King's website.

Writers Read: Kerry Anne King.

The Page 69 Test: Everything You Are.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Twenty of the best espionage novels

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged "twenty great titles are suffused with shadowy, smoke-filled subterfuge and high stakes games of national security," including:
The Trinity Six
Charles Cumming

An irresistible reimagining of the notorious Cambridge Spies scandal, The Trinity Six sees a Cold War academic on the trail of the sixth member of the traitorous ring. Intelligently written and tightly plotted, Cumming’s thrilling novel takes us into the dark heart of a Europe lethally divided.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: W. Caleb McDaniel's "Sweet Taste of Liberty"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America by W. Caleb McDaniel.

About the book, from the publisher:
The unforgettable saga of one enslaved woman's fight for justice--and reparations

Born into slavery, Henrietta Wood was taken to Cincinnati and legally freed in 1848. In 1853, a Kentucky deputy sheriff named Zebulon Ward colluded with Wood's employer, abducted her, and sold her back into bondage. She remained enslaved throughout the Civil War, giving birth to a son in Mississippi and never forgetting who had put her in this position.

By 1869, Wood had obtained her freedom for a second time and returned to Cincinnati, where she sued Ward for damages in 1870. Astonishingly, after eight years of litigation, Wood won her case: in 1878, a Federal jury awarded her $2,500. The decision stuck on appeal. More important than the amount, though the largest ever awarded by an American court in restitution for slavery, was the fact that any money was awarded at all. By the time the case was decided, Ward had become a wealthy businessman and a pioneer of convict leasing in the South. Wood's son later became a prominent Chicago lawyer, and she went on to live until 1912.

McDaniel's book is an epic tale of a black woman who survived slavery twice and who achieved more than merely a moral victory over one of her oppressors. Above all, Sweet Taste of Liberty is a portrait of an extraordinary individual as well as a searing reminder of the lessons of her story, which establish beyond question the connections between slavery and the prison system that rose in its place.
Visit W. Caleb McDaniel's website.

The Page 99 Test: Sweet Taste of Liberty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six great amateur sleuth series for adult readers

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, including The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street.

At CrimeReads, White tagged six series for "fans of [Nancy Drew] who might want to read books with a similar vein without raiding their tween’s bookshelves." One entry on the list:
Lady Julia Grey, created by Deanna Raybourn

No era or setting shouts “mystery” quite like Victorian England. In the Lady Julia Grey series (Silent in the Grave is the first), Deanna Raybourn uses it to its best advantage.

The second youngest of ten children in the aristocratic March family (her father is an earl), Lady Julia is thrust into mystery-solving when her husband is murdered and she must work alongside the private inquiry agent her late husband had hired to protect him to find the answers behind her husband’s death. Throw in the likeable March siblings as secondary characters and a little romance, and readers will have a very engaging read.

If you’re lucky enough to just be discovering this series now, you can binge read the nine titles currently in publication.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary.

--Marshal Zeringue

Andrew Skinner's "Steel Frame," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Steel Frame by Andrew Skinner.

The entry begins:
Rook is the character through whom you see the events of Steel Frame, and despite the fact that she’d be the lead in a movie adaptation, someone else will have to cast her! I made a conscious decision to leave her anonymous – there are no glances of herself in reflective surfaces, no one else commenting on her appearance – and I’d like to preserve that here. You could probably infer a lot of what she looks like from the parts of her history you encounter in the story, but given how damaging her past is, she’s probably really difficult to look at. Foremost, though, I wanted her capabilities to be separate from her appearance, and to let her actions define who and what she was.

The other major characters are much easier! Hail and Salt are Rook’s squadmates. They’re other jockeys in the story – other frontier operators, piloting these giant machines.

For Hail, I’d cast somewhere between Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron; Blunt for her hard edges as the Angel of Verdun in Edge of Tomorrow (and maybe also because I enjoyed watching Tom Cruise be shot in the head over and over, who knows?), and Theron for that desert-dry harshness as Imperator Furiosa in Fury Road; Hail’s character is worn and calloused, but she’s survived things you can barely imagine. I want someone who’ll dig in heels, grind teeth, stand straight under the weight of monstrous things.

For Salt, I’m pretty set on...[read on]
Read more about Steel Frame; follow Andrew Skinner on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: Steel Frame.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Top ten books about the night

Tiffany Francis-Baker is a writer, artist and environmentalist from the South Downs in Hampshire. With a mixed background in the arts, rural heritage and conservation, her work is fuelled by a love for the natural world and a passion for protecting it. She writes and illustrates for national publications and has appeared on BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4.

Francis-Baker's new book is Dark Skies: A Journey into the Wild Night.

At the Guardian, she tagged ten favorite books about the dark, including:
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse

Mosse is the master of eerie historical thrillers and this 2014 novel, based around a remote stretch of the Sussex coast, does not disappoint. Opening as residents gather in a misty churchyard to celebrate St Mark’s Eve – a night when the ghosts of those fated to die in the coming year are said to appear –it plunges into a shadowy world of murder, secrets and amnesia. Delightfully disturbing, impossible to put down.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Carol Faulkner's "Unfaithful"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Unfaithful: Love, Adultery, and Marriage Reform in Nineteenth-Century America by Carol Faulkner.

About the book, from the publisher:
In her 1855 fictionalized autobiography, Mary Gove Nichols told the story of her emancipation from her first unhappy marriage, during which her husband controlled her body, her labor, and her daughter. Rather than the more familiar metaphor of prostitution, Nichols used adultery to define loveless marriages as a betrayal of the self, a consequence far more serious than the violation of a legal contract. Nichols was not alone. In Unfaithful, Carol Faulkner places this view of adultery at the center of nineteenth-century efforts to redefine marriage as a voluntary relationship in which love alone determined fidelity.

After the Revolution, Americans understood adultery as a sin against God and a crime against the people. A betrayal of marriage vows, adultery was a cause for divorce in most states as well as a basis for civil suits. Faulkner depicts an array of nineteenth-century social reformers who challenged the restrictive legal institution of marriage, redefining adultery as a matter of individual choice and love. She traces the beginning of this redefinition of adultery to the evangelical ferment of the 1830s and 1840s, when perfectionists like John Humphrey Noyes, founder of the Oneida Community, concluded that marriage obstructed the individual's relationship to God. In the 1840s and 1850s, spiritualist, feminist, and free love critics of marriage fueled a growing debate over adultery and marriage by emphasizing true love and consent. After the Civil War, activists turned the act of adultery into a form of civil disobedience, culminating in Victoria Woodhull's publicly charging the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher with marital infidelity.

Unfaithful explores how nineteenth-century reformers mobilized both the metaphor and the act of adultery to redefine marriage between 1830 and 1880 and the ways in which their criticisms of the legal institution contributed to a larger transformation of marital and gender relations that continues to this day.
Learn more about Unfaithful at the University of Pennsylvania Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Unfaithful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top contemporary monster books written by women

Mallory O’Meara is the author of The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick.

At she tagged "seven fantastically creepy monster books written by (or edited by) women to frighten up your season," including:
The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

This spectacularly feminist body horror book (is there any other kind of body horror to read?) won Gwendolyn Kiste last year’s Bram Stoker Award for first novels. Two best friends have just graduated high school and are trying to figure their lives out in the industrial wasteland of 1980s Cleveland, Ohio. Meanwhile, the girls in their neighborhood are also changing, but not in a philosophical, college-bound way. These young women are slowly transforming into grotesque creatures made out of glass and corroded metal. No one knows what is happening or why, but our two main characters believe these rust maidens know more than they are telling. This might scratch your Stranger Things itch.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tracey S. Phillips's "Best Kept Secrets"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Best Kept Secrets: A Novel by Tracey S. Phillips.

About the book, from the publisher:
Best friends tell each other everything.

Even their deepest, darkest secrets–pinky promise.


Morgan Jewell and Fay Ramsey are enjoying their last summer together before college. Fay is shy, with a controlling mother, and Morgan is the perfect, wild, loud-mouthed yang to Fay’s yin. But when Fay is found dead, Morgan’s entire world crumbles.

Years later, Morgan is still haunted by the abrupt end to her best friend’s life. She knew Fay held a secret in those final days, but Morgan, now a homicide detective, has failed to make a picture out of the crooked puzzle pieces she left behind. Nothing makes sense. The leads have run dry. Until she’s called to the scene of a murder: a woman whose body is left mangled, too similar to Fay’s to ignore.

Could it be? Morgan vowed to do right by Fay. This is the case she’s been waiting for to set her back on the killer’s trail. But the closer she gets, the harder it forces her to confront the memories of herself and her best friend. What was her secret? What got her killed? Maybe Morgan didn’t know her at all.
Visit Tracey S. Phillips's website.

My Book, The Movie: Best Kept Secrets.

The Page 69 Test: Best Kept Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Nine crime novels featuring glamorous women

Erica Wright's new novel is Famous in Cedarville.

At CrimeReads she tagged some of her "favorite mysteries [that] combine a bit of glitz with their murders, showing us how bright lights can cast the darkest shadows," including:
The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

Perhaps I’m cheating a bit by including The Tenth Muse (one of my favorite books this year) on a noir list, but mysteries abound in this elegant, moving novel about family, love, and numbers. We meet our mathematician protagonist in the twilight of her life, intent on defying expectations by solving something called the Riemann hypothesis. Chung then takes us through the woman’s eventful life, showing us the lengths she travelled to earn the respect she deserves. Along the way, she tries to understand why her mother left when she was a child, and the surprising discoveries she makes are worthy of any blockbuster thriller.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Tenth Muse.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Agustín Fuentes's "Why We Believe"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being by Agustín Fuentes.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wide-ranging argument by a renowned anthropologist that the capacity to believe is what makes us human

Why are so many humans religious? Why do we daydream, imagine, and hope? Philosophers, theologians, social scientists, and historians have offered explanations for centuries, but their accounts often ignore or even avoid human evolution. Evolutionary scientists answer with proposals for why ritual, religion, and faith make sense as adaptations to past challenges or as by-products of our hyper-complex cognitive capacities.

But what if the focus on religion is too narrow? Renowned anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues that the capacity to be religious is actually a small part of a larger and deeper human capacity to believe. Why believe in religion, economies, love? A fascinating intervention into some of the most common misconceptions about human nature, this book employs evolutionary, neurobiological, and anthropological evidence to argue that belief—the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea—is central to the human way of being in the world.
Learn more about Why We Believe at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You.

The Page 99 Test: Why We Believe.

--Marshal Zeringue