Tuesday, December 31, 2019

What is Lee Goldberg reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lee Goldberg, author of Lost Hills.

His entry begins:
I like to alternate my reading between newly released books in a variety of genres and stuff that was published decades ago. In the last couple of weeks, I've read Lou Berney's remarkable November Road, which works not only as a great crime novel, but also as pure literature. He beautifully captures both a time and a place... and even the smallest characters came alive as three-dimensional, unique, and memorable. I also like the deft balance of horror, humanity and humor. The novel deserves...[read on]
About Lost Hills, from the publisher:
A video of Deputy Eve Ronin’s off-duty arrest of an abusive movie star goes viral, turning her into a popular hero at a time when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is plagued by scandal. The sheriff, desperate for more positive press, makes Eve the youngest female homicide detective in the department’s history.

Now Eve, with a lot to learn and resented by her colleagues, has to justify her new badge. Her chance comes when she and her burned-out, soon-to-retire partner are called to the blood-splattered home of a missing single mother and her two kids. The horrific carnage screams multiple murder—but there are no corpses.

Eve has to rely on her instincts and tenacity to find the bodies and capture the vicious killer, all while battling her own insecurities and mounting pressure from the media, her bosses, and the bereaved family. It’s a deadly ordeal that will either prove her skills…or totally destroy her.
Visit Lee Goldberg's website.

My Book, The Movie: Lost Hills.

Writers Read: Lee Goldberg.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Karl Coplan's "Live Sustainably Now"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Live Sustainably Now: A Low-Carbon Vision of the Good Life by Karl Coplan.

About the book, from the publisher:
Any realistic response to climate change will require reducing carbon emissions to a sustainable level. Yet even people who already recognize that the climate is the most urgent issue facing the planet struggle to understand their individual responsibilities. Is it even possible to live with a sustainable carbon footprint in modern American society—much less to live well? What are the options for those who would like to make climate awareness part of their daily lives but don’t want to go off the grid or become a hermit?

In Live Sustainably Now, Karl Coplan shares his personal journey of attempting to cut back on carbon without giving up the amenities of a suburban middle-class lifestyle. Coplan chronicles the joys and challenges of a year on a carbon budget—kayaking to work, hunting down electric-car charging stations, eating a Mediterranean-style diet, and enjoying plenty of travel on weekends and vacations while avoiding long-distance flights. He explains how to set a personal carbon cap and measure your actual footprint, with his own results detailed in monthly diary entries. Presenting the pros and cons of different energy, transportation, and lifestyle options, Live Sustainably Now shows that there does not have to be a trade-off between the ethical obligation to maintain a sustainable carbon footprint and the belief that life should be fulfilling and fun. This powerful and persuasive book provides an individual-level blueprint for a carbon-sustainable tweak to the American dream.
Visit the Live Sustainably Now website.

The Page 99 Test: Live Sustainably Now.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books on sustainable eating

Kristin Kimball is a farmer and a writer living in northern New York. Prior to farming, Kimball worked as a freelance writer, writing teacher, and as an assistant to a literary agent in New York City. A graduate of Harvard University and the author of The Dirty Life and Good Husbandry, she and her husband Mark have run Essex Farm since 2003, where they live with their two daughters.

At the Guardian, Kimball tagged five of the best books on sustainable eating, including:
One of the most powerful things you can do to eat more sustainably is to learn how food is produced. In the US, less than 2% of the population farms, and in the UK, the number is 1%. Nobody illuminates the connection between sustainable food and sustainable community like John Berger. Best known for his seminal book on art, Ways of Seeing, Berger spent 17 years on a trilogy of novels tracing the shift from peasant-scale agriculture to industrial food production, which is also a shift from village life and values to those of the city. The first in the series, Pig Earth, cracks open the heart to let the ideas flow in.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 30, 2019

Lee Goldberg's "Lost Hills," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg.

The entry begins:
I wrote Lost Hills first as a screenplay, just to get the story down and satisfying myself that it worked. I then used the screenplay as a detailed outline for my novel. Initially, I had actress Erin Cahill in mind as my heroine, Eve Ronin, the youngest female homicide detective on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. You may not recognize Erin by name, but millions of viewers know her face from the 875 Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies she's starred in over the years. Erin is...[read on]
Visit Lee Goldberg's website.

My Book, The Movie: Lost Hills.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books that deal with nature in a sensual way

Nina MacLaughlin’s latest book is Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung.

At Book Marks she shared five books that deal with nature in a sensual way with Jane Ciabattari:
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

For her lyricism. For her curiosity. For her infectious enthralledness of existing on this strange planet. The raw enthusiasm Dillard shows for what we experience—see smell hear taste feel sense—is an education on paying attention, on seeing what miraculous beautiful terrifying gross-out incredible mystifying stuff can take place after ten minutes of sitting quietly underneath a sycamore tree. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a primer on being awake in the world.

JC: What makes Dillard’s Pulitzer Prize winner work for me is the way she alternates between minute descriptions of the natural world and moments when she pulls back and gives perspective: “Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.” Do you have favorite passages?

NM: I totally agree with you about her way of microscoping down and then pulling way, way out. She allows us to see the close-up right in front of us, and also the mystery, the cosmic wildness. With Tinker Creek for me, I can open up to any page and find a sentence that gets my blood moving. It’s a book I pick up when no other book is landing and I’ll open it at random and read it before sleep. I had an editor who said he loved books with a lot of good nouns; Dillard is a great user of nouns! Like a horror writer who grounds us in the world we know so we’re comfortable and relaxed and then inserts a monster, Dillard puts us in our backyards, there are robins, kittens, frogs, tulip trees, and then, instead of a monster, she then swings back and brings in infinity or the present or silence (all of which can be terrifying in their ways), and we get there because she’s grounded us so solidly in the world we know.

I’ve just spent the last twenty minutes flipping through looking for a passage to quote here, some representative sentence or two that are especially excellent, but it’s really true, there’s something on every page for me. I could put my finger down anywhere in this book and find something good to share. So, this, at random: “The light crosses the valley, threads through the screen of my open kitchen window, and gilds the painted wall. A plank of brightness bends from the wall and extends over the goldfish bowl on the table where I sit. The goldfish’s side catches the light and bats it my way; I’ve an eyeful of fish-scale and star.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Darcie Wilde's “And Dangerous to Know”

Featured at the Page 69 Test: And Dangerous to Know by Darcie Wilde.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the ladies of the ton of Regency London need discreet assistance, they turn to Rosalind Thorne—in these mysteries inspired by the novels of Jane Austen...

Trust is a delicate thing, and no one knows that better than Rosalind Thorne. Lady Melbourne has entrusted her with recovering a packet of highly sensitive private letters stolen from her desk. The contents of these letters hold great interest for the famous poet Lord Byron, who had carried on a notorious public affair with Lady Melbourne's daughter-in-law, the inconveniently unstable Lady Caroline Lamb. Rosalind is to take up residence in Melbourne House, posing as Lady Melbourne's confidential secretary. There, she must discover the thief and regain possession of the letters before any further scandal erupts.

However, Lady Melbourne omits a crucial detail. Rosalind learns from the Bow Street runner, Adam Harkness, that an unidentified woman was found dead in the courtyard of Melbourne House. The coroner has determined she was poisoned. Adam urges Rosalind to use her new position in the household to help solve the murder. As she begins to untangle a web of secrets and blackmail, Rosalind finds she must risk her own life to bring the desperate business to an end...
Visit Darcie Wilde's website.

My Book, The Movie: And Dangerous to Know.

The Page 69 Test: And Dangerous to Know.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Five top good bad guys in fiction

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

She is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and the forthcoming Kingdom of the Wicked.

At The Strand Magazine, Maniscalco tagged her top five all-time favorite villains, including:
The Hidden Legacies trilogy by Ilona Andrews. Two words. Mad. Rogan. Okay, okay. So I’m not sure if he’s really a villain, he’s more antihero, but he can level buildings and crush skulls and doesn’t feel an ounce of remorse in the process. He’s not exactly “boyfriend of the year” material, and yet I absolutely adore that this Big Baddie has such a soft spot for Nevada Baylor, the leading lady in the series. Watching their relationship develop as they’re forced to solve mysteries together is fantastic. We get tons of tension, both romantic and plot-related, and the banter is lots of fun. Plus, did I mention that Mad Rogan can level buildings?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kate Imy's "Faithful Fighters"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Faithful Fighters: Identity and Power in the British Indian Army by Kate Imy.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the first four decades of the twentieth century, the British Indian Army possessed an illusion of racial and religious inclusivity. The army recruited diverse soldiers, known as the "Martial Races," including British Christians, Hindustani Muslims, Punjabi Sikhs, Hindu Rajputs, Pathans from northwestern India, and "Gurkhas" from Nepal. As anti-colonial activism intensified, military officials incorporated some soldiers' religious traditions into the army to keep them disciplined and loyal. They facilitated acts such as the fast of Ramadan for Muslim soldiers and allowed religious swords among Sikhs to recruit men from communities where anti-colonial sentiment grew stronger. Consequently, Indian nationalists and anti-colonial activists charged the army with fomenting racial and religious divisions. In Faithful Fighters, Kate Imy explores how military culture created unintended dialogues between soldiers and civilians, including Hindu nationalists, Sikh revivalists, and pan-Islamic activists. By the 1920s and '30s, the army constructed military schools and academies to isolate soldiers from anti-colonial activism. While this carefully managed military segregation crumbled under the pressure of the Second World War, Imy argues that the army militarized racial and religious difference, creating lasting legacies for the violent partition and independence of India, and the endemic warfare and violence of the post-colonial world.
Learn more about Faithful Fighters at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Faithful Fighters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s

At Book Marks Leah Schnelbach tagged ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s, including:
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
(Liveright, 2016)

I wanted to include at least a little non-fiction here, and I could think of no better book than Ruth Franklin’s comprehensive biography of Shirley Jackson. Jackson’s life was shot through with pain—her mother was an emotionally manipulative nightmare, and her husband, the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, was a serial adulterer whose behavior certainly didn’t help her struggles with depression. But Jackson fought back with dark wit. She didn’t just raise a family, she wrote two riotous collections of domestic observation—Life Among the Savages: An Uneasy Chronicle and Raising Demons, which sort of turned her into a mid-50s Erma Bombeck…who told reporters she practiced witchcraft (and quite possibly did). She hosted a sparkling and diverse literary circle in her home in Vermont, which included her close friends Ralph and Fanny McConnell Ellison. And, of course, when she wasn’t doing all of that she wrote “The Lottery,” which quickly became one of the most infamous short stories in American literary history, and the greatest haunted house novel of all time in Haunting of Hill House. And that’s just barely scratching the surface of her literary output.

Franklin uses the book not just to excavate the frustrating facts of Jackson’s pre-Second Wave life, but also to make it clear that Jackson was one of the foremost writers of the 20th Century, in any genre or any gender. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life is an indispensable biography for writers, horror fans, and feminist literary critics alike.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 28, 2019

What is Amber Cowie reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Amber Cowie, author of Raven Lane.

Her entry begins:
I am very late to the party, but I recently picked up the first book in the Outlander series from my sister’s book shelf. I was in the mood for romance after diving into two astonishing, poignant works on death: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanthi and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Diana Gabaldon did not disappoint. I am excited to go to bed every night and absolutely thrilled that I have so many more books to go!

Here’s the thing. I’m not a typical romance reader. I like dark books. The closest I’ve...[read on]
About Raven Lane, from the publisher:
The truth can bring out the worst in the best of friends.

Esme and Benedict Werner have an idyllic life in a tight-knit community until an accident in their cul-de-sac ends in the tragic sudden death of one of their dearest neighbors. After vindicating eyewitness accounts morph into contradictory memories, suspicion, and unaccountable accusations, Benedict is arrested. Esme’s life, too, is changed forever.

As the neighborhood largely turns against her and her family, Esme has time to think about her past and what to do next. Then her fellow residents start looking deeper, questioning one another, and themselves, about hidden lies and betrayals.

Esme has more than her share of secrets. And the consequences of what happened on that fateful late-summer evening on Raven Lane are far from over. When the mask of civility slips, can friends and neighbors recover from seeing the monstrous truths beneath?
Visit Amber Cowie's website.

The Page 69 Test: Rapid Falls.

Writers Read: Amber Cowie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Karen Odden's "A Trace of Deceit"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Trace of Deceit: A Novel by Karen Odden.

About the book, from the publisher:
A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder...

Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.

As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.
Visit Karen Odden's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Karen Odden and Rosy.

The Page 69 Test: A Lady in the Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Lady in the Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Dangerous Duet.

The Page 69 Test: A Dangerous Duet.

Writers Read: Karen Odden (March 2019).

The Page 69 Test: A Trace of Deceit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four of the best books about feasting

Priya Basil was born in London to a family with Indian roots and grew up in Kenya. In 2002 she moved to Berlin, where she still lives. She has published two novels and a novella, as well as numerous essays for various publications, including the Guardian. Her fiction has been nominated for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Basil is also the cofounder of Authors for Peace, a political platform for writers and artists, established in 2010.

Her newest book is Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community, and the Meaning of Generosity.

At the Guardian Basil tagged four favorite books about feasting, including:
Reading Rawi Hage is like going to a wild party. Beirut Hellfire Society is a celebration of irreverence: people disdain religion, push through funeral processions, chuckle at burials, dance around coffins, have sex in cemeteries. War rages and destroys, but humour and desire remain irrepressible. “Laughter should be permissible under all circumstances,” reflects the main character, Pavlov. Hage tests this notion, drawing the reader into scenes of revenge, gluttony, loneliness, carnal excess – showing how even in extremis one is never far from a joke. All the while, his language explodes like the bombs falling on Beirut.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 27, 2019

Darcie Wilde's “And Dangerous to Know,” the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: And Dangerous to Know by Darcie Wilde.

The entry begins:
I’m not one of those authors who pictures a particular actor or person when they’re writing. The characters evolve too quickly into being their own people in my mind for me to hold onto a “real life” image for them. That said, the casting game is always a fun one, especially for a series. So, here we go…

And Dangerous to Know is a period mystery, set in Regency era London (think Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes), so we need somebody who can handle the language, and look good in the clothes. My two lead male characters are Adam Harkness, who is a member of the London’s proto-police force the Bow Street Runners, and Lord Casselmaine, an English aristocrat. They should be played by Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman, respectively. John Barrowman would of course be acceptable for Adam Harkness (Dr. Who fans will get the joke), but he’d have to dye his hair blond for the role.

For our second “runner,” the careful, thoughtful, Sampson Gautier, the only available choice is...[read on]
Visit Darcie Wilde's website.

My Book, The Movie: And Dangerous to Know.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Richard J. King's "Ahab's Rolling Sea"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of "Moby-Dick" by Richard J. King.

About the book, from the publisher:
Although Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is beloved as one of the most profound and enduring works of American fiction, we rarely consider it a work of nature writing—or even a novel of the sea. Yet Pulitzer Prize–winning author Annie Dillard avers Moby-Dick is the “best book ever written about nature,” and nearly the entirety of the story is set on the waves, with scarcely a whiff of land. In fact, Ishmael’s sea yarn is in conversation with the nature writing of Emerson and Thoreau, and Melville himself did much more than live for a year in a cabin beside a pond. He set sail: to the far remote Pacific Ocean, spending more than three years at sea before writing his masterpiece in 1851.

A revelation for Moby-Dick devotees and neophytes alike, Ahab’s Rolling Sea is a chronological journey through the natural history of Melville’s novel. From white whales to whale intelligence, giant squids, barnacles, albatross, and sharks, Richard J. King examines what Melville knew from his own experiences and the sources available to a reader in the mid-1800s, exploring how and why Melville might have twisted what was known to serve his fiction. King then climbs to the crow’s nest, setting Melville in the context of the American perception of the ocean in 1851—at the very start of the Industrial Revolution and just before the publication of On the Origin of Species. King compares Ahab’s and Ishmael’s worldviews to how we see the ocean today: an expanse still immortal and sublime, but also in crisis. And although the concept of stewardship of the sea would have been entirely foreign, if not absurd, to Melville, King argues that Melville’s narrator Ishmael reveals his own tendencies toward what we would now call environmentalism.

Featuring a coffer of illustrations and an array of interviews with contemporary scientists, fishers, and whale watch operators, Ahab’s Rolling Sea offers new insight not only into a cherished masterwork and its author but also into our evolving relationship with the briny deep—from whale hunters to climate refugees.
Visit Richard J. King's website.

The Page 99 Test: Ahab's Rolling Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six books to buddy-read with your teen or twentyish daughter

Kelly Simmons is a former journalist and creative advertising director who started writing fiction over fifteen years ago, while studying creative writing and screenwriting at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her critically acclaimed novels (Standing Still, The Bird House, One More Day, The Fifth of July and Where She Went) she has stuff on a few back burners: developing a TV series, writing a memoir, perfecting her dessert game.

She's a visiting teacher for Drexel University's Storylab and is a member of The Liars Club writing mentorship collective, The Tall Poppy Writers, Womens Fiction Writers Association, and Binders Full of Women Writers.

[see My Book, The Movie: Where She Went by Kelly Simmons]

At The Strand Magazine Simmons tagged six books to buddy-read with your teen or twentyish daughter, including:
Dare Me, by Megan Abbott.

Megan is super famous now as a screenwriter and novelist (I think maybe she doesn’t sleep?) but this early, propulsive novel about the world of cheerleaders is a gem approved by an author-mom and all THREE of her twenty something daughters. And it’s been optioned by Netflix (because we know you like TV even though this post isn’t about TV) in case you believe in designer labels more than my opinions. Important Caution: Actual cheerleaders and former cheerleaders might feel twinges of offense, but rejected squad members may feel twinges of karmic revenge.)
Read about another entry on the list.

Dare Me is among Katie Lowe's top eight crime novels for angry women in an angry world, Kate Hamer's top ten teenage friendships in fiction, S.R. Masters's seven thrillers that capture some of the darker aspects of tight-knit friendship groups, Jessica Knoll's top ten thrillers, Brian Boone's fifty most essential high school stories, Julie Buntin's twelve books that totally get female friendship, L.S. Hilton's top ten female-fronted thrillers, Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Anna Fitzpatrick's four top horror stories set in the real universe of girlhood and Adam Sternbergh's six notable crime novels that double as great literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 26, 2019

What is Emma Sloley reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Emma Sloley, author of Disaster's Children.

Her entry begins:
Imagine Me Gone, Adam Haslett

I picked this novel up knowing very little about it and was instantly drawn into the intimate orbit of the family whose lives Haslett trace across several decades. Along with being an affecting story about love, mental illness, and the bonds and tragic legacies of family, I loved how Haslett draws his characters with such sympathy and heart, particularly the eldest son, Michael, whose heartbreaking attempts to shake off his inherited demons feel viscerally real. I really appreciate that authorial generosity, and I feel like all writers should strive for this. For such somber subject matter, it’s also surprisingly funny. I really loved this...[read on]
About Disaster's Children, from the publisher:
As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind.

Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers call “the Disaster,” is a casualty of ravaging climate change, a troubled landscape on the brink of catastrophe. For as long as Marlo can remember, the unknown that lies beyond the borders of her utopia has been a curious obsession. But just as she plans her escape into the chaos of the real world, a charismatic new resident gives her a compelling reason to stay. And, soon enough, a reason to doubt—and to fear—his intentions.

Now, feeling more and more trapped in a paradise that’s become a prison, Marlo has a choice: stay in the only home she’s ever known—or break away, taking its secrets of survival with her.

Set in a chillingly possible, very near future, Disaster’s Children is a provocative debut novel about holding on to what we know and letting go of it for the unknown and the unknowable.
Visit Emma Sloley's website.

Writers Read: Emma Sloley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about loneliness

Fay Bound Alberti's newest book is A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion.

At the Guardian, she tagged ten "books for what they have to say individually, as well as what they represent collectively, about the historically changing meanings of loneliness." One title on the list:
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (2017)

The winner of the 2017 Costa first novel award, this book focuses on the eponymous social misfit, who is isolated and lonely. An abusive childhood, facial scarring and her social awkwardness contribute to her sense of being misunderstood. When asked how she is, she always replies: “Absolutely fine.” It is only when she befriends Raymond, or is befriended by him, that she begins to understand how to have a friend, and to belong.
Read about another entry on the list.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is among Liese O'Halloran Schwarz's top ten books about self-reinvention.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lars Iyer's "Nietzsche and the Burbs"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Nietzsche and the Burbs by Lars Iyer.

About the book, from the publisher:
When a new student transfers in from a posh private school, he falls in with a group of like-minded suburban stoners, artists, and outcasts—too smart and creative for their own good. His classmates nickname their new friend Nietzsche (for his braininess and bleak outlook on life), and decide he must be the front man of their metal band, now christened Nietzsche and the Burbs.

With the abyss of graduation—not to mention their first gig—looming ahead, the group ramps up their experimentations with sex, drugs, and…nihilist philosophy. Are they as doomed as their intellectual heroes? And why does the end of youth feel like such a universal tragedy?

And as they ponder life’s biggies, this sly, elegant, and often laugh-out-loud funny story of would-be rebels becomes something special: an absorbing and stirring reminder of a particular, exciting yet bittersweet moment in life … and a reminder that all adolescents are philosophers, and all philosophers are adolescents at heart.
Visit Lars Iyer's website.

The Page 69 Test: Nietzsche and the Burbs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Five great books about visionary youth

Lars Iyer's new novel is Nietzsche and the Burbs.

At Book Marks he shared five great books about visionary youth with Jane Ciabattari, including:
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is the opposite of the Young Girl, and it’s easy to be cynical about her. Cynicism is our disease—we think we know it all; that we know what human beings are like and presume our future can only be the continuation of our present. Whence the ridicule with which Thunberg is met. It’s because there’s nothing tongue in cheek, nothing witty to be said about her message, that she’s vilified, because the media, and us all are only capable of cynical amusement. And what she presents us with is belief, which is the opposite of cynicism.

JC: Are there any characters in Nietzsche and the Burbs who have belief anywhere close to Greta Thunberg, who has stared down world leaders to deliver her message?

LI: The novel is all about belief—about finding a cause to believe in. For all that they talk about despair, my core characters are too vibrant for Hamlet-style melancholy. They’re surrounded by the inaction of their contemporaries (the “drudges”) and won’t accept inertia as an option. Despite moments of skepticism, and of sporadic Mishima-like faith in wild acts of sabotage, their belief is incarnated in their hopes for their band, which would embody a new ethos, a new way of living in the world. Nietzsche and the Burbs is intended as a celebration of the serious intent of playful youth—of a collective, friendship-filled flight from meaninglessness.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Alison Stone's "Being Born"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Being Born: Birth and Philosophy by Alison Stone.

About the book, from the publisher:
All human beings are born and all human beings die. In these two ways we are finite: our lives begin and our lives come to an end. Historically philosophers have concentrated attention on our mortality--and comparatively little has been said about being born and how it shapes our existence. Alison Stone sets out to overcome this oversight by providing a systematic philosophical account of how being born shapes our condition as human beings. Drawing on both feminist philosophy and existentialist concerns about the structure of meaningful human existence, Stone offers an original perspective on human existence. She explores how human existence is shaped by the way that we are born. Taking natality into account transforms our view of human existence and illuminates how many of its aspects are connected with our birth. These aspects include dependency, the relationality of the self, vulnerability, reception and inheritance of culture and history, embeddedness in social power, situatedness, and radical contingency. Considering natality also sheds new light on anxiety, mortality, and the temporality of human life. This book therefore bears on death and the meaning of life, as well as many debates in feminist and continental philosophy.
Learn more about Being Born at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Being Born.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifteen top Middle Grade novels for kids interested in social justice

At the BN Kids blog Melissa Sarno tagged fifteen empowering Middle Grade novels for kids interested in social justice, including:
Amal Unbound, by Aisha Saeed

When the Pakistani girl has an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal is forced into indentured servitude to pay off her family’s debts. Amal stands up to the powerful estate in order to change her future and the community she lives in.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

L.C. Shaw's "The Network," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Network: A Novel by L. C. Shaw.

The entry begins:
If The Network is made into a movie, I’d love to see Charlie Hunnam cast as Jack. The first time I watched Sons of Anarchy, I thought, that’s Jack Logan. He looks like what I imagine Jack to look like and I think he would capture Jack’s personality.

Natalie Portman would be the perfect Taylor Phillips. I admire her versatility and talent and think she would make Taylor really come alive on the screen.

Damon Crosse is the most enigmatic character in the book, and requires an actor with...[read on]
Visit L. C. Shaw's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson.

Writers Read: L.C. Shaw.

The Page 69 Test: The Network.

My Book, The Movie: The Network.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Eliza Nellums reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Eliza Nellums, author of All That's Bright and Gone: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I recently finished Virgil Wander, by Leif Enger. For most of the book the pacing was slow and dreamlike, which I loved. There's a lot of pressure to add intensity and keep people on the edge of their seats, but this was such a gentle book about small town life along the lake in Minnesota. I came away...[read on]
About All That's Bright and Gone, from the publisher:
I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.

There’s plenty about the grownup world that six-year-old Aoife doesn’t understand. Like what happened to her big brother Theo and why her mama is in the hospital instead of home where she belongs. Uncle Donny says she just needs to be patient, but Aoife’s sure her mama won’t be able to come home until Aoife learns what really happened to her brother. The trouble is no one wants to talk about Theo because he was murdered. But by whom?

With her imaginary friend Teddy by her side and the detecting skills of her nosy next door neighbor, Aoife sets out to uncover the truth about her family. But as her search takes her from the banks of Theo’s secret hideout by the river to the rooftops overlooking Detroit, Aoife will learn that some secrets can’t stay hidden forever and sometimes the pain we bury is the biggest secret of them all.

Driven by Aoife’s childlike sincerity and colored by her vivid imagination, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakeable bond between families–and the lengths we’ll go to bring our loved ones home.
Visit Eliza Nellums's website.

The Page 69 Test: All That's Bright and Gone.

Writers Read: Eliza Nellums.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books for kids who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Dell Villa tagged ten top books for kids who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve, including:
The Last Christmas Tree, by Stephen Krensky

One diminutive, nondescript fir sits in a lot, nestled among the grander balsams and frasers. As Christmas Eve approaches, the robust trees are picked one by one, and soon the scraggly tree is all alone. He never gives up hope that he will be selected, however, and finally, a jolly man in a red hat picks the plucky tree up, takes him home, and decorates him with twinkling lights and sparkling ornaments. This touching story is a wonderful way to end your Christmas Eve celebration, and will fill you with hope for the coming morn’.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 23, 2019

Pg. 99: Samuel Fleischacker's "Being Me Being You"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Being Me Being You: Adam Smith and Empathy by Samuel Fleischacker.

About the book, from the publisher:
Modern notions of empathy often celebrate its ability to bridge divides, to unite humankind. But how do we square this with the popular view that we can never truly comprehend the experience of being someone else? In this book, Samuel Fleischacker delves into the work of Adam Smith to draw out an understanding of empathy that respects both personal difference and shared humanity.

After laying out a range of meanings for the concept of empathy, Fleischacker proposes that what Smith called “sympathy” is very much what we today consider empathy. Smith’s version has remarkable value, as his empathy calls for entering into the perspective of another—a uniquely human feat that connects people while still allowing them to define their own distinctive standpoints. After discussing Smith’s views in relation to more recent empirical and philosophical studies, Fleischacker shows how turning back to Smith promises to enrich, clarify, and advance our current debates about the meaning and uses of empathy.
Learn more about Being Me Being You at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Divine Teaching and the Way of the World.

The Page 99 Test: Being Me Being You.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best traditional mysteries of 2019

CrimeReads named their ten best traditional mysteries of 2019. One title on the list:
Rachel Howzell Hall, They All Fall Down (Forge)

This is the first stand-alone from author of the Lou Norton series, Rachel Howzell Hall, who knows her genre just as well as she knows her city of Los Angeles. In Hall’s latest, seven strangers, each with their own peculiar secrets, find themselves imperiled during a beach vacation on a private island gone terribly awry. Hall is an expert at capturing a giant metropolis, and we’re pleased to see her talents on display in a more intimate, locked-room setting.
Read about another entry on the list.

They All Fall Down is among CrimeReads' ten best crime novels of 2019 and Kristen Lepionka's seven favorite unlikable female characters.

The Page 69 Test: They All Fall Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lisa Preston's "Dead Blow"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Dead Blow: A Horseshoer Mystery by Lisa Preston.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Terrific Second Book in the New Horseshoer Mystery Series, Featuring the Incorrigible Female Horse Shoer Rainy Dale

A dead blow hammer leaves little to no mark on the surface it strikes. It’s not a shoer’s tool, but horseshoer Rainy Dale knows them and knows there are more questions than answers about how her new client became a widow. The old woman says there was hardly a bruise on her dead husband. Why was he driving his tractor so dangerously near the killer bull? How long did it take him to die after the machine rolled and pinned him? The whole town seems aware of the dead man’s wandering eye. Did the widow know? It all happened just before Rainy came to town, about the time that her fiancé, Guy, volunteered with his buddy to help search for a young woman who went missing from Cowdry, Oregon. Rainy is supposed to be making wedding plans and friends, but she can’t help being drawn into the town’s old intrigues.

Once again, Rainy will have to dig deep and use all the tools in her box to both defend herself and the people she's just learning to love.
Visit Lisa Preston's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Blow.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Blow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Five of the greatest American social crime novels

Steph Cha's new novel is Your House Will Pay.

At Book Marks she shared five American social crime novels with Jane Ciabattari, including:
Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

I’d categorize Locke’s entire body of work as social crime fiction––she knows how to cut deep with the tools of crime fiction, laying bare the systemic dysfunctions that lead to violence. Her newest, Heaven, My Home, reckons directly with white supremacy in the Trump era.

JC: In her Highway 59 series about a black Texas Ranger, who as this novel begins is investigating a double murder involving the “Aryan Brotherhood of Texas,” Locke seems to be filling in the back story on the white supremacist groups that have become more visible since the 2016 election but have always been woven into the landscape of East Texas. Did you encounter surprises in her sections about the region’s social history?

SC: Yes, definitely. I don’t want to give too much away, but I was especially fascinated by the story of Hopetown, a historic freedmen’s community, and the fight for its land. The first book of Locke’s I read was The Cutting Season, a superb mystery that turned on property ownership. So much of American history has been defined by the thwarting of black property rights and home ownership, from enslavement to redlining to gentrification, and that history is nothing if not a series of egregious crimes. I’d actually love to see more crime fiction that delves into this territory.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mo Moulton's "The Mutual Admiration Society"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women by Mo Moulton.

About the book, from the publisher:
A group biography of renowned crime novelist Dorothy L. Sayers and the Oxford women who stood at the vanguard of equal rights

Dorothy L. Sayers is now famous for her Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane detective series, but she was equally well known during her life for an essay asking “Are Women Human?” Women’s rights were expanding rapidly during Sayers’s lifetime; she and her friends were some of the first women to receive degrees from Oxford. Yet, as historian Mo Moulton reveals, it was clear from the many professional and personal obstacles they faced that society was not ready to concede that women were indeed fully human.

Dubbing themselves the Mutual Admiration Society, Sayers and her classmates remained lifelong friends and collaborators as they fought for a truly democratic culture that acknowledged their equal humanity. A celebration of feminism and female friendship, The Mutual Admiration Society offers crucial insight into Dorothy L. Sayers and her world.
Learn more about The Mutual Admiration Society at the Basic Books website.

The Page 99 Test: The Mutual Admiration Society.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top crime stories set during the Christmas holidays

Meg Gardiner is the author of fourteen novels including UNSUB, which won the 2018 Barry Award for Best Thriller, and China Lake, which won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. A former lawyer and three-time Jeopardy! champion, she lives in Austin. The Dark Corners of the Night, the third novel in the UNSUB series, will be published in February 2020.

At The Strand Magazine Gardiner tagged ten great crime stories set during the holidays, including:
The Force, Don Winslow (2017).

This sprawling novel about compromised cops and city corruption opens in New York on Christmas Eve. “Yeah, Christmas crazy. Always crazy in New York, Malone thinks.” This is a soaring, down-and-dirty epic about the downfall of a good cop—a hero who knows he has become what he set out to fight, and who seeks redemption in a city where no one will catch you when you fall. Certainly not Christmas angels.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Force is among Adrian McKinty's ten top dirty cop novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 21, 2019

What is Kylie Brant reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kylie Brant, author of Down the Darkest Road.

Her entry begins:
Two of my favorite recent reads share something in common: they feature young boys as main characters, both of whom channel Huck Finn.

First was John Hart’s The Last Child. I’m always drawn to Hart’s beautiful prose and this book was no exception. But it’s the characters that breathe life to the story, and Jonny Merrimon is one who stayed with me long after I turned the last page. The thirteen-year-old boy’s twin sister disappeared the year before. His father left shortly after that. Now Jonny is obsessed with finding both of them and he’s...[read on]
About Down the Darkest Road, from the publisher:
An obsessive killer, a witness with secrets, and a deputy US marshal with her own dark demons collide in this gripping mystery from the bestselling author of Cold Dark Places.

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

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

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

The Page 69 Test: Pretty Girls Dancing.

The Page 69 Test: Down the Darkest Road.

My Book, The Movie: Down the Darkest Road.

Writers Read: Kylie Brant.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: L.C. Shaw's "The Network"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Network: A Novel by L. C. Shaw.

About the book, from the publisher:
A shadowy group is manipulating society—and they've only just begun.

Late one night, investigative journalist Jack Logan receives a surprise visit from U.S. Senator Malcolm Phillips at his New York apartment. Disheveled and in a panic, the senator swears that he's about to be murdered and pleads with Jack to protect his wife Taylor, who happens to be the only woman Jack has ever truly loved.

Days later, Phillips is found dead in a hotel room in Micronesia, the apparent victim of an allergy attack. While the nation mourns, Jack and Taylor race to find the one man who knows the truth. As they're pursued by unknown assailants, their desperate hunt leads them to the Institute, an immense facility shrouded in mystery that has indoctrinated a generation of America's political and media power players. Led by the enigmatic Damon Crosse, the Institute has its tentacles everywhere—but Taylor unknowingly holds the secret to the one thing that Crosse needs to carry out his plan.

Taking readers on a thrill ride from the back halls of Congress to the high-rise offices of Madison Avenue and a remote Greek island, The Network is a provocative, pulse-pounding novel that dares to ask the question: who's really in charge?
Visit L. C. Shaw's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Lynne Constantine & Greyson.

Writers Read: L.C. Shaw.

The Page 69 Test: The Network.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven top books inspired by "Little Women"

A native New Englander, Elise Hooper spent several years writing for television and online news outlets before getting a MA and teaching high-school literature and history. She now lives in Seattle with her husband and two daughters. Her novel The Other Alcott is historical fiction about art, ambition, and the real women behind the March sisters in Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women.

At LitHub Hooper tagged eleven books inspired by the March family, including:
My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

When crafting this novel about a young midwife who forges her way through the male worlds of war and medicine to become a surgeon, Oliveira reportedly read Hospital Sketches, Louisa May Alcott’s account of her nursing stint during the American Civil War. Alcott fans will revel in the masterful portrayal of Mary Sutter and her journey, and then they can spend more time with her when she reappears in Oliveira’s third novel, The Winter Sisters, a suspenseful and heartbreaking novel about a pair of young sisters who vanish during a 1879 blizzard in Albany, New York.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: My Name Is Mary Sutter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 20, 2019

Lisa Preston's "Dead Blow," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Dead Blow: A Horseshoer Mystery by Lisa Preston.

The entry begins:
In struggling to answer the question of which actors I’d like to star in a film based on Dead Blow, I realized my first fail on this came about fifteen years ago. I was running down a trail a few miles into an impromptu ride-and-tie (R&T). Don’t ask. Wait, you asked? Okay, R&T is an obscure sport in which every team is composed of two runner-riders and one horse. The saddle is tricked out to accommodate riders dressed only in running togs, and the bridle includes a lightweight rope to allow the runner-riders to tie the horse to a handy tree. At the start, the rider is faster, thus gets ahead of the running teammate. Maybe a mile out, the rider ties the horse and runs solo down the course. When the back runner gets to the horse, she unties, hops on and rides ahead then ties the horse up where it waits for the partner runner-rider. All the way to the finish line, we leapfrog each other with the horse.

Yes, R&T is a real thing, and the fastest way to move two people with one horse.

During a race, you spend more time with competitors than your teammate. So, there I was running alongside a sixteen-year-old who was part of another team, gabbing about the sport, explaining that in the early days, Robert Redford had entered a R&T.

“Who?” she asked.

“Robert Redford.”

Blank look.

At the time...[read on]
Visit Lisa Preston's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dead Blow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: John Marsh's "The Emotional Life of the Great Depression"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Emotional Life of the Great Depression by John Marsh.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Emotional Life of the Great Depression documents how Americans responded emotionally to the crisis of the Great Depression. Unlike most books about the 1930s, which focus almost exclusively on the despair of the American people during the decade, this volume explores the 1930s through other, equally essential emotions: righteousness, panic, fear, awe, love, and hope.

In expanding the canon of Great Depression emotions, the book draws on an eclectic archive of sources, including the ravings of a would-be presidential assassin, stock market investment handbooks, a Cleveland serial murder case, Jesse Owens's record-setting long jump at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, King Edward VIII's abdication from his throne to marry a twice-divorced American woman, and the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. In concert with these, it offers new readings of the imaginative literature of the period, from obscure Christian apocalyptic novels and H.P. Lovecraft short stories to classics like John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Richard Wright's Native Son. The result is a new take on the Great Depression, one that emphasizes its major events (the stock market crash, unemployment, the passage of the Social Security Act) but also, and perhaps even more so, its sensibilities, its structures of feeling.
Learn more about The Emotional Life of the Great Depression at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Emotional Life of the Great Depression.

--Marshal Zeringue