Friday, September 18, 2020

Nathan Makaryk's "Lionhearts," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Lionhearts (Nottingham, Volume 2) by Nathan Makaryk.

The entry begins:
I’m in something of a unique position, because most of the characters in my books have already been performed! Lionhearts is a sequel to Nottingham, which I novelized from my stage play, The Legend of Robin Hood. So I was writing with very specific actors in mind, who first brought this story to life in the original theatrical production.

However, I think it would be fun to look at famous Robin Hood movie actors and see who they would be best suited to play in Lionhearts. I’ve jokingly given Lionhearts the nickname of Into the Robin-verse, as there are multiple characters who each take on the mantle of Robin Hood in their own way, which lets me tackle Robin Hood tropes from many different incarnations of the story. These aren’t all perfect comparisons, but a reader wouldn’t be far off if they made the following mental casting choices while reading the book:

Errol Flynn as Lord Robert of Huntingdon: A dashing and charming earl, who some historians argue might have been the source of the actual Robin Hood legend. Flynn’s swordsmanship is perfect for this nobleman who moonlights as a swashbuckling gentleman thief.

Cary Elwes as Alfred Fawkes: Another charismatic showman … although this suave gang leader is something closer to the Dread Pirate Roberts than the leader of the Men in Tights.

Taron Egerton as Will Scarlet: The youngest and brashest of the novel’s Robin Hoods (and...[read on]

Visit Nathan Makaryk's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lionhearts.

My Book, The Movie: Lionhearts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight great books about women who disappear

Wendy Walker is the author of the psychological suspense novels All Is Not Forgotten, Emma In the Night, The Night Before and Don’t Look For Me. Her novels have been translated into 23 foreign languages and topped bestseller lists both nationally and abroad. They have been selected by the Reese Witherspoon Book Club, The Today Show and The Book of the Month Club, and have been optioned for both television and film.

[The Page 69 Test: Don't Look for Me; Q&A with Wendy Walker.]

At CrimeReads, Walker tagged eight favorite thrillers in which a woman is missing, including:
And Now She’s Gone, Rachel Howzell Hall
Missing Woman: The Mysterious Girlfriend of a Renowned Surgeon

I love this tagline: Isabel Lincoln is gone. But is she missing? What is so fascinating about the missing woman set-up in this novel, is how deep it delves into the reasons why most women who disappear leave of their own volition. With sharp, witty dialogue, and a story that takes us backward into investigator Grayson Sykes’ past, and then forward into the complex web of lies and misdirection as the search for Isabel heats up, And Now She’s Gone is unique in its storytelling and narrative voice. And there are plenty of psychological issues to sink your teeth into about why women decide they need to run, hide, and reinvent themselves.

Read about another entry on the list.

And Now She’s Gone is among Alyssa Cole's five crime novels that explore social issues.

Hall's Lou Norton series is among Amy Stuart's five deeply flawed characters you’ll learn to appreciate and Sara Sligar's seven California crime novels with a nuanced view of of race, class, gender & community. Land of Shadows is among Steph Cha's top ten books about trouble in Los Angeles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mary Rizzo's "Come and Be Shocked"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore beyond John Waters and The Wire by Mary Rizzo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Baltimore seen through the eyes of John Waters, Anne Tyler, Charles S. Dutton, Barry Levinson, David Simon—and also ordinary citizens.

The city of Baltimore features prominently in an extraordinary number of films, television shows, novels, plays, poems, and songs. Whether it's the small-town eccentricity of Charm City (think duckpin bowling and marble-stooped row houses) or the gang violence of "Bodymore, Murdaland," Baltimore has figured prominently in popular culture about cities since the 1950s.

In Come and Be Shocked, Mary Rizzo examines the cultural history and racial politics of these contrasting images of the city. From the 1950s, a period of urban crisis and urban renewal, to the early twenty-first century, Rizzo looks at how artists created powerful images of Baltimore. How, Rizzo asks, do the imaginary cities created by artists affect the real cities that we live in? How does public policy (intentionally or not) shape the kinds of cultural representations that artists create? And why has the relationship between artists and Baltimore city officials been so fraught, resulting in public battles over film permits and censorship?

To answer these questions, Rizzo explores the rise of tourism, urban branding, and citizen activism. She considers artists working in the margins, from the East Baltimore poets writing in Chicory, a community magazine funded by the Office of Economic Opportunity, to a young John Waters, who shot his early low-budget movies on the streets, guerrilla-style. She also investigates more mainstream art, from the teen dance sensation The Buddy Deane Show to the comedy-drama Roc to the crime show The Wire, from Anne Tyler's award-winning book The Accidental Tourist to Barry Levinson's movie classic Diner.
Visit Mary Rizzo's website.

The Page 99 Test: Come and Be Shocked.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Margaret Mizushima's "Hanging Falls"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima.

About the book, from the publisher:
Murder stalks the rugged Colorado high country–and sends Mattie Cobb on a quest to uncover the darkest secrets from her past in the sixth gripping installment of Margaret Mizushima’s Timber Creek K-9 mysteries

A deluge has flooded the high ground near Hanging Falls–but heavy rains aren’t the only menace descending on Timber Creek. While on a scouting mission to pinpoint trail damage, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo stumble upon a body floating at the edge of a lake. Robo catches human scent, which leads to an enigmatic forest-dweller who quickly becomes suspect number one.

With help from veterinarian Cole Walker, Mattie identifies the victim, and discovers an odd religious cult whose dress and manners harken back to the 19th century. As the list of suspects grows, an unexpected visit from members of Mattie’s long-lost family sheds new light on her childhood as they help Mattie piece together details of the fateful night when she was abducted at age two.

The tangled threads of the investigation and family dynamics begin to intertwine–but darkness threatens to claim a new victim before Mattie and Robo can track down the killers.
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah.

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

The Page 69 Test: Burning Ridge.

The Page 69 Test: Tracking Game.

My Book, The Movie: Hanging Falls.

The Page 69 Test: Hanging Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Q&A with Wendy Walker

From my Q&A with Wendy Walker, author of Don't Look for Me:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title does a lot of work highlighting the theme of the book and also the basic set-up for the plot. Molly Clarke disappears on a back road far from home. A note is found that says “Don’t look for me” and explains that she is leaving because she feels her family will be better off without her. When she is not found, the search is called off and she is presumed to have walked away from her life. But, of course, that is not the case. When taken alone, the title might not be quite as effective as it is. However, because my books fall squarely in the thriller genre, and when taken together with the book’s cover which depicts a woman running away from an approaching vehicle, the fact that this is a book about a missing woman is quickly conveyed.

What's in a name?

I spend a lot of time finding names for my characters, and even the towns and streets in the story. I keep a spreadsheet with names I’ve used in prior books so I don’t repeat them, and then I grab an old phone book (which has last names) and pull up a website with baby names for...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her books at Wendy Walker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Four Wives.

The Page 99 Test: Social Lives.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Look for Me.

Q&A with Wendy Walker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Meredith Wadman's "The Vaccine Race"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease by Meredith Wadman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The epic and controversial story of a major breakthrough in cell biology that led to the conquest of rubella and other devastating diseases.

Until the late 1960s, tens of thousands of American children suffered crippling birth defects if their mothers had been exposed to rubella, popularly known as German measles, while pregnant; there was no vaccine and little understanding of how the disease devastated fetuses. In June 1962, a young biologist in Philadelphia, using tissue extracted from an aborted fetus from Sweden, produced safe, clean cells that allowed the creation of vaccines against rubella and other common childhood diseases. Two years later, in the midst of a devastating German measles epidemic, his colleague developed the vaccine that would one day wipe out homegrown rubella. The rubella vaccine and others made with those fetal cells have protected more than 150 million people in the United States, the vast majority of them preschoolers. The new cells and the method of making them also led to vaccines that have protected billions of people around the world from polio, rabies, chicken pox, measles, hepatitis A, shingles and adenovirus.

Meredith Wadman’s masterful account recovers not only the science of this urgent race, but also the political roadblocks that nearly stopped the scientists. She describes the terrible dilemmas of pregnant women exposed to German measles and recounts testing on infants, prisoners, orphans, and the intellectually disabled, which was common in the era. These events take place at the dawn of the battle over using human fetal tissue in research, during the arrival of big commerce in campus labs, and as huge changes take place in the laws and practices governing who “owns” research cells and the profits made from biological inventions. It is also the story of yet one more unrecognized woman whose cells have been used to save countless lives.

With another frightening virus—measles—on the rise today, no medical story could have more human drama, impact, or urgency than The Vaccine Race.
Visit Meredith Wadman's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Vaccine Race.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books about doomed love

Eleanor Boudreau is a poet who has worked as a dry-cleaner and as a radio reporter. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Tin House, Barrow Street, Waxwing, Willow Springs, FIELD, Copper Nickel, and other journals. Currently, she is finishing her PhD and teaching creative writing at Florida State University.

Boudreau's first book, Earnest, Earnest? (2020), won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize.

At Electric Lit she tagged ten books about doomed love, including:
The House of Deep Water by Jeni McFarland

After the dissolution of her marriage and the loss of her job, Elizabeth DeWitt is forced to move back to River Bend, Michigan, the small town where she grew up, but—because of the color of her skin—never quite felt she belonged. Beth’s return is an unhappy one, and it leads her to reunite with her first doomed love, a man who dated her and her best friend simultaneously, and, ultimately, married her friend. The novel confronts not just the consequences of being the other woman, but also the consequences of being labeled other in the place you call home—it’s an exploration of how trauma and loneliness, like everything else in America, are not equally distributed.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Pg. 69: Nathan Makaryk's "Lionhearts"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Lionhearts: (Nottingham, Volume 2) by Nathan Makaryk.

About the book, from the publisher:
History and myth collide in Nathan Makaryk's Lionhearts, a riveting story of vengeance, redemption and war, perfect for fans of Game of Thrones.

All will be well when King Richard returns . . . but King Richard has been captured.

To raise the money for his ransom, every lord in England is raising taxes, the French are eyeing the empty throne, and the man they called, “Robin Hood,” the man the Sherriff claims is dead, is everywhere and nowhere at once.

He’s with a band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest, raiding guard outposts. He’s with Nottingham’s largest gang, committing crimes to protest the taxes. He’s in the lowest slums of the city, conducting a reign of terror against the city's most vulnerable. A hero to some, a monster to others, and an idea that can't simply be killed.

But who's really under the hood?
Visit Nathan Makaryk's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lionhearts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jennifer Hull's "Shook"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Shook: An Earthquake, a Legendary Mountain Guide, and Everest's Deadliest Day by Jennifer Hull.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dave Hahn, a local of Taos, New Mexico, is a legendary figure in mountaineering. Elite members of the climbing community have likened him to the Michael Jordan, Cal Ripkin, or Michael Phelps of the climbing world. The 2015 expedition he would lead came just one short year after the notorious Khumbu Icefall avalanche claimed the lives of sixteen Sherpas. Dave and his team—sherpa sirdar Chhering Dorjee, assistant guide JJ Justman, base-camp manager Mark Tucker, and the eight clients who had trained for the privilege to attempt to summit with Dave Hahn—spent weeks honing the techniques that would help keep them alive through the Icefall and the Death Zone. None of this could have prepared them for the earthquake that shook Everest and all of their lives on the morning of April 25, 2015. Shook tells their story of resilience, nerve, and survival on the deadliest day on Everest.
Visit Jennifer Hull's website.

The Page 99 Test: Shook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels about destructive romantic friendships

Micah Nemerever was trained as an art historian. He wrote his master’s thesis on queer identity and gender anxiety in the art of the Weimar Republic. He is an avid home chef and amateur historian of queer cinema.

After studying in rural Connecticut and Austin, Texas, he now resides in the Pacific Northwest.

These Violent Delights is his first novel.

At CrimeReads, Nemerever tagged "five books [that] invite the reader to surrender again to the intoxication of a destructive relationship, and to follow it to a nightmarishly logical end," including:
The Lightness by Emily Temple

“You should not, under any circumstances, expect me to be the hero of this story.” The protagonist of The Lightness, Olivia, makes it clear from the start that she is aware of her own culpability. In a narrative voice as elusive and unreliable as memory itself, The Lightness immerses the reader in a toxic obsession that its protagonist is all too eager to embrace. Early on in her stay at a therapeutic Buddhist summer school program, Olivia is pulled into the orbit of her magnetic classmate Serena, a self-styled mystic determined to achieve transcendence through human flight. Serena’s friends are acolytes as much as companions, and Olivia participates without question in the group’s increasingly esoteric endurance tests and devotionals. But Olivia’s motives are more complex than loyalty or faith. She yearns less to remake herself in Serena’s image because it would be a way of absorbing her—Olivia’s attraction to her is an unbroken synthesis of wanting and wanting to be. Her idolization of Serena is possessive and greedy, and Olivia asserts an insidious influence over her friend that throws their power dynamic into constant doubt.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Lightness.

The Page 69 Test: The Lightness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Margaret Mizushima's "Hanging Falls," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima.

The entry begins:
Hanging Falls, the sixth episode in the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, would be great fun to cast. The series is set in a small fictional town surrounded by the Colorado Rocky Mountain wilderness, so the landscapes in the movie would be gorgeous. The opening scene in the book was inspired by an actual setting in Colorado called Hanging Lake, and it would make a beautiful backdrop for the action that occurs in the first few chapters when Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo discover a body snagged within a fallen tree floating at the edge of the lake. The action and the investigation move from there down into Timber Creek where another protagonist, veterinarian Cole Walker, becomes involved.

With an eye toward casting, we’ll take a look at Mattie first. Mattie is an attractive (okay…beautiful) woman of about thirty-one years of age, and she’s employed as a deputy in the local sheriff’s department. She’s athletic, was once a cross-country champion on the local high school track team, and when her department acquired Robo, she beat her male colleagues in a cross-country footrace to win the chance to become his handler. She’s also of biracial descent, Caucasian and Latinx. I would cast Monica...[read on]
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah.

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

The Page 69 Test: Burning Ridge.

The Page 69 Test: Tracking Game.

My Book, The Movie: Hanging Falls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Ellen Byron

From my Q&A with Ellen Byron, author of Murder in the Bayou Boneyard: A Cajun Country Mystery:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The titles for my Cajun Country Mysteries have to accomplish three tasks: clue the reader in on the plot theme, have an element of suspense, and a hint of the Cajun Country location. Pulling off this hat trick isn’t easy and coming up with a title for this particular book was a struggle. The working drafts were titled Halloween Horreur, but I knew that would never fly because you can’t have a foreign word in a title, and “Horreur” is so close to “Horror” that people would assume it was a typo. I batted around title ideas with everyone. I have a list of at least thirty. My publisher finally stuck the landing with Murder in the Bayou Boneyard. The title is great because it relays to readers the book is a mystery set in Louisiana that somehow involves a cemetery. It also inspired a wonderful cover that brings home the storyline and amps up the atmosphere by adding the plot’s semi-abandoned mansion and the red eyes of a mythical creature called a rougarou, plus pumpkins and a dog in...[read on]
Visit Ellen Byron's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Ellen Byron & Wiley and Pogo.

Q&A with Ellen Byron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Karen M. Johnson-Weiner's "The Lives of Amish Women"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Lives of Amish Women by Karen M. Johnson-Weiner.

About the book, from the publisher:
Presenting a challenge to popular stereotypes, this book is an intimate exploration of the religiously defined roles of Amish women and how these roles have changed over time.

Continuity and change, tradition and dynamism shape the lives of Amish women and make their experiences both distinctive and diverse. On the one hand, a principled commitment to living Old Order lives, purposely out of step with the cultural mainstream, has provided Amish women with a good deal of constancy. Even in relatively more progressive Amish communities, women still engage in activities common to their counterparts in earlier times: gardening, homemaking, and childrearing. On the other hand, these persistent themes of domestic labor and the responsibilities of motherhood have been affected by profound social, economic, and technological changes up through the twenty-first century, shaping Amish women's lives in different ways and resulting in increasingly varied experiences.

In The Lives of Amish Women, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner draws on her thirty-five years of fieldwork in Amish communities and her correspondence with Amish women to consider how the religiously defined roles of Amish women have changed as Amish churches have evolved. Looking in particular at women's lives and activities at different ages and in different communities, Johnson-Weiner explores the relationship between changing patterns of social and economic interaction with mainstream society and women's family, community, and church roles. What does it mean, Johnson-Weiner asks, for an Amish woman to be humble when she is the owner of a business that serves people internationally? Is a childless Amish woman or a single Amish woman still a "Keeper at Home" in the same way as a woman raising a family? What does Gelassenheit—giving oneself up to God's will—mean in a subsistence-level agrarian Amish community, and is it at all comparable to what it means in a wealthy settlement where some members may be millionaires?

Illuminating the key role Amish women play in maintaining the spiritual and economic health of their church communities, this wide-ranging book touches on a number of topics, including early Anabaptist women and Amish pioneers to North America; stages of life; marriage and family; events that bring women together; women as breadwinners; women who do not meet the Amish norm (single women, childless women, widows); and even what books Amish women are reading. Aimed at anyone who is interested in the Amish experience, The Lives of Amish Women will help readers understand better the costs and benefits of being an Amish woman in a modern world and will challenge the stereotypes, myths, and imaginative fictions about Amish women that have shaped how they are viewed by mainstream society.
Learn more about The Lives of Amish Women at the Johns Hopkins University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Lives of Amish Women.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to bring you closer to mindfulness

Sharon Salzberg is a central figure in the field of meditation and a world-renowned teacher and author. She is the cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the author of ten books, including the New York Times bestseller Real Happiness.

He new book is Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World.

At Lit Hub, Salzberg shared five books that brought her closer to mindfulness, including:
Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Shambhala)

Social change begins from within, with a look into the heart, into what’s behind the emotions of anger, grief and sorrow before you know what you can do. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is a place to start this examination. What was important to me about this book is that it is incredibly simple; in it, I saw how something simple could be profound. Through his light and joyful voice, Suzuki Roshi explains the importance of the breath and the posture, encouraging us not to be hard on ourselves when our posture slumps, or our minds wander, but simply to begin again. In this way, through this simple practice, he increases our tremendous capacity for compassion and, day by day, shows us in our actions how we expand it further. Roshi does not offer up an outcome as a reward for practice, saying simply that we practice not to attain Buddha nature but to express it. I read this book very early in my study of Buddhism and, in re-reading it today, it still gives me hope.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pg. 69: Wendy Walker's "Don’t Look for Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Don't Look for Me: A Novel by Wendy Walker.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Wendy Walker's thrilling novel Don't Look for Me, the greatest risk isn’t running away. It’s running out of time.

One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life.

She doesn't want to be found.

Or at least, that's the story.

The car abandoned miles from home.

The note found at a nearby hotel.

The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together.

They called it a “walk away.”

It happens all the time.

Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over.

But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?
Learn more about the author and her books at Wendy Walker's website.

The Page 69 Test: Four Wives.

The Page 99 Test: Social Lives.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Look for Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jon T. Coleman's "Nature Shock"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Nature Shock: Getting Lost in America by Jon T. Coleman.

About the book, from the publisher:
An award-winning environmental historian explores American history through wrenching, tragic, and sometimes humorous stories of getting lost

The human species has a propensity for getting lost. The American people, inhabiting a mental landscape shaped by their attempts to plant roots and to break free, are no exception. In this engaging book, environmental historian Jon Coleman bypasses the trailblazers so often described in American history to follow instead the strays and drifters who went missing.

From Hernando de Soto’s failed quest for riches in the American southeast to the recent trend of getting lost as a therapeutic escape from modernity, this book details a unique history of location and movement as well as the confrontations that occur when our physical and mental conceptions of space become disjointed. Whether we get lost in the woods, the plains, or the digital grid, Coleman argues that getting lost allows us to see wilderness anew and connect with generations across five centuries to discover a surprising and edgy American identity.
Learn more about Nature Shock at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Here Lies Hugh Glass.

My Book, The Movie: Here Lies Hugh Glass.

The Page 99 Test: Nature Shock.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top frothy, female-led thrillers

Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

Her latest novel is The Wife Who Knew Too Much.

At The Strand Magazine, Campbell tagged eight female-led thrillers with a "frothy concoction of thrills, friendship, glamor and humor," including:
The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor.

A gorgeously written thriller that explores the difficult relationship between two cousins. Hard-edged detective Maggie gets a call when new evidence turns up in the decades-old disappearance of her wayward cousin Erin. The narrative time-shifts between Ireland, where Erin disappeared, and the Long Island beaches of their girlhood, detailing the cousins’ intense friendship as well as the twists and turns of the murder investigation. Dark and gripping.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Mountains Wild.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Q&A with Jennie Liu

From my Q&A with Jennie Liu, author of Like Spilled Water:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Having a daughter is like spilled water is an old, well-known saying in China that refers to the notion that sons are more valuable than girls, because traditionally once a daughter was married, she became part of her husband’s family. Despite Like Spilled Water’s setting in modern China, the insidious hold of this worn-out idea is evident in Na’s family from the start when we find that her brother has died.

About your previous novel, Girls on the Line, you said both main characters were relatable to you. Is that true of Na, the protagonist of Like Spilled Water, too?

I wrote Na, who was raised in the countryside by her Grandma, to be somewhat naïve, which I...[read on]
Visit Jennie Liu's website.

My Book, The Movie: Girls on the Line.

The Page 69 Test: Girls on the Line.

Girls on the Line Q&A with Jennie Liu.

Q&A with Jennie Liu.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Samantha Pinto's "Infamous Bodies"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Infamous Bodies: Early Black Women’s Celebrity and the Afterlives of Rights by Samantha Pinto.

About the book, from the publisher:
The countless retellings and reimaginings of the private and public lives of Phillis Wheatley, Sally Hemings, Sarah Baartman, Mary Seacole, and Sarah Forbes Bonetta have transformed them into difficult cultural and black feminist icons. In Infamous Bodies, Samantha Pinto explores how histories of these black women and their ongoing fame generate new ways of imagining black feminist futures. Drawing on a variety of media, cultural, legal, and critical sources, Pinto shows how the narratives surrounding these eighteenth- and nineteenth-century celebrities shape key political concepts such as freedom, consent, contract, citizenship, and sovereignty. Whether analyzing Wheatley's fame in relation to conceptions of race and freedom, notions of consent in Hemings's relationship with Thomas Jefferson, or Baartman's ability to enter into legal contracts, Pinto reveals the centrality of race, gender, and sexuality in the formation of political rights. In so doing, she contends that feminist theories of black women's vulnerable embodiment can be the starting point for future progressive political projects.
Visit Samantha Pinto's website.

The Page 99 Test: Infamous Bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to inspire compassion

A registered nurse for twenty years before becoming a writer and researcher, Christie Watson won the Costa First Novel Award for her debut, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away. In 2017 she published a memoir of her time as a nurse, The Language of Kindness which is currently being adapted for television.

Watson's new book is The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion.

At the Guardian, she tagged five books that explore kindness and courage in the face of suffering, including:
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life follows four men over three decades as they navigate New York. When I added this novel to the reading list for a creative writing MA a few years ago, it was a controversial and divisive choice. Half the students found Yanagihara’s descriptions of violence, sexual abuse and suffering made it too traumatic to read. But the story’s most powerful moments are not about abuse, they’re about the power of compassion and friendship. This compassion is not an attempt to fix what is beyond repair – in this case the central character, Jude – or even understanding what he has been through, because we can’t; nobody can. But his friends’ acknowledgement of how much he suffers, their sitting alongside him, reminds Jude that even when he feels most alone, he is not. As with all the best fiction, I was left changed after reading it.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Little Life is among Jason Flemyng's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Pg. 69: Jenny Milchman's "The Second Mother"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Opportunity: Teacher needed in one-room schoolhouse on remote island in Maine. Certification in grades K-8 a must.

Julie Weathers isn't sure if she's running away or starting over, but moving to a remote island off the coast of Maine feels right for someone with reasons to flee her old life. The sun-washed, sea-stormed speck of land seems welcoming, the lobster plentiful, and the community close and tightly knit. She finds friends in her nearest neighbor and Callum, a man who appears to be using the island for the same thing as she: escape.

But as Julie takes on the challenge of teaching the island's children, she comes to suspect that she may have traded one place shrouded in trouble for another, and she begins to wonder if the greatest danger on Mercy Island is its lost location far out to sea, or the people who live there.

Learn more about the book and author at Jenny Milchman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Cover of Snow.

The Page 69 Test: Cover of Snow.

The Page 69 Test: Ruin Falls.

My Book, The Movie: Ruin Falls.

My Book, The Movie: The Second Mother.

The Page 69 Test: The Second Mother.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ming Hsu Chen's "Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era by Ming Hsu Chen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era provides readers with the everyday perspectives of immigrants on what it is like to try to integrate into American society during a time when immigration policy is focused on enforcement and exclusion.

The law says that everyone who is not a citizen is an alien. But the social reality is more complicated. Ming Hsu Chen argues that the citizen/alien binary should instead be reframed as a spectrum of citizenship, a concept that emphasizes continuities between the otherwise distinct experiences of membership and belonging for immigrants seeking to become citizens. To understand citizenship from the perspective of noncitizens, this book utilizes interviews with more than one-hundred immigrants of varying legal statuses about their attempts to integrate economically, socially, politically, and legally during a modern era of intense immigration enforcement. Studying the experiences of green card holders, refugees, military service members, temporary workers, international students, and undocumented immigrants uncovers the common plight that underlies their distinctions: limited legal status breeds a sense of citizenship insecurity for all immigrants that inhibits their full integration into society. Bringing together theories of citizenship with empirical data on integration and analysis of contemporary policy, Chen builds a case that formal citizenship status matters more than ever during times of enforcement and argues for constructing pathways to citizenship that enhance both formal and substantive equality of immigrants.
Learn more about Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five crime and mystery novels featuring deaf characters

Nell Pattison's new novel is The Silent House.

At CrimeReads she tagged five crime and mystery novels in which the authors refuse to use deafness as a narrative device. One title on the list:
A Maiden’s Grave, by Jeffery Deaver

Deaver has written one of the best portrayals of a Deaf community that I’ve read. A group of deaf students and their teachers are taken hostage by a trio of escaped convicts when their school bus stops at the scene of a car wreck. The novel focuses on the negotiations between the FBI and the hostage takers, but the deaf characters, particularly the trainee teacher, Melanie, are integral to the plot. Not content to sit and wait to be rescued, Melanie takes things into her own hands, literally, as she sees the potential for the use of sign language to hatch a plot behind the kidnappers’ backs.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 11, 2020

Brandi Reeds's "The Day I Disappeared," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Day I Disappeared by Brandi Reeds.

The entry begins:
Sometimes, I have actors in mind when I'm drafting a novel. In the case of The Day I Disappeared, I definitely envisioned certain artists as particular characters. Others came to me as hybrids of actors. If The Day I Disappeared were to be adapted to film, here's how I'd cast it:

Holly Adryenne Gebhardt is an early-20s carpenter, very capable, independent, but somewhat of a romantic mess and sometimes wandering instead of ambitious. As she started to come to life on the page, I began to see Emma Roberts in this role. She can portray a badass, but has a certain softness to her that will help flesh out Holly. I could also see America Ferrara here.

Kitten Hershey is Holly's best friend. She's been engaged to be married, somewhat spoiled, but...[read on]

Visit Brandi Reeds's website.

My Book, The Movie: Third Party.

The Page 69 Test: Third Party.

The Page 99 Test: The Day I Disappeared.

My Book, The Movie: The Day I Disappeared.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books about the promise & perils of alternative schooling

Jae-Yeon Yoo is a volunteer intern at Electric Literature.

She tagged ten books about the merits and dangers of alternative schooling. One title on the list:
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Stage’s psychological thriller is split between the perspectives of Hanna, a seemingly-angelic little girl who doesn’t speak, and Suzette, her mother who is homeschooling her. The catch? Hanna is plotting her mother’s death, so she can get her father all to herself. Suzette becomes increasingly unsure of the family’s decision to homeschool, as Hanna’s antics grow more and more extreme. Baby Teeth certainly challenges parents to think twice, before dismissing the glint in children’s eyes as a simple “prank”!
Read about another entry on the list.

Baby Teeth is among Pamela Crane's five top novels featuring parenting gone wild, Damien Angelica Walters's five titles about the horror of girlhood, and Sally Hepworth's eight messed up fictional families.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Richard Toye's "Winston Churchill: A Life in the News"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Winston Churchill: A Life in the News by Richard Toye.

About the book, from the publisher:
Before Winston Churchill made history, he made news. To a great extent, the news made him too. If it was his own efforts that made him a hero, it was the media that made him a celebrity - and it has been considerably responsible for perpetuating his memory and shaping his reputation in the years since his death.

Churchill first made his name via writing and journalism in the years before 1900, the money he earned helping to support his political career (at a time when MPs did not get salaries). Journalistic activities were also important to him later, as he struggled in the interwar years to find the wherewithal to run and maintain Chartwell, his country house in Kent. Moreover, not only was journalism an important aspect of Churchill's political persona, but he himself was a news-obsessive throughout his life.

The story of Churchill and the news is, on one level, a tale of tight deadlines, off-the-record briefings and smoke-filled newsrooms, of wartime summits that were turned into stage-managed global media events, and of often tense interactions with journalists and powerful press proprietors, such as Lords Northcliffe, Rothermere, and Beaverbrook. Uncovering the symbiotic relationship between Churchill's political life and his media life, and the ways in which these were connected to his personal life, Richard Toye asks if there was a 'public Churchill' whose image was at odds with the behind-the-scenes reality, or whether, in fact, his private and public selves became seamlessly blended as he adjusted to living in the constant glare of the media spotlight.

On a wider level, this is also the story of a rapidly evolving media and news culture in the first half of the twentieth century, and of what the contemporary reporting of Churchill's life (including by himself) can tell us about the development of this culture, over a period spanning from the Victorian era through to the space age.
Learn more about Winston Churchill: A Life in the News at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Churchill's Empire.

Writers Read: Richard Toye (November 2013).

My Book, The Movie: Churchill's Empire.

The Page 99 Test: Winston Churchill: A Life in the News.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The twenty best 9/11 books

In 2011 Justin Webb, Pankaj Mishra, and Jason Burke tagged twenty of the best 9/11 books at the Guardian. One of the novels on the list:
Saturday by Ian McEwan

Comfortable life meets violent crisis in the shadow of 9/11 and the Iraq war (the Saturday in question is 15 February 2003, the day of the anti-war march in London). McEwan’s book was widely read and admired in the US – many thought it surpassed any homegrown efforts. No twisted metal, no choking clouds of toxic smoke and no falling bodies but the drift of Saturday is clear, humane and important. It is a book that teaches how we can live in altered times and it never lets go of the strange fact of our capacity to endure and cope and still have perfectly cheerful Saturdays in spite of everything.
Read about another entry on the list.

Saturday also appears among Chibundu Onuzo's top ten megacities in fiction and Jimmy So's five best 9/11 novels, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best good doctors in literature and ten of the best prime ministers in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Kelly J. Baptist

From my Q&A with Kelly J. Baptist, author of Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I think both titles and covers have a huge responsibility for pulling readers into the story. They are the "first impressions" that are so important for potential readers who are quickly browsing for their next reading adventure. For me, I usually have a firm title before I begin writing the story, as I did with The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn, the prequel to this current work. In writing the follow-up, I didn't have a title when I started, but I knew I wanted Isaiah's name in the title again. As I thought about how resilient Isaiah was and how his late father wrote him as a superhero character, I wanted the title to be affirming and reflective of how I personally felt towards Isaiah and kids like him. Thus, the title Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero was so fitting. I got the title about halfway through writing and didn't consider anything else.

What's in a name?

A name is everything! Isaiah is a biblical name and means God Is Salvation, and while I didn't know that when I named my character, it matches with Isaiah's constant drive to help or save his family from the downward spiral he sees them on. Isaiah is a very strong name, which is fitting for a very strong kid. I gave his best friend the nickname Sneaky for two reasons:...[read on]
Visit Kelly J. Baptist’s website.

Q&A with Kelly J. Baptist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sarah Warburton's "Once Two Sisters"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Once Two Sisters: A Novel by Sarah Warburton.

About the book, from the publisher:
Zoe Hallett and her sister, Ava, are the precocious offspring of two pioneering scientists, but the sisters have been estranged for years. When Zoe reads a news story about Ava’s mysterious disappearance, she assumes it’s just another of her sister’s twisted fictions, designed to blame Zoe and destroy the peaceful life she’s created with her husband and beautiful stepdaughter in Houston. But Zoe’s email is hacked to send threatening messages to Ava–and a more sinister picture begins to emerge.

Zoe returns to her home state of Virginia to prove her innocence to the authorities, to her parents, and to Glenn, her ex-boyfriend and current brother-in-law. For the first time, Zoe begins to believe Ava is in grave danger, and when Glenn catches her searching for clues in Ava’s home, she looks guiltier than ever–but maybe Glenn is not all he seems.

The clues Zoe finds point to a bizarre link between Ava’s disappearance and her mother’s “research”. Is there a secret someone is trying to protect? And would someone be willing to kill to protect it? As her sister’s life hangs in the balance, Zoe draws on hidden reserves of strength and hope to save the sister she never thought she loved.
Visit Sarah Warburton's website.

My Book, The Movie: Once Two Sisters.

Q&A with Sarah Warburton.

The Page 69 Test: Once Two Sisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten goddesses in fiction

E. Foley and B. Coates are writers and editors based in London. They are the authors of the number-one bestseller, Homework for Grown-ups: Everything You Learnt at School and Promptly Forgot, as well as Advanced Homework for Grown-ups, The Homework for Grown-ups Quiz Book and Shakespeare for Grown-ups, and What Would Boudicca Do?: Life Lessons from History's Most Remarkable Women. Their latest book is You Goddess! Lessons in Being Legendary from Awesome Immortals.

At the Guardian, they tagged ten "brilliantly varied examples of how goddesses have been approached in fiction, sometimes revelling in the divine spotlight and sometimes in more background roles." One title on their list:
Circe by Madeline Miller

This magnificent story of the famous witch goddess from Homer’s Odyssey was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s prize for fiction. It is both hugely enjoyable, showing the very male classical epic from a female point of view, and profoundly affecting in its depictions of the trials of immortality. This book is the closest you can get to experiencing what it might really be like to be a goddess, with all its benefits and sacrifices.
Read about another entry on the list.

Circe is among Jordan Ifueko's five fantasy titles driven by traumatic family bonds, Eleanor Porter's top ten books about witch-hunts, Emily B. Martin's six stunning fantasies for nature lovers, Allison Pataki's top six books that feature strong female voices, Pam Grossman's thirteen stories about strong women with magical powers, 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

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Q&A with Gerald Elias

From my Q&A with Gerald Elias, author of The Beethoven Sequence:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

For The Beethoven Sequence, I took my cue from the master of the thriller, Robert Ludlum, he of The Bourne Identity and dozens of his other best sellers with a similar title structure. As a reader, when I see a title like that, I think, "Hmm, that's intriguing. I feel a secret conspiracy coming on, or an international plot, or power behind the throne lurking somewhere in the darkness. I wonder, "What that's all about?"

Of course, the title has to have an integral relationship to the story, whether it's the name of the main character or whatever device it is that functions as the drama's trigger. In the case of my book, the Beethoven Sequence is a musical construct that was created by the mentally imbalanced protagonist, Layton Stolz, whose obsession with Beethoven's vision of liberty is so perverted that in the end he becomes a monomaniacal despot. I hope the prospective reader will look at the title and say, "Ooh, The Beethoven Sequence. Now that...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Gerald Elias's website.

The Page 69 Test: Devil's Trill.

The Page 69 Test: Danse Macabre.

My Book, The Movie: Devil's Trill and Danse Macabre.

The Page 69 Test: Death and the Maiden.

My Book, The Movie: Playing With Fire.

The Page 69 Test: Playing With Fire.

My Book, The Movie: Spring Break.

The Page 69 Test: Spring Break.

The Page 69 Test: The Beethoven Sequence.

Q&A with Gerald Elias.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christopher Capozzola's "Bound by War"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Bound by War: How the United States and the Philippines Built America's First Pacific Century by Christopher Capozzola.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping history of America’s long and fateful military relationship with the Philippines amid a century of Pacific warfare

Ever since US troops occupied the Philippines in 1898, generations of Filipinos have served in and alongside the US armed forces. In Bound by War, historian Christopher Capozzola reveals this forgotten history, showing how war and military service forged an enduring, yet fraught, alliance between Americans and Filipinos.

As the US military expanded in Asia, American forces confronted their Pacific rivals from Philippine bases. And from the colonial-era Philippine Scouts to post-9/11 contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, Filipinos were crucial partners in the exercise of US power. Their service reshaped Philippine society and politics and brought thousands of Filipinos to America.

Telling the epic story of a century of conflict and migration, Bound by War is a fresh, definitive portrait of this uneven partnership and the two nations it transformed.
Learn more about Bound by War at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Bound by War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top Native American crime novels

David Heska Wanbli Weiden is an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation and received his MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He's a MacDowell Colony Fellow, a Tin House Scholar, and the recipient of the PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship. A lawyer and professor, he lives in Denver, Colorado, with his family.

Weiden's new novel is Winter Counts.

At The Strand Magazine he tagged seven of the most important crime novels by Native writers, including:
Mean Spirit (1990) by Linda Hogan (Chickasaw).

Not just one of the most important indigenous crime novels, this is a seminal work in the Native American canon. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the book tells the story of the Osage murders in the 1920s. The brutal killing of the character Grace Blanket drives the narrative although it soon expands to larger questions of societal justice. The novel is not only a mystery, but also an engrossing view into Native culture, spirituality, and the struggle against colonization. Kirkus Reviews in 1990 noted about the book: “Justice prevails for the most part, though not all of it is brought about through the courts. Meanwhile, the Indians’ efforts to influence events through the spirit world, their ever-tightening circle of defense, and their steady dread of the fate they fully expect to overtake them evoke a brutal time and place in American history, giving this tale an odd beauty.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Jenny Milchman's "The Second Mother," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman.

The entry begins:
I’m going to try to set aside the experience I’m having now with my third novel, which is currently in development as a film—all the real world constraints of an industry as nuts as Hollywood—to focus on my fifth novel, which by the time you’re reading this will have just come out. If we’re not weighed down by reality, we can bring someone out of retirement.

If The Second Mother were being made into a movie, I would want Rob Reiner to direct it.

Rob (if I may call him that, and I think I can, because I worship the guy as a creative) has directed two of my all-time favorite movies, both based on works by...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jenny Milchman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Cover of Snow.

The Page 69 Test: Cover of Snow.

The Page 69 Test: Ruin Falls.

My Book, The Movie: Ruin Falls.

My Book, The Movie: The Second Mother.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jesse Wegman's "Let the People Pick the President"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College by Jesse Wegman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The framers of the Constitution battled over it. Lawmakers have tried to amend or abolish it more than 700 times. To this day, millions of voters, and even members of Congress, misunderstand how it works. It deepens our national divide and distorts the core democratic principles of political equality and majority rule. How can we tolerate the Electoral College when every vote does not count the same, and the candidate who gets the most votes can lose?

Twice in the last five elections, the Electoral College has overridden the popular vote, calling the integrity of the entire system into question—and creating a false picture of a country divided into bright red and blue blocks when in fact we are purple from coast to coast. Even when the popular-vote winner becomes president, tens of millions of Americans—Republicans and Democrats alike—find that their votes didn't matter. And, with statewide winner-take-all rules, only a handful of battleground states ultimately decide who will become president.

Now, as political passions reach a boiling point at the dawn of the 2020 race, the message from the American people is clear: The way we vote for the only official whose job it is to represent all Americans is neither fair nor just. Major reform is needed—now. Isn't it time to let the people pick the president?

In this thoroughly researched and engaging call to arms, Supreme Court journalist and New York Times editorial board member Jesse Wegman draws upon the history of the founding era, as well as information gleaned from campaign managers, field directors, and other officials from twenty-first-century Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, to make a powerful case for abolishing the antiquated and antidemocratic Electoral College. In Let the People Pick the President he shows how we can at long last make every vote in the United States count—and restore belief in our democratic system.
Visit Jesse Wegman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Let the People Pick the President.

--Marshal Zeringue

The best romantic novels that aren’t riddled with cliches

Kate Kellaway is a feature writer and deputy theatre critic for the Observer.

A reader wrote in asking her to "recommend some good romantic novels that are not cliched." Part of Kellaway's reply:
Your question makes me think about what it is to be cliched – if only because you might argue that love is the greatest and most necessary of cliches, and if you steer too far from the heart’s core in literature, romance sometimes retreats. Or did you mean that there are obvious romantic books to mention – Gone With the Wind, Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre? You also got me thinking about Jane Eyre in particular because, in her case, it is the lack of cliche that makes for romance. Neither Jane Eyre nor Rochester is conventionally good looking, yet imperfection arrives at its own perfection (there is hope for us all). In her cunning way, Charlotte Brontë does what Mills & Boon novels are required to do: she sees that love triumphs over obstacles. But her casting (among other things) is superior. She knows about ordinary magic.

Read about more of Kellaway's recommendations.

Jane Eyre also made Julia Spiro's list of seven titles told from the perspective of domestic workers, Jane Healey's list of five favorite gothic romances, Annaleese Jochems's list of the great third wheels of literature, Sara Collins's list of six of fiction's best bad women, Sophie Hannah's list of fifteen top books with a twist, E. Lockhart's list of five favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” Sophie Hannah's top ten list of twists in fiction, Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue