Friday, January 31, 2020

Pg. 69: Phil Stamper's "The Gravity of Us"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper.

About the book, from the publisher:
In this smart, heart-warming YA debut perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two teens find love when their lives are uprooted for their parents' involvement in a NASA mission to Mars.

Cal wants to be a journalist, and he's already well underway with almost half a million followers on his FlashFame app and an upcoming internship at Buzzfeed. But his plans are derailed when his pilot father is selected for a highly-publicized NASA mission to Mars. Within days, Cal and his parents leave Brooklyn for hot and humid Houston.

With the entire nation desperate for any new information about the astronauts, Cal finds himself thrust in the middle of a media circus. Suddenly his life is more like a reality TV show, with his constantly bickering parents struggling with their roles as the "perfect American family."

And then Cal meets Leon, whose mother is another astronaut on the mission, and he finds himself falling head over heels--and fast. They become an oasis for each other amid the craziness of this whole experience. As their relationship grows, so does the frenzy surrounding the Mars mission, and when secrets are revealed about ulterior motives of the program, Cal must find a way to get to the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
Visit Phil Stamper's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Gravity of Us.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gary A. Rosen's "Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer: Nathan Burkan and the Making of American Popular Culture by Gary A. Rosen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer is the lively story of legal giant Nathan Burkan, whose career encapsulated the coming of age of the institutions, archetypes, and attitudes that define American popular culture. With a client list that included Charlie Chaplin, Al Jolson, Frank Costello, Victor Herbert, Mae West, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, Arnold Rothstein, and Samuel Goldwyn, Burkan was “New York’s Spotlight Lawyer” for more than three decades. He was one of the principal authors of the epochal Copyright Act of 1909 and the guiding spirit behind the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (Ascap), which provided the first practical means for songwriters to collect royalties for public performances of their works, revolutionizing the music business and the sound of popular music. While the entertainment world adapted to the disruptive technologies of recorded sound, motion pictures, and broadcasting, Burkan’s groundbreaking work laid the legal foundation for the Great American Songbook and the Golden Age of Hollywood, and it continues to influence popular culture today.

Gary A. Rosen tells stories of dramatic and uproarious courtroom confrontations, scandalous escapades of the rich and famous, and momentous clashes of powerful political, economic, and cultural forces. Out of these conflicts, the United States emerged as the world’s leading exporter of creative energy. Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer is an engaging look at the life of Nathan Burkan, a captivating history of entertainment and intellectual property law in the early twentieth century, and a rich source of new discoveries for anyone interested in the spirit of the Jazz Age.
Visit Gary A. Rosen's website.

The Page 99 Test: Adventures of a Jazz Age Lawyer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about the human cost of war

Maaza Mengiste is a novelist and essayist. She is the author of a new book, The Shadow King, called “a brilliant novel … compulsively readable” by Salman Rushdie. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by The Guardian as one of the ten best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and other publications.

At the Guardian, Mengiste tagged ten titles that provided her "with a vocabulary to conceive anew what it means to be a soldier, to be a woman, to be in conflict with a force greater than oneself." One book on the list:
The Iliad by Homer

A story about the consequences of aggression and arrogance, about rage and vengeance and fate. In one of the most powerful scenes, the aged Priam, king of Troy, crosses the battle lines to ask Achilles for the body of his son, Hector, whom Achilles has killed. The first time I read the moment when Priam bends to kiss Achilles’ hand, I physically recoiled from that anguished display of love and humility. Achilles cries, seeing in old Priam an image of his own father, who will soon be grieving the loss of his son, too. The scene sets out war’s cycle of grief, revenge and love: these are the energies that raise this from a simple war story into a profound epic.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Iliad also appears on Ani Katz's top ten list of books about toxic masculinity, John Gittings's list of five top books on peace, Becky Ferreira's list of her seven favorite tales of revenge in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on the Olympians, Madeline Miller's list of ten favorite classical works, Bettany Hughes's six best books list, James Anderson Winn's five best list of works of war poetry, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best funerals in literature and ten of the best examples of ekphrasis. It is one of Karl Marlantes's top ten war stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Christopher Bollen's "A Beautiful Crime," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: A Beautiful Crime: A Novel by Christopher Bollen.

The entry begins:
The difficulty of casting young characters is that often by the time a novel is optioned, a production company hires a screenwriter, the script is shopped around to studios, and the project gets a green light, all of those original actors are too old to play their parts. But since this thought experiment, like Hollywood, is pure fantasy, I would cast Frank Ocean to play Clay Guillory. No, Frank Ocean isn’t an actor, he’s a musician, but this would be his break-through role. Ocean has some of the toughness and warmth that encapsulates Clay, who can be hard to read but is really the heart of the book. I could also see him being played by...[read on]
Visit Christopher Bollen's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Beautiful Crime.

My Book, The Movie: A Beautiful Crime.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is David Sosnowski reading?

Featured at Writers Read: David Sosnowski, author of Buzz Kill: A Novel.

His entry begins:
Right now, the topmost book on my Kindle is The Depositions: New and Selected Essays on Being and Ceasing to Be by Thomas Lynch, a poet, essayist, and funeral director hailing from my home state of Michigan. Mr. Lynch’s writings on what he calls “the dismal trade,” in The Undertaking and elsewhere, served as inspiration for Alan Ball when he was working on the HBO series, Six Feet Under, as attested to in the foreword by Mr. Ball to this wonderful collection drawn from several of the author’s previous works. I’ve been a big fan for a long time and have had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Lynch read in public, something I recommend highly to any and all who get the chance; he’s the best. Also, for those who might be put off by the morbidity of the subject matter...[read on]
About Buzz Kill, from the publisher:
Pandora Lynch lives in Alaska with her single dad, an online therapist for Silicon Valley’s brightest and squirreliest. Homeschooled by computer and a self-taught hacker, Pandora is about to enter high school to learn how to be normal. That’s the plan at least.

NorCal runaway George Jedson is a hacker too—one who leaves the systems he attacks working better than before. After being scooped up by a social media giant, will George go legit—or pull off the biggest hack ever? Not even his therapist knows for sure, but maybe the headshrinker’s daughter…

After meeting in cyberspace, the two young hackers combine their passions to conceive a brainchild named BUZZ. Can this baby AI learn to behave, or will it be like its parents and think outside the box?

With a hilarious and deeply empathetic narrative voice, this elegiac and unapologetically irreverent novel is both humorous and tragic without ever taking itself too seriously.
Visit David Sosnowski's website.

My Book, The Movie: Happy Doomsday.

The Page 69 Test: Happy Doomsday.

Writers Read: David Sosnowski.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Julie Des Jardins's "American Queenmaker"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: American Queenmaker: How Missy Meloney Brought Women Into Politics by Julie Des Jardins.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first biography of Missy Meloney, the most important woman you’ve never heard of

Marie “Missy” Mattingly Meloney was born in 1878, in an America where women couldn’t vote. Yet she recognized the power that women held as consumers and family decision-makers, and persuaded male publishers and politicians to take them seriously. Over the course of her life as a journalist, magazine editor-in-chief, and political advisor, Missy created the idea of the female demographic. After the passage of the 19th Amendment she encouraged candidates to engage with and appeal to women directly. In this role, she advised Presidents from Hoover and Coolidge to FDR. By the time she died in 1943, women were a recognized political force to be reckoned with.

In this groundbreaking biography, historian Julie Des Jardins restores Missy to her rightful place in American history.
Visit Julie Des Jardins's website.

The Page 99 Test: Walter Camp: Football and the Modern Man.

The Page 99 Test: American Queenmaker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven crime novels where murder is a group experience

C. J. Tudor is the author of the newly released The Other People as well as The Hiding Place and The Chalk Man, which won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel and the Strand Magazine Award for Best Debut Novel. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. She lives in England with her partner and daughter.

At CrimeReads, Tudor tagged seven "books where murder is not a solo event but a shared experience," including [spoiler alert]:
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner.

Over a few drinks, the strangers start a game of truth. Ted talks about his stale marriage and cheating wife and jokes that he could kill her. Lily, as you do, offers to help. ‘After all, some people are the kind worth killing...

Back in Boston, Ted and Lily’s bond strengthens as they begin to plot his wife’s death. But Lily hasn’t been entirely honest with Ted about her past. The murderous duo find themselves embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse... with a savvy detective on their tail.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Kind Worth Killing.

The Page 69 Test: The Kind Worth Killing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Francesca Flores's "Diamond City," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Diamond City: A Novel by Francesca Flores.

The entry begins:
This is such a fun question, but also difficult!! I think my main character, Aina, could be played by Bianca Santos. She's the actress who looks closest to her, though I'd hope to find a newer actress who's closer in age to Aina.

Luke Pasqualino would be the perfect Teo (Aina's best frined), he looks very much like the Teo in my head and has played in fantasy/action roles before.

Kat Graham would be great for the role of Raurie, who's...[read on]
Visit Francesca Flores's website.

Writers Read: Francesca Flores.

My Book, The Movie: Diamond City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Christopher Bollen's "A Beautiful Crime"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Beautiful Crime: A Novel by Christopher Bollen.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of The Destroyers comes another “delicious literary thriller” (People)—a twisty story of deception, set in contemporary Venice and featuring a young American couple who have set their sights on a high-stakes con.

When Nick Brink and his boyfriend Clay Guillory meet up on the Grand Canal in Venice, they have a plan in mind—and it doesn’t involve a vacation. Nick and Clay are running away from their turbulent lives in New York City, each desperate for a happier, freer future someplace else. Their method of escape? Selling a collection of counterfeit antiques to a brash, unsuspecting American living out his retirement years in a grand palazzo. With Clay’s smarts and Nick’s charm, their scheme is sure to succeed.

As it turns out, tricking a millionaire out of money isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when Clay and Nick let greed get the best of them. As Nick falls under the spell of the city’s decrepit magic, Clay comes to terms with personal loss and the price of letting go of the past. Their future awaits, but it is built on disastrous deceits, and more than one life stands in the way of their dreams.

A Beautiful Crime is a twisty grifter novel with a thriller running through its veins. But it is also a meditation on love, class, race, sexuality, and the legacy of bohemian culture. Tacking between Venice’s soaring aesthetic beauty and its imminent tourist-riddled collapse, Bollen delivers another “seductive and richly atmospheric literary thriller” (New York Times Book Review).
Visit Christopher Bollen's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Beautiful Crime.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tamara Venit Shelton's "Herbs and Roots"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Herbs and Roots: A History of Chinese Doctors in the American Medical Marketplace by Tamara Venit Shelton.

About the book, from the publisher:
An innovative, deeply researched history of Chinese medicine in America and the surprising interplay between Eastern and Western medical practice

Chinese medicine has a long history in the United States, with written records dating back to the American colonial period. In this intricately crafted history, Tamara Venit Shelton chronicles the dynamic systems of knowledge, therapies, and materia medica crossing between China and the United States from the eighteenth century to the present. Chinese medicine, she argues, has played an important and often unacknowledged role in both facilitating and undermining the consolidation of medical authority among formally trained biomedical scientists in the United States.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine, as racial embodiments of “irregular” medicine, became useful foils for Western physicians struggling to assert their superiority of practice. At the same time, Chinese doctors often embraced and successfully employed Orientalist stereotypes to sell their services to non-Chinese patients skeptical of modern biomedicine. What results is a story of racial constructions, immigration politics, cross-cultural medical history, and the lived experiences of Asian Americans in American history.
Learn more about Herbs and Roots at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Herbs and Roots.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine books celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

At Electric Lit Diana London tagged nine books that celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., including:
Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen reads almost more poignantly today than it did when published in 2014. Grappling with the many ways in which racism stains a nation, in retrospect Rankine’s lyric feels like a wakeup call, a warning that many failed to heed. Now, in the wake of the 2016 election and an equally trying 2017, Rankine’s words have become a salve for those of us who know what it means to be Black in a nation that fails to right its historic wrongs. Like Dr. King’s, Rankine’s message is one of tempered hope. Rather than sheer optimism, her poetics don’t just reveal the cancer of racism, but document it and pay homage to the lives its legacy shapes. Her words urge us to resist.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What is Francesca Flores reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Francesca Flores, author of Diamond City: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I'm not personally a 'mood' reader, so I need to organize my reading list in different ways. The way I'm going to try this year is to read by book spine color, in rainbow order, starting with white. Next month will be red, and so on. So then I have a stack of books, and I try to organize it so that I'm not reading too many of the same genre in a row. That works for a lot of people, but I sometimes get bored being in one genre for too long. This month so far I've read two fantasies (one more modern and in the US, another in an older time-period with Welsh inspiration), a craft book, and I'm currently reading a contemporary. I have a second world fantasy fantasy and a contemporary on my list for the rest of the month.

The first book I finished was Lobizona by Romina Garber, a Latinx werewolf and witch fantasy coming out in May. I love finding fantasy books by Latinx authors and this one was so fun and satisfying to read. I already know that by the end of the year, it will have been one of my favorites. I also loved...[read on]
About Diamond City, from the publisher:
Good things don't happen to girls who come from nothing...unless they risk everything.

Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.

Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.

DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.

To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn't want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.

Full of action, romance and dark magic, book one of Francesca Flores' breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!
Visit Francesca Flores's website.

Writers Read: Francesca Flores.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty top contemporary love stories

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged twenty great contemporary love stories, including:
The Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion

A wonderfully uplifting romantic comedy that has spawned two hugely successful sequels, The Rosie Project introduces Don Tillman, obsessively organized yet perennially unlucky in love. Through a narrative that alternates hysterical humour with profoundly touching drama, Simsion’s delightful novel charms and amuses on every page.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Rosie Project is among McKenzie Jean-Philippe's twenty greatest ever romance novels, Martha Greengrass's ten books for fans of Gail Honeyman's debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Jemma Forte's top ten books about love, and Bill Gates's nine favorite books.

My Book, The Movie: The Rosie Project.

The Page 69 Test: The Rosie Project.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Larry Wolff's "Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe by Larry Wolff.

About the book, from the publisher:
At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, where the victorious Allied powers met to reenvision the map of Europe in the aftermath of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson's influence on the remapping of borders was profound. But it was his impact on the modern political structuring of Eastern Europe that would be perhaps his most enduring international legacy: neither Czechoslovakia nor Yugoslavia exist today, but their geopolitical presence persisted across the twentieth century from the end of World War I to the end of the Cold War. They were created in large part thanks to Wilson's advocacy, and in particular, his Fourteen Points speech of January 1918, which hinged in large part on the concept of national self-determination.

But despite his deep involvement in the region's geopolitical transformation, President Wilson never set eyes on Eastern Europe, and never traveled to a single one of the eastern lands whose political destiny he so decisively influenced. Eastern Europe, invented in the age of Enlightenment by the travelers and philosophies of Western Europe, was reinvented on the map of the early twentieth century with the crucial intervention of an American president who deeply invested his political and emotional energies in lands that he would never visit.

This book traces how Wilson's emerging definition of national self-determination and his practical application of the principle changed over time as negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference unfolded. Larry Wolff exposes the contradictions between Wilson's principles and their implementation in the peace settlement for Eastern Europe, and sheds light on how his decisions were influenced by both personal relationships and his growing awareness of the history of the Ottoman and Habsburg empires.
Visit Larry Wolff's NYU faculty webpage.

The Page 99 Test: The Idea of Galicia.

The Page 99 Test: The Singing Turk.

The Page 99 Test: Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven true crime books for domestic-suspense lovers

Lisa Levy is a columnist and contributing editor at LitHub and CrimeReads. She is the former EIC of crime fiction site The Life Sentence and the former Mystery/Noir editor at the LA Review of Books.

At CrimeReads Levy tagged seven "remarkable true stories ... interrogating what we think we know about those closest to us, those who are supposed to care or watch out for us, those who are supposed to protect us." One title on the list:
Alligator Candy, by David Kushner

Kushner grew up in 1970s Florida, exploring the woods and roads of their safe suburb on their bikes, like an earlier version of Stranger Things. But one day his brother, Jon, got on his bike and never came home. He was murdered by two drifters, and both Kushner’s life and the world around him would never be the same. Kushner’s book is both about his family’s ordeal and the conservative shift in parenting that happened soon after Jon’s disappearance, when missing children began to appear on milk cartons and newscasters asked if you knew where your children were.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 27, 2020

Pg. 69: Nina Sadowsky's "The Empty Bed"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Empty Bed: A Novel by Nina Sadowsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
Catherine excels at helping desperate people disappear. But now she must use her unique skill set to find a missing woman in this electrifying novel from the author of The Burial Society.

Eva Lombard is being followed. Or so she suspects....

Eva and her husband, Peter, are in Hong Kong on a romantic getaway from London when Peter wakes up in their hotel room to an empty bed, his wife gone without a trace. His worst fears are confirmed: Eva wasn’t imagining things. Suddenly, he finds himself the number one suspect in his wife’s disappearance, trapped in a foreign country with no one to turn to. He calls his boss, Forrest “Holly” Holcomb, who enlists the help of Catherine, his ex-flame and the enigmatic operator behind the darknet witness-protection program known as the Burial Society.

As a favor to Holly, Catherine sends her team of highly trained Society members on a dangerous chase through Hong Kong to find Eva—while Catherine takes care of pressing business at home. Not only is she tasked with a mission in Mexico City, protecting a family that knows too much from a vengeful pharmaceutical company, but an FBI agent tracking down the missing wife and child of a charismatic businessman is about to come dangerously close to exposing the Society’s secrets.

In these intertwining story lines that converge in unexpected ways, not everyone is who they appear to be—and not everyone who is lost wants to be found.
Visit Nina Sadowsky's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Burial Society.

My Book, The Movie: The Burial Society.

The Page 69 Test: The Empty Bed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Chana Porter's "The Seep," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Seep by Chana Porter.

The entry begins:
In The Seep, Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.

Trina—Shakina Nayfack

You probably know Shakina from the Transparent series finale or as Lola in Difficult People. I’m very lucky to have Shakina reading the audiobook of The Seep. I think she’d make a wonderful Trina for the movie.

Deeba— Mindy Kaling

I would love to see Mindy with a shaved head, not to mention...[read on]
Visit Chana Porter's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Seep.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Philip G. Schrag's "Baby Jails"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Baby Jails: The Fight to End the Incarceration of Refugee Children in America by Philip G. Schrag.

About the book, from the publisher:
“I worked in a trailer that ICE had set aside for conversations between the women and the attorneys. While we talked, their children, most of whom seemed to be between three and eight years old, played with a few toys on the floor. It was hard for me to get my head around the idea of a jail full of toddlers, but there they were.”

For decades, advocates for refugee children and families have fought to end the U.S. government’s practice of jailing children and families for months, or even years, until overburdened immigration courts could rule on their claims for asylum. Baby Jails is the history of that legal and political struggle. Philip G. Schrag, the director of Georgetown University’s asylum law clinic, takes readers through thirty years of conflict over which refugee advocates resisted the detention of migrant children. The saga began during the Reagan administration when 15-year-old Jenny Lisette Flores languished in a Los Angeles motel that the government had turned into a makeshift jail by draining the swimming pool, barring the windows, and surrounding the building with barbed wire. What became known as the Flores Settlement Agreement was still at issue years later, when the Trump administration resorted to the forced separation of families after the courts would not allow long-term jailing of the children. Schrag provides recommendations for the reform of a system that has brought anguish and trauma to thousands of parents and children. Provocative and timely, Baby Jails exposes the ongoing struggle between the U.S. government and immigrant advocates over the duration and conditions of confinement of children who seek safety in America.
Learn more about Baby Jails at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Baby Jails.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best novels set in the 18th century

Laura Shepherd-Robinson has a BSc in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. She worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. She lives in London with her husband, Adrian.

Blood & Sugar, her first novel, won the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown, was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, and a Guardian and Telegraph novel of the year. It was also shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and the Sapere Historical Dagger; and the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Best Debut Novel.

At the Waterstones blog, Shepherd-Robinson shared five of her favorite novels set in the 18th century, including:
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

A depiction of Revolutionary France by one of the greatest writers of historical fiction, the novel follows the lives of three key revolutionary figures, Danton, Desmoulins and Robespierre. It glides from the grand political stage to the intimacies of the salon with effortless ease. A story about faction and feminism, belief and betrayal, it explores how this idealistic enterprise descended into political violence, and ultimately devoured its children. I read it around the same time as I read Simon Schama’s Citizens and they make wonderful companions. 900 pages long, but an incredibly fast-paced read, the book plunges you into the tinderbox that is revolutionary Paris. I began it on Christmas Eve 2013 and finished it on Boxing Day. It took me three days to recover from the emotional intensity.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Place of Greater Safety is among the Barnes & Noble Review's top books on uprisings in pursuit of freedom around the world.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 26, 2020

What is Emily Suvada reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Emily Suvada, author of This Vicious Cure.

Her entry begins:
The latest book I read was Recursion by Blake Crouch. I'm a huge fan of Crouch's ever since having Dark Matter recommended to me by a friend, and am working my way through his backlist. However, Recursion is a straight-up masterpiece of a speculative thriller, and my mind is still blown by its pace, and how it manages to be incredibly complex without becoming confusing or bogged down in detail. Crouch is, in my opinion, one of the best structural thriller writers around, and his ability to deliver ever-increasing stakes as the plot progresses is unparalleled. Every time...[read on]
About This Vicious Cure, from the publisher:
Cat is desperate to find a way to stop Cartaxus and the plague in this gripping finale to a series New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable!’”

Cat’s hacking skills weren’t enough to keep her from losing everything—her identity, her past, and now her freedom. She’s trapped and alone, but she’s survived this long, and she’s not giving up without a fight.

Though the outbreak has been contained, a new threat has emerged—one that’s taken the world to the brink of a devastating war. With genetic technology that promises not just a cure for the plague, but a way to prevent death itself, both sides will stop at nothing to seize control of humanity’s future.

Facing her smartest, most devastating enemy yet, Cat must race against the clock to protect her friends and save the lives of millions on the planet’s surface. No matter the outcome, humanity will never be the same.

And this time, Cat can’t afford to let anything, or anyone, stand in her way.
Visit Emily Suvada's website.

The Page 69 Test: This Cruel Design.

Writers Read: Emily Suvada.

--Mashal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Thomas Cole's "Old Man Country"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Old Man Country: My Search for Meaning Among the Elders by Thomas R. Cole.

About the book, from the publisher:
We aspire to live in a country where old men are celebrated as vital elders but not demeaned if they become ill and dependent. We aspire to maintain health as well as maintain dignity and fulfillment in frailty. Old Man Country helps readers see and imagine these possibilities for themselves. The book follows the journey of a writer in search of wisdom, as he encounters twelve distinguished American men over 80 -- including Paul Volcker, the former head of the Federal Reserve, and Denton Cooley, the world's most famous heart surgeon. In these and other intimate conversations, the book explores and honors the particular way that each man faces four challenges of living a good old age: Am I still a man? Do I still matter? What is the meaning of my life? Am I loved? Readers will come to see how each man -- even the most famous -- faces universal challenges. Personal stories about work, love, sexuality, and hope mingle with stories about illness, loss and death. This book will strengthen each of us as we and our loved ones anticipate and navigate our way through the passages of old age.
Visit Thomas Cole's website.

The Page 99 Test: Old Man Country.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top books for blended families

At the Guardian, Brett Kahr tagged a number of books helpful for understanding blended families. A few works of fiction on the list:
Literary works provide us with an abundance of useful material, whether classic fairytales such as Cinderella, or novels such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Mary Renault’s The Bull from the Sea, or Joanna Trollope’s Other People’s Children – each a beautifully crafted engagement with the vicissitudes of stepfamilies.
Read about another entry on the list.

Wuthering Heights appears on Siri Hustvedt’s ten favorite books list, Robert Masello's list of six classics with supernatural crimes at their center, André Aciman's list of five favorite books about the intensity of a once-in-a-lifetime love, Emily Temple's top ten list of literary classics we (not so) secretly hate, Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Kate Hamer's list of six top novels with a strong evocation of atmosphere, Siri Hustvedt's six favorite books list, Tom Easton's top ten list of fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," Melissa Harrison's list of the ten top depictions of British rain, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Ed Sikov's list of eight top books that got slammed by critics, Amelia Schonbek's top five list of approachable must-read classics, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the worst wingmen in literature, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Jimmy So's list of fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Pg. 69: Debbie Herbert's "Scorched Grounds"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Scorched Grounds (Normal, Alabama Book 2) by Debbie Herbert.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the eighteen years since her father went to prison for killing her mother and brother, Della Stallings has battled a crippling phobia. Her fear only grows when her father’s released. She still believes he killed her family, but the police don’t have enough evidence to arrest him again.

When new grisly murders occur—each bearing the telltale signs that seem to implicate her father—Della begins to wonder if the real murderer is still out there. Could her father have been framed?

To find the truth, Della must face her greatest fears and doubts—not only to find justice for her family but to ensure her own survival.
Visit Debbie Herbert's website.

The Page 69 Test: Scorched Grounds.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Shai M. Dromi's "Above the Fray"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Above the Fray: The Red Cross and the Making of the Humanitarian NGO Sector by Shai M. Dromi.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Lake Chad to Iraq, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) provide relief around the globe, and their scope is growing every year. Policymakers and activists often assume that humanitarian aid is best provided by these organizations, which are generally seen as impartial and neutral. In Above the Fray, Shai M. Dromi investigates why the international community overwhelmingly trusts humanitarian NGOs by looking at the historical development of their culture. With a particular focus on the Red Cross, Dromi reveals that NGOs arose because of the efforts of orthodox Calvinists, demonstrating for the first time the origins of the unusual moral culture that has supported NGOs for the past 150 years.

Drawing on archival research, Dromi traces the genesis of the Red Cross to a Calvinist movement working in mid-nineteenth-century Geneva. He shows how global humanitarian policies emerged from the Red Cross founding members’ faith that an international volunteer program not beholden to the state was the only ethical way to provide relief to victims of armed conflict. By illustrating how Calvinism shaped the humanitarian field, Dromi argues for the key role belief systems play in establishing social fields and institutions. Ultimately, Dromi shows the immeasurable social good that NGOs have achieved, but also points to their limitations and suggests that alternative models of humanitarian relief need to be considered.
Visit Shai M. Dromi's website.

The Page 99 Test: Above the Fray.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about the mysterious world of audiophiles

Luke Geddes's new novel is Heart of Junk.

At CrimeReads he tagged "ten of the many mystery and mystery-tinged books about audiophiles," including:
The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore

The conceit of this novel is classically hardboiled—wannabe music journalist Jett Bennett discovers her friend’s dead body on her own kitchen floor and turns gumshoe when the wrong man is fingered by the police—but it is its Brooklyn hipster milieu that sets it apart and earns it a spot on this list. For the central clue to unraveling this mystery is a mixtape of tastefully curated love songs ranging from sappy AOR hits like Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet” to The Magnetic Fields’ arch “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing.” The eclecticism of the book’s musical references reflects Cudmore’s all-encompassing sensibilities as a writer; The Big Rewind is at once a cynical satire of millennial cultural mores, an earnest though quirky rom-com, and a rollicking good mystery.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 24, 2020

What is Matt Killeen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Matt Killeen, author of Devil Darling Spy.

From his entry:
I have managed to read some awesome fiction this last year, like Sarah Maria Griffin’s unique Other Words For Smoke, Anna Mainwaring’s Tulip Taylor and some trademark Kathryn Evans creepy, fridge horror, Beauty Sleep. I was also lucky enough to get an advanced copy of Sherri L. Smith’s The Blossom & the Firefly which is a heart-rending tale of a young tokkōtai (kamikaze) pilot and one of the schoolgirls tasked with...[read on]
About Devil Darling Spy, from the publisher:
In this utterly gripping thriller, Sarah, the fearless heroine of indie bestseller Orphan Monster Spy, hunts a rogue German doctor in Central Africa who might be a serial murderer.

It’s 1940, and Sarah Goldstein is hiding in plain sight as Ursula Haller, the Shirley Temple of Nazi high society. She helps the resistance by spying on Nazi generals at cocktail parties in Berlin, but she yearns to do more. Then the spy she works for, the Captain, gets word of a German doctor who’s gone rogue in Central Africa. Rumors say the doctor is experimenting with a weapon of germ warfare so deadly it could wipe out entire cities. It’s up to the Captain and Sarah to reach the doctor and seize this weapon–known as “the Bleeding”–before the Nazis can use it to murder thousands. Joining them on their journey, in of the guise of a servant, is Clementine, a half-German, half-Senegalese girl, whose wit and ferocity are a perfect match for Sarah’s. As they travel through the areas now known as the Republic of the Congo and Gabon, Clementine’s astute observations force Sarah to face a hard truth: that mass extermination didn’t start with the Nazis.

This unbearably high-stakes thriller pushes Sarah to face the worst that humanity is capable of–and challenges her to find reasons to keep fighting.
Follow Matt Killeen on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Orphan Monster Spy.

The Page 69 Test: Devil Darling Spy.

Writers Read: Matt Killeen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Maxine Eichner's "The Free-Market Family"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Free-Market Family: How the Market Crushed the American Dream (and How It Can Be Restored) by Maxine Eichner.

About the book, from the publisher:
US families have been pushed to the wall. At the bottom of the economic ladder, poor and working-class adults aren't forming stable relationships and can't give their kids the start they need because of low wages and uncertain job prospects. Toward the top, professional parents' lives have become a grinding slog of long hours of paid work. Meanwhile their kids are overstressed by pressure to succeed and get into good colleges. In this provocative book, Maxine Eichner argues that these very different struggles might seem unconnected, but they share the same root cause: the increasingly large toll that economic inequality and insecurity are taking on families.

It's government rather than families that's to blame, Eichner persuasively contends. Since the 1970s, politicians have sold families out to the wrongheaded notion that the free market alone best supports them. In five decades of "free-market family policy," they've scrapped government programs and gutted market regulations that had helped families thrive. The consequence is the steady drumbeat of bad news we hear about our country today: the opioid epidemic, skyrocketing suicide and mental illness rates, "deaths of despair," and mediocre student achievement scores. Meanwhile, politicians just keep telling families to work a little harder.

The Free-Market Family documents US families' impossible plight, showing how much worse they fare than families in other countries. It then demonstrates how politicians' free-market illusions steered our nation wildly off course. Finally, it shows how, using commonsense measures, we can restructure the economy to work for families, rather than the reverse. Doing so would invest in our children's futures, increase our wellbeing, reknit our social fabric, and allow our country to reclaim the American Dream.
Learn more about The Free-Market Family at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Free-Market Family.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five hilarious essay collections by women

Josh Gondelman is a writer and comedian who incubated in Boston before moving to New York City, where he currently lives and works as a writer and producer for Desus & Mero on Showtime. Previously, he spent five years at Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, first as a web producer and then as a staff writer. He’s also the author of the essay collection Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results. In 2016, he made his late night standup debut on Conan (TBS), and he has also performed on Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC) and The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS).

At Electric Lit, Gondelman tagged five "favorite funny essay collections by women," including:
Maeve In America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins

It’s such well-trod territory to describe an Irish person as “charming” but Maeve Higgins is so charming that it’s ridiculous not to mention. She has such a beautiful way of imbuing every topic she writes about with genuine compassion and such a light touch that she makes for a constantly wonderful and trustworthy narrator. She also has a great reading voice, so consider listening to the audiobook or at the very least digging into one of her many podcasts to get a feel for what she sounds like!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Pg. 69: Donis Casey's "The Wrong Girl"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Wrong Girl by Donis Casey.

About the book, from the publisher:
They say a life well-lived is the best revenge...

Blanche Tucker longs to escape her drop-dead dull life in tiny Boynton, Oklahoma. Then dashing Graham Peyton roars into town. Posing as a film producer, Graham convinces the ambitious but naive teenager to run away with him to a glamorous new life. Instead, Graham uses her as cruelly as a silent picture villain. Yet by luck and by pluck, taking charge of her life, she makes it to Hollywood.

Six years later, Blanche has transformed into the celebrated Bianca LaBelle, the reclusive star of a series of adventure films, and Peyton's remains are discovered on a Santa Monica beach. Is there a connection? With all of the twists and turns of a 1920s melodrama, The Wrong Girl follows the daring exploits of a girl who chases her dream from the farm to old Hollywood, while showing just how risky—and rewarding—it can be to go off script.
Visit Donis Casey's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hell with the Lid Blown Off.

My Book, The Movie: Hell With the Lid Blown Off.

The Page 69 Test: All Men Fear Me.

My Book, The Movie: All Men Fear Me.

The Page 69 Test: The Wrong Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue

Peter Riva's "Kidnapped on Safari," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Kidnapped on Safari: A Thriller by Peter Riva.

The entry begins:
Making movies always requires imagining who would play the leads and supporting cast. It is a fruitless exercise since studios and directors always have candidates that the script writer and/or author may not have thought of. Insofar as my “casterbation” of this fruitless exercise is concerned, I can clearly see Mbuno played by Don Cheadle or even by Edi Gathegi (he may be a bit young). No question Cheadle could capture the role of a deeply spiritual, action-competent, and focused safari guide.

For Pero Baltazar, I can easily see Josh Duhamel, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Vince Vaughn, or—if I had a choice—...[read on]
Visit Peter Riva's website.

Writers Read: Peter Riva.

The Page 69 Test: Kidnapped on Safari.

My Book, The Movie: Kidnapped on Safari.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Marion Kaplan's "Hitler’s Jewish Refugees"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Hitler’s Jewish Refugees: Hope and Anxiety in Portugal by Marion Kaplan.

About the book, from the publisher:
An award-winning historian presents an emotional history of Jewish refugees biding their time in Portugal as they attempt to escape Nazi Europe

This riveting book describes the experience of Jewish refugees as they fled Hitler to live in limbo in Portugal until they could reach safer havens abroad. Drawing attention not only to the social and physical upheavals of refugee life, Kaplan highlights their feelings as they fled their homes and histories while begging strangers for kindness. An emotional history of fleeing, this book probes how specific locations touched refugees’ inner lives, including the borders they nervously crossed or the overcrowded transatlantic ships that signaled their liberation.
Learn more about Hitler’s Jewish Refugees at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Hitler’s Jewish Refugees.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels about murder all in the family

Tiffany Tsao's new novel is The Majesties.

At CrimeReads she tagged "five tales featuring family murdering family, or family members who end up murdering someone else." One title on the list:
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Korede receives a call and finds out that her sister, Ayoola, has killed a man. Again. Using her expertise as a nurse, she masterminds the disposal of the body. Again. At first our sympathies lie entirely with Korede. The annoyingly gorgeous and narcissistic Ayoola seems to expect that her responsible older sister will literally help her get away with murder every time. But as the plot thickens, so does our understanding of the tragic and violent past that binds the sisters together. Powerfully feminist and masterfully deadpan, Braithwaite’s novel will keep you spellbound until the last breath. I mean, line.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Sister the Serial Killer is among Victoria Helen Stone's eight top crime books of deep, dark family lore and Kristen Roupenian's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

What is Chad Dundas reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Chad Dundas, author of The Blaze.

His entry begins:
The sad truth is, with three kids under the age of eight and what amounts to two (or three) jobs depending on my workload any given week, I don’t get to read as much as I should. I’m also embarrassed to say I’m a bit of a slow reader, which further complicates things. I’m always amazed by people who can steam through an entire book in a day or two. I’m dying to know their secret. But I am resolved to do more reading in 2020 – it’s the time of year for resolutions, after all.

I’ve stockpiled a disconcerting number of year-end “best of” lists in my browser bookmarks folder during the last couple of months and I’m intent on working my way through as many of them as I can. At the moment, I’m about halfway through The Bird Boys by Lisa Sandlin (a New York Times pick for best mystery of 2019, if I’m not mistaken) and so far, it’s delightful. Set in New Orleans during the mid-1970s, it has a pleasing “’70s cop show vibe” as fledgling private investigator Tom Phelan and his embattled secretary/investigative partner Delpha Wade meander through a series of cases while searching for the estranged brother of a mysterious wealthy client. Phelan and Wade are...[read on]
About The Blaze, from the publisher:
One man knows the connection between two extraordinary acts of arson, fifteen years apart, in his Montana hometown–if only he could remember it.

Having lost much of his memory from a traumatic brain injury sustained in Iraq, army veteran Matthew Rose is called back to Montana after his father’s death to settle his affairs, and hopefully to settle the past as well. It’s not only a blank to him, but a mystery. Why as a teen did he suddenly become sullen and vacant, abandoning the activities and people that had meant most to him? How did he, the son of hippy activists, wind up enlisting in the first place?

Then on his first night back, Matthew sees a house go up in flames, and it turns out a local college student has died inside. And this event sparks a memory of a different fire, an unsolved crime from long ago, a part of Matthew’s past that might lead to all the answers he’s been searching for. What he finds will connect the old fire and the new, a series of long-unsolved mysteries, and a ruthless act of murder.
Visit Chad Dundas's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Blaze.

The Page 69 Test: The Blaze.

Writers Read: Chad Dundas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten political travelogues

Edward Platt was born in 1968 and lives in London. His first book, Leadville, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He is also the author of The Great Flood which explores the way floods have shaped the physical landscape of Britain, and The City of Abraham, a journey through Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Palestinians and Israelis lived side by side.

At the Guardian, Platt tagged ten favorite political travel books, including:
Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

Walking is always a political act, Solnit says, for “the history of both urban and rural walking is a history of freedom”. It is also “an unwritten, secret” history that “trespasses through everybody else’s field – through anatomy, anthropology, architecture, gardening, geography, political and cultural history, literature, sexuality, religious studies”. Few other writers could navigate a path through such a maze. Solnit’s reading is so wide-ranging that she lays down a secondary trail across the bottom of the page, an unfurling tickertape of other writers’ thoughts.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lauren Jae Gutterman's "Her Neighbor's Wife"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Her Neighbor's Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage by Lauren Jae Gutterman.

About the book, from the publisher:
At first glance, Barbara Kalish fit the stereotype of a 1950s wife and mother. Married at eighteen, Barbara lived with her husband and two daughters in a California suburb, where she was president of the Parent-Teacher Association. At a PTA training conference in San Francisco, Barbara met Pearl, another PTA president who also had two children and happened to live only a few blocks away from her. To Barbara, Pearl was "the most gorgeous woman in the world," and the two began an affair that lasted over a decade.

Through interviews, diaries, memoirs, and letters, Her Neighbor's Wife traces the stories of hundreds of women, like Barbara Kalish, who struggled to balance marriage and same-sex desire in the postwar United States. In doing so, Lauren Jae Gutterman draws our attention away from the postwar landscape of urban gay bars and into the homes of married women, who tended to engage in affairs with wives and mothers they met in the context of their daily lives: through work, at church, or in their neighborhoods.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the lesbian feminist movement and the no-fault divorce revolution transformed the lives of wives who desired women. Women could now choose to divorce their husbands in order to lead openly lesbian or bisexual lives; increasingly, however, these women were confronted by hostile state discrimination, typically in legal battles over child custody. Well into the 1980s, many women remained ambivalent about divorce and resistant to labeling themselves as lesbian, therefore complicating a simple interpretation of their lives and relationship choices. By revealing the extent to which marriage has historically permitted space for wives' relationships with other women, Her Neighbor's Wife calls into question the presumed straightness of traditional American marriage.
Learn more about Her Neighbor's Wife at the University of Pennsylvania Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Her Neighbor's Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight thrillers about women in a hostile workplace

Lisa Levy is a columnist and contributing editor at LitHub and CrimeReads. She is the former EIC of crime fiction site The Life Sentence and the former Mystery/Noir editor at the LA Review of Books.

At CrimeReads Levy tagged eight thrillers focused on women in the workplace, including:
Renee Knight, The Secretary (Harper Collins)

Christine Butcher is the secretary of the title. She works as a high-powered assistant to supermarket heiress Mina Appleton, who is also a TV host and media personality. It’s a fruitful relationship for twenty-plus years, with Mina giving orders and Christine eagerly doing everything to smooth out Mina’s life. But when Mina is accused of wrongdoing, Christine is forced from the background into the public eye, since Christine must have known about, if not participated in, Mina’s malfeasance. This is one of those books that gives what would have been a minor player the role of protagonist, with excellent results.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Secretary.

--Marshal Zeringue