Sunday, August 09, 2020

Pg. 99: Daniel Marwecki's "Germany and Israel"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Germany and Israel: Whitewashing and Statebuilding by Daniel Marwecki.

About the book, from the publisher:
According to common perception, the Federal Republic of Germany supported the formation of the Israeli state for moral reasons--to atone for its Nazi past--but did not play a significant role in the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, the historical record does not sustain this narrative.

Daniel Marwecki's pathbreaking analysis deconstructs the myths surrounding the odd alliance between Israel and post-war democratic Germany. Thorough archival research shows how German policymakers often had disingenuous, cynical or even partly antisemitic motivations, seeking to whitewash their Nazi past by supporting the new Israeli state. This is the true context of West Germany's crucial backing of Israel in the 1950s and '60s. German economic and military support greatly contributed to Israel's early consolidation and eventual regional hegemony. This initial alliance has affected Germany's role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the present day.

Marwecki reassesses German foreign policymaking and identity-shaping, and raises difficult questions about German responsibility after the Holocaust, exploring the many ways in which the genocide of European Jews and the dispossession of the Palestinians have become tragically intertwined in the Middle East's international politics. This long overdue investigation sheds new light on a major episode in the history of the modern Middle East.
Learn more about Germany and Israel at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Germany and Israel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Seven books about the adventures & the heartbreaks of becoming an adult

Frances Macken is from Claremorris, County Mayo, Ireland.

She completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford, and also studied film production at the National Film School, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

Macken likes mysteries, twists in the tale, the supernatural, and the unexplained. She especially enjoys developing characters and creating fictional worlds. Her writing is creepy, humorous and experimental. You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here is her first novel of literary fiction.

Macken currently lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books about coming of age in a small town, including:
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson was born in Ohio in 1963, but raised between New York and the small town of Greenville, South Carolina, where her mother’s parents lived. Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir told in verse, detailing Woodson’s childhood and her growing awareness of adult relationships, racism, and the emerging civil rights movement. The memoir also concerns the effect of our surroundings and community on our lives, and the real-life education it can offer to a young person.

When Woodson’s parents separate, she and her siblings move in with Grandpa Gunnar and Grandma Georgiana in Greenville. Though she feels content and secure with her grandparents, racism is rife in the town, and she observes her grandfather being disrespected by his coworkers, segregation on buses, and sit-ins taking place in the locality.

Having witnessed the suffering of her loved ones as a consequence of prejudice, Woodson develops an interest in the Black Panther movement, and becomes inspired by activist Angela Davis. Brown Girl Dreaming is an emotional and impactful piece of work about the shaping of our drives, and how an individual becomes motivated to be a part of the solution.
Read about another entry on the list.

Brown Girl Dreaming is among Laurie Halse Anderson's six favorite books and Sona Charaipotra's ten YA books that will change your life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Julie McElwain's "Shadows in Time"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Shadows in Time: A Novel by Julie McElwain.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1816 London, Kendra Donovan tries to track down a missing man, but also finds trouble brewing closer to home in the fifth book in Julie McElwain’s riveting time-travel mystery series.

When Kendra Donovan is approached by Mrs. Gavenston with an unusual request—to find her business manager, Jeremy Pascoe, who recently vanished—the FBI agent is eager to accept the challenge. To Kendra’s way of thinking, spending her time locating a missing person suits her more than perfecting her embroidery, painting watercolors, practicing on the pianoforte, or any of the other activities that are socially acceptable for young ladies in the early nineteenth century.

Unfortunately, the missing person’s case turns into a murder investigation after Kendra finds the man stabbed to death in a remote cottage that he’d been using as a writer’s retreat. Everyone who knew him says that Pascoe was a fine fellow. So who hated him enough to kill him?

Seeking the answer to that question plunges Kendra into the world of big business, as Mrs. Gavenston happens to run one of the largest breweries in England. And if there is one thing Kendra knows hasn’t changed, it’s that big business means big money . . . and money is always a motive for murder.

While Kendra works to sift through the truth and lies swirling around Mr. Pascoe’s life—and death—her world is rocked closer to home when a woman arrives claiming to be the Duke of Aldridge’s presumably dead daughter, Charlotte. It is a distraction Kendra cannot afford, not when there is a killer lurking in the shadows who will do anything to keep the truth from being exposed.
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caught in Time.

My Book, The Movie: Betrayal in Time.

The Page 69 Test: Betrayal in Time.

Q&A with Julie McElwain.

The Page 69 Test: Shadows in Time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Heather Vogel Frederick

From my Q&A with Heather Vogel Frederick, author of Really Truly:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Really Truly is the third in my Pumpkin Falls mystery series, following Absolutely Truly and Yours Truly. I hope that the title serves as a welcome mat for prospective readers, inviting them to step back into a familiar world – and at the same time signals that they’re in for another rollicking good read.

What's in a name?

Truly Lovejoy, my main character, shares her name with a line of ancestors that stretch back to the original Truly, a German immigrant whose real name (Trudy) was misspelled by a dimwitted official and stuck. It’s a quirky name for a quirky young woman, and it...[read on]
Visit Heather Vogel Frederick's website.

The Page 69 Test: Really Truly.

Q&A with Heather Vogel Frederick.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 07, 2020

Six crime novels that explore the complexities of relationships between men

USA Today-bestselling author David Bell's newest novel is The Request.

At CrimeReads he tagged six "darkly suspenseful novels that explore some complicated—and dangerous—male friendships," including:
Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Yes, we remember that creepy pet “sematary.” And the dangerous road. And the bodies being buried and then coming back to life. But the emotional heart of the novel is the friendship that develops between protagonist Louis and Jud, the fatherly and slightly creepy guy across the street. I’ve always thought this was King’s scariest book…and maybe it’s because the characters are so well done. Read with the lights on, of course.
Read about another entry on the list.

Pet Sematary is among David Barnett's ten top books about graveyards, C. J. Tudor's six thrillers featuring terrifying changelings, Jeff Somers's top 25 cats in sci-fi & fantasy, Jessica Ferri's five top books on American small towns, and Sandra Greaves's top ten ghost stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mark Tushnet's "Taking Back the Constitution"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Taking Back the Constitution: Activist Judges and the Next Age of American Law by Mark Tushnet.

About the book, from the publisher:
How the Supreme Court’s move to the right has distorted both logic and the Constitution

What Supreme Court justices do is far more than just “calling balls and strikes.” The Court has never simply evaluated laws and arguments in light of permanent and immutable constitutional meanings. Social, moral, and yes, political ideas have always played into the justices’ impressions of how they think a case should be decided. Mark Tushnet traces the ways constitutional thought has evolved, from the liberalism of the New Deal and the Great Society to the Reagan conservatism that has been dominant since the 1980s. Looking at the current crossroads in the constitutional order, Tushnet explores the possibilities of either a Trumpian entrenchment of the most extreme ideas of the Reagan philosophy, or a dramatic and destabilizing move to the left. Wary of either outcome, he offers a passionate and informed argument for replacing judicial supremacy with popular constitutionalism—a move that would restore to the other branches of government a role in deciding constitutional questions.
Learn more about Taking Back the Constitution at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Taking Back the Constitution.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fiona Davis's "The Lions of Fifth Avenue," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Lions of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Fiona Davis.

The entry begins:
The Lions of Fifth Avenue is about two women, eighty years apart, who are connected by the New York Public Library as well as a series of book thefts that roil the building, in 1913 and 1993. Before I started writing my first draft, I figured out which stars I thought the main characters resembled and posted images of them on my bulletin board. Having an actual face to look at is crucial for staying close to the characters, especially as they grow and change over revision after revision. Here are my picks for The Lions of Fifth Avenue casting:

Laura Lyons: Laura is smart and capable, with a classic beauty, so I would cast Emily Blunt as Laura, the wife of the New York Public Library’s superintendent, who lives in an apartment deep inside the building with her husband and two children when the book opens, in 1913. Emily Blunt has such an intelligence behind her eyes, and I also love her quick wit.

Jack Lyons: Jack is the super of the enormous New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, and I would go with...[read on]
Visit Fiona Davis's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Address.

My Book, The Movie: The Masterpiece.

My Book, The Movie: The Chelsea Girls.

The Page 69 Test: The Chelsea Girls.

My Book, The Movie: The Lions of Fifth Avenue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Top ten books about probation

Kate Simants is a writer of psychological thrillers and crime fiction.

After a decade working in the UK television industry, specialising in investigative documentaries, police shows and undercover work, Simants relocated from London to Bristol to concentrate on writing. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Brunel University (2007) and another in Crime Fiction from the University of East Anglia (2018), where she was the recipient of the UEA Literary Festival Scholarship. Her first novel Lock Me In was shortlisted for the 2015 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, and is published by HarperCollins.

Simants won the 2019 Bath Novel Award with her second novel The Knocks, which is now published under the title A Ruined Girl.

At the Guardian, Simants tagged ten rich, human stories in the space between prison and the rest of life, including:
Humber Boy B by Ruth Dugdall

PO Cate Austin tackles adolescent murderers, their eventual release back into society, and the conflict between their right to a fresh start and the enduring pain they caused as children. The eponymous young adult Ben is drawn with unflinching honesty by a writer with a masterful grasp of nuance and contradiction. Highly recommended.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Nina Sadowsky's "Convince Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Convince Me: A Novel by Nina Sadowsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
A charismatic man’s death exposes the secrets he kept, revealing him to family and friends as an unrepentant pathological liar in this explosive thriller from film producer and author Nina Sadowsky.

Justin Childs is handsome, likeable, smart. A devoted son to his mother, Carol; a loving husband to his wife, Annie; and a sure-footed, savvy business partner to his best friend from college, Will. To so many, the perfect man.

He’s also a liar. And now he’s dead.

When Justin’s body is retrieved from the wreckage of a car accident, his death leaves his loved ones with more questions than answers. In life, his charm and easygoing nature inspired trust, making him friends wherever he went. Now that he’s gone, the cracks begin to show: disturbing discrepancies in his company’s financials, unaccounted-for absences, a medical record that appears to be entirely fabricated.

As the secrets and betrayals pile up, Annie, Carol, and Will realize their beloved Justin was not the man they thought he was. And why was he found dead with Valium in his system when he notoriously detested drugs? Was the crash that killed him really an accident—or did Justin finally get caught in something he couldn’t lie his way out of?

Convince Me is a chilling look at what makes a sociopath in an age of untruth—and a high-octane, surprising read to its very last page.
Visit Nina Sadowsky's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Burial Society.

My Book, The Movie: The Burial Society.

Q&A with Julie McElwain

From my Q&A with Julie McElwain, author of Shadows in Time:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

When I came up with the idea of having a modern-day FBI agent involuntarily thrown back into England’s Regency era, I knew that I wanted to develop this as a series and I wanted to have the word “time” in the title, which then could be used as a through-line for the entire series. The title for the first book — A Murder in Time — was easy because it’s so straightforward. We’re literally dealing with the main character, Kendra Donovan, who finds herself in the early 19th century and is forced to solve a murder.

As a general rule of thumb, I want each title to relate to something that is happening in the book. In the latest installment, Shadows in Time, Kendra must deal with the shadowy past, both when she investigates the violent murder of a young man in a remote cottage and when a woman comes forward, claiming to be the Duke’s...[read on]
Visit Julie McElwain's website.

The Page 69 Test: Caught in Time.

My Book, The Movie: Betrayal in Time.

The Page 69 Test: Betrayal in Time.

Q&A with Julie McElwain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Erin Mayo-Adam's "Queer Alliances"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Queer Alliances: How Power Shapes Political Movement Formation by Erin Mayo-Adam.

About the book, from the publisher:
A unique investigation into how alliances form in highly polarized times among LGBTQ, immigrant, and labor rights activists, revealing the impacts within each rights movement.

Queer Alliances investigates coalition formation among LGBTQ, immigrant, and labor rights activists in the United States, revealing how these new alliances impact political movement formation.

In the early 2000s, the LGBTQ and immigrant rights movements operated separately from and, sometimes, in a hostile manner towards each other. Since 2008, by contrast, major alliances have formed at the national and state level across these communities. Yet, this new coalition formation came at a cost. Today, coalitions across these communities have been largely reluctant to address issues of police brutality, mass incarceration, economic inequality, and the ruthless immigrant regulatory complex. Queer Alliances examines the extent to which grassroots groups bridged historic divisions based on race, gender, class, and immigration status through the development of coalitions, looking specifically at coalition building around expanding LGBTQ rights in Washington State and immigrant and migrant rights in Arizona. Erin Mayo-Adam traces the evolution of political movement formation in each state, and shows that while the movements expanded, they simultaneously ossified around goals that matter to the most advantaged segments of their respective communities.

Through a detailed, multi-method study that involves archival research and in-depth interviews with organization leaders and advocates, Queer Alliances centers local, coalition-based mobilization across and within multiple movements rather than national campaigns and court cases that often occur at the end of movement formation. Mayo-Adam argues that the construction of common political movement narratives and a shared core of opponents can help to explain the paradoxical effects of coalition formation. On the one hand, the development of shared political movement narratives and common opponents can expand movements in some contexts. On the other hand, the episodic nature of rights-based campaigns can simultaneously contain and undermine movement expansion, reinforcing movement divisions. Mayo-Adam reveals the extent to which inter- and intra-movement coalitions, formed to win rights or thwart rights losses, represent and serve intersectionally marginalized communities—who are often absent from contemporary accounts of social movement formation.
Visit Erin Mayo-Adam's website.

The Page 99 Test: Queer Alliances.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Five top adoption thrillers

Jeff Abbott is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of many mystery and suspense novels.

His new novel is Never Ask Me.

At CrimeReads Abbott tagged five of the best adoption thrillers. One title on the list:
The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal (2017)

A much-praised debut novel about a troubled woman, Nora, who gave up her infant daughter for adoption. Fifteen years later her daughter, Bonnie, a chronic runaway, goes missing and Nora’s contacted by Bonnie’s desperate parents. Nora is a force of nature who decides to search for find her missing daughter—the one she thought would be better off with another family. Her journey into a vicious, dark side of Vancouver in search of Bonnie illuminates her own past.

Pg. 69: Heather Vogel Frederick's "Really Truly"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Really Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes grapple with pirates and mermaids in the third cozy mystery of the Edgar Award–nominated middle grade series from the author of the beloved Mother-Daughter Book Club books.

Truly Lovejoy is excited for the perfect summer in Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire: swim practice outside, working at the bookstore, one-on-one time with her mom, and best of all, time with the dreamy RJ Calhoun who may just like Truly back. But the idyllic falls apart when she’s sent off to mermaid academy—sparkly tail and all.

Luckily, a mystery is never too far behind the Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes, and synchronized swimming turns into a hunt for a sunken ship and an investigation of the founding of Pumpkin Falls…which may have involved more pirates than originally thought.

And as the Pumpkin Falls Private Eyes get closer to the heart of the mystery and Truly gets closer to her mermaid debut, she may just learn to come out of her shell.
Visit Heather Vogel Frederick's website.

The Page 69 Test: Really Truly.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Molly Aitken

From my Q&A with Molly Aitken, author of The Island Child:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

As I was writing I cycled through a lot of names for The Island Child, a few of which I loved, but didn’t end up suiting the novel when I’d finished writing. Just before my agent sent the book out to publishers I realised the name was The Island Child. I was reading WB Yeats poem called ‘The Stolen Child’ and it hit me that its title was quite close. However, my narrator Oona leaves her island, Inis, off the west coast of Ireland. She’s not stolen. It’s a choice for her so I replaced ‘stolen’ with ‘island’. Sometimes naming is that simple. Also the island is really what the novel rotates around. None of the characters can really escape it. They’re constantly drawn back. There are several important...[read on]
Follow Molly Aitken on Twitter and Instagram.

Q&A with Molly Aitken.

--Marshal Zeringue

Adele Parks's "Lies Lies Lies," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Lies, Lies, Lies: A Novel by Adele Parks.

  The entry begins:
Daisy and Simon have been together for nearly twenty years. Many of those years were dominated by their yearning to start a family. We meet them when their longed-for daughter is six years old. She is the centre of their world; everything should be perfect now they are a happy family of three. However, Simon is pushing for a second child and Daisy is strangely resistant to even trying again. Thwarted, Simon is drinking even more than usual. One night at their friends’ party his drinking spirals out of control with brutal consequences. He doesn’t just embarrass himself - which Daisy and her friends Connie and Lucy are getting used to - he causes a devastating accident. Their little family can never be the same again. The fracture that Simon’s atrocious and destructive behaviour crates in their marriage looks set to be filled by Daisy’s old college friend Daryll. But is Daryll the hero she needs or an even bigger and more malevolent threat?

This novel investigates a number of different types of addiction - to alcohol, to people, to the concept of family. It’s also a book about deception and lies. No one is telling the truth. Not to each other or themselves.

Ok, if ever the world delivered all my Christmases at once, and Lies Lies Lies was made into a film, this would be my dream cast.

I’d love to see Emily Blunt play Daisy. Her range is incredible. She can nail fun or fearless, but she is also absolutely knockout when playing dramatic or vulnerable roles, like Girl on a Train or as strong, spirited, resourceful mother in A Quiet Place. Daisy is vulnerable and victimised but has incredible inner strength and resilience. My only caveat is that Blunt is actually...[read on]
Visit Adele Parks's website.

The Page 69 Test: I Invited Her In.

My Book, The Movie: I Invited Her In.

Q&A with Adele Parks.

The Page 69 Test: Lies, Lies, Lies.

My Book, The Movie: Lies, Lies, Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Eight books that will make you glad you’re not at the beach

Preety Sidhu, an intern at Electric Literature, tagged eight books to make you glad you’re not at the beach, including:
They Are Trying to Break Your Heart by David Savill

Human rights researcher Anya travels to a beach resort in Thailand for Christmas in 2004, hoping to track down a presumed-dead brigade commander who may have participated in the gang rape of a Bosnian woman during the war a decade earlier. She also hopes to reconnect with an old boyfriend teaching English in Bangkok, but the imminent Boxing Day Tsunami threatens to engulf her in another horrific international crisis.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Adele Parks's "Lies Lies Lies"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Lies, Lies, Lies: A Novel by Adele Parks.

About the book, from the publisher:
Daisy and Simon’s marriage isn’t what it seems…

After years together, the arrival of longed-for daughter Millie sealed everything in place. They’re a happy little family of three.

So what if Simon drinks a bit too much sometimes—Daisy’s used to it. She knows he’s just letting off steam. Until one night at a party things spiral horribly out of control. And their happy little family of three will never be the same again.

In Lies, Lies, Lies, #1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks explores the darkest corners of a relationship in free fall in a mesmerizing tale of marriage and secrets.
Visit Adele Parks's website.

The Page 69 Test: I Invited Her In.

My Book, The Movie: I Invited Her In.

Q&A with Adele Parks.

The Page 69 Test: Lies, Lies, Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Alex Landragin

From my Q&A with Alex Landragin, author of Crossings: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Crossings is a self-explanatory title by design. It came to me early and I could never come up with anything better. It refers directly to the novel’s central conceit of characters who can ‘cross’ from one body into another, and in that sense I like its simplicity and humility. But it can also be applied much more widely. It alludes to the novel’s unusual structure (it can be read conventionally as three separate stories or following an alternative sequence where the stories are interwoven into one whole). It’s also an invitation to the reader to consider crossing as a metaphor for such other things as history, love and literature.

What's in a name?

The backstory to Crossings takes place on a remote island, whose inhabitants can all cross from one body into another. Appropriation, especially of the colonial variety, is a major theme in the novel. Although there is much true history woven into the fictional story, after careful consideration of the ethics of the matter I decided to invent an island rather than set it on a real-life island. The island I invented I placed between Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands and called it Oaeetee as a nod to...[read on]
Visit Alex Landragin's website.



--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Eric Jay Dolin's "A Furious Sky"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America's Hurricanes by Eric Jay Dolin.

About the book, from the publisher:
With A Furious Sky, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin tells the history of America itself through its five-hundred-year battle with the fury of hurricanes.

Hurricanes menace North America from June through November every year, each as powerful as 10,000 nuclear bombs. These megastorms will likely become more intense as the planet continues to warm, yet we too often treat them as local disasters and TV spectacles, unaware of how far-ranging their impact can be. As best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin contends, we must look to our nation’s past if we hope to comprehend the consequences of the hurricanes of the future.

With A Furious Sky, Dolin has created a vivid, sprawling account of our encounters with hurricanes, from the nameless storms that threatened Columbus’s New World voyages to the destruction wrought in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. Weaving a story of shipwrecks and devastated cities, of heroism and folly, Dolin introduces a rich cast of unlikely heroes, such as Benito ViƱes, a nineteenth-century Jesuit priest whose innovative methods for predicting hurricanes saved countless lives, and puts us in the middle of the most devastating storms of the past, none worse than the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which killed at least 6,000 people, the highest toll of any natural disaster in American history.

Dolin draws on a vast array of sources as he melds American history, as it is usually told, with the history of hurricanes, showing how these tempests frequently helped determine the nation’s course. Hurricanes, it turns out, prevented Spain from expanding its holdings in North America beyond Florida in the late 1500s, and they also played a key role in shifting the tide of the American Revolution against the British in the final stages of the conflict. As he moves through the centuries, following the rise of the United States despite the chaos caused by hurricanes, Dolin traces the corresponding development of hurricane science, from important discoveries made by Benjamin Franklin to the breakthroughs spurred by the necessities of the World War II and the Cold War.

Yet after centuries of study and despite remarkable leaps in scientific knowledge and technological prowess, there are still limits on our ability to predict exactly when and where hurricanes will strike, and we remain terribly vulnerable to the greatest storms on earth. A Furious Sky is, ultimately, a story of a changing climate, and it forces us to reckon with the reality that as bad as the past has been, the future will probably be worse, unless we drastically reimagine our relationship with the planet.
Learn more about the book and author at Eric Jay Dolin's website.

The Page 99 Test: Fur, Fortune, and Empire.

The Page 99 Test: When America First Met China.

The Page 69 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

The Page 99 Test: Brilliant Beacons.



--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 03, 2020

Ten novels that use large-scale events as a catalyst

Suzanne Rindell received her Ph.D. in English literature from Rice University in spring 2018.

She is the author of the forthcoming historical mystery, The Two Mrs. Carlyles.

At CrimeReds, Rindell tagged ten novels that use momentous events as a catalyst, including:
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Catalyst: World War II

Impossible to make this list and ignore the two World Wars that in many ways defined the first half of the 20th century! This novel moves back and forth between 1915 and 1947, working to unravel the mystery of a betrayal within the “Alice Network,” based on a real life network of female spies during WWI. The plot of Quinn’s book takes inspiration from real events, while the character development of her two main heroines are spurred along by the changing roles of women – an evolution that was unquestionably accelerated by both World Wars.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Alice Network.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Samantha Downing's "He Started It"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: He Started It by Samantha Downing.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the twisted mind behind mega hit My Lovely Wife comes the story of a family—not unlike your own—just with a few more violent tendencies thrown in….

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory, a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.
Visit Samantha Downing's website.

The Page 69 Test: My Lovely Wife.

The Page 69 Test: He Started It.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Adele Parks

From my Q&A with Adele Parks, author of Lies, Lies, Lies: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Lies Lies Lies was without a title for the entire process of writing the book. That is unusual for me, and I think, for most writers. The book is about a marriage in freefall. Lies and deceptions pile almost as high as the empty spirit bottles that my character, Simon – an alcoholic - discards, I knew lies had to be in the title, to be er…truthful to the book.

My stumbling block was that there are so many books already in print with the word lies in the title. Every time I saw one on the bookstore shelf, my heart would sink a little, because I feared my novel would get lost. In the end my editor and I decided to take the bull by the horns. By bluntly entitling the work Lies Lies Lies, we own the concept of deception and drum home that there are going to be multiple twists and reveals.

Daisy and Simon who have been together for nearly twenty years; many of which were dominated by their yearning to start a family. We meet them when they have their longed-for daughter, and everything should be perfect now they are a happy family of three but because of the title the reader will doubt that concept from the get-go.

Simon is pushing for a second child, but Daisy is resistant to even trying for another. Again, the title will make readers question both his motivation and her resistance. Nothing is what it seems. Thwarted, Simon is drinking more than usual. One night at a party...[read on]
Visit Adele Parks's website.

The Page 69 Test: I Invited Her In.

My Book, The Movie: I Invited Her In.

Q&A with Adele Parks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Khurrum Rahman's "East of Hounslow," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: East of Hounslow (Jay Qasim, Book 1) by Khurrum Rahman.

The entry begins:
East of Hounslow centres around young British Muslim, Jay Qasim. A small-time dope dealer living in West London, who lives at home with his Mum and has just bought his pride and joy – a black BMW. Life seems sweet. What Jay doesn’t realise is that he is being carefully watched by MI5, who feel that he is just the man to infiltrate a terrorist cell, thousands of miles East of Hounslow.

As an author, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but my first love is the movies. If I go longer than a couple of weeks without going to the cinema, I start to get withdrawal symptoms. I simply adore the experience of watching a film over a tub of popcorn. It’s the ultimate escape.

I wrote East of Hounslow just like I would write a movie. I wanted the story to pop and come alive off the page where I could visualise Jay staring down at me from the screen and see the action running through my mind. The tone is based around some of my favourite films, combining the dialogue of Fargo and Reservoir Dogs, with the hard-hitting drama of Boyz ‘n the Hood and American History X.

I’ve always struggled to visualise an actor that could portray the role of Jay, I think he would have the attitude of Beverly Hill Cops’ Eddie Murphy, mixed in with a softness of Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel, and the screen presence of True Romance’s Christian Slater. I don’t think...[read on]
Follow Khurrum Rahman on Twitter.

My Book, The Movie: East of Hounslow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Pg. 99: Lawrence Roberts's "Mayday 1971"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mayday 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America’s Biggest Mass Arrest by Lawrence Roberts.

About the book, from the publisher:
A vivid account of the largest act of civil disobedience in US history, in Richard Nixon’s Washington

They surged into Washington by the tens of thousands in the spring of 1971. Fiery radicals, flower children, and militant vets gathered for the most audacious act in a years-long movement to end America’s war in Vietnam: a blockade of the nation’s capital. And the White House, headed by an increasingly paranoid Richard Nixon, was determined to stop it.

Washington journalist Lawrence Roberts, drawing on dozens of interviews, unexplored archives, and newfound White House transcripts, recreates these largely forgotten events through the eyes of dueling characters. Woven into the story too are now-familiar names including John Kerry, Jane Fonda, and Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers. It began with a bombing inside the U.S. Capitol — a still-unsolved case to which Roberts brings new information. To prevent the Mayday Tribe’s guerrilla-style traffic blockade, the government mustered the military. Riot squads swept through the city, arresting more than 12,000 people. As a young female public defender led a thrilling legal battle to free the detainees, Nixon and his men took their first steps down the road to the Watergate scandal and the implosion of the presidency.

Mayday 1971 is the ultimately inspiring story of a season when our democracy faced grave danger, and survived.
Visit Lawrence Roberts's website.

The Page 99 Test: Mayday 1971.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best books about the allure of crowds & community

John Drury is professor of social psychology at the University of Sussex; his research interests focus on collective behaviour in mass emergencies, riots and other crowd events.

At the Guardian he tagged six of the best books about the allure of crowds and community, including:
With mass gatherings still banned, Barbara Ehrenreich’s account of communal celebrations through history, Dancing in the Streets, shows what we’re missing. People have come together for carnivals since the middle ages, but these exuberant gatherings have shaped sporting celebrations and even demonstrations such as the 1990 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, where people banged drums, blew horns and partied. Ehrenreich also demonstrates that much music is only properly appreciated through dancing with other people. Little wonder some are flocking to illegal raves and street parties.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Jennifer Honeybourn

From my Q&A with Jennifer Honeybourn, author of The Do-Over:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Typically, I have a hard time coming up with titles, but I had The Do-Over before I even started drafting. I think it gives potential readers a pretty good idea of what to expect in the book, which is about a girl who finds a magical solution to re-do a choice she made in her past, only to face consequences she didn’t expect.

What's in a name?

Naming characters is one of my very favorite parts of writing. I like unusual names, names that aren’t widely used or have unique spellings. Emelia is the main character in The Do-Over and her love interest is Alistair. In previous books, I’ve used Marty, Quinn and Shelby. I don’t really go deep with names in terms of what they mean, I...[read on]
Visit Jennifer Honeybourn's website.

My Book, The Movie: Just My Luck.

The Page 69 Test: Just My Luck.

My Book, The Movie: The Do-Over.

The Page 69 Test: The Do-Over.

Q&A with Jennifer Honeybourn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Seven top obsession thrillers

Seraphina Nova Glass is an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Playwright-In-Residence at the University of Texas, Arlington where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting.

She holds an MFA degree in Dramatic Writing from Smith College, and a second MFA in Directing from the University of Idaho. She’s also a screenwriter and award-winning playwright.

Her new novel is Someone's Listening.

At CrimeReads Glass tagged seven crime and suspense novels that explore the causes and consequences of infatuation, including:
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

It’s no wonder this story of relentless stalking and home-wrecking was an instant success. Amber Patterson unapologetically befriends Daphne, the wife of the man she wants for herself. She’s a master manipulator who gets closer and closer to this family under the guise that she’s Daphne’s BFF. The lengths she’ll go to earn the family’s trust while secretly setting traps to get Daphne out of the picture are shocking and anxiety-inducing.

The reason I think this book is such an accomplishment, is because yes, you can have a flawed or somewhat unlikable character and people can still relate and connect, but here you have a protagonist who’s the bad guy and so unabashedly remorseless that you don’t understand why you’re rooting for her, but you ARE. The author has made us want Amber to succeed in destroying a family and stealing a man, but simultaneously, of course, we don’t want her to. Poor Daphne. How could we be rooting for Amber? And that’s why it’s a gem.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Last Mrs. Parrish is among Allison Dickson's top ten thrillers featuring a dance of girlfriends and deception, Kristyn Kusek Lewis's eight shocking thrillers featuring scandals, Margot Hunt's top nine thrillers featuring duplicitous spouses, and Jennifer Hillier's eight crime novels of women starting over.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Mrs. Parrish.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Alex Landragin's "Crossings"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Crossings: A Novel by Alex Landragin.

About the book, from the publisher:
Alex Landragin's Crossings is an unforgettable and explosive genre-bending debut—a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning a hundred and fifty years and seven lifetimes.

On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence.

The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations.

With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.
Visit Alex Landragin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Crossings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mark Evan Bonds's "Beethoven: Variations on a Life"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Beethoven: Variations on a Life by Mark Evan Bonds.

About the book, from the publisher:
Despite the ups and downs of his personal life and professional career-even in the face of deafness-Beethoven remained remarkably consistent in his most basic convictions about his art. This inner consistency, the music historian Mark Evan Bonds argues, provides the key to understanding the composer's life and works. Beethoven approached music as he approached life, weighing whatever occupied him from a variety of perspectives: a melodic idea, a musical genre, a word or phrase, a friend, a lover, a patron, money, politics, religion. His ability to unlock so many possibilities from each helps explain the emotional breadth and richness of his output as a whole, from the heaven-storming Ninth Symphony to the eccentric Eighth, and from the arcane Great Fugue to the crowd-pleasing Wellington's Victory. Beethoven's works, Bonds argues, are a series of variations on his life. The iconic scowl so familiar from later images of the composer is but one of many attitudes he could assume and project through his music. The supposedly characteristic furrowed brow and frown, moreover, came only after his time. Discarding tired myths about the composer, Bonds proposes a new way of listening to Beethoven by hearing his music as an expression of his entire self, not just his scowling self.
Learn more about Beethoven: Variations on a Life at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Beethoven: Variations on a Life.

--Marshal Zeringue