Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Pg. 69: Joy Castro's "Flight Risk

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Flight Risk: A Novel by Joy Castro.

About the book, from the publisher:
A woman is forced to face her past in a heartbreaking and triumphant novel of old wounds and family secrets by award-winning author Joy Castro.

Isabel Morales is a successful Chicago sculptor hiding a brutal family history―one not even her husband knows. After decades of turning her back on her past, she’s forced to return to Appalachia when she receives news of her estranged mother’s death.

But going back means revisiting the traumatic childhood she escaped―and the family that cast her out when she needed them most. Back on the land she has inherited, she’s flooded with memories of the forest where she once roamed free, of her beloved lost brother, and of the old house in the West Virginia hills where she grew up. Her mother has left her another legacy, too, which reveals secrets that Isabel is only beginning to understand.

As forces bear down and threaten to take what she has left, it’s time for Isabel to step into her power, reclaim her roots, and finally confront the painful memories that have kept her from the life she truly wants.
Visit Joy Castro’s website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Hell or High Water.

Writers Read: Joy Castro (July 2012).

Writers Read: Joy Castro (July 2013).

The Page 69 Test: Nearer Home.

Q&A with Joy Castro.

My Book, The Movie: Flight Risk.

The Page 69 Test: Flight Risk.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lonán Ó Briain's "Voices of Vietnam"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Voices of Vietnam: A Century of Radio, Red Music, and Revolution by Lonán Ó Briain.

About the book, from the publisher:
On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh read out the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence over a makeshift wired loudspeaker system to thousands of listeners in Hanoi. Five days later, Ho's Viet Minh forces set up a clandestine radio station using equipment brought to Southeast Asia by colonial traders. The revolutionaries garnered support for their coalition on air by interspersing political narratives with red music (nhạc đỏ). Voice of Vietnam Radio (VOV) grew from these communist and colonial foundations to become one of the largest producers of music in contemporary Vietnam.

In this first comprehensive English-language study on the history of radio music in mainland Southeast Asia, Lonán Ó Briain examines the broadcast voices that reconfigured Vietnam's cultural, social, and political landscape over a century. Ó Briain draws on a year of ethnographic fieldwork at the VOV studios (2016-17), interviews with radio employees and listeners, historical recordings and broadcasts, and archival research in Vietnam, France, and the United States. From the Indochinese radio clubs of the 1920s to the 75th anniversary celebrations of the VOV in 2020, Voices of Vietnam: A Century of Radio, Red Music, and Revolution offers a fresh perspective on this turbulent period by demonstrating how music production and sound reproduction are integral to the unyielding process of state formation.
Learn more about Voices of Vietnam at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Voices of Vietnam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-five top recent vampire books

At Bustle, K.W. Colyard tagged twenty-five of the best recent vampire books, including:
Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang

In a city still abuzz with talk of Bram Stoker’s must-read novel, a vampiric serial killer lurks in the shadows. When her sister turns up exsanguinated, bearing the mark of a vampire’s kiss on her neck, bookish Tillie Pembroke will stop at nothing to catch the perpetrator. But will Tillie’s newfound dependence on laudanum prevent her from bringing the murderer to justice?
Read about another book on the list.

Opium and Absinthe is among Martha Hall Kelly's nine immersive historical novels.

The Page 69 Test: Opium and Absinthe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 29, 2021

What is Darcie Wilde reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Darcie Wilde, author of A Counterfeit Suitor.

Her entry begins:
As I’m writing this, fall is turning to winter, a time of year that’s about burrowing under covers and being cozy, and for me, about reading favorites, whether that’s favorite authors, or favorite themes.

Now, I have a confession. I have a deep and abiding love for “deal with the devil” stories. I don’t know why, but it’s been a life-long fascination. So, I was delighted to find two new books that take the deal as the premise, and both of them excellent.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab begins with the classic premise that you should be very, very careful what you wish for. Addie wishes for time, and gets it, but it comes in the form of a highly problematic immortality. She also, like the clever peasant in the fairy tale, thinks she can outsmart the darkness she’s tied herself to. And maybe she...[read on]
About Darcie Wilde's A Counterfeit Suitor, from the publisher:
Among the ton of Regency London, one breath of scandal can be disastrous. Enter Rosalind Thorne, a young woman adept at helping ladies of quality navigate the most delicate problems—in this charming mystery series inspired by the novels of Jane Austen...

It is every mama’s dearest wish that her daughter marries well. But how to ensure that a seemingly earnest suitor is not merely a fortune hunter? Rosalind is involved in just such a case, discreetly investigating a client’s prospective son-in-law, when she is drawn into another predicament shockingly close to home.

Rosalind’s estranged father, Sir Reginald Thorne—a drunkard and forger—has fallen into the hands of the vicious scoundrel Russell Fullerton. Angered by her interference in his blackmail schemes, Fullerton intends to unleash Sir Reginald on society and ruin Rosalind. Before Rosalind’s enemy can act, Sir Reginald is found murdered—and Fullerton is arrested for the crime. He protests his innocence, and Rosalind reluctantly agrees to uncover the truth, suspecting that this mystery may be linked to her other, ongoing cases.

Aided by her sister, Charlotte, and sundry friends and associates—including handsome Bow Street Runner Adam Harkness—Rosalind sets to work. But with political espionage and Napoleon loyalists in the mix, there may be more sinister motives, and far higher stakes, than she ever imagined...
Visit Darcie Wilde's website.

My Book, The Movie: And Dangerous to Know.

The Page 69 Test: And Dangerous to Know.

The Page 69 Test: A Lady Compromised.

Q&A with Darcie Wilde.

Writers Read: Darcie Wilde.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Hannah Farber's "Underwriters of the United States"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Underwriters of the United States: How Insurance Shaped the American Founding by Hannah Farber.

About the book, from the publisher:
Unassuming but formidable, American maritime insurers used their position at the pinnacle of global trade to shape the new nation. The international information they gathered and the capital they generated enabled them to play central roles in state building and economic development. During the Revolution, they helped the U.S. negotiate foreign loans, sell state debts, and establish a single national bank. Afterward, they increased their influence by lending money to the federal government and to its citizens. Even as federal and state governments began to encroach on their domain, maritime insurers adapted, preserving their autonomy and authority through extensive involvement in the formation of commercial law. Leveraging their claims to unmatched expertise, they operated free from government interference while simultaneously embedding themselves into the nation’s institutional fabric. By the early nineteenth century, insurers were no longer just risk assessors. They were nation builders and market makers.

Deeply and imaginatively researched, Underwriters of the United States uses marine insurers to reveal a startlingly original story of risk, money, and power in the founding era.
Learn more about Underwriters of the United States at the University of North Carolina Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Underwriters of the United States.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best science fiction books by autistic authors

Ada Hoffmann is the author of the space opera novel The Outside, the collection Monsters in My Mind, and over 60 published speculative short stories and poems.

[The Page 69 Test: The Outside]

Hoffmann was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 13, and is passionate about autistic self-advocacy. Her Autistic Book Party review series is devoted to in-depth discussions of autism representation in speculative fiction. Much of her own work also features autistic characters.

At Shepherd Hoffmann tagged five of the best science fiction books by autistic authors, including:
Ninefox Gambit, 1 by Yoon Ha Lee

Disgraced general Kel Cheris must work with the undead, unstable genius Shuos Jedao to defeat a fortress of calendrical heretics. Lee's fantastically inventive worldbuilding supports some of the most surreal, creative battle scenes anywhere in science fiction; the tension between Cheris and Jedao, not to mention between Cheris's loyalty to the galaxy-ruling hexarchate and its vicious, tyrannical means of maintaining control, propel this multi-award-nominated space opera forward quickly.
Read about another entry on the list.

Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series is among Jenn Lyons's five villains who see themselves as heroes, Jeff Somers's fifty greatest debut sci-fi and fantasy novels ever written, and T.W. O'Brien's five recent books that explore the secret lives of robots.

My Book, The Movie: Ninefox Gambit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Pg. 69: Melissa Payne's "The Night of Many Endings"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Night of Many Endings: A Novel by Melissa Payne.

About the book, from the publisher:
From Melissa Payne, bestselling author of Memories in the Drift, comes an emotionally rich, feel-good novel about hope, second chances, and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.

Orphaned at a young age and witness to her brother’s decline into addiction, Nora Martinez has every excuse to question the fairness of life. Instead, the openhearted librarian in the small Colorado community of Silver Ridge sees only promise. She holds on to the hope that she’ll be reunited with her missing brother and does what she can at the town library. It’s her home away from home, but it’s also a sanctuary for others who, like her brother, could use a second chance.

There’s Marlene, an elderly loner who believes that, apart from her husband, there’s little good left in the world; Jasmine, a troubled teen; Lewis, a homeless man with lost hope and one last wish; and Vlado, the security guard who loves a good book and, from afar, Nora.

As a winter storm buries Silver Ridge, this collection of lonely hearts takes shelter in the library. They’ll discover more about each other, and themselves, than they ever knew―and Nora will be forced to question her brother’s disappearance in ways she never could have imagined. No matter how stranded in life they feel, this fateful night could be the new beginning they didn’t think was possible.
Visit Melissa Payne's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Payne & Max.

My Book, The Movie: The Secrets of Lost Stones.

The Page 69 Test: The Secrets of Lost Stones.

Q&A with Melissa Payne.

The Page 69 Test: The Night of Many Endings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael Krepon's "Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace: The Rise, Demise, and Revival of Arms Control by Michael Krepon.

About the book, from the publisher:
The definitive guide to the history of nuclear arms control by a wise eavesdropper and masterful storyteller, Michael Krepon.

The greatest unacknowledged diplomatic achievement of the Cold War was the absence of mushroom clouds. Deterrence alone was too dangerous to succeed; it needed arms control to prevent nuclear warfare. So, U.S. and Soviet leaders ventured into the unknown to devise guardrails for nuclear arms control and to treat the Bomb differently than other weapons. Against the odds, they succeeded. Nuclear weapons have not been used in warfare for three quarters of a century. This book is the first in-depth history of how the nuclear peace was won by complementing deterrence with reassurance, and then jeopardized by discarding arms control after the Cold War ended.

Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace tells a remarkable story of high-wire acts of diplomacy, close calls, dogged persistence, and extraordinary success. Michael Krepon brings to life the pitched battles between arms controllers and advocates of nuclear deterrence, the ironic twists and unexpected outcomes from Truman to Trump. What began with a ban on atmospheric testing and a nonproliferation treaty reached its apogee with treaties that mandated deep cuts and corralled "loose nukes" after the Soviet Union imploded.

After the Cold War ended, much of this diplomatic accomplishment was cast aside in favor of freedom of action. The nuclear peace is now imperiled by no less than four nuclear-armed rivalries. Arms control needs to be revived and reimagined for Russia and China to prevent nuclear warfare. New guardrails have to be erected. Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace is an engaging account of how the practice of arms control was built from scratch, how it was torn down, and how it can be rebuilt.
Learn more about Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace at the Stanford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Better Safe Than Sorry.

The Page 99 Test: Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best murder mysteries that take place during Christmas

Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before sitting down to write the Cape Cod Foodie Mystery series, including A Side of Murder — which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” — and An Eggnog to Die For — which Kirkus Reviews gave a starred review, saying, "A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens."

At CrimeReads Pershing tagged ten "stylish, well written and cleverly plotted" murder mysteries that take place during Christmas, including:
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

“Had CC de Poitiers known she was going to be murdered she might have bought her husband, Richard, a Christmas gift.”

And with this opening line, Louise Penny, author of the fabulous Chief Inspector Gamache mysteries, informs the reader that even though we are in the magical (and perhaps even mystical) Canadian town of Three Pines, there is still a gritty reality to be faced, even at Christmas time.

No one liked CC de Poitiers—not her family, not her lover, not her neighbors in Three Pines. Still, when Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called upon to investigate CC’s sudden death on the day after Christmas, it seems impossible: how could she have been electrocuted in the midst of Three Pines’ annual curling match? (a curling match!) As Gamache digs for secrets beneath the surface of village life, it becomes clear that something even more chilling approaches.

Verdict: A masterful work by a contemporary master of the genre.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Fatal Grace is among Peter Swanson's top ten Christmas crime stories.

My Book, The Movie: A Fatal Grace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Joy Castro’s "Flight Risk," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Flight Risk: A Novel by Joy Castro.

The entry begins:
I love imagining who could direct and star in a film version of Flight Risk, because I write film criticism, too, and I love watching films and imagining how various books could be brought to the screen. Flight Risk is the story of Isabel Morales, a sculptor in her late 30s who's married to a wealthy doctor and living a picture-perfect life in Chicago. But all is not as it seems, and when her mother dies in prison back in West Virginia (where I'm from), she returns home to reckon with her past.

If he were available and interested, Todd Haynes, the director of Far from Heaven and Carol, would do an impeccable job with Flight Risk. He has a gift for lush melodramas that never feel melodramatic--they feels subtle and keenly observant--and he captures the delicacy of individual women so well onscreen--their internal struggles, dreams, and despair--so I think he would do a luminous job of rendering Isabel sympathetically. He knows how to illuminate the dynamics of families and couples, which are very much at play in Flight Risk, and he understands how difficult it is to traverse the divides of class, culture, race, and sexuality.

Another director whose take on Flight Risk I'd love to see would be Kelly...[read on]
Visit Joy Castro’s website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Hell or High Water.

Writers Read: Joy Castro (July 2012).

Writers Read: Joy Castro (July 2013).

The Page 69 Test: Nearer Home.

Q&A with Joy Castro.

My Book, The Movie: Flight Risk.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top novels by African writers about the legacy of colonialism on their homelands

Okezie Nwọka was born and raised in Washington, D.C. They are a graduate of Brown University, and attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop as a Dean Graduate Research Fellow. They are presently teaching and living in their hometown.

Nwọka's debut novel is God of Mercy.

At Electric Lit they tagged seven "books by African writers about the legacy of colonialism on their homelands." One title on the list:
House of Stone by Novuyo Tshuma

House of Stone is an exhilarating novel that explores modern life in Zimbabwe through the eyes of Abednego, Agnes, Bukhosi, and Zamani. Bukhosi goes missing and the other characters struggle to find him—though not without Zamani taking advantage of Agnes and Abednego. This is a story that explores the history of Zimbabwe from its historical beginnings as Rhodesia into the present day. It’s a novel that explores Africa’s history beyond its colonist past by interrogating the complex lives of its amazing characters.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 26, 2021

Pg. 99: Ray E. Boomhower's "Richard Tregaskis"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Richard Tregaskis: Reporting under Fire from Guadalcanal to Vietnam by Ray E. Boomhower.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the late summer of 1942, more than ten thousand members of the First Marine Division held a tenuous toehold on the Pacific island of Guadalcanal. As American marines battled Japanese forces for control of the island, they were joined by war correspondent Richard Tregaskis. Tregaskis was one of only two civilian reporters to land and stay with the marines, and in his notebook he captured the daily and nightly terrors faced by American forces in one of World War II’s most legendary battles—and it served as the premise for his bestselling book, Guadalcanal Diary. One of the most distinguished combat reporters to cover World War II, Tregaskis later reported on Cold War conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. In 1964 the Overseas Press Club recognized his first-person reporting under hazardous circumstances by awarding him its George Polk Award for his book Vietnam Diary. Boomhower’s riveting book is the first to tell Tregaskis’s gripping life story, concentrating on his intrepid reporting experiences during World War II and his fascination with war and its effect on the men who fought it.
Follow Ray E. Boomhower on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Richard Tregaskis.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books that take zombies in a new direction

Rachel Aukes's many books include the zombie trilogy, The Deadland Saga. About the first book in the series, 100 Days in Deadland, from the author:
100 Days in Deadland, the Amazon bestseller that made Suspense Magazine’s Best of the Year list, is set in a near-future Midwest United States decimated by a zombie plague. In this tale, our hero, Cash, and her guide, Clutch, are forced on a journey through hell on earth in a modern retelling of Dante Alighieri’s epic medieval poem, The Divine Comedy...reimagined zombie apocalypse style!
At Shepherd Aukes tagged five books that take zombies in a new direction, including:
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

This is probably the first book that comes to mind when people think of nontraditional zombies. It’s so popular that it was even turned into a movie. In this book, the protagonist is a zombie who eats the brains of a girl’s boyfriend, taking in his memories. Something in them sparks something inside him, and he begins to regain his humanity bit by bit. This is a love story at heart, so of course, it takes love for him to fully recover. I love a good happily ever after every now and then—especially in a zombie story.
Read about another entry on the list.

Warm Bodies is among Ceridwen Christensen's seven top books with thinking zombies, Jeff Somers's eight best speculative works with dead narrators, Sarah Skilton's six most unusual YA narrators, Rachel Paxton-Gillilan's five funniest YA zombie novels, Nick Harkaway's six favorite holiday books, and Nicole Hill's seven favorite literary oddballs.

The Page 69 Test: Warm Bodies.

My Book, The Movie: Warm Bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Top ten novels and stories of the 1970s

Hilma Wolitzer is a recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and a Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. She has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, New York University, Columbia University, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Her first published story appeared when she was thirty-six, and her first novel eight years later. Her many stories and novels have drawn critical praise for illuminating the dark interiors of the American home. She lives in New York City.

Wolitzer's newest book is Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket: Stories.

At the Guardian she tagged ten top novels and stories of the 1970s, including:
Will You Please be Quiet, Please? The Stories of Raymond Carver (1976)

The lives of Raymond Carver’s working-class characters are conveyed in brief tales of longing and misery. Carver’s language is deceptively simple, as in this opening line: “Bill and Arlene Miller were a happy couple.” The reader, drawn in as if eavesdropping on strangers, is rewarded with startling psychological complexity. The mother of a violently disturbed boy tries to escape her frightening reality. A man overhears customers of his waitress wife ridicule her body, and compels her to lose weight. The “happy” Millers start to occupy their vacationing neighbour’s apartment, leading to a disastrous reckoning. The stories in this collection remain an unsparing depiction of how we live.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Eric Helleiner's "The Neomercantilists"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Neomercantilists: A Global Intellectual History by Eric Helleiner.

About the book, from the publisher:
At a time when critiques of free trade policies are gaining currency, The Neomercantilists helps make sense of the protectionist turn, providing the first intellectual history of the genealogy of neomercantilism. Eric Helleiner identifies many pioneers of this ideology between the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries who backed strategic protectionism and other forms of government economic activism to promote state wealth and power. They included not just the famous Friedrich List, but also numerous lesser-known thinkers, many of whom came from outside of the West.

Helleiner's novel emphasis on neomercantilism's diverse origins challenges traditional Western-centric understandings of its history. It illuminates neglected local intellectual traditions and international flows of ideas that gave rise to distinctive varieties of the ideology around the globe, including in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. This rich history left enduring intellectual legacies, including in the two dominant powers of the contemporary world economy: China and the United States.

The result is an exceptional study of a set of profoundly influential economic ideas. While rooted in the past, it sheds light on the present moment. The Neomercantilists shows how we might construct more global approaches to the study of international political economy and intellectual history, devoting attention to thinkers from across the world, and to the cross-border circulation of thought.
Learn more about The Neomercantilists at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods.

The Page 99 Test: The Neomercantilists by Eric Helleiner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The five worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Jill Boyd tagged five of the worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving. One entry on the list:
Dr. Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)

And you thought it was going to be difficult to accommodate the dietary needs of your vegan cousin…
Read about another entry on the list.

The Silence of The Lambs is among Monique Alice's six great fictional evil geniuses, sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards. Red Dragon appears on Kimberly Turner's list of the ten most disturbing sociopaths in literature and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best dragons in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, and the (U.K.) Telegraph 110 best books; Andre Gross says "it should be taught as [a text] in Thriller 101."

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Melissa Payne

From my Q&A with Melissa Payne, author of The Night of Many Endings:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I put the majority of my creative energy into creating, developing and writing the story. Finding the kind of title that hooks potential new readers and also accurately reflects the nuances of the story is an art form in and of itself. So I love working with a team when brainstorming a new title.

In my new book, The Night of Many Endings, the story centers around five characters and how a night stuck in a library changes them in one way or another. It’s about perceptions and stereotypes and how we can never really know someone until we learn their story. While in many ways this story is about new beginnings, it’s also about letting go of the past and allowing others in and to do that sometimes we must let our story...[read on]
Visit Melissa Payne's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Melissa Payne & Max.

My Book, The Movie: The Secrets of Lost Stones.

The Page 69 Test: The Secrets of Lost Stones.

Q&A with Melissa Payne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-five top Thanksgiving books for adults and kids

At Oprah Daily DeAnna Janes and Elena Nicolaou tagged twenty-five of the best Thanksgiving books to celebrate the holiday, including:
Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny

”Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all round," Still Life begins, the first of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache mysteries. While not necessarily about Thanksgiving, Still Life is set during that very specific time of year, when the holiday spirit is in the air—and in this book, so is danger.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Still Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Pg. 99: Fay A. Yarbrough's "Choctaw Confederates"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Choctaw Confederates: The American Civil War in Indian Country by Fay A. Yarbrough.

About the book, from the publisher:
When the Choctaw Nation was forcibly resettled in Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma in the 1830s, it was joined by enslaved Black people—the tribe had owned enslaved Blacks since the 1720s. By the eve of the Civil War, 14 percent of the Choctaw Nation consisted of enslaved Blacks. Avid supporters of the Confederate States of America, the Nation passed a measure requiring all whites living in its territory to swear allegiance to the Confederacy and deemed any criticism of it or its army treasonous and punishable by death. Choctaws also raised an infantry force and a cavalry to fight alongside Confederate forces.

In Choctaw Confederates, Fay A. Yarbrough reveals that, while sovereignty and states’ rights mattered to Choctaw leaders, the survival of slavery also determined the Nation’s support of the Confederacy. Mining service records for approximately 3,000 members of the First Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles, Yarbrough examines the experiences of Choctaw soldiers and notes that although their enthusiasm waned as the war persisted, military service allowed them to embrace traditional masculine roles that were disappearing in a changing political and economic landscape. By drawing parallels between the Choctaw Nation and the Confederate states, Yarbrough looks beyond the traditional binary of the Union and Confederacy and reconsiders the historical relationship between Native populations and slavery.
Learn more about Choctaw Confederates at the University of North Carolina Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Choctaw Confederates.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top novels for learning how to write crime fiction

Thomas Perry is the bestselling author of over twenty-nine novels, including the critically acclaimed Jane Whitefield series, Forty Thieves, and The Butcher’s Boy, which won the Edgar Award. He lives in Southern California.

Perry's latest Jane Whitefield novel is The Left-Handed Twin.

[The Page 69 Test: SilenceThe Page 99 Test: NightlifeThe Page 69/99 Test: FidelityThe Page 69/99 Test: RunnerThe Page 69 Test: StripThe Page 69 Test: The InformantThe Page 69 Test: The BoyfriendThe Page 69 Test: A String of BeadsThe Page 69 Test: Forty ThievesThe Page 69 Test: The Old ManThe Page 69 Test: The Bomb MakerThe Page 69 Test: The BurglarThe Page 69 Test: A Small TownThe Page 69 Test: Eddie's BoyThe Page 69 Test: The Left-Handed TwinQ&A with Thomas Perry]

At Shepherd Perry tagged five of the best novels for learning how to write crime fiction, including:
Thirteen Hours: A Benny Griessel Novel by Deon Meyer, K. L. Seegers

I picked Thirteen Hours partly because it’s a good sample of the work of a major writer born, raised, and living in a part of the world different from ours. This book is probably the most suspenseful novel I’ve read in recent years, and it’s the novel I recommend to people who ask me how to write suspenseful books. Meyer is South African and writes in Afrikaans. It features Meyer’s great character Benny Griessel. The action is an American tourist running for her life from the people who killed her friend, and it’s one desperate chase that takes thirteen hours.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 22, 2021

Five sagas about alternate timelines and parallel universes

Charles Stross has won three Hugo Awards and been nominated twelve times. He has also won the Locus Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best Novella, and has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke and Nebula Awards. His latest book is Invisible Sun.

One of the author's five favorite sagas about alternate timelines and parallel universes, as shared at Tor.com:
The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman

Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series (starting with the titular The Invisible Library, first published in the UK in 2014) mirrors [Roger Zelazny's] The Chronicles of Amber’s setting while using it for drastically different ends. There is Chaos (characterized by the malign and capricious Fae) and there is Order (oppressively maintained by Dragons), and the worlds between total chaos and total order exist in a spectrum of states. Holding itself apart from the endless cold war between the fae and the dragons is the Library, which exists outside of space and time: a liminal space curated by the Librarians, who harvest unique-throughout-the-multiverse works of fiction. Our protagonist Irene is a sensible lady in sensible shoes—the better for running with whatever book she has acquired (read: stolen) for the Library. She is assigned to a branch office in an unstable, chaos-adjacent steampunk London (there are airships, famous detectives, werewolves, and clockwork crocodiles), where it gradually becomes apparent that a struggle for control of the multiverse is under way and the Library is in danger of being sucked in. Great fun, and an example of the form updated for the present.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Anima Adjepong's "Afropolitan Projects"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Afropolitan Projects: Redefining Blackness, Sexualities, and Culture from Houston to Accra by Anima Adjepong.

About the book, from the publisher:
Beyond simplistic binaries of "the dark continent" or "Africa Rising," Africans at home and abroad articulate their identities through their quotidian practices and cultural politics. Amongst the privileged classes, these articulations can be characterized as Afropolitan projects--cultural, political, and aesthetic expressions of global belonging rooted in African ideals. This ethnographic study examines the Afropolitan projects of Ghanaians living in two cosmopolitan cities: Houston, Texas, and Accra, Ghana. Anima Adjepong's focus shifts between the cities, exploring contests around national and pan-African cultural politics, race, class, sexuality, and religion. Focusing particularly on queer sexuality, Adjepong offers unique insight into the contemporary sexual politics of the Afropolitan class. The book expands and complicates existing research by providing an in-depth transnational case study that not only addresses questions of cosmopolitanism, class, and racial identity but also considers how gender and sexuality inform the racialized identities of Africans in the United States and in Ghana. Bringing an understudied cohort of class-privileged Africans to the forefront, Adjepong offers a more fully realized understanding of the diversity of African lives.
Visit Anima Adjepong's website.

The Page 99 Test: Afropolitan Projects.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Cat Rambo's "You Sexy Thing"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo.

About the book, from the publisher:
Just when they thought they were out…

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it.

Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance.

But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.
Visit Cat Rambo's website.

Q&A with Cat Rambo.

My Book, The Movie: You Sexy Thing.

The Page 69 Test: You Sexy Thing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Seven top intergenerational novels about family lore

Maria Kuznetsova was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to the United States as a child. Her first novel, Oksana, Behave!, was published in 2019. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and daughter, where she is an assistant professor of creative writing at Auburn University. She is also a fiction editor at The Bare Life Review, a journal of immigrant and refugee literature.

Kuznetsova's newest novel is Something Unbelievable.

[Q&A with Maria Kuznetsova; The Page 69 Test: Something Unbelievable]

At Electric Lit the author tagged seven books about the burdens and blessings of ancestral legacy, including:
The Nesting Dolls by Alina Adams

The Nesting Dolls chronicles the lives of several generations of courageous women in one Russian Jewish family. The novel begins with Zoe, an American-born child of Soviet heritage preparing for her great-grandparents’ anniversary party. It transitions to the story of her great-grandmother Alyssa’s own mother, who was in a Soviet gulag in the 1930s, where she found herself in a surprising romantic entanglement after her husband was allowed to leave. Present-day Zoe is trying to find herself in her career and is torn in her affections between the more suitable man and the one her heart really wants; as Zoe makes her decision, it’s obvious that her great-great grandmother’s story of heartbreak and survival resonated with her.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Nesting Dolls.

The Page 69 Test: The Nesting Dolls.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Deborah Gordon's "No Standard Oil"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: No Standard Oil: Managing Abundant Petroleum in a Warming World by Deborah Gordon.

About the book, from the publisher:
In No Standard Oil, environmental policy expert Deborah Gordon examines the widely varying climate impacts of global oils and gases, and proposes solutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions in this sector while making sustainable progress in transitioning to a carbon-free energy future.

The next decade will be decisive in the fight against climate change. It will be impossible to hold the planet to a 1.5o C temperature rise without controlling methane and CO2 emissions from the oil and gas sector. Contrary to popular belief, the world will not run out of these resources anytime soon. Consumers will continue to demand these abundant resources to fuel their cars, heat their homes, and produce everyday goods like shampoo, pajamas, and paint. But it is becoming more environmentally damaging to supply energy using technologies like fracking oil and liquefying gas. Policymakers, financial investors, environmental advocates, and citizens need to understand what oil and gas are doing to our climate to inform decision-making.

In No Standard Oil, Deborah Gordon shows that no two oils or gases are environmentally alike. Each has a distinct, quantifiable climate impact. While all oils and gases pollute, some are much worse for the climate than others. In clear, accessible language, Gordon explains the results of the Oil Climate Index Plus Gas (OCI+), an innovative, open source model that estimates global oil and gas emissions. Gordon identifies the oils and gases from every region of the globe-along with the specific production, processing, and refining activities-that are the most harmful to the planet, and proposes innovative solutions to reduce their climate footprints.

Global climate stabilization cannot afford to wait for oil and gas to run out. No Standard Oil shows how we can take immediate, practical steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the crucial oil and gas sector while making sustainable progress in transitioning to a carbon-free energy future.
Learn more about No Standard Oil at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Two Billion Cars.

The Page 99 Test: No Standard Oil.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Five top SFF books where magic has a steep cost

Roseanne A. Brown is an immigrant from the West African nation of Ghana and a graduate of the University of Maryland, where she completed the Jimenez-Porter Writers’ House program. Her work has been featured by Voice of America, among other outlets.

Her novels are A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and A Psalm of Storms and Silence.

At Tor.com Brown tagged five favorite SFF books where magic has a steep cost, including:
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

On the surface, the world of The Belles is a decadent, whimsical delight where balloons deliver your mail, tiny teacup animals dance in your palm, and everyone is beautiful. As the creators of beauty, the titular Belles are the most powerful beings in this world, but below their glittering façade lies a sinister reality that questions what it really means to live in a society where beauty is king. Clayton deftly peels back the layers of her magic to show how even the most beautiful of societies are often built on the subjugation of others. The beauty the Belles create is revealed to be a form of control upon the population, and overusing their powers leads to bodily mutilation, disfiguration, and even death. Plus, despite the privilege their position affords them, a gilded cage is still a cage, and the Belles learn that all the power in the world means nothing if you aren’t free to make choices about your own life.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Lisa Gray's "Lonely Hearts," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Lonely Hearts (Jessica Shaw, 4) by Lisa Gray.

The entry begins:
I often receive emails from readers—or see reviews on Amazon—saying they think the Jessica Shaw series would be perfect for the big screen or as a TV series. And, when Bad Memory was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, one of the judges described it as the one most likely to be adapted by Netflix. I couldn’t agree more!

Jessica Shaw is a private investigator who specializes in finding missing people. In Lonely Hearts, she’s hired by Christine Ryan to find her one-time best friend, Veronica Lowe. Veronica was a member of the Lonely Hearts Club, a pen pal service for women who want to write to men in prison. She vanished years earlier after having a child with Death Row inmate and notorious serial killer, Travis Dean Ford. Ford’s widow, Jordana—who was also a member of the Lonely Hearts Club—has been found murdered in the same way as his victims. Christine fears Veronica and her daughter could be next, leading to a race against time for Jessica to find them before the killer does.

Jessica Shaw: I've always had one actress in mind who I think would be perfect as my private eye main character—Kristen Stewart. I don’t mean the brunette high school student of the Twilight movies; I mean Kristen as she is now. With her short, peroxide blonde hair and cool, punky style, she’s exactly how I imagine Jessica would look. I think Kristen would capture Jessica’s personality pretty well too. Her...[read on]
Visit Lisa Gray's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lonely Hearts.

My Book, The Movie: Lonely Hearts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Third reading: D.W. Buffa on "The Scarlet Letter"

D.W. Buffa's recent novel is The Privilege, the ninth legal thriller involving the defense attorney Joseph Antonelli. The tenth, Lunatic Carnival, will be published in the spring. He has also just published Neumann's Last Concert, the fourth novel in a series that attempts to trace the movement of western thought from ancient Athens, in Helen; the end of the Roman Empire, in Julian's Laughter; the Renaissance, in The Autobiography of Niccolo Machiavelli; and, finally, America in the Twentieth Century.

Buffa writes a monthly review for the Campaign for the American Reader that we're calling "Third Reading." Buffa explains. "I was reading something and realized that it was probably the third time that I knew it well enough to write something about it. The first is when I read it when I was in college or in my twenties, the second, however many years later, when I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered, and the third when I knew I was going to have to write about it."

Buffa's "Third Reading" of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter begins:
The uninstructed reader, that is to say, all of us raised in the age of television and celebrity, may wonder on first reading The Scarlet Letter how adultery, however much some might think it wrong, could have been made a crime, and not just a minor crime, but an offense punishable by death. The reason for our confusion is that while we were taught that the English colonists who first settled New England came to escape religious persecution, we were not told that they came to practice a religious persecution of their own.

The Puritans who founded Salem braved the hazards of a three month voyage across the Atlantic, and then braved life in an uncharted wilderness, because they knew, knew with every fiber of their being, that everything they did, everything they had to do, was commanded by God. These were people, Hawthorne tells us, “among whom religion and law were so thoroughly interfused, that the mildest and the severest acts of public discipline were alike made venerable and awful.” That was why they were waiting outside the jail for Hester Prynne, convicted of adultery, to be taken to the scaffold. That was why the women in the crowd were...[read on]
About Buffa's new novel Neumann’s Last Concert, from the publisher:
Neumann’s Last Concert is a story about music and war and the search for what led to the greatest evil in modern history. It is the story of an American boy, Wilfred Malone, who lost his father in the early days of the Second World War and a German refugee, Isaac Neumann, the greatest concert pianist of his age when he lived in Berlin, but who now lives, anonymous and alone, in a single rented room in a small town a few miles from San Francisco.

Wilfred has a genius for the piano, “a keen curiosity not yet corrupted by vanity” and “a memory that forgot nothing essential.” Neumann, alone in his room, is constantly writing, an endless labyrinth of questions and answers, driving him farther and farther back into the past, searching for the causes, searching for the meaning, of what happened in Germany, trying to understand what had led him, a German Jew, to stay in Germany when he could have left but instead continued to perform right up to the night that during his last concert they took his wife away.

Neumann’s Last Concert is a novel about the great catastrophe of the 20th century and the way in which music, great music, preserves both the hope of human decency amidst the carnage of human insanity and the possibility of what human beings might still accomplish.
Visit D.W. Buffa's website.

Third reading: The Great Gatsby

Third reading: Brave New World.

Third reading: Lord Jim.

Third reading: Death in the Afternoon.

Third Reading: Parade's End.

Third Reading: The Idiot.

Third Reading: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Third Reading: The Scarlet Letter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 19, 2021

Five of the best espionage thrillers

Philip Kaplan had a 27-year career as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, including being U.S. minister, deputy chief of mission and Charge d’Affaires, to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines during the tumultuous overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos. Now retired from the State Department, Kaplan is currently a partner in Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe LLP’s Washington, D.C law office, where his practice is focused on public and private international law. He lives in Washington, DC.

Kaplan is the author of the suspenseful thriller, Night in Tehran.

At CrimeReads he tagged five "remarkable novels that pose similar choices as to how fictional characters (but in fact real people) confront challenges on missions in foreign countries and the impact these missions could have domestically and even globally." One title on the list:
Christopher’s Ghosts, by former CIA officer Charles McCarry

Christopher’s Ghosts, by former CIA officer Charles McCarry, is a two-part novel. Part One is set in a 1939 Berlin. The Christophers are a mixed American and German family being monitored by the Nazis because they are sympathetic to Jews. Paul Christopher is a sixteen-year-old who falls in love with Rima, who has Jewish grandparents. This means that under German law Rima is a Jew. Rima is tormented and killed by an SS Officer named Major Stutzer. Part Two flashes twenty years to the future, in post-war Germany. Paul has joined the CIA. One winter night, in a grey European city, he sees Major Stutzer. The chase commences with Paul following Major Stutzer into East Berlin, which was his childhood neighborhood. It is now controlled by Soviet Russia. Paul is finally faced with his old nemesis and is challenged to rise to the occasion. McCarry shows how ordinary people can become brutal secret policemen, and how dealing with them requires skill, courage, and patient determination.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mathias Clasen's "A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies by Mathias Clasen.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why your worst nightmares about watching horror movies are unfounded

Films about chainsaw killers, demonic possession, and ghostly intruders make some of us scream with joy. But while horror fans are attracted to movies designed to scare us, others shudder already at the thought of the sweat-drenched nightmares that terrifying movies often trigger. The fear of sleepless nights and the widespread beliefs that horror movies can have negative psychological effects and display immorality make some of us very, very nervous about them. But should we be concerned?

In this book, horror-expert Mathias Clasen delves into the psychological science of horror cinema to bust some of the worst myths and correct the biggest misunderstandings surrounding the genre. In short and highly readable chapters peppered with vivid anecdotes and examples, he addresses the nervous person's most pressing questions: What are the effects of horror films on our mental and physical health? Why do they often cause nightmares? Aren't horror movies immoral and a bad influence on children and adolescents? Shouldn't we be concerned about what the current popularity of horror movies says about society and its values? While media psychologists have demonstrated that horror films indeed have the potential to harm us, Clasen reveals that the scientific evidence also contains a second story that is often overlooked: horror movies can also help us confront and manage fear and often foster prosocial values.
Learn more about A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies at the Oxford University Press website and follow Mathias Clasen on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Joy Castro

From my Q&A with Joy Castro, author of Flight Risk: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

A good deal, I think. Flight Risk implies someone on the verge of leaving, someone a bit unstable, someone unsatisfied with current conditions, someone who cannot be predicted, who cannot be controlled by the promise of what's on offer--and Isabel Morales, my heroine, is all these things. Flight Risk also connotes someone valuable--someone that a company, for example, wishes to retain, but may not be able to. (Will their counteroffer be sufficient?) In Isabel's case, this has everything to do with the life she's currently living and the wealthy husband who doesn't want to lose her--but who knows very little about her past.

What's in a name?

Isabel's surname, Morales, suggests not only...[read on]
Visit Joy Castro’s website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Hell or High Water.

Writers Read: Joy Castro (July 2012).

Writers Read: Joy Castro (July 2013).

The Page 69 Test: Nearer Home.

Q&A with Joy Castro.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Top ten books about Calcutta

Abir Mukherjee is the bestselling author of the award-winning Wyndham & Banerjee series of crime novels set in 1920s Colonial India. He is a two-time winner of the CWA Historical Dagger and has won the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing. His books have also been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and the HWA Gold Crown. His novels, A Rising Man and Smoke and Ashes were both selected as Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Smoke and Ashes was also chosen as one of The Times' Best Crime and Thriller novels since 1945.

The newest Wyndham & Banerjee novel is The Shadows of Men.

At the Guardian Mukherjee tagged ten top books about Calcutta, including:
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The story of the Ganguli family, their emigration from tradition-bound life in Calcutta and their fraught transformation into Americans. Soon after their arranged marriage, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who pines for her family in Calcutta. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to a new world. Named for the Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, dealing with the clash of cultures, conflicts of assimilation and the tangled ties between generations.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Namesake is among Maura Roosevelt's five juicy, complicated, and otherwise strange family tales and Amanda Bullock's twelve best dates in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mary E. Stuckey's "Deplorable"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Deplorable: The Worst Presidential Campaigns from Jefferson to Trump by Mary E. Stuckey.

About the book, from the publisher:
Political campaigns in the United States, especially those for the presidency, can be nasty—very nasty. And while we would like to believe that the 2020 election was an aberration, insults, invective, and yes, even violence have characterized US electoral politics since the republic’s early days. By examining the political discourse around nine particularly deplorable elections, Mary E. Stuckey seeks to explain why.

From the contest that pitted Thomas Jefferson against John Adams in 1800 through 2020’s vicious, chaotic matchup between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Stuckey documents the cycle of despicable discourse in presidential campaigns. Looking beyond the character and the ideology of the candidates, Stuckey explores the broader political, economic, and cultural milieus in which each took place. In doing so, she reveals the conditions that exacerbate and enable our worst political instincts, producing discourses that incite factions, target members of the polity, encourage undemocratic policy, and actively work against the national democratic project.

Keenly analytical and compulsively readable, Deplorable provides context for the 2016 and 2020 elections, revealing them as part of a cyclical—and perhaps downward-spiraling—pattern in American politics. Deplorable offers more than a comparison of the worst of our elections. It helps us understand these shameful and disappointing moments in our political history, leaving one important question: Can we avoid them in the future?
Learn more about Deplorable at the Penn State University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Deplorable.

--Marshal Zeringue

Cat Rambo's "You Sexy Thing," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo.

The entry begins:
If they were making a movie of my book the most important casting wouldn’t be a face, but a voice.

That’s because the title character, You Sexy Thing, is an intelligent bio-ship. It’s just learning about self-awareness, and these weird things called emotions, and all sorts of things. That’s a result of its interactions with the crew of mercenaries-turned-restaurateurs that have stolen it, and that’s something else that the ship feels the need to sort out, because it’s not really sure it wants to be stolen.

So I want a voice full of charm and unwarranted bravado, the cocky kid who knows it all -- but will cheerfully admit it when they don’t. To me, that’s Ryan Reynolds, though maybe a little higher pitched to show how comparatively young the ship is.

It’s an ensemble cast, so plenty of other actors will be needed. Most of the other characters are aliens so again faces may not be as important as the voices. Dabry needs a deep solemnity about himself that also doesn’t take things too seriously. Maybe Andre Braugher for him, if he’s up to the challenge of playing a purple-skinned, four-armed sergeant-turned-chef.

Skidoo is a Tlellan, a composite alien made of...[read on]
Visit Cat Rambo's website.

Q&A with Cat Rambo.

My Book, The Movie: You Sexy Thing.

--Marshal Zeringue