Thursday, December 08, 2022

Zachary Daniel's "Manifest Destiny," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Manifest Destiny by Zachary Daniel.

The entry begins:
The lead role would go to Edward Norton. An actor with a wide range and many projects under his belt, but this role would be most akin to his part in Fight Club. The look of a middle age white guy. A slight social disconnect to his perception of self and how those around him perceive him. A troubled and haunted individual who deals with his past in unhealthy ways.

Norton could pull off the role so well because...[read on]
Visit Zach Daniel's website.

The Page 69 Test: Manifest Destiny.

Q&A with Zachary Daniel.

My Book, The Movie: Manifest Destiny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Pg. 69: Catherine Ryan Hyde's "So Long, Chester Wheeler"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: So Long, Chester Wheeler: A Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

About the book, from the publisher:
Unlikely road trip companions form an unexpected bond in an uplifting novel about the past―lost and found―by the New York Times and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author.

Lewis Madigan is young, gay, out of work, and getting antsy when he’s roped into providing end-of-life care for his insufferable homophobic neighbor, Chester Wheeler. Lewis doesn’t need the aggravation, just the money. The only requirements: run errands, be on call, and put up with a miserable old churl no one else in Buffalo can bear. After exchanging barbs, bickering, baiting, and pushing buttons, Chester hits Lewis with the big ask.

Lewis can’t say no to a dying wish: drive Chester to Arizona in his rust bucket of a Winnebago to see his ex-wife for the first time in thirty-two years―for the last time. One week, two thousand miles. To Lewis, it becomes an illuminating journey into the life and secrets of a vulnerable man he’s finally beginning to understand. A neighbor, a stranger, and a surprising new friend whose closure on a conflicted past is also just beginning.

So Long, Chester Wheeler is an uplifting novel about looking deeper into the heart and soul to form bonds with the last people we’d expect―only to discover that they’re the ones who need it most.
Visit Catherine Ryan Hyde's website.

Q&A with Catherine Ryan Hyde.

The Page 69 Test: Brave Girl, Quiet Girl.

The Page 69 Test: My Name is Anton.

The Page 69 Test: Seven Perfect Things.

The Page 69 Test: Boy Underground.

The Page 69 Test: Dreaming of Flight.

The Page 69 Test: So Long, Chester Wheeler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four atmospheric thrillers with unexpected settings

Tessa Wegert is the author of the Shana Merchant novels, which include Death in the Family, The Dead Season, Dead Wind, and The Kind to Kill. A former freelance journalist and digital media strategist, Wegert’s work has appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Adweek, and The Economist. She grew up in Quebec and now lives with her husband and children in Connecticut.

[My Book, The Movie: The Dead SeasonThe Page 69 Test: The Dead SeasonQ&A with Tessa WegertThe Page 69 Test: Dead WindWriters Read: Tessa Wegert (April 2022)Writers Read: Tessa Wegert (December 2022)]

At CrimeReads Wegert tagged four novels that embrace "unusual settings that are loaded with both atmosphere and crime fiction potential," including:
Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier

Spooky settings make great foundations for thrillers, but there’s something especially unsettling about a terrifying story that plays out somewhere typically associated with good clean fun. In Wonderland, Jennifer Hiller capitalizes on such positive associations by transforming an amusement park into a killing ground.

Hillier does a beautiful job of juxtaposing the park’s carnival atmosphere with its rumored sordid past, lulling readers into a false sense of comfort only to shock them with dead bodies, wax clowns, and subterranean tombs. After reading this tense and surprising thriller, you’ll never look at theme park season the same way again.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Esther Woolfson's "Between Light and Storm"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Between Light and Storm: How We Live with Other Species by Esther Woolfson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A landmark examination of the fraught relationship between humans and animals, taking the reader from Genesis to climate change.

Beginning with the very origins of life on Earth, Woolfson considers prehistoric human-animal interaction and traces the millennia-long evolution of conceptions of the soul and conscience in relation to the animal kingdom, and the consequences of our belief in human superiority. She explores our representation of animals in art, our consumption of them for food, our experiments on them for science, and our willingness to slaughter them for sport and fashion, as well as examining concepts of love and ownership.

Drawing on philosophy and theology, art and history, as well as her own experience of living with animals and coming to know, love, and respect them as individuals, Woolfson examines some of the most complex ethical issues surrounding our treatment of animals and argues passionately and persuasively for a more humble, more humane, relationship with the creatures who share our world.
Visit Esther Woolfson's website.

The Page 99 Test: Between Light and Storm.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Lily Brooks-Dalton reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lily Brooks-Dalton, author of The Light Pirate.

Her entry begins:
I recently finished Dinosaurs, by Lydia Millet. I listened to it, actually, and although I do find that I miss certain elements of a terrific book like this one when I’m listening as opposed to reading, I also got to take long walks with it, which felt like a pairing the book itself would appreciate. I usually have an audio book and a physical book going at the same time. That said, I think I’ll need to buy a copy of Dinosaurs at some point, just to go back and admire some of the nuance that I’m sure I missed. The story is wonderfully engaging without being particularly interested in plot or conflict, and to me that is a wildly difficult trick for a writer to pull off… the literary equivalent of watching someone walk a tightrope between two skyscrapers. Another reason I loved it is that I’m particularly drawn to books that deal in the anxiety of being alive right now without succumbing to...[read on]
About The Light Pirate, from the publisher:
For readers of Station Eleven and Where the Crawdads Sing comes a hopeful, sweeping story of survival and resilience spanning one extraordinary woman’s lifetime as she navigates the uncertainty, brutality, and arresting beauty of a rapidly changing world.

Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels wreak gradual havoc on the state’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches a small town on the southeastern coast. Kirby Lowe, an electrical line worker, his pregnant wife, Frida, and their two sons, Flip and Lucas, prepare for the worst. When the boys go missing just before the hurricane hits, Kirby heads out into the high winds in search of his children. Left alone, Frida goes into premature labor and gives birth to an unusual child, Wanda, whom she names after the catastrophic storm that ushers her into a society closer to collapse than ever before.

As Florida continues to unravel, Wanda grows. Moving from childhood to adulthood, adapting not only to the changing landscape, but also to the people who stayed behind in a place abandoned by civilization, Wanda loses family, gains community, and ultimately, seeks adventure, love, and purpose in a place remade by nature.

Told in four parts—power, water, light, and time—The Light Pirate mirrors the rhythms of the elements and the sometimes quick, sometimes slow dissolution of the world as we know it. It is a meditation on the changes we would rather not see, the future we would rather not greet, and a call back to the beauty and violence of an untamable wilderness.
Visit Lily Brooks-Dalton's website.

Writers Read: Lily Brooks-Dalton.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Alex Kenna's "What Meets the Eye," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: What Meets the Eye: A Mystery by Alex Kenna.

The entry begins:
I was addicted to film and TV thrillers long before I started writing crime fiction. That’s probably why I always pictured my book, What Meets the Eye, as a movie.

The story follows Kate Myles, a struggling PI, who lost her family and police career after an accident damaged her back and led to an opiate addiction. Struggling to pay the bills, Kate reluctantly agrees to investigate the suspected suicide of Margot Starling, a beautiful and famous painter. Along the way, Kate seeks help from her former LAPD partner, Luke Delgado, with whom she shares an unspoken attraction. The book also uses a series of flashbacks to trace Margot’s rise in the art world.

I’ve been casting the story since the first draft of the first chapter. Here are a few of my fantasy picks.

Kate: From the beginning, I’ve pictured Kate as Jessie Buckley. Buckley can do literally anything, is naturally likeable in an intelligent, adult way, and is blessed with an incredibly expressive face. In the book, Kate is struggling to regain custody of her seven-year-old daughter, who she only sees on weekends. Buckley was brilliant in The Lost Daughter as a loving, but deeply flawed, mother. She also carried a slow-burn mystery in The Woman in White. Buckley excels at playing understated characters who don’t try to draw attention to themselves. In her hands, even the most quiet, introverted women become magnetic through the sheer force of her talent and charisma.

Margot: Like many great visual artists, Margot is not neurotypical. She struggles with...[read on]
Visit Alex Kenna's website.

Q&A with Alex Kenna.

My Book, The Movie: What Meets the Eye.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Zachary Daniel

From my Q&A with Zachary Daniel, author of Manifest Destiny:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title does not immediately do work to bring readers into the story, it instead brings on meaning as the story develops. Manifest Destiny is a historical term used to describe how colonial America could not be held east of the Mississippi, instead destined to expand across from sea to shining sea. This is a play on the main characters anger, grief and holding onto the past. It cannot be held back and eventually let out.

However, the story brings you in quickly. You are thrust into action from the beginning and are left trying to catch up to what Nick the main character is up to. As the beginning develops, the...[read on]
Visit Zach Daniel's website.

The Page 69 Test: Manifest Destiny.

Q&A with Zachary Daniel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Anthony D. Cooling's "Still a Hollow Hope"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Still a Hollow Hope: State Power and the Second Amendment by Anthony D. Cooling.

About the book, from the publisher:
The U.S. Supreme Court increasingly matters in American political life when those across the political spectrum look at the Court for relief from policies they oppose and as another venue for advancing their own policy agendas. However, the evidence is mounting, to include this book in a big way, that courts are more of a sideshow to the culture war. While court decisions, especially Supreme Court decisions, do have importance, the decisions emanating from the Court reflect social, cultural, and political change that occurred long prior to their decision ever being made.

This book tests how much political and social change has been made primarily through Gerald Rosenberg’s framework from his seminal work, The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change, but it also utilizes Daniel Elazar’s Political Culture Theory to explain state level variations in political and social change. The findings indicate that while courts are not powerless institutions, reformers will not have success unless supported by the public and the elected branches, and most specifically, that preexisting state culture is a determining factor in the amount of change courts make. In short, federalism still matters.
Follow Anthony Cooling on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Still a Hollow Hope.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books about life in Queens by writers of color

Bushra Rehman grew up in Corona, Queens. She is co-editor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism, and author of the poetry collection Marianna's Beauty Salon and the dark comedy Corona, one of the New York Public Library's favorite books about NYC.

Rehman's new novel is Roses in the Mouth of a Lion.

At Electric Lit the author tagged seven "books about living and loving in Queens by writers of color," including:
Imposter Syndrome by Patricia Park

This book is laugh-out-loud funny, compelling and heart-wrenching. Alejandra Kim’s family is from the Korean diaspora in Argentina and it’s not easy for her to fit into any box, whether it’s in her fancy Manhattan private school where she is a scholarship student or her Jackson Heights neighborhood. Alejandra has just lost her father, and she feels she must hide this deep pain, even from her closest friends and especially from her mother who is numb from overwork and grief. When a microaggression at school thrusts Alejandra into the spotlight, she must make a difficult decision and decide who she can trust and who she must be for herself and her family.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 05, 2022

What is Tessa Wegert reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tessa Wegert, author of The Kind to Kill (A Shana Merchant Novel, 4).

Her entry begins:
A few years ago, in an effort to fit more books into my life, I started reading multiple titles at once. I now have three going at any given time and keep them scattered around the house so there’s always a book within reach. Here’s what I’m reading right now.

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

I’ve always been fascinated by books about identical twins, maybe because I never had a sister (not to knock my wonderful brother). In Mirrorland, LA writer Catriona returns to her childhood home in Scotland to search for her estranged twin Ellice, who disappeared while sailing but, according to Cat, may be alive and playing an elaborate cat-and-mouse game. Johnstone’s prose is just gorgeous, and her descriptions of the dark imaginary world the sisters...[read on]
About The Kind to Kill, from the publisher:
A missing tourist spells trouble for Senior Investigator Shana Merchant in this page-turning twisty mystery set in an atmospheric island community with a small-town vibe.

Former NYPD detective Shana Merchant is a skilled Senior Investigator keeping New York's beautiful Thousands Islands community safe. She's a loving partner. A strong woman. A survivor.

She's also bound by blood to a serial killer. And after months of concealing the truth from the world as she hunted Blake Bram down, her secret is finally out.

Shana just wants to get on with her life and win back her community's trust. But as Alexandria Bay fills up with tourists in advance of the annual festival known as Pirate Days, a visitor goes missing, and the case threatens to destroy not just the celebrations, but what remains of Shana's reputation.

Shana's not to blame for the killer in her family, but people are starting to whisper that she attracts trouble. That A-Bay was safer before she arrived. And as the investigation deepens, Shana starts to fear that they may be right.

Because while Bram is gone, he is far from forgotten.
Visit Tessa Wegert's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Dead Season.

The Page 69 Test: The Dead Season.

Q&A with Tessa Wegert.

The Page 69 Test: Dead Wind.

Writers Read: Tessa Wegert (April 2022).

Writers Read: Tessa Wegert.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top books that explain the biodiversity crisis

At the Guardian seven writers tagged "titles that explain the issues at stake [in the the biodiversity crisis], from animal extinction to marine degradation and loss of habitat."

George Monbiot's pick:
The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts

The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts is a magnificent ecological investigation of what we have lost. It draws on a vast body of historical research to reveal what the UK’s seas are missing: cod the length of an adult human, plaice like tabletops, shoals of herring several miles long being harried within sight of the English shore by packs of bluefin tuna, giant sharks, fin whales and sperm whales …

Only when we understand what once lived here can we begin to restore these natural wonders, mostly by declaring large parts of our seas off-limits to commercial fishing. But because policymakers and the public know so little about what a thriving marine ecosystem looks like, we accept and normalise a state of extreme degradation. It is time to restore the lost glories of the ocean.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: The Unnatural History of the Sea.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Gabriella Safran's "Recording Russia"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Recording Russia: Trying to Listen in the Nineteenth Century by Gabriella Safran.

About the book, from the publisher:
Recording Russia examines scenes of listening to "the people" across a variety of texts by Russian writers and European travelers to Russia. Gabriella Safran challenges readings of these works that essentialize Russia as a singular place where communication between the classes is consistently fraught, arguing instead that, as in the West, the sense of separation or connection between intellectuals and those they interviewed or observed is as much about technology and performance as politics and emotions.

Nineteenth-century writers belonged to a distinctive media generation using new communication technologies—not bells, but mechanically produced paper, cataloguing systems, telegraphy, and stenography. Russian writers and European observers of Russia in this era described themselves and their characters as trying hard to listen to and record the laboring and emerging middle classes. They depicted scenes of listening as contests where one listener bests another; at times the contest is between two sides of the same person. They sometimes described Russia as an ideal testing ground for listening because of its extreme cold and silence. As the mid-century generation witnessed the social changes of the 1860s and 1870s, their listening scenes revealed increasing skepticism about the idea that anyone could accurately identify or record the unadulterated "voice of the people." Bringing together intellectual history and literary analysis and drawing on ideas from linguistic anthropology and sound and media studies, Recording Russia looks at how writers, folklorists, and linguists such as Turgenev, Dostoevsky, and Vladimir Dahl, as well as foreign visitors, thought about the possibilities and meanings of listening to and repeating other people's words.
Learn more about Recording Russia at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Recording Russia.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Luke Dumas's "A History of Fear"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A History of Fear: A Novel by Luke Dumas.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Devil is in Scotland.

Grayson Hale, the most infamous murderer in Scotland, is better known by a different name: the Devil’s Advocate. The twenty-five-year-old American grad student rose to instant notoriety when he confessed to the slaughter of his classmate Liam Stewart, claiming the Devil made him do it.

When Hale is found hanged in his prison cell, officers uncover a handwritten manuscript that promises to answer the question that’s haunted the nation for years: was Hale a lunatic, or had he been telling the truth all along?

Unnervingly, Hale doesn’t fit the bill of a killer. The first-person narrative that centers this novel reveals an acerbic young atheist, newly enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to carry on the legacy of his recently deceased father. In need of cash, he takes a job ghostwriting a mysterious book for a dark stranger, but has misgivings when the project begins to reawaken his satanophobia, a rare condition that causes him to live in terror that the Devil is after him. As he struggles to disentangle fact from fear, Grayson’s world is turned upside-down after events force him to confront his growing suspicion that he’s working for the one he has feared all this time—and that the book is only the beginning of their partnership.

A History of Fear is a propulsive foray into the darkness of the human psyche, marrying dread-inducing atmosphere and heart-palpitating storytelling.
Visit Luke Dumas's website.

The Page 69 Test: A History of Fear.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Sharon Dempsey's "The Midnight Killing," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Midnight Killing by Sharon Dempsey.

The entry begins:
The Midnight Killing is a murder mystery that deals with toxic friendships and long held secrets that refuse to stay buried. A murder, staged as suicide, draws my investigators Forensic Psychologist, Rose Lainey, and Detective Inspector, Danny Stowe, to investigate the cold case of a missing child. The story opens with a crime scene: James McCallum, thirty-five-year-old architect, found hanged in the grounds of his former school, Osbourne College in Belfast. There’s some suspicion as to whether or not it is suicide since there has been no suicide note left as such, but an old friend, Lorcan Burns, contacts the police saying he had a missed call from the victim, and a text message saying: ‘I’m really sorry but I can’t keep going. The reckoning is coming.’

When Rose and Danny dig into James’ life, they discover encrypted files on his computer all about a missing child, Maeve Lunn, in the Donegal town of Mistle.

Emer, Ivy, Lorcan, James were best friends at school and have kept in touch over the years. The remaining three gather to mourn their friend and find themselves drawn back to the past and a secret they have held tight for nearly two decades.

When I write I do visualise the scenes and write as close to a cinematic style as possible without losing the interiority and integrity of a novel. I love story in every format so it’s tempting to think about how my book would look on the screen. The beautiful settings of Northern Ireland and even the city of Belfast, lend themselves to heightened drama so that would be another huge motivator to see it transferred into a screenplay. As for dream casting, I would love to see either Colin Morgan or...[read on]
Visit Sharon Dempsey's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Midnight Killing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four top K-9 thrillers that defy the dangers of the wilderness

Sara Driscoll is the pen name of Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, authors of the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries. Danna is an infectious disease researcher at a cutting edge Canadian university near Toronto, but loves to spend her free time writing the thrilling and mysterious. Vanderlaan lives in western North Carolina with five rescued pit bulls, including Kane, now a certified therapy dog. She also trains with Kane for competitive nose work.

[Coffee with a Canine: M. Ann Vanderlaan & her dogsThe Page 69 Test: Lone WolfThe Page 69 Test: Storm RisingThe Page 69 Test: No Man's LandThe Page 69 Test: Leave No Trace]

Their new novel is Still Waters.

At CrimeReads they tagged four "K-9 thrillers which tackle the treachery of the wilderness head on," including:
Blind Search by Paula Munier

The second installment in the Mercy Carr Mystery series finds the ex-military police officer and her bomb-sniffing dog, Elvis, involved in a murder case in the Green Mountains in Vermont after a woman is found dead, shot through the heart with an arrow. With the help of Troy Warner, a Vermont game warden, and his search-and-rescue K-9, Suzie Bear, they venture into the wilderness to find Henry, an autistic boy who rarely speaks, and who is potentially a witness to the crime. But Henry has a tendency to wander, and when he is lost in the woods once again, Mercy and Elvis must track him down and keep him safe from dangerous wildlife, the threat of illegal poachers, and finally through an early and brutal mountain blizzard, all while hunting a murderer. The wilderness in all its beauty and peril comes alive in Blind Search, as great a menace to Mercy and Henry as the deadly human threats within it.
Read about another entry on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Paula Munier & Bear.

My Book, The Movie: Blind Search.

The Page 69 Test: Blind Search.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Susan Colbourn's "Euromissiles"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Euromissiles: The Nuclear Weapons That Nearly Destroyed NATO by Susan Colbourn.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Euromissiles, Susan Colbourn tells the story of the height of nuclear crisis and the remarkable waning of the fear that gripped the globe.

In the Cold War conflict that pitted nuclear superpowers against one another, Europe was the principal battleground. Washington and Moscow had troops on the ground and missiles in the fields of their respective allies, the NATO nations and the states of the Warsaw Pact. Euromissiles—intermediate-range nuclear weapons to be used exclusively in the regional theater of war—highlighted how the peoples of Europe were dangerously placed between hammer and anvil. That made European leaders uncomfortable and pushed fearful masses into the streets demanding peace in their time.

At the center of the story is NATO. Colbourn highlights the weakness of the alliance seen by many as the most effective bulwark against Soviet aggression. Divided among themselves and uncertain about the depth of US support, the member states were riven by the missile issue. This strategic crisis was, as much as any summit meeting between US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, the hinge on which the Cold War turned.

Euromissiles is a history of diplomacy and alliances, social movements and strategy, nuclear weapons and nagging fears, and politics. To tell that history, Colbourn takes a long view of the strategic crisis—from the emerging dilemmas of allied defense in the early 1950s through the aftermath of the INF Treaty thirty-five years later. The result is a dramatic and sweeping tale that changes the way we think about the Cold War and its culmination.
Visit Susan Colbourn's website.

The Page 99 Test: Euromissiles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Alex Kenna

From my Q&A with Alex Kenna, author of What Meets the Eye: A Mystery:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

What Meets the Eye is a murder mystery with a heavy focus on art forgers, so I wanted a title that would get readers thinking about the distinction between appearance and reality. The title also applies to the two main characters, Kate Myles and Margot Starling. Margot is a rich, beautiful, and wildly successful artist. But under the glitz and glamour, she struggles with trauma and mental health issues, and is in a significant amount of pain. Kate is a down-and-out PI who struggles with addiction and lost custody of her child. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that she’s a very strong person working hard to rebuild her life.

The close runner up for a title was Memento Mori, which is an art historical term for a symbol representing the inevitability of death – like a...[read on]
Visit Alex Kenna's website.

Q&A with Alex Kenna.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Pg. 69: Zachary Daniel's "Manifest Destiny"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Manifest Destiny by Zachary Daniel.

About the book, from the publisher:
Left unreconciled, the stories of our past will become the harbingers of our future.

Nick Jacob’s father meant the world to him. Murdered during an apparent robbery, the loss of his only mentor, friend, and idol left a crimson stain on the pure fabric of Nick’s teenage life. Carrying the unimaginable burden of grief into his thirties, the haunting events of the past stir a new sensation deep inside of him. Fueled by anger and a sense of injustice, he begins a dark crusade to avenge others who have been similarly wronged.

The traumatic events of the past puppeteer Nick toward a destiny that he never chose for himself. Expecting to obtain solace, Nick begins to uncover the truth of his father’s murder. He soon realizes that he isn’t only in a fight with his inner demons, but with what is unearthed in the investigation. A fight that stands between him and the future he desires; which may cost him everything.

Manifest Destiny
injects readers into a world filled with depth, drama, and timeless wisdom. Nick’s story of a desire for justice shows the gravitational pull that the past exerts on our lives. But unfortunately, seeking vengeance for his father’s murder only condemns his future.

Left unforgiven, the dark stories of our history are doomed to play on infinite repeat. But as we beseech the world seeking growth and change, we need only lay down our past as the necessary sacrifice.
Visit Zach Daniel's website.

The Page 69 Test: Manifest Destiny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top books about the new West

Kay Chronister is the author of the collection Thin Places (2020). Her stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, The Dark, and elsewhere, and her work has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Awards.

Her new novel is Desert Creatures.

At Lit Hub Chronister tagged seven "books that will take you on a literary tour of the new West: a place where neon sign graveyards abound, schools still take time off for the rodeo, and people bring their pet tortoises along when they evacuate for wildfires." One title on the list:
Don Waters, The Saints of Rattlesnake Mountain

This vivid collection ranges across the desert landscapes of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, featuring characters who teeter on the edge between transcendence and despair. Waters’ Southwest is a region of ambivalent lapsed Catholics and born-again fanatics, of devout non-believers and aspiring saints, all of them wrestling with faith. For many of them, fittingly, the desert possesses a terrible, sublime, near god-like indifference: “he felt crushed by the immensity of everything,” Waters writes of one character, a prisoner charged with rounding up wild horses.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Neil Tarrant's "Defining Nature’s Limits"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Defining Nature’s Limits: The Roman Inquisition and the Boundaries of Science by Neil Tarrant.

About the book, from the publisher:
A look at the history of censorship, science, and magic from the Middle Ages to the post-Reformation era.

Neil Tarrant challenges conventional thinking by looking at the longer history of censorship, considering a five-hundred-year continuity of goals and methods stretching from the late eleventh century to well into the sixteenth.

Unlike earlier studies, Defining Nature’s Limits engages the history of both learned and popular magic. Tarrant explains how the church developed a program that sought to codify what was proper belief through confession, inquisition, and punishment and prosecuted what they considered superstition or heresy that stretched beyond the boundaries of religion. These efforts were continued by the Roman Inquisition, established in 1542. Although it was designed primarily to combat Protestantism, from the outset the new institution investigated both practitioners of “illicit” magic and inquiries into natural philosophy, delegitimizing certain practices and thus shaping the development of early modern science. Describing the dynamics of censorship that continued well into the post-Reformation era, Defining Nature’s Limits is revisionist history that will interest scholars of the history science, the history of magic, and the history of the church alike.
Learn more about Defining Nature’s Limits at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Defining Nature’s Limits.

--Marshal Zeringue

Larrie D. Ferreiro's "Churchill's American Arsenal," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Churchill's American Arsenal: The Partnership Behind the Innovations that Won World War Two by Larrie D. Ferreiro.

The entry begins:
Churchill’s American Arsenal would work well as a miniseries streaming on Amazon, Apple TV+ or Netflix, alongside other WWII epics such as Masters of the Air and Band of Brothers.

Churchill’s American Arsenal describes how British and American combat scientists and engineers, working both across the Atlantic and side by side, invented and brought to the front lines the weapons and innovations that won World War Two. The book is constructed around Churchill’s post-Dunkirk speech, each chapter describing how these inventions played key roles in various parts of the European campaign: fight in the air, fight on the seas and oceans, fight on the beaches….

Each episode of the miniseries would...[read on]
Learn more about Churchill's American Arsenal at the Oxford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Brothers at Arms.

The Page 99 Test: Brothers at Arms.

The Page 99 Test: Churchill's American Arsenal.

My Book, The Movie: Churchill's American Arsenal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 02, 2022

Seven books set in the Hoosier State

Deborah E. Kennedy is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her debut, Tornado Weather, came out with Flatiron Books in 2017 and was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe best first novel prize by the Mystery Writers of America. Kennedy has worked as a reporter, teacher, and editor, as well as a cookie packer, ice cream scooper, and children’s baseball coach. She also holds a Master’s in Fiction Writing and English literature from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She currently lives in Forest Grove, Oregon with her mother and young son.

[My Book, The Movie: Tornado WeatherThe Page 69 Test: Tornado WeatherWriters Read: Deborah E. Kennedy]

Kennedy's new novel is Billie Starr's Book of Sorries.

At Electric Lit the author tagged seven "stories set in Indiana [that] have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf," including:
Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

The words “heart-wrenching” and “wondrous” and “powerful” and “richly observed” have all been used to describe this award-winning memoir of family, Black girlhood and Black joy, racial strife, and self-actualization, and they all apply. All of those words and then some. Ford, a Fort Wayne native, writes of growing up without her father—during her formative years, he was serving time in a local prison—and of working tirelessly to earn her mother’s love. When Ford is sexually assaulted by a boy from her school, she learns the truth behind her father’s imprisonment: he is in jail for rape. Rather than allowing this realization to tear her world apart, Ford makes herself whole through the act of writing. This book is as inspiring and enthralling as it gets.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Mary-Jane Rubenstein's "Astrotopia"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Astrotopia: The Dangerous Religion of the Corporate Space Race by Mary-Jane Rubenstein.

About the book, from the publisher:
A revealing look at the parallel mythologies behind the colonization of Earth and space—and a bold vision for a more equitable, responsible future both on and beyond our planet.

As environmental, political, and public health crises multiply on Earth, we are also at the dawn of a new space race in which governments team up with celebrity billionaires to exploit the cosmos for human gain. The best-known of these pioneers are selling different visions of the future: while Elon Musk and SpaceX seek to establish a human presence on Mars, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin work toward moving millions of earthlings into rotating near-Earth habitats. Despite these distinctions, these two billionaires share a core utopian project: the salvation of humanity through the exploitation of space.

In Astrotopia, philosopher of science and religion Mary-Jane Rubenstein pulls back the curtain on the not-so-new myths these space barons are peddling, like growth without limit, energy without guilt, and salvation in a brand-new world. As Rubenstein reveals, we have already seen the destructive effects of this frontier zealotry in the centuries-long history of European colonialism. Much like the imperial project on Earth, this renewed effort to conquer space is presented as a religious calling: in the face of a coming apocalypse, some very wealthy messiahs are offering an other-worldly escape to a chosen few. But Rubenstein does more than expose the values of capitalist technoscience as the product of bad mythologies. She offers a vision of exploring space without reproducing the atrocities of earthly colonialism, encouraging us to find and even make stories that put cosmic caretaking over profiteering.
Visit Mary-Jane Rubenstein's website.

The Page 99 Test: Astrotopia.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Amanda Sellet reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Amanda Sellet, author of Belittled Women.

Her entry begins:
I am never not reading, at least for a few minutes at the end of the day, but the choice of material is driven by two things: mood and due dates. My library hold list is one of the main ways I keep track of upcoming releases, right up there with the random scraps of paper littering my desk.

For most of the fall I was on a tight deadline, so my taste in leisure reading ran to lighter fare, with a spate of catching up on the physical TBR once I finished drafting. Looking back, I can see that I read mostly in genres and categories I have written, am writing next, or hope to write in the future.

Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews

I finished writing a new book on a Friday afternoon, ordered pizza, and immediately opened the latest installment in the Hidden Legacy series. For pure escapism, there are few things I find more entertaining than urban fantasy/paranormal romance. The snark, the action, the magic, the tension – it’s all there. The first three books set in this world are among my most re-read ever, so this is...[read on]
About Belittled Women, from the publisher:
Sharp and subversive, this delightfully messy YA rom-com offers a sly wink to the classic Little Women, as teenage Jo Porter rebels against living in the shadow of her literary namesake.

Lit’s about to hit the fan. Jo Porter has had enough Little Women to last a lifetime. As if being named after the sappiest family in literature wasn’t sufficiently humiliating, Jo’s mom, ahem Marmee, leveled up her Alcott obsession by turning their rambling old house into a sad-sack tourist attraction.

Now Jo, along with her siblings, Meg and Bethamy (yes, that’s two March sisters in one), spends all summer acting out sentimental moments at Little Women Live!, where she can feel her soul slowly dying.

So when a famed photojournalist arrives to document the show, Jo seizes on the glimpse of another life: artsy, worldly, and fast-paced. It doesn’t hurt that the reporter’s teenage son is also eager to get up close and personal with Jo—to the annoyance of her best friend, aka the boy next door (who is definitely not called Laurie). All Jo wants is for someone to see the person behind the prickliness and pinafores.

But when she gets a little too real about her frustration with the family biz, Jo will have to make peace with kitsch and kin before their livelihood suffers a fate worse than Beth.
Visit Amanda Sellet's website.

Q&A with Amanda Sellet.

The Page 69 Test: By the Book.

Writers Read: Amanda Sellet.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Q&A with Ava Barry

From my Q&A with Ava Barry, author of Double Exposure: A Novel:
Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

There’s a tiny bit of me in each of my characters. That might sound a bit cheesy, but I think it’s impossible to write a fully-fleshed out character unless you can relate to at least some aspect of them.

I thought my correlations were subtle, but after my best friend read the book, she called me with a list of things that I had pulled from my real life, and she was right about every single one of them. Whoops!

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I have a long history of working in restaurants, and while the majority of my customers have been...[read on]
Visit Ava Barry's website.

Q&A with Ava Barry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jeffrey Binder's "Language and the Rise of the Algorithm"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Language and the Rise of the Algorithm by Jeffrey M. Binder.

About the book, from the publisher:
A wide-ranging history of the algorithm.

Bringing together the histories of mathematics, computer science, and linguistic thought, Language and the Rise of the Algorithm reveals how recent developments in artificial intelligence are reopening an issue that troubled mathematicians well before the computer age: How do you draw the line between computational rules and the complexities of making systems comprehensible to people? By attending to this question, we come to see that the modern idea of the algorithm is implicated in a long history of attempts to maintain a disciplinary boundary separating technical knowledge from the languages people speak day to day.

Here Jeffrey M. Binder offers a compelling tour of four visions of universal computation that addressed this issue in very different ways: G. W. Leibniz’s calculus ratiocinator; a universal algebra scheme Nicolas de Condorcet designed during the French Revolution; George Boole’s nineteenth-century logic system; and the early programming language ALGOL, short for algorithmic language. These episodes show that symbolic computation has repeatedly become entangled in debates about the nature of communication. Machine learning, in its increasing dependence on words, erodes the line between technical and everyday language, revealing the urgent stakes underlying this boundary.

The idea of the algorithm is a levee holding back the social complexity of language, and it is about to break. This book is about the flood that inspired its construction.
Visit Jeffrey M. Binder's website.

The Page 99 Test: Language and the Rise of the Algorithm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine (crime or gothic) novels in which love is at the center

Molly Odintz is the Senior Editor for CrimeReads and the editor of Austin Noir, forthcoming from Akashic Books. She grew up in Austin and worked as a bookseller at BookPeople, and
recently returned to Central Texas after five years in NYC. She likes cats, crime novels, and coffee.

At CrimeReads she tagged nine "recent and upcoming novels in which love is at the center," including:
India Holton, The Secret Service of Tea and Treason

In this Victorian steampunk adventure, pirates use magic to fly houses, upper class ladies are organized in secret, rival covens, and the government’s secret service is made up of servants trained in magic and espionage. Two of these servants-cum-spies are ordered to work together to steal a dangerous weapon from a country manor house during, of course, a large ball, and sparks soon fly between the debonair butler and the amusingly literal-minded ladies maid.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Pg. 99: Suisheng Zhao's "The Dragon Roars Back"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Dragon Roars Back: Transformational Leaders and Dynamics of Chinese Foreign Policy by Suisheng Zhao.

About the book, from the publisher:
China is unique in modern world history. No other rising power has experienced China's turbulent history in its relations with neighbors and Western countries. Its sheer size dominates the region. With leader Xi Jinping's political authority unmatched, Xi's sense of mission to restore what he believes is China's natural position as a great power drives the current course of the nation's foreign policy. When China was weak, it was subordinated to others. Now, China is strong, and it wants others to subordinate, at least on the issues involving what it regards as core national interests.

What are the primary forces and how have these forces driven China's reemergence to global power? This book weaves together complex events, processes, and players to provide a historically in-depth, conceptually comprehensive, and up-to-date analysis of Chinese foreign policy transition since the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), arguing that transformational leaders with new visions and political wisdom to make their visions prevail are the game changers. Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Xi Jinping are transformational leaders who have charted unique courses of Chinese foreign policy in the quest for security, prosperity, and power. With the ultimate decision-making authority on national security and strategic policies, these leaders have made political use of ideational forces, tailoring bureaucratic institutions, exploiting the international power distribution, and responding strategically to the international norms and rules to advance their foreign policy agendas in the path of China's ascendance.
Follow Suisheng Zhao on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Dragon Roars Back.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six of the best dogs in post-apocalyptic books

Lorna Wallace has a PhD in English Literature and is a lover of all things science fiction and horror. She lives in Scotland with her rescue greyhound, Misty.

At Tor.com Wallace tagged eleven of the best dogs in post-apocalyptic books and films, including:
Jasper — The Dog Stars (2012) by Peter Heller

There’s something irresistibly cute about dogs riding shotgun in a car—something which multiple mutts on this list do—even though I would never let my own dog do it (she’s huge, okay, she wouldn’t fit). But The Dog Stars goes one better: Jasper the dog gets to fly around as a passenger in a little Cessna airplane. He lives in an airplane hangar with his owner, Hig, after a deadly flu has wiped out most of the population. The writing style of this book wasn’t for me but I’m sure there are readers out there who will love it, and I can’t deny that Jasper is an excellent friend for the end of the world.
Read about another entry on the list .

The Dog Stars is among Siobhan Adcock's six crime novels that explore the experience of veterans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Pg. 69: Aaron Philip Clark's "Blue Like Me"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Blue Like Me (Book 2 of 2: Trevor Finnegan) by Aaron Philip Clark.

About the book, from the publisher:
A brutal homicide sets an ex-cop and his former partner on the hunt for an enigmatic killer in a gripping thriller by the author of Under Color of Law.

When former detective Trevor “Finn” Finnegan became a PI, he adopted a new mandate: catch the LAPD’s worst in the act. While on surveillance in Venice Beach, Finn tails two potentially dirty cops: Detective Martin Riley and Finn’s ex-partner, Detective Sally Munoz. Things take a deadly turn when an unknown assailant executes Riley and wounds Munoz. In an instant, Finn goes from private eye to eyewitness.

Munoz needs Finn to help find Riley’s killer, but doing so could blow his cover. She’s an officer shaded by rumors. Maybe she’s still a good cop―but maybe she’s not. Finn’s reluctance ends when his dear “uncle,” an ex-LAPD detective, is murdered, and it might be connected to Riley’s death.

To prevent more bloodshed and avoid becoming the next targets on the killer’s list, Finn and Munoz will have to bury their complicated past, trust each other, and come face-to-face with painful secrets that could destroy them both.
Visit Aaron Philip Clark's website.

My Book, The Movie: Under Color of Law.

The Page 69 Test: Blue Like Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Vincent W. Lloyd's "Black Dignity"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Black Dignity: The Struggle against Domination by Vincent W. Lloyd.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why Black dignity is the paradigm of all dignity and Black philosophy is the starting point of all philosophy

This radical work by one of the leading young scholars of Black thought delineates a new concept of Black dignity, yet one with a long history in Black writing and action. Previously in the West, dignity has been seen in two ways: as something inherent in one’s station in life, whether acquired or conferred by birth; or more recently as an essential condition and right common to all of humanity.

In what might be called a work of observational philosophy—an effort to describe the philosophy underlying the Black Lives Matter movement—Vincent W. Lloyd defines dignity as something performative, not an essential quality but an action: struggle against domination. Without struggle, there is no dignity. He defines anti-Blackness as an inescapable condition of American life, and the slave’s struggle against the master as the “primal scene” of domination and resistance. Exploring the way Black writers such as Frederick Douglass, Langston Hughes, and Audre Lorde have dealt with themes such as Black rage, Black love, and Black magic, Lloyd posits that Black dignity is the paradigm of all dignity and, more audaciously, that Black philosophy is the starting point of all philosophy.
Learn more about Black Dignity at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Black Natural Law.

The Page 99 Test: Black Dignity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top crime novels for details of legal and illegal professions

Lia Matera is the author of twelve crime novels in two series, one featuring politically conflicted lawyer Willa Jansson and the other, high-profile litigator Laura Di Palma. Matera has also published eleven short stories and a novella.

She is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, where she was editor-in-chief of the Constitutional Law Quarterly. She is a member of the California Bar and was a Teaching Fellow at Stanford Law School before becoming a full-time writer.

Two of her novels were nominated for the mystery genre's top prize, the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Three were nominated for the Anthony Award, and two were nominated for the Macavity Award.

At Shepherd Matera tagged five of the "best crime novels for details of legal, intermittently legal, and definitely illegal professions," including:
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs

What is it like to be a thief? I picked up Ghostman after writer Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) joked on Facebook that the book taught her how to rob a casino. This exciting story does that and much more. The protagonist is forced to untangle a caper gone FUBAR and then disappear without a trace. Through multiple twists and backstabbings, readers learn the fine points of pulling off grand thefts and long cons, the tricks and trials of becoming a permanent “ghost.” The information is offered seamlessly, with no jarring breaks from action or characterization. In my opinion, there’s never been a better heist novel, though its sequel, Vanishing Games, comes close. (Sadly, Hobbs died when he was only 26, leaving behind no additional manuscripts.)
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Ghostman.

--Marshal Zeringue