Monday, January 31, 2022

Scotto Moore's "Battle of the Linguist Mages," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore.

The entry begins:
My main character is Isobel, a young gamer who for years has held the title of Queen of Sparkle Dungeon, which is a medieval rave-themed VR MMORG. She’s brash and cocky, and also pretty hilarious, but if you’re in her raiding party she always tries to have your back. Her life out in the “mundane world” of work and relationships is a mess when we meet her, but she starts to put herself back together as the story gets going, and then she realizes there’s more to the game by far than she understood.

When I first saw the prompt here, without even trying to come up with a list, the first name that popped into mind almost immediately was Miley Cyrus. The persona she uses as a rock star, combined with the chops she has as an actress, would be a great foundation for a memorable performance as Isobel. She has a counterpart eventually, a genius computational linguist / underground resistance leader, and I would try to get...[read on]
Visit Scotto Moore's website.

My Book, The Movie: Battle of the Linguist Mages.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books on Georgia O’Keeffe

At The Art Newspaper curator Theodora Vischer tagged five must-read books on the American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, including:
Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life (1989) by Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson’s comprehensive biography gives a vivid account of O’Keeffe’s remarkable artistic career. Robinson recounts the artist’s long life in great detail, which, though most commonly associated with the American Southwest, played out in so many different places throughout the United States.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: James McHugh's "An Unholy Brew"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: An Unholy Brew: Alcohol in Indian History and Religions by James McHugh.

About the book, from the publisher:
The first comprehensive book on alcohol in pre-modern India, An Unholy Brew: Alcohol in Indian History and Religions uses a wide range of sources from the Vedas to the Kamasutra to explore drinks and styles of drinking, as well as rationales for abstinence from the earliest Sanskrit written records through the second millennium CE.

Books about the global history of alcohol almost never give attention to India. But a wide range of texts provide plenty of evidence that there was a thriving culture of drinking in ancient and medieval India, from public carousing at the brewery and drinking house to imbibing at festivals and weddings. There was also an elite drinking culture depicted in poetic texts (often in an erotic mode), and medical texts explain how to balance drink and health. By no means everyone drank, however, and there were many sophisticated religious arguments for abstinence.

McHugh begins by surveying the intoxicating drinks that were available, including grain beers, palm toddy, and imported wine, detailing the ways people used grains, sugars, fruits, and herbs over the centuries to produce an impressive array of liquors. He presents myths that explain how drink came into being and how it was assigned the ritual and legal status it has in our time. The book also explores Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain moral and legal texts on drink and abstinence, as well as how drink is used in some Tantric rituals, and translates in full a detailed description of the goddess Liquor, Suradevi. Cannabis, betel, soma, and opium are also considered. Finally, McHugh investigates what has happened to these drinks, stories, and theories in the last few centuries.

An Unholy Brew brings to life the overlooked, complex world of brewing, drinking, and abstaining in pre-modern India, and offers illuminating case studies on topics such as law and medicine, even providing recipes for some drinks.
Learn more about An Unholy Brew at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: An Unholy Brew.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Catherine Egan

From my Q&A with Catherine Egan, author of Sneaks:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I usually have a terrible time thinking of titles, but Sneaks was my working title, and it stuck – it felt like the right title for a puzzle book about sneaky aliens! The official name for the interdimensional life forms in the novel posing as ordinary, inanimate objects is “Malsprite,” but they are commonly called “Sneaks” for the way they slip into the world and disguise themselves as something innocuous. The main characters are also required to do a fair bit of sneaking around, and many characters have hidden or secret agendas, so the title felt right in more than one way! I like that it’s simple and memorable and...[read on]
Visit Catherine Egan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Julia Vanishes.

Writers Read: Catherine Egan (July 2016).

My Book, The Movie: Julia Vanishes.

Q&A with Catherine Egan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 30, 2022

What is Paul Vidich reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Paul Vidich, author of The Matchmaker: A Spy in Berlin.

His entry begins:
On the evening of November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall, an enduring symbol of the Cold War, came down. It was a momentous night. No shots were fired and no lives were lost, but it was the beginning of the end of the forty-year long Cold War. The repressive East German government fell and the Soviet Union collapsed two years later.

The fall of the Berlin Wall is central to my new historical novel. Berlin happens to be a city that has been a deep well for well for espionage fiction. Nikita Khrushchev called Berlin “a swampland of spies.” Berlin was the friction point between the Communist Block and the NATO Alliance, and you had all these spies running around. Both sides recruited sources, placed penetration agents, and when necessary, undertook legally sanctioned criminal activity against each other.

Five books were important resources for the six months of research that I did. The books capture the drama of the Wall’s collapse and provide insight into East German’s pain of displacement in the weeks and months afterward.

The Berlin Wall’s opening was not planned by the East German ruling regime—nor was it the result of a bargain between either President Ronald Reagan or President George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The accidental opening is superbly told in The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall, in which prize-winning historian Mary Elise Sarotte reveals how a perfect storm of decisions made by daring underground revolutionaries, disgruntled Stasi officers, and dictatorial party bosses sparked an unexpected series of events culminating in the chaotic fall of the Wall. Sarotte brings to life a story that sweeps across Budapest, Prague, and Leipzig and on to the armed checkpoints in Berlin. The Collapse offers...[read on]
About The Matchmaker, from the publisher:
In the vein of Graham Greene and John le Carré, The Matchmaker delivers a chilling Cold War spy story set in West Berlin, where an American woman targeted by the Stasi must confront the truth behind her German husband's mysterious disappearance.

Berlin, 1989. Protests across East Germany threaten the Iron Curtain and Communism is the ill man of Europe.

Anne Simpson, an American who works as a translator at the Joint Operations Refugee Committee, thinks she is in a normal marriage with a charming East German. But then her husband disappears, and the CIA and Western German intelligence arrive at her door.

Nothing about her marriage is as it seems. She had been targeted by the Matchmaker—a high level East German counterintelligence officer—who runs a network of Stasi agents. These agents are his "Romeos" who marry vulnerable women in West Berlin to provide them with cover as they report back to the Matchmaker. Anne has been married to a spy, and now he has disappeared, and is presumably dead.

The CIA are desperate to find the Matchmaker because of his close ties to the KGB. They believe he can establish the truth about a high-ranking Soviet defector. They need Anne because she's the only person who has seen his face - from a photograph that her husband mistakenly left out in his office - and she is the CIA’s best chance to identify him before the Matchmaker escapes to Moscow. Time is running out as the Berlin Wall falls and chaos engulfs East Germany.

But what if Anne's husband is not dead? And what if Anne has her own motives for finding the Matchmaker to deliver a different type of justice?
Visit Paul Vidich's website.

Q&A with Paul Vidich.

My Book, The Movie: The Mercenary.

The Page 69 Test: The Mercenary.

Writers Read: Paul Vidich.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten wintry science fiction & fantasy novels

At BookBub Jeff Somers tagged ten wintry SFF novels, including:
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin’s classic novel remains a powerful reading experience. One of the first sci-fi stories to delve into gender politics, the story follows Genly Ai, a man from Terra who travels to the planet Gethen on a diplomatic mission. The word “gethen” means “winter,” and the planet is in the grip of an ice age. It’s a frozen, volcanic, violently cold place.

Le Guin’s evocative writing and the bitter cold of the setting accentuate how alien the Gethens are to Ai, who struggles to understand their ambisexual society.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Left Hand of Darkness is among Andrew Hunter Murray's five best books to make you feel less alone, Kelly Jensen's five inhospitable planets in film and fiction, Ann Leckie's ten best science fiction books, Esther Inglis-Arkell's ten most unfilmable books, Jeff Somers's top five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways, Joel Cunningham's top twelve books with the most irresistible titles, Damien Walter's top five science fiction novels for people who hate sci-fi and Ian Marchant's top 10 books of the night. Charlie Jane Anders included it on her list of ten science fiction novels that will never be movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Guy MacLean Rogers's "For the Freedom of Zion"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: For the Freedom of Zion: The Great Revolt of Jews against Romans, 66–74 CE by Guy MacLean Rogers.

About the book, from the publisher:
A definitive account of the great revolt of Jews against Rome and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple

This deeply researched and insightful book examines the causes, course, and historical significance of the Jews’ failed revolt against Rome from 66 to 74 CE, including the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. Based on a comprehensive study of all the evidence and new statistical data, Guy Rogers argues that the Jewish rebels fought for their religious and political freedom and lost due to military mistakes.

Rogers contends that while the Romans won the war, they lost the peace. When the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, they thought that they had defeated the God of Israel and eliminated Jews as a strategic threat to their rule. Instead, they ensured the Jews’ ultimate victory. After their defeat Jews turned to the written words of their God, and following those words led the Jews to recover their freedom in the promised land. The war's tragic outcome still shapes the worldview of billions of people today.
Learn more about For the Freedom of Zion at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: For the Freedom of Zion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Heather Gudenkauf's "The Overnight Guest"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Overnight Guest: A Novel by Heather Gudenkauf.

About the book, from the publisher:
She thought she was alone…

True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.

As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. After bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.
Visit Heather Gudenkauf's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf and Maxine.

Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf & Lolo.

My Book, The Movie: Not A Sound.

The Page 69 Test: Not A Sound.

Writers Read: Heather Gudenkauf (April 2019).

The Page 69 Test: Before She Was Found.

The Page 69 Test: This Is How I Lied.

The Page 69 Test: The Overnight Guest.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Ten top books about basketball

Chris Herring is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. He previously spent five years covering the NBA for ESPN and FiveThirtyEight, and prior to that spent seven years at The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the New York Knicks. He lives in Chicago and teaches at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in his spare time.

Herring's new book is Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks.

At Publishers Weekly Herring tagged ten of his "favorite basketball reads, many of which helped shape the way [he] went about writing [his] own book." One title on the list:
Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

A revealing, masterful portrait of perhaps the most unlikely superstar the NBA’s ever had: Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. The story is wrenching in some ways, but lighthearted and joyful in others. Fader threads the needle perfectly in capturing the dualities Antetokounmpo has faced in terms of his Greek nationality, but also in going from poverty to immense wealth in such a short amount of time.
Read about another entry on the list.

Follow Chris Herring on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Sarah Hagelin & Gillian Silverman's "The New Female Antihero"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The New Female Antihero: The Disruptive Women of Twenty-First-Century US Television by Sarah Hagelin and Gillian Silverman.

About the book, from the publisher:
The New Female Antihero examines the hard-edged spies, ruthless queens, and entitled slackers of twenty-first-century television.

The last ten years have seen a shift in television storytelling toward increasingly complex storylines and characters. In this study, Sarah Hagelin and Gillian Silverman zoom in on a key figure in this transformation: the archetype of the female antihero. Far from the sunny, sincere, plucky persona once demanded of female characters, the new female antihero is often selfish and deeply unlikeable.

In this entertaining and insightful study, Hagelin and Silverman explore the meanings of this profound change in the role of women characters. In the dramas of the new millennium, they show, the female antihero is ambitious, conniving, even murderous; in comedies, she is self-centered, self-sabotaging, and anti-aspirational. Across genres, these female protagonists eschew the part of good girl or role model. In their rejection of social responsibility, female antiheroes thus represent a more profound threat to the status quo than do their male counterparts. From the devious schemers of Game of Thrones, The Americans, Scandal, and Homeland, to the joyful failures of Girls, Broad City, Insecure, and SMILF, female antiheroes register a deep ambivalence about the promises of liberal feminism. They push back against the myth of the modern-day super-woman—she who “has it all”—and in so doing, they give us new ways of imagining women’s lives in contemporary America.
Learn more about The New Female Antihero at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The New Female Antihero.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Rosiee Thor and Tess

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Rosiee Thor and Tess.

The author, on how she and Tess were united:
Tess used to be my partner's brother's dog, but when he expanded his family and started having kids, Tess didn't do well with the little ones. She really prefers to be the baby herself, so it wasn't a great environment for her. She's got some sensitivities with her ears and kiddos don't always respect boundaries, so we offered to take her instead, since we have a child free home. She's been the perfect dog for us and we...[read on]
About Thor's new book Fire Becomes Her, from the publisher:
In Rosiee Thor’s lavish fantasy novel with a Jazz Age spark, a politically savvy teen must weigh her desire to climb the social ladder against her heart in a world where magic buys votes. Flare is power.

With only a drop of flare, one can light the night sky with fireworks ... or burn a building to the ground—and seventeen-year-old Ingrid Ellis wants her fair share.

Ingrid doesn’t have a family fortune, monetary or magical, but at least she has a plan: Rise to the top on the arm of Linden Holt, heir to a hefty political legacy and the largest fortune of flare in all of Candesce. Her only obstacle is Linden’s father who refuses to acknowledge her.

So when Senator Holt announces his run for president, Ingrid uses the situation to her advantage. She strikes a deal to spy on the senator’s opposition in exchange for his approval and the status she so desperately craves. But the longer Ingrid wears two masks, the more she questions where her true allegiances lie.

Will she stand with the Holts, or will she forge her own path?
Visit Rosiee Thor's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Rosiee Thor and Tess.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 28, 2022

Five great blizzard thrillers

Heather Gudenkauf is a Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels, including The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden, Not A Sound, This Is How I Lied, and, most recently, The Overnight Guest.

[Coffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf and MaxineCoffee with a Canine: Heather Gudenkauf & LoloMy Book, The Movie: Not A SoundThe Page 69 Test: Not A SoundThe Page 69 Test: Before She Was FoundThe Page 69 Test: This Is How I Lied]

At CrimeReads Gudenkauf tagged five favorite "thrillers and mysteries where an untimely winter storm takes center stage," including:
Runner, by Tracy Clark

When I started reading Runner by Tracy Clark, it was a mild December day in the Midwest. Still, I had to pull on my warmest sweater, coziest socks and pause to brew a hot cup of tea before reading on. In her fourth Chicago-based novel featuring PI Cassandra Raines, Clark captures winter in the Windy City perfectly. And just as chilling is Raines’s current case—the search for Ramona, a fifteen-year-old runaway. Raines can’t stand the thought of a young girl out on the streets, fending for herself in subzero temperatures, and as she draws closer, she discovers something much more nefarious at play in Ramona’s disappearance. While Runner is the first novel I’ve read by the talented Clark, I will quickly dig into the rest of the series.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Runner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael W. Hankins's "Flying Camelot"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Flying Camelot: The F-15, the F-16, and the Weaponization of Fighter Pilot Nostalgia by Michael W. Hankins.

About the book, from the publisher:
Flying Camelot brings us back to the post-Vietnam era, when the US Air Force launched two new, state-of-the art fighter aircraft: the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It was an era when debates about aircraft superiority went public—and these were not uncontested discussions. Michael W. Hankins delves deep into the fighter pilot culture that gave rise to both designs, showing how a small but vocal group of pilots, engineers, and analysts in the Department of Defense weaponized their own culture to affect technological development and larger political change.

The design and advancement of the F-15 and F-16 reflected this group's nostalgic desire to recapture the best of World War I air combat. Known as the "Fighter Mafia," and later growing into the media savvy political powerhouse "Reform Movement," it believed that American weapons systems were too complicated and expensive, and thus vulnerable. The group's leader was Colonel John Boyd, a contentious former fighter pilot heralded as a messianic figure by many in its ranks. He and his group advocated for a shift in focus from the multi-role interceptors the Air Force had designed in the early Cold War towards specialized air-to-air combat dogfighters. Their influence stretched beyond design and into larger politicized debates about US national security, debates that still resonate today.

A biography of fighter pilot culture and the nostalgia that drove decision-making, Flying Camelot deftly engages both popular culture and archives to animate the movement that shook the foundations of the Pentagon and Congress.
Visit Michael W. Hankins's website.

The Page 99 Test: Flying Camelot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Thomas Bardenwerper's "Mona Passage"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mona Passage: A Novel by Thomas Bardenwerper.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mona Passage is the story of two neighbors in San Juan, Puerto Rico: Galán Betances, a Cuban emigrant, and Pat McAllister, a young Coast Guard officer. During long evenings spent together talking on their Calle Luna rooftop, a deep friendship develops based on shared traumas and a common desire to heal. When Galán learns that his sister, Gabriela, is going to be committed to a mental health facility in Cuba, he plans her escape to Puerto Rico. Pat, whose Coast Guard cutter patrols the Mona Passage for drug traffickers and migrants, warns Galán that such a journey will be treacherous—perhaps fatal. Aware of the dangers but determined for Gabriela to live a full life, Galán hands over all the money he has to a Dominican smuggler based out of a San Juan nightclub, and Gabriela begins her terrifying journey.

Knowing that his cutter may be all that separates Galán and Gabriela—and haunted by the human suffering he has witnessed at sea—Pat must decide. Will he remain true to his oath, as his older brother had done in Iraq? Or will he risk his own future—and perhaps his freedom—for his closest friend?

On a moonless night, two armed vessels converge in the Mona Passage, and three lives change forever.
Visit Thomas Bardenwerper's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Q&A with Thomas Bardenwerper.

The Page 69 Test: Mona Passage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Top ten novels inspired by Greek myths

Susan Stokes-Chapman was born in 1985 and grew up in the historic Georgian city of Lichfield, Staffordshire. She studied for four years at Aberystwyth University, graduating with a BA in Education & English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing.

Her debut novel, Pandora, was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction prize 2020 as well as longlisted for the Bath Novel Award that same year.

At the Guardian Stokes-Chapman tagged ten books that "have interpreted the Greek myths in different ways, but they are all testament to how these ancient stories have got under our skin." One title on the list:
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes brilliantly retells the story of the Trojan war from an all-female perspective. She presents a kaleidoscopic view of the war and the women involved in a series of episodes narrated by Calliope, the Greek muse of epic poetry. A fresh take on the Iliad brimming with wit and atmosphere.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Thousand Ships is among Jennifer Saint's ten essential books inspired by Greek myth, Deanna Raybourn's six top novels based on historical scandals, and Alyssa Vaughn's forty-two books to help you get through the rest of quarantine.

The Page 69 Test: A Thousand Ships.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Joseph W. Ho's "Developing Mission"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Developing Mission: Photography, Filmmaking, and American Missionaries in Modern China by Joseph W. Ho.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Developing Mission, Joseph W. Ho offers a transnational cultural history of US and Chinese communities framed by missionary lenses through time and space—tracing the lives and afterlives of images, cameras, and visual imaginations from before the Second Sino-Japanese War through the first years of the People's Republic of China.

When American Protestant and Catholic missionaries entered interwar China, they did so with cameras in hand. Missions principally aimed at the conversion of souls and the modernization of East Asia, became, by virtue of the still and moving images recorded, quasi-anthropological ventures that shaped popular understandings of and formal foreign policy toward China. Portable photographic technologies changed the very nature of missionary experience, while images that missionaries circulated between China and the United States affected cross-cultural encounters in times of peace and war.

Ho illuminates the centrality of visual practices in the American missionary enterprise in modern China, even as intersecting modernities and changing Sino-US relations radically transformed lives behind and in front of those lenses. In doing so, Developing Mission reconstructs the almost-lost histories of transnational image makers, subjects, and viewers across twentieth-century China and the United States.
Visit Joseph W. Ho's website.

The Page 99 Test: Developing Mission.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Marty Wingate

From my Q&A with Marty Wingate, author of The Librarian Always Rings Twice:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

An agent once told me that although the book belongs to the writer, titles and covers are committee decisions. Occasionally, I have an idea for a title, but usually I let my agent or publisher (once, a reader) come up with something. The Librarian Always Rings Twice, came from the publisher, and is a reference to how often Hayley Burke, curator of the First Edition Society at Middlebank House, is interrupted and/or met with a new problem when she answers the door. If it isn’t her nemesis, Charles Henry Dill, then it’s someone claiming to be Lady Fowling’s grandson. Or perhaps the police.

What's in a name?

Sometimes, a character’s name comes to me first and then I then I learn about person. But many times...[read on]
Visit Marty Wingate's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

The Page 69 Test: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

Q&A with Marty Wingate.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Pg. 69: Peter Mann's "The Torqued Man"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Torqued Man: A Novel by Peter Mann.

About the book, from the publisher:
A brilliant debut novel, at once teasing literary thriller and a darkly comic blend of history and invention, The Torqued Man is set in wartime Berlin and propelled by two very different but equally mesmerizing voices: a German spy handler and his Irish secret agent, neither of whom are quite what they seem.

Berlin—September, 1945
. Two manuscripts are found in rubble, each one narrating conflicting versions of the life of an Irish spy during the war.

One of them is the journal of a German military intelligence officer and an anti-Nazi cowed into silence named Adrian de Groot, charting his relationship with his agent, friend, and sometimes lover, an Irishman named Frank Pike. In De Groot’s narrative, Pike is a charismatic IRA fighter sprung from prison in Spain to assist with the planned German invasion of Britain, but who never gets the chance to consummate his deal with the devil.

Meanwhile, the other manuscript gives a very different account of the Irishman’s doings in the Reich. Assuming the alter ego of the Celtic hero Finn McCool, Pike appears here as the ultimate Allied saboteur. His mission: an assassination campaign of high-ranking Nazi doctors, culminating in the killing of Hitler’s personal physician.

The two manuscripts spiral around each other, leaving only the reader to know the full truth of Pike and De Groot’s relationship, their ultimate loyalties, and their efforts to resist the fascist reality in which they are caught.
Visit Peter Mann's website.

Q&A with Peter Mann.

The Page 69 Test: The Torqued Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top adrenaline pumping YA SFF survival books

Meg Long was born and raised in Louisiana and originally wanted to be a spy. Instead she somehow found herself teaching overseas in China and Malaysia before ending up in Colorado, where it snows entirely too much. She taught middle and high school for eight years before jumping to the tech industry as a content writer. When not reading or writing, she’s kicking things at her Muay Thai gym with her boyfriend, playing video games, or obsessing over Sailor Moon fanart. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is her debut novel.

At Long tagged five favorite YA SFF books that will get your heart racing, including:
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

This. Book. This book will have you on the edge of your seat (or couch)—the story will absolutely not let you go until you get to the heart-pounding conclusion. An alternate history with a sci-fi twist, Wolf by Wolf is set in a world reimagined, one where the Axis powers won WW2 and celebrate their victory with an annual motorcycle race across the German and Japanese controlled continents of Europe and Asia. Yael, a former death camp prisoner with the ability to skinshift, infiltrates this infamous race on a secret mission. Her plan? Take the place of the only female competitor and win the race so she can kill Hitler at the awards banquet in Tokyo. Not only did I finish this in one frenzied sitting, my palms were sweating from the suspense!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Tara Watson & Kalee Thompson's "The Border Within"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Border Within: The Economics of Immigration in an Age of Fear by Tara Watson and Kalee Thompson.

About the book, from the publisher:
An eye-opening analysis of the costs and effects of immigration and immigration policy, both on American life and on new Americans.

For decades, immigration has been one of the most divisive, contentious topics in American politics. And for decades, urgent calls for its policy reform have gone mostly unanswered. As the discord surrounding the modern immigration debate has intensified, border enforcement has tightened. Crossing harsher, less porous borders makes unauthorized entry to the United States a permanent, costly undertaking. And the challenges don’t end on the other side.

At once enlightening and devastating, The Border Within examines the costs and ends of America’s interior enforcement—the policies and agencies, including ICE, aimed at removing immigrants already living in the country. Economist Tara Watson and journalist Kalee Thompson pair rigorous analysis with deeply personal stories from immigrants and their families to assess immigration’s effects on every aspect of American life, from the labor force to social welfare programs to tax revenue. What emerges is a critical, utterly complete examination of what non-native Americans bring to the country, including immigration’s tendency to elevate the wages and skills of those who are native-born.

News coverage has prompted many to question the humanity of American immigration policies; The Border Within opens a conversation of whether it is effective. The United States spends billions each year on detention and deportation, all without economic gain and at a great human cost. With depth and discipline, the authors dissect the shock-and-awe policies that make up a broken, often cruel system, while illuminating the lives caught in the chaos. It is an essential work with far-reaching implications for immigrants and non-immigrants alike.
Learn more about The Border Within at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Border Within.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jacquelyn Mitchard's "The Good Son," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Good Son: A Novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard.

The entry begins:
I’d love to have my book made into a movie (and when writers say that they just hope that Hollywood doesn’t get its hands on their wonderful story and “ruin” it, they’re generally lying and trying to sound virtuous because no one makes you take that option money … you could just not take it …).

If this story were adapted, I think of who might play the role of the main character, Thea. It’s clearer to me who would play Julie, Thea’s wonderful best friend, and that would be Julianne Moore (not because of the name). She has a sort of patrician generosity that is the hallmark of Julie’s character. For Thea, I would see...[read on]
Visit Jacquelyn Mitchard's website.

My Book, the Movie: Two If by Sea.

Writers Read: Jacquelyn Mitchard (March 2016).

The Page 69 Test: Two If by Sea.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Son.

Q&A with Jacquelyn Mitchard.

My Book, The Movie: The Good Son.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Pg. 69: Caitlin Starling's "The Death of Jane Lawrence"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the Bram Stoker-nominated author of The Luminous Dead comes a gothic fantasy horror--The Death of Jane Lawrence.

Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town.

Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.

Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Caitlin Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished.
Visit Caitlin Starling's website.

Writers Read: Caitlin Starling (May 2019).

The Page 69 Test: The Luminous Dead.

The Page 69 Test: The Death of Jane Lawrence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six novels that explore the blurry boundaries of sibling intimacy

Sara Freeman is a Montreal-born writer currently based out of Boston. She graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in Fiction in 2013.

Freeman's new novel is Tides.

At Lit Hub she tagged six "novels that explore the blurry psychic boundaries of sibling intimacy," including:
Daisy Johnson, Sisters

This lyrical, gothic novel follows teenage sisters September and July as they take refuge, after an unnamed incident, in a dilapidated family house in the North York Moors. Their mother, a writer of children’s books, disappears for days at a time inside her room and the girls, only ten months apart (but merging their birthdays after September decrees it) seem to exist in a state of mind-body-meld that belies something far more disturbing than your average sibling bond. When September loses her virginity on the beach, for instance, July feels the pleasure and pain as viscerally as if it were her own. July, the younger sibling, is our narrator for the majority of the novel, and we slowly see, through her eyes, the way September, the eldest and more domineering of the two, begins to possess her, to ‘wear [her] like a coat.’ The house too, starts to ooze and engulf and terrify, until the final intoxicating reveal.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Eric G. Wilson's "Dream-Child"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dream-Child: A Life of Charles Lamb by Eric G. Wilson.

About the book, from the publisher:
An in-depth look into the life of Romantic essayist Charles Lamb and the legacy of his work

A pioneer of urban Romanticism, essayist Charles Lamb (1775–1834) found inspiration in London’s markets, theaters, prostitutes, and bookshops. He prized the city’s literary scene, too, where he was a star wit. He counted among his admirers Mary Shelley, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His friends valued in his conversation what distinguished his writing style: a highly original blend of irony, whimsy, and melancholy.

Eric G. Wilson captures Lamb’s strange charm in this meticulously researched and engagingly written biography. He demonstrates how Lamb’s humor helped him cope with a life‑defining tragedy: in a fit of madness, his sister Mary murdered their mother. Arranging to care for her himself, Lamb saved her from the gallows. Delightful when sane, Mary became Charles’s muse, and she collaborated with him on children’s books. In exploring Mary’s presence in Charles’s darkly comical essays, Wilson also shows how Lamb reverberates in today’s experimental literature.
Learn more about Dream-Child at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck.

The Page 99 Test: Dream-Child: A Life of Charles Lamb.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ron Walters reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ron Walters, author of Deep Dive.

His entry begins:
I’ve torn through a lot of epic fantasies lately (most recently Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, which was absolutely stunning), so for my current read I decided to go with something much more contemporary and intimate but just as fantastical and amazing: Swashbucklers, by Dan Hanks. To quote the back copy: “When Cisco Collins returns to his home town thirty years after saving it from being swallowed by a hell mouth opened by an ancient pirate ghost, he realises that being a childhood hero isn't like it was in the movies. Especially when nobody remembers the heroic bits - even the friends who once fought alongside him.”

Like a lot of Gen-Xers I’m a sucker for...[read on]
About Deep Dive, from the publisher:
When your reality shatters, what will you do to put it back together again?

Still reeling from the failure of his last project, videogame developer Peter Banuk is working hard to ensure his next game doesn’t meet the same fate. He desperately needs a win, not only to save his struggling company, but to justify the time he’s spent away from his wife and daughters.

So when Peter’s tech-genius partner offers him the chance to beta-test a new state-of-the-art virtual reality headset, he jumps at it. But something goes wrong during the trial, and Peter wakes to find himself trapped in an eerily familiar world where his children no longer exist.

As the lines between the real and virtual worlds begin to blur, Peter is forced to reckon with what truly matters to him. But can he escape his virtual prison before he loses his family forever?
Visit Ron Walters's website.

Writers Read: Ron Walters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 24, 2022

Ten top novels inspired by true crimes

Steph Mullin is a creative director and Nicole Mabry works in the photography department for a television network. They met as co-workers in New York City in 2012, discovering a shared passion for writing and true crime. After Mullin relocated to Charlotte, NC in 2018, they continued to collaborate. Separated by five states, they spend hours scheming via FaceTime and editing in real time on Google Docs. The Family Tree is the duo’s first crime novel.

[ The Page 69 Test: The Family TreeMy Book, The Movie: The Family Tree]

At The Strand Magazine Mullin and Mabry tagged ten novels inspired by true crimes, including:
The Family Plot by Megan Collins

Dahlia Lighthouse, named after The Black Dahlia, is raised in a family obsessed with true crime. They live secluded from the outside world on a small island which has also been home to an infamous serial killer who’s never been caught. Because of the family’s dark interests, their home has been dubbed “Murder Mansion” by the locals. Growing up, Dahlia and her siblings were forced to honor murder victims through reenactments and celebrations of their lives. Eventually Dahlia moves away, but the roots of her upbringing stick with her. After Dahlia returns home to bury her father in the family plot on their property, the body of her long missing brother is found already in the grave. Dahlia’s family unravels in interesting and upsetting ways at the revelation. The Family Plot is beautifully atmospheric, full of interesting characters and complicated family dynamics, and of course…dripping with true crime references. This story is perfect for anyone fascinated by true crime and secrets close to home. (Inspired by many true crimes including The Black Dahlia, Charlie Manson, The Hindenburgh kidnapping and more)
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Family Plot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Peter Anderson's "The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain: Taking, Losing, and Fighting for Children, 1926-1945 by Peter Anderson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain analyses the ideas and practices that underpinned the age of mass child removal. This era emerged from growing criticisms across the world of 'dangerous' parents and the developing belief in the nineteenth century that the state could provide superior guardianship to 'unfit' parents. In the late nineteenth century, the juvenile-court movement led the way in forging a new and more efficient system of child removal that severely curtailed the previously highly protected sovereignty of guardians deemed dangerous. This transnational movement rapidly established courts across the world and used them to train the personnel and create the systems that frequently lay behind mass child removal. Spaniards formed a significant part of this transnational movement and the country's juvenile courts became involved in the three main areas of removal that characterize the age: the taking of children from poor families, from families displaced by war, and from political opponents.

The study of Spanish case files reveals much about how the removal process worked in practice across time and across democratic regimes and dictatorships. These cases also afford an insight into the rich array of child-removal practices that lay between the poles of coercion and victimhood. Accordingly, the study offers a history of some of most marginalized parents and children and recaptures their voice, agency, and experience. Peter Anderson also analyses the removal of tens of thousands of children from General Franco's political opponents, sometimes referred to as the lost children of Francoism, through the history and practice of the juvenile courts.
Learn more about The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Age of Mass Child Removal in Spain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Soraya Lane's "Under a Sky of Memories"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Under a Sky of Memories by Soraya M. Lane.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of The Last Correspondent comes the powerful story of three brave women who go to war―and end up fighting for their lives.

Sicily, 1943. Three American women, all nurses in the Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, are determined to do all they can for their country. Vita is fun-loving, Dot shy and sweet-natured, and Evelyn practical and determined, but for all their differences, a life of military service pulls the three together as firm friends.

When they’re selected for a daring mission, the women are proud to play their part. But disaster strikes when their plane crash-lands behind enemy lines in occupied Albania. Together with twenty-three other medics, they find themselves trapped, cut off from all communication with the squadron, and in terrifying and unimaginable danger.

As days and nights pass without hope of rescue, the group must travel on foot across unfamiliar terrain thick with Nazis and their violent local allies. Can Evelyn, Vita, and Dot survive the perilous journey through enemy territory―and finally find their way home?
Visit Soraya Lane's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Spitfire Girls.

The Page 69 Test: The Spitfire Girls.

The Page 69 Test: The Secrets We Left Behind.

Q&A with Soraya M. Lane.

My Book, The Movie: Under a Sky of Memories.

Writers Read: Soraya M. Lane.

The Page 69 Test: Under a Sky of Memories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Q&A with Peter Mann

From my Q&A with Peter Mann, author of The Torqued Man: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The Torqued Man might seem an enigmatic title at first blush, but readers soon discover it speaks to the predicament of both main characters in terms of their conflicted identities and convoluted allegiances.

German spy handler Adrian de Groot is a closeted gay man living in Hitler’s Germany as well as a literary translator and anti-Nazi who finds himself working for the Reich. For these reasons, his Irish charge Frank Pike refers to him as The Torqued Man: “pulled one way by inclination, and another by propriety... with merchant’s blood but literature in his heart, he had become a reluctant middleman for book-burners.”

Yet Irish spy Frank Pike is similarly torqued. An Irish socialist recruited to collaborate with the Nazis, he must untangle himself through a secret redemptive mission aimed at bringing down Hitler’s empire. To do this, he adopts the alter ego of the Celtic hero Finn McCool, who, when the battle frenzy is upon him, undergoes...[read on]
Visit Peter Mann's website.

Q&A with Peter Mann.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top mysteries with southern swampy settings

Stacy Willingham, worked as a copywriter and brand strategist for various marketing agencies before deciding to write fiction full time. She earned her BA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in Writing from the Savannah College of Art & Design.

Her new novel is A Flicker in the Dark.

At CrimeReads Willingham tagged eight mysteries that feature Southern settings, including:
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

While there are no literal swamps in Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season, this book deserves a place on the list for a multitude of reasons. Caren Gray manages operations on Belle Vie, a Louisiana plantation where her own ancestors once worked cutting cane. Within the first few pages, a dead body is found on the plantation grounds, juxtaposing a modern day crime with one that occurred decades earlier. This story is so much more than a mystery: it’s an honest exploration of politics, race relations and the complexities of the American South’s shameful history, all while drawing parallels to the modern-day experience many still face today. It is an at-times heart-wrenching but important read.
Read about another mystery on the list.

The Cutting Season is among Karen Dietrich's eight top red herrings in contemporary crime literature, T. Marie Vandelly's top ten suspenseful horror novels featuring housebound terrors and Wil Medearis's seven favorite novels that explore real estate swindles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Zeynep Pamuk's "Politics and Expertise"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Politics and Expertise: How to Use Science in a Democratic Society by Zeynep Pamuk.

About the book, from the publisher:
Our ability to act on some of the most pressing issues of our time, from pandemics and climate change to artificial intelligence and nuclear weapons, depends on knowledge provided by scientists and other experts. Meanwhile, contemporary political life is increasingly characterized by problematic responses to expertise, with denials of science on the one hand and complaints about the ignorance of the citizenry on the other.

Politics and Expertise offers a new model for the relationship between science and democracy, rooted in the ways in which scientific knowledge and the political context of its use are imperfect. Zeynep Pamuk starts from the fact that science is uncertain, incomplete, and contested, and shows how scientists’ judgments about what is significant and useful shape the agenda and framing of political decisions. The challenge, Pamuk argues, is to ensure that democracies can expose and contest the assumptions and omissions of scientists, instead of choosing between wholesale acceptance or rejection of expertise. To this end, she argues for institutions that support scientific dissent, proposes an adversarial “science court” to facilitate the public scrutiny of science, reimagines structures for funding scientific research, and provocatively suggests restricting research into dangerous new technologies.

Through rigorous philosophical analysis and fascinating examples, Politics and Expertise moves the conversation beyond the dichotomy between technocracy and populism and develops a better answer for how to govern and use science democratically.
Learn more about Politics and Expertise at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Politics and Expertise.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Pg. 69: Marty Wingate's "The Librarian Always Rings Twice"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Librarian Always Rings Twice by Marty Wingate.

About the book, from the publisher:
When a mysterious stranger turns up making claims that threaten Lady Fowling’s legacy, Hayley Burke must dig deep into her late-benefactor’s history to uncover the truth and catch a conniving killer in this new mystery from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.

It has been nearly a year since I took up my position as curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s collection of Golden Age of Mystery writers’ first editions at her library in Middlebank House. I have learned that I need to take the good with the bad. The good: I have finally convinced Mrs. Woolgar to open up the collection to the public one day a week so that they too can share in Lady Fowling’s passion. The bad: although he would not be my first, or even tenth, choice, at the insistence of the board Charles Henry Dill, Lady Fowling’s unscrupulous nephew, is now my personal assistant.

On one of our first days open to the public, Mr. John Aubrey shows up at Middlebank House and insists that Lady Georgiana Fowling is his grandmother. Mrs. Woolgar is scandalized by his claims, and Charles Henry, who feels he has been cheated out of his rightful inheritance as Lady Fowling’s heir, is furious. I do not know that I believe Mr. Aubrey, yet he has knowledge of Lady Fowling’s life and writings that few possess. To further complicate matters, an associate of Mr. Aubrey’s intends to help us uncover the truth of John’s story. But before he can do that, he is murdered and the police have reason to suspect Charles Henry.

As much as I would like to lock up Charles Henry and throw away the key, I cannot believe he is a killer. And I also know there is something dead wrong about Mr. Aubrey’s tales regarding his “grandmother” Lady Fowling. I will need to make sense of her past in order to suss out the true villain of this story.
Visit Marty Wingate's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

The Page 69 Test: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

--Marshal Zeringue