Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Books by women that every man should read

Mary Ann Sieghart leads a portfolio life. She makes programs for BBC Radio 4 and is a Visiting Professor at King’s College London. She spent 2018-19 as a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, where she researched her book, The Authority Gap, on why women are taken less seriously than men. She is Chair of the judges for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022.

For the Guardian Sieghart asked a number of well-known male writers about their favorite books by women. One entry on the list:
Lee Child: The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

Real men read books by women. In my genre, try The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter – great story, great characters, pace, thrills and action ... just as fast, hard and tough as anything I write.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Frank Keil's "Wonder: Childhood and the Lifelong Love of Science"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Wonder: Childhood and the Lifelong Love of Science by Frank C. Keil.

About the book, from the publisher:
How we can all be lifelong wonderers: restoring the sense of joy in discovery we felt as children.

From an early age, children pepper adults with questions that ask why and how: Why do balloons float? How do plants grow from seeds? Why do birds have feathers? Young children have a powerful drive to learn about their world, wanting to know not just what something is but also how it got to be that way and how it works. Most adults, on the other hand, have little curiosity about whys and hows; we might unlock a door, for example, or boil an egg, with no idea of what happens to make such a thing possible. How can grown-ups recapture a child's sense of wonder at the world? In this book, Frank Keil describes the cognitive dispositions that set children on their paths of discovery and explains how we can all become lifelong wonderers.

Keil describes recent research on children's minds that reveals an extraordinary set of emerging abilities that underpin their joy of discovery—their need to learn not just the facts but the underlying causal patterns at the very heart of science. This glorious sense of wonder, however, is stifled, beginning in elementary school. Later, with little interest in causal mechanisms, and motivated by intellectual blind spots, as adults we become vulnerable to misinformation and manipulation—ready to believe things that aren't true. Of course, the polymaths among us have retained their sense of wonder, and Keil explains the habits of mind and ways of wondering that allow them—and can enable us—to experience the joy of asking why and how.
Learn more about Wonder: Childhood and the Lifelong Love of Science at The MIT Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Wonder.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Eric Jay Dolin reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Eric Jay Dolin, author of Rebels At Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution.

His entry begins:
Since my books are on topics I know little about before writing them, most of my reading consists of old books, articles, letters, and newspaper accounts on the topic at hand. As a result, I read a relatively small number of new books. However, I am often asked to contribute blurbs, and that allows me to read some great soon-to-be-published books. Two are of particular note, especially because they are closely related to my book, Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious Pirates. Indeed it is because I wrote that book that I was asked to blurb these two.

The first is The Pirate's Wife: The Remarkable True Story of Sarah Kidd, by Daphne Palmer Geanacopoulos, which will publish on November 8, 2022. Here is the blurb I provided: "A fascinating and intriguing story about the woman behind one of the most iconic pirates of all. Geanacopoulos's compelling portrait of Sarah Kidd's turbulent and often tragic life, and her indomitable spirit, is full of dramatic twists and turns that will leave you wondering if there is any truth to the legend of Captain Kidd's hidden treasure." Almost all...[read on]
About Rebels At Sea, from the publisher:
The best-selling author of Black Flags, Blue Waters reclaims the daring freelance sailors who proved essential to the winning of the Revolutionary War

The heroic story of the founding of the US Navy during the American Revolution has been told before, yet missing from most maritime histories of the country’s first war is the ragtag fleet of private vessels, from 20-foot whaleboats to 40-cannon men-of-war, that truly revealed the new nation’s character—above all, its ambition and entrepreneurial ethos.

In Rebels at Sea, best-selling historian Eric Jay Dolin corrects that significant omission and contends that privateers, though often seen as profiteers at best and pirates at worst, were in fact critical to the American Revolution’s outcome. Armed with cannons, swivel guns, muskets and pikes—as well as government documents granting them the right to seize enemy ships—thousands of privateers tormented the British on the broad Atlantic and in bays and harbours on both sides of the ocean. Abounding with tales of daring manoeuvres and deadly encounters, Rebels at Sea presents the American Revolution as we have rarely seen it before.
Visit Eric Jay Dolin's website.

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

The Page 99 Test: When America First Met China.

The Page 69 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

The Page 99 Test: Brilliant Beacons.

The Page 99 Test: Black Flags, Blue Waters.

The Page 99 Test: A Furious Sky.

Writers Read: Eric Jay Dolin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 30, 2022

The ten most captivating apocalypse novels

David Yoon is the New York Times bestselling author of Frankly in Love, Super Fake Love Song, and for adult readers, Version Zero and City of Orange.

He’s a William C. Morris Award finalist and an Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature Honor book recipient.

At CrimeReads Yoon tagged ten of his favorite apocalypse novels. One title on the list:
The Last Policeman series by Ben H. Winters

Okay, the world hasn’t quite ended yet in these books, but we know it will. Winters plays with the importance (or pointlessness) of morality here, in the form of a cop who’s trying to solve a murder
just weeks before kingdom come. The hardboiled prose perfectly matches the poor officer’s struggle. Because really, what’s the point in the doing the right thing when we vanish in the end, whether by errant meteor or natural death?
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: Countdown City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Wendy Church's "Murder on the Spanish Seas"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Murder on the Spanish Seas by Wendy Church.

About the book, from the publisher:
Jesse O'Hara is profane, introverted, and not frequently sober – and has just lost another job. “A million dollar brain and a ten-cent personality,” her last employer said. With nothing better to do, Jesse reluctantly accepts the gift of a luxury cruise around the Iberian Peninsula. She’s not sure she can drink enough to keep her boredom at bay, but that's the least of her problems. From the very first moment of the cruise, it's clear to Jesse that something is very wrong.

Aided by her near-photographic memory, Jesse investigates a series of strange incidents on the ship and uncovers what looks like a terrorist plot in the works. But with each new layer uncovered, her perception shifts and broadens-- and someone doesn’t want her poking around. For Jesse, bruised and concussed is preferable to tanned and relaxed, so she ignores the mounting danger even as she closes in on the villains, who have perfectly timed their grand finale...

Murder on the Spanish Seas is a riveting, whip-smart and smart-aleck debut thriller that will keep you on your toes just as frequently as it keeps you in stitches. A perfect read for fans of Ruth Ware and Janet Evanovich.
Visit Wendy Church's website.

The Page 69 Test: Murder on the Spanish Seas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan's "Streets of Gold"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success by Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan.

About the book, from the publisher:
The facts, not the fiction, of America’s immigration experience

Immigration is one of the most fraught, and possibly most misunderstood, topics in American social discourse—yet, in most cases, the things we believe about immigration are based largely on myth, not facts. Using the tools of modern data analysis and ten years of pioneering research, new evidence is provided about the past and present of the American Dream, debunking myths fostered by political opportunism and sentimentalized in family histories, and draw counterintuitive conclusions, including:

Upward Mobility: Children of immigrants from nearly every country, especially those of poor immigrants, do better economically than children of U.S.-born residents – a pattern that has held for more than a century.
Rapid Assimilation: Immigrants accused of lack of assimilation (such as Mexicans today and the Irish in the past) actually assimilate fastest.
Improved Economy: Immigration changes the economy in unexpected positive ways and staves off the economic decline that is the consequence of an aging population.
Helps U.S. Born: Closing the door to immigrants harms the economic prospects of the U.S.-born—the people politicians are trying to protect.

Using powerful story-telling and unprecedented research employing big data and algorithms, Abramitzky and Boustan are like dedicated family genealogists but millions of times over. They provide a new take on American history with surprising results, especially how comparable the “golden era” of immigration is to today, and why many current policy proposals are so misguided.
Learn more about Streets of Gold at the PublicAffairs website.

The Page 99 Test: Streets of Gold.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Q&A with Erin Swan

From my Q&A with Erin Swan, author of Walk the Vanished Earth: A Novel:
photo credit: Sylvie Rosokoff
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Titles are not easy for me. This was especially true when it came to this novel. Coming up with a short story title feels simpler, because it needs to cover less. For a novel, however, the title must encompass characters, plotlines, themes: everything I’ve crammed into the book. It took me a while to land on Walk the Vanished Earth, especially because the story covers so many characters and settings and timelines.

When I had just a short story that was only beginning to dream of being a novel, I called it Aftermath, because at that point it was fixated on my character Bea’s trauma and its apocalyptic aftermath. As I churned out more pages, spinning into other time periods and eventually launching my characters to Mars, I chose the title This Infant Nation, which is a phrase my bison hunter Samson says towards the end. I thought this captured what I was trying to say about America, what it has been and what it might yet become. This title, however, didn’t roll off the tongue quite right.

Once I began working with my agents (I have two who collaborate brilliantly as co-agents), we decided the book needed a new name. After writing my character Michelangelo on the Caribbean Sea in the year 2030, I noticed a line he said that included “vanished earth.” This seems like a start. There is a lot of walking and a great deal about the journey in the book, and so eventually I combined these ideas into Walk the Vanished Earth. The grandiosity of this title used to embarrass me when I said it aloud, but I have come to embrace it and can now proclaim it with pride. I think it captures one of the book’s big ideas, that even if...[read on]
Visit Erin Swan's website.

Q&A with Erin Swan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books featuring unconventional families

Amy Feltman graduated from Vassar College in 2010 and earned her M.F.A. in Fiction at Columbia University in 2016, where she was also a Creative Writing Graduate Teaching Fellow. She is the author of Willa & Hesper (2019), which was longlisted for the National Jewish Book Awards’ Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction.

Her new novel is All the Things We Don’t Talk About.

At Lit Hub Feltman shared a reading list of books featuring unconventional families. One title on the list:
Mira Lee, Everything Here is Beautiful

This novel centers around two sisters: Miranda, who is pragmatic and grounded; and Lucia, who is vivacious and charming. Lucia’s struggles with mental illness upend the careful balance of their lives, and much of the novel follows Miranda’s attempts to care for her sister. Nuanced, devastating, and full of love, the novel follows the sisters as they go through many ups and downs. Lucia’s trajectory takes her around the world, and her relationships with both the gruff but playful Yonah and the naive, in-over-his-head Manuel, lead to dynamic and heartbreaking moments for the entire family. I listened to this on audiobook (highly recommend), and there were times when I gasped aloud, much to the discomfort of my fellow New Jersey transit passengers.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Everything Here Is Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Pg. 99: Stephen L. Harp's "The Riviera, Exposed"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Riviera, Exposed: An Ecohistory of Postwar Tourism and North African Labor by Stephen L. Harp.

About the book, from the publisher:
A sweeping social and environmental history, The Riviera, Exposed illuminates the profound changes to the physical space that we know as the quintessential European tourist destination. Stephen L. Harp uncovers the behind-the-scenes impact of tourism following World War II, both on the environment and on the people living and working on the Riviera, particularly North African laborers, who not only did much of the literal rebuilding of the Riviera but also suffered in that process.

Outside of Paris, the Riviera has been the most visited region in France, depending almost exclusively on tourism as its economic lifeline. Until recently, we knew a great deal about the tourists but much less about the social and environmental impacts of their activities or about the life stories of the North African workers upon whom the Riviera's prosperity rests. The technologies embedded in roads, airports, hotels, water lines, sewers, beaches, and marinas all required human intervention—and travelers were encouraged to disregard this intervention. Harp's sharp analysis explores the impacts of massive construction and public works projects, revealing the invisible infrastructure of tourism, its environmental effects, and the immigrants who built the Riviera.

The Riviera, Exposed unearths a gritty history, one of human labor and ecological degradation that forms the true foundation of the glamorous Riviera of tourist mythology.
Learn more about The Riviera, Exposed at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Riviera, Exposed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight magical novels by women writers

Born and raised in Virginia, Ashleigh Bell Pedersen holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Pedersen’s fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, and New Stories from the South, and has been shortlisted for a Pushcart Prize and Best American Short Stories. Her short story “Crocodile” won the 2020 Masters Review Flash Fiction Contest.

Pedersen's new novel is The Crocodile Bride.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight of her favorite magical novels by women writers, including:
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Ivey’s first novel is a fairy tale about the arrival of a mysterious little girl at the homestead of a lonely, middle-aged couple in Alaska. The story is compelling and moving, the writing gorgeous, and the ending is perfect. I love the way Ivey explores not only the way Faina’s magical appearance enhances Mabel and Jack’s lives, but the way her presence invites them to discover wonder in the ordinary: in friendships, and in passing seasons.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Snow Child is among M. A. Kuzniar's eight retellings with a bite of darkness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 27, 2022

Five of the best salacious thrillers

May Cobb earned her MA in literature from San Francisco State University, and her essays and interviews have appeared in the Washington Post, the Rumpus, Edible Austin, and Austin Monthly.

She is the author of the novels The Hunting Wives and the newly released My Summer Darlings.

A Texas native, Cobb lives in Austin with her family.

At CrimeReads she tagged her five favorite salacious thrillers, including:
Watch Out For Her by Samantha M. Bailey

A hypnotic, Hitchcockian take on voyeurism, obsession, and motherhood, I devoured this riveting psychological thriller. Sarah Goldman, mother to her young son Jacob, is hopeful that her family’s recent cross-country move will give them each a fresh start. Especially from Holly Monroe, the gorgeous twenty-something babysitter that had been hired by Sarah’s husband, Daniel, to watch after Jacob. But soon, Holly becomes overly-attached to the Goldman’s while Sarah, a relatable, anxious mother, begins to keep tabs on Holly, until her watchfulness tips over into true surveillance and she glimpses something that propels her to part ways with Holly. But once they are nestled into their new city, it’s clear that the past isn’t willing to let go of them so easily. With twist after pulse-pounding twist and cinematic prose, Bailey delivers a fresh, explosive examination of what it means to be both the watcher and to feel watched.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Brian C. Wilson's "The California Days of Ralph Waldo Emerson"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The California Days of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Brian C. Wilson.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the spring of 1871, Ralph Waldo Emerson boarded a train in Concord, Massachusetts, bound for a month-and-a-half-long tour of California—an interlude that became one of the highlights of his life. On their journey across the American West, he and his companions would take in breathtaking vistas in the Rockies and along the Pacific Coast, speak with a young John Muir in the Yosemite Valley, stop off in Salt Lake City for a meeting with Brigham Young, and encounter a diversity of communities and cultures that would challenge their Yankee prejudices.

Based on original research employing newly discovered documents, The California Days of Ralph Waldo Emerson maps the public story of this group’s travels onto the private story of Emerson’s final years, as aphasia set in and increasingly robbed him of his words. Engaging and compelling, this travelogue makes it clear that Emerson was still capable of wonder, surprise, and friendship, debunking the presumed darkness of his last decade.
Learn more about The California Days of Ralph Waldo Emerson at the University of Massachusetts Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The California Days of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Linda L. Richards's "Exit Strategy"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Exit Strategy by Linda L. Richards.

About the book, from the publisher:
A shattered life. A killer for hire. Can she stop?

Her assignments were always to kill someone. That’s what a hitman—or hitwoman—is paid to do—and that is what she does. Then comes a surprise assignment—keep someone alive!

She is hired to protect Virginia Martin, the stunning and brilliant chief technology officer of a hot startup with an innovation that will change the world. This new job catches her at a time in her life when she’s disillusioned, even depressed. It’s not the crushing depression she’d suffered when she’d lost her family and abruptly started this career, but over time, the life of a hired killer has taken a toll on her spirit.

She’s confused about the “why” but she addresses her charge as she always does, with skill and stealth, determined to keep this young CTO alive in the midst of the twinned worlds of innovation and high finance.

Some people have to die as she discharges her responsibility to protect this superstar woman amid the crumbling worlds of money and future technical wonders.

The spirit of an assassin—and her nameless dog—permeates this struggle to help a young woman as powerful forces build to deny her.
Visit Linda L. Richards's website.

My Book, The Movie: Endings.

The Page 69 Test: Endings.

Q&A with Linda L. Richards.

Writers Read: Linda L. Richards.

The Page 69 Test: Exit Strategy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Top ten novels about inheritance

Cressida Connolly is a reviewer and journalist who has written for Vogue, the Telegraph, the Spectator, the Guardian and numerous other publications. Connolly's books include The Happiest Days, which won the MacMillan/PEN Award, The Rare and the Beautiful, My Former Heart, and After the Party.

Her new novel is Bad Relations.

At the Guardian Connolly tagged ten top novels about inheritance, including:
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Shakespeare’s King Lear is perhaps the most confounding fiction ever written about inheritance. Why doesn’t the favourite daughter just humour her batty old father and get the prize? This question, among others raised by the play, lodged itself in the mind of US novelist Smiley. Her novel is a subtle and at times harrowing reworking of the Lear story, in which the kingdom becomes a farm in the mid-west. As a study of how toxic a legacy may be, it is hard to better.
Read about another entry on the list.

A Thousand Acres is among Alison Espach's ten best novels featuring sisters, Renée Branum's seven novels about family curses, Lois Leveen's five novels that riff on—and rip off—Shakespeare, Stacey Swann's seven novels about family members making each other miserable, Robert McCrum's ten top Shakespearean books, Rachel Mans McKenny's eleven books about midwesterners who aren’t trying to be nice, Hannah Beckerman's top ten toxic families in fiction, Brian Boone's five books that offer a brand new take on pre-existing works, Edward Docx's top ten Shakespearean stories in modern fiction, Emma Donoghue's six best books, Anne Tyler's six favorite books, Sally O'Reilly ten top novels inspired by Shakespeare, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, and John Mullan's top ten twice-told tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Andrew Leon Hanna's "25 Million Sparks"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: 25 Million Sparks: The Untold Story of Refugee Entrepreneurs by Andrew Leon Hanna.

About the book, from the publisher:
25 Million Sparks takes readers inside the Za'atari refugee camp to follow the stories of three courageous Syrian women entrepreneurs: Yasmina, a wedding shop and salon owner creating moments of celebration; Malak, a young artist infusing color and beauty throughout the camp; and Asma, a social entrepreneur leading a storytelling initiative to enrich children's lives. Anchored by these three inspiring stories, as well as accompanying artwork and poetry by Malak and Asma, the narrative expands beyond Za'atari to explore the broader refugee entrepreneurship phenomenon in more than twenty camps and cities across the globe. What emerges is a tale of power, determination, and dignity – of igniting the brightest sparks of joy, even when the rest of the world sees only the darkness. A significant portion of the author's proceeds from this book is being contributed to support refugee entrepreneurs in Za'atari and around the world.
Visit Andrew Leon Hanna's website.

The Page 99 Test: 25 Million Sparks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with R.W.W. Greene

From my Q&A with R.W.W. Greene, author of Mercury Rising:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Mercury Rising -- I’m pretty sure that’s been the title since I started the thing, and I received no pushback from the publisher. The name of the series, “The First Planets,” was a collaboration but mostly the contribution of my spouse.

It would be a spoiler to talk about all the work I think the title does, but on the surface it conveys “space” and “heating up.” The cover smacks of alien invasion. On an SFF store shelf among many other titles, that’s pretty much a successful mission. The other work done may only be apparent when the reader reaches The End, maybe reads the acknowledgements, closes the book, and looks at the cover again. The title is both indirectly direct and directly indirect … and maybe a misdirection.

What's in a name?

The protagonist of Mercury Rising is Brooklyn Lamontagne. It’s a...[read on]
Visit R.W.W. Greene's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mercury Rising.

Q&A with R.W.W. Greene.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Jacinda Townsend's "Mother Country," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Mother Country: A Novel by Jacinda Townsend.

The entry begins:
The hardest question, for me, is casting. When I think of my protagonist Shannon Cavanagh, whose muted sauciness informs so much of the plot, I think of Kerry Washington. My co-protagonist, Souria Maouloud, does not speak the same language as her captors and neighbors for so much of the novel: Thandiwe Newton is an actress whose range would allow her to commit all the on-screen physicality that Souria's role would require. Shannon's husband, Vladimir Grenfell, is such an unmitigated dork, and in some way nonetheless to blame for everything that goes wrong in this novel. LaKeith Stanfield would be a perfect Vlad.

My favorite films are...[read on]
Visit Jacinda Townsend's website.

My Book, The Movie: Mother Country.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five horror books that will change your view of everyday objects

Nina Nesseth is a professional science communicator. Her background is rooted in biomedical sciences and science communication, with a special interest in human biology. She is a staff scientist at Science North in Sudbury, Ontario. In 2017, Nesseth co-authored The Science of Orphan Black: The Official Companion, published by ECW Press.

Her forthcoming book is Nightmare Fuel: The Science of Horror Films.

At Tor.com Nesseth tagged "five horror novels that, at some point in my life, really made me rethink what sort of stuff I keep lying around my house." One entry on the list:
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

In Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill captures that exact spooky feeling that you get when you think you’re seeing a monster in your room but it turns out to be a pile of laundry that you left on a chair. That exact feeling, except without any sort of comforting revelation once the lights come on.

Jude spends his time and money collecting morbid memorabilia, and his most recent find—a funeral suit—comes with a major string attached in the form of a killer ghost. Some of the scariest scenes hinge on a single Shaker chair that sits in the hallways outside of Jude’s room. Jude starts to dread what might or might not be in the chair nearly every time he has to leave his bedroom, and the tension is nerve-fraying.
Read about another entry on the list.

Heart-Shaped Box is among the Telegraph's fifteen scariest books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ben Jones's "Apocalypse without God"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Apocalypse without God: Apocalyptic Thought, Ideal Politics, and the Limits of Utopian Hope by Ben Jones.

About the book, from the author:
Apocalypse, it seems, is everywhere. Preachers with vast followings proclaim the world's end. Apocalyptic fears grip even the nonreligious amid climate change, pandemics, and threats of nuclear war. As these ideas pervade popular discourse, grasping their logic remains elusive. Ben Jones argues that we can gain insight into apocalyptic thought through secular thinkers. He starts with a puzzle: Why would secular thinkers draw on Christian apocalyptic beliefs – often dismissed as bizarre – to interpret politics? The apocalyptic tradition proves appealing in part because it theorizes a relation between crisis and utopia. Apocalyptic thought points to crisis as the vehicle to bring the previously impossible within reach, offering resources for navigating challenges in ideal theory, which involves imagining the best, most just society. By examining apocalyptic thought's appeal and risks, this study arrives at new insights on the limits of utopian hope.
Learn more about Apocalypse without God at the Cambridge University Press website, and visit Ben Jones's webpage.

Coffee with a Canine: Ben Jones & Sloopy.

The Page 99 Test: Apocalypse without God.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Brian Klingborg's "Wild Prey"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Wild Prey: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery (Volume 2) by Brian Klingborg.

About the book, from the publisher:
The search for a missing girl sends Inspector Lu Fei undercover into the wild corners of Myanmar, and the compound of the deadly and mysterious woman warlord responsible for the illegal trafficking of exotic animals and possibly more, in the next book from Brian Klingborg, Wild Prey.

Police Inspector Lu Fei has an unfortunate talent for getting himself into hot water with powerful and well-connected people. Which is why he’s been assigned to a backwater town in a rural area of Northern China and quietly warned to keep his head down. But while running a sting operation on the sale and consumption of rare and endangered animals, Lu comes across the curious case of a waitress who has gone missing. Her last known whereabouts: a restaurant frequented by local elites, owned by smooth-talking gangster, and known for its exotic -- and highly illegal -- delicacies.

As usual, Lu's investigation ruffles some feathers, resulting in his suspension from the police force. Lu figures he's reached a dead-end. Then he's contacted by a mysterious government official in Beijing who wants him to go undercover to track down the mastermind behind an illegal animal trafficking network -- and hopefully, the answer to the fate of the missing waitress. The mission will require Lu to travel deep into the lawless wilds of Myanmar, where he will risk his life to infiltrate the hidden compound of a mysterious and ruthless female warlord in a bloody and nearly hopeless quest for justice.
Visit Brian Klingborg's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wild Prey.

Q&A with Brian Klingborg.

The Page 69 Test: Wild Prey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Seven books that show a different side of horse girls

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre, Touch, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, and the handbook Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book. Her writing has been widely published in such outlets as BuzzFeed; the New York Times; O, the Oprah Magazine; and Poets & Writers.

[The Page 69 Test: I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without YouThe Page 69 Test: TouchThe Page 69 Test: Costalegre]

Maum's new book is the memoir, The Year of the Horses.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books about "horse girls who are dirty, daring, and feminist as hell," including:
Horse Crazy: The Story of a Woman and a World in Love With an Animal by Sarah Maslin Nir

Horse Crazy is a love letter to horses and a deeply researched tribute to her fellow equine fans. Nir contrasts her journey from loneliness into belonging on horseback with the careers of everyone from the famed horse whisperer Monty Roberts to the Randall Island-based urban cowboys George and Ann Blair who gave free riding lessons to hundreds of inner-city students previously excluded from the sport because of its high cost.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Wendy Rouse's "Public Faces, Secret Lives"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Public Faces, Secret Lives: A Queer History of the Women's Suffrage Movement by Wendy L. Rouse.

About the book, from the publisher:
Restores queer suffragists to their rightful place in the history of the struggle for women’s right to vote

The women’s suffrage movement, much like many other civil rights movements, has an important and often unrecognized queer history. In Public Faces, Secret Lives Wendy L. Rouse reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the suffrage movement included a variety of individuals who represented a range of genders and sexualities. However, owing to the constant pressure to present a “respectable” public image, suffrage leaders publicly conformed to gendered views of ideal womanhood in order to make women’s suffrage more palatable to the public.

Rouse argues that queer suffragists did take meaningful action to assert their identities and legacies by challenging traditional concepts of domesticity, family, space, and death in both subtly subversive and radically transformative ways. Queer suffragists also built lasting alliances and developed innovative strategies in order to protect their most intimate relationships, ones that were ultimately crucial to the success of the suffrage movement. Public Faces, Secret Lives is the first work to truly recenter queer figures in the women’s suffrage movement, highlighting their immense contributions as well as their numerous sacrifices.
Visit Wendy Rouse's website.

The Page 99 Test: Her Own Hero.

My Book, The Movie: Her Own Hero.

The Page 99 Test: Public Faces, Secret Lives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Susan Furlong

From my Q&A with Susan Furlong, author of What They Don't Know:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title, What They Don’t Know, propels the reader directly into a twisty story where they meet Mona Ellison, a seemingly normal suburban housewife with a devastating secret. Her life appears perfect to those around her, until her son goes missing, and the police show up accusing him of a heinous crime. Her quest to find her son and prove his innocence, leads her on a trial of social media clues through the sinister side of suburbia where she finds she’s been betrayed by those she trusted most. Or is it Mona who can’t be trusted? Readers will have fun trying to figure out what the characters do or don’t know, and who...[read on]
Visit Susan Furlong's website.

My Book, The Movie: Splintered Silence.

The Page 69 Test: Splintered Silence.

Writers Read: Susan Furlong (December 2018).

Q&A with Susan Furlong.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 23, 2022

Nine novels featuring teens behaving badly

Davida G. Breier was born in Miami, FL and spent her formative years in Florida, rural Minnesota, urban New Jersey, and suburban Pennsylvania. She’s worked as a youth sports photographer, TV extra, substitute teacher, jewelry maker, bookseller, and ATM cleaner. Breier discovered the world of zines and independent publishing in 1994 and Baltimore’s City Paper awarded her with “Best Local Zinester” in 2000 and “Best Zine” in 2003. She won the Literary Death Match, Baltimore 3.0 event in 2011. She’s spent the last two decades in various roles within the book industry and currently works for Johns Hopkins University Press. Breier lives in Maryland with her family, a pack of wee rescue dogs, a rescue tortoise, and two companion chickens.

Her new novel is Sinkhole.

At CrimeReads Breier tagged nine books featuring teens behaving badly, including:
This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

Again, we have adults reckoning with their deadly lies as teenagers. Twenty-five years ago, sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found murdered in her hometown of Grotto, Iowa. Discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and Eve’s peculiar sister Eve, there were multiple suspects, but the case was never closed. Maggie father was Chief of Police, so it’s no surprise that Maggie also goes into law enforcement. Now, twenty-five years later, Maggie is faced with a new piece of evidence and begins unearthing secrets, including her own.
Read about another entry on the list.

This Is How I Lied is among Nicole Baart's six top Midwestern mysteries.

The Page 69 Test: This Is How I Lied.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elizabeth D. Leonard's "Benjamin Franklin Butler"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life by Elizabeth D. Leonard.

About the book, from the publisher:
Benjamin Franklin Butler was one of the most important and controversial military and political leaders of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Remembered most often for his uncompromising administration of the Federal occupation of New Orleans during the war, Butler reemerges in this lively narrative as a man whose journey took him from childhood destitution to wealth and profound influence in state and national halls of power. Prize-winning biographer Elizabeth D. Leonard chronicles Butler’s successful career in the law defending the rights of the Lowell Mill girls and other workers, his achievements as one of Abraham Lincoln’s premier civilian generals, and his role in developing wartime policy in support of slavery’s fugitives as the nation advanced toward emancipation. Leonard also highlights Butler’s personal and political evolution, revealing how his limited understanding of racism and the horrors of slavery transformed over time, leading him into a postwar role as one of the nation’s foremost advocates for Black freedom and civil rights, and one of its notable opponents of white supremacy and neo-Confederate resurgence.

Butler himself claimed he was “always with the underdog in the fight.” Leonard’s nuanced portrait will help readers assess such claims, peeling away generations of previous assumptions and characterizations to provide a definitive life of a consequential man.
Follow Elizabeth D. Leonard on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Benjamin Franklin Butler.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Chris Pavone's "Two Nights in Lisbon"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Two Nights in Lisbon: A Novel by Chris Pavone.

About the book, from the publisher:
You think you know a person...

Ariel Pryce wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.

She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband?

The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.

With sparkling prose and razor-sharp insights, bestselling author Chris Pavone delivers a stunning and sophisticated international thriller that will linger long after the surprising final page.
Visit Chris Pavone's website.

See: Chris Pavone: five books that changed me.

Coffee with a Canine: Chris Pavone & Charlie Brown.

The Page 69 Test: The Expats.

The Page 69 Test: The Accident.

The Page 69 Test: The Travelers.

The Page 69 Test: The Paris Diversion.

The Page 69 Test: Two Nights in Lisbon.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Coffee with a canine: Ben Jones & Sloopy

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Ben Jones & Sloopy.

The author, on how Sloopy got her name:
The inspiration for Sloopy's name is "Hang on Sloopy" by the McCoys -- the official rock song of the state of Ohio and a favorite of the Ohio State University (my alma mater) Marching Band. It yields no shortage of nicknames: Sloop, Sloop dog, the Great Sloop, the...[read on]
About Ben Jones's new book, Apocalypse without God: Apocalyptic Thought, Ideal Politics, and the Limits of Utopian Hope, from the publisher:
Apocalypse, it seems, is everywhere. Preachers with vast followings proclaim the world's end. Apocalyptic fears grip even the nonreligious amid climate change, pandemics, and threats of nuclear war. As these ideas pervade popular discourse, grasping their logic remains elusive. Ben Jones argues that we can gain insight into apocalyptic thought through secular thinkers. He starts with a puzzle: Why would secular thinkers draw on Christian apocalyptic beliefs – often dismissed as bizarre – to interpret politics? The apocalyptic tradition proves appealing in part because it theorizes a relation between crisis and utopia. Apocalyptic thought points to crisis as the vehicle to bring the previously impossible within reach, offering resources for navigating challenges in ideal theory, which involves imagining the best, most just society. By examining apocalyptic thought's appeal and risks, this study arrives at new insights on the limits of utopian hope.
Coffee with a Canine: Ben Jones & Sloopy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine top road trip novels

Bud Smith works heavy construction and lives in Jersey City, NJ. He is the author of Teenager (2022), Double Bird (2018), Dust Bunny City (2017), among others. His fiction has been published in The Paris Review, The Believer, The Baffler, and The Nervous Breakdown, and many others (collected below). He is also a creative writing teacher and editor.

At Lit Hub he shared nine of his favorite road trip novels, including:
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

As realistic as any other fairytale, this fairytale is about a cattle drive from Texas to the snow peaked tip of North America in the late 1870s. Two ex-Texas Rangers have heard a rumor that Montana is just about to open up for cattlemen, so they steal a bunch of Mexican livestock and head off on a drive. What follows is a list of every kind of natural disaster, Biblical in scope, a tale of friendship and denial, and a deep love story. Poignant. Sad as hell at the start of the page and then two paragraphs later the highest adventure you’ve ever seen. Despite its length, a breezy read.
Read about another entry on the list.

Lonesome Dove may just be The Great Texas Novel. It is among Louis De Berniéres's six best books and Ann Brashares' six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Dan Hassler-Forest's "Janelle Monáe’s Queer Afrofuturism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Janelle Monáe’s Queer Afrofuturism: Defying Every Label by Dan Hassler-Forest.

About the book, from the publisher:
Singer. Dancer. Movie star. Activist. Queer icon. Afrofuturist. Working class heroine. Time traveler. Prophet. Feminist. Android. Dirty Computer.

Janelle Monáe is all these things and more, making her one of the most fascinating artists to emerge in the twenty-first century. This provocative new study explores how Monáe’s work has connected different media platforms to strengthen and enhance new movements in art, theory, and politics. It considers not only Monáe’s groundbreaking albums The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady, and Dirty Computer, but also Monáe’s work as an actress in such films as Hidden Figures and Antebellum, as well as her soundtrack appearances in socially-engaged projects ranging from I May Destroy You to Us. Examining Monáe as a cultural icon whose work is profoundly intersectional, this book maps how she is actively reshaping discourses around race, gender, sexuality, and capitalism. Tracing Monáe’s performances of joy, desire, pain, and hope across a wide range of media forms, it shows how she imagines Afrofuturist, posthumanist, and postcapitalist utopias, while remaining grounded in the realities of being a Black woman in a white-dominated industry. This is an exciting introduction to an audacious innovator whose work offers us fresh ways to talk about identity, desire, and power.
Visit Dan Hassler-Forest's academic website and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Janelle Monáe’s Queer Afrofuturism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Q&A with Brian Klingborg

From my Q&A with Brian Klingborg, author of Wild Prey: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

There is an art to creating a good book title. It must be catchy, suggestive of the plot without giving too much away, and not something that dozens of other authors have already used for their books.

The working title of the first book in the Inspector Lu Fei series was City of Ice. Pretty catchy, I thought. And relevant, as the book is set in the northern part of China, near Harbin, which is, in fact, nicknamed City of Ice. Unfortunately, many other authors, mostly writing in the fantasy genre, had already used that title. So, in the end, we had to change it to Thief of Souls. Although Thief of Souls is a good title, I’m not sure it let readers know what to expect. As I said to my editor, it sounds a bit like a 1980s synth-heavy pop song by Stevie Nicks.

The plot of this next book, Wild Prey, revolves around the illegal animal trade in China and Myanmar. In keeping with the criteria – catchy, relevant, unique – I came up with a variety of titles that included words like “meat,” “raw,” “butcher,” and so on. Okay, so perhaps I was going for lurid, rather than catchy.

After some back and forth, my editor and I narrowed the choices to either Wild Prey or The Quarry. We both liked The Quarry best – it was evocative and somewhat “literary.” However, when I started polling friends to see if they knew...[read on]
Visit Brian Klingborg's website.

My Book, The Movie: Wild Prey.

Q&A with Brian Klingborg.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: R.W.W. Greene's "Mercury Rising"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mercury Rising by R.W.W. Greene.

About the book, from the publisher:
Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Nuclear Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders. Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated…
Visit R.W.W. Greene's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mercury Rising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven novels where fun & games threaten to turn fatal

Heather Chavez is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley’s English literature program and has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, contributor to mystery and television blogs, and in public affairs for a major health care organization. She lives with her family in Santa Rosa, California.

Blood Will Tell is Chavez's new novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged "seven novels that are a lot of fun for readers, if not for their game-playing characters." One title on the list:
The Last One, Alexandra Oliva

Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to participate in a reality TV contest. The host shares a secret with the audience back home: The game will continue until only one of them remains. At first, the contestants compete as a group, and prizes are awarded. Typical reality TV stuff. But when they split up, the line between what is a game and what is reality blurs. When one of them—a young woman the producers call Zoo—stumbles across a ransacked grocery store and what might be a dead body, she thinks it’s another challenge. But is it? The opening line is a stunner: “The first one on the production team to die will be the editor.” But can the reader trust even that?
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Last One.

Q&A with Alexandra Oliva.

--Marshal Zeringue