Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Pg. 99: Paul Oyer's "An Economist Goes to the Game"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: An Economist Goes to the Game: How to Throw Away $580 Million and Other Surprising Insights from the Economics of Sports by Paul Oyer.

About the book, from the publisher:
An engaging look at the ways economic thinking can help us understand how sports work both on and off the field

Are ticket scalpers good for teams? Should parents push their kids to excel at sports? Why do Koreans dominate women’s golf, while Kenyans and Ethiopians dominate marathon racing? Why would Michael Jordan, the greatest player in basketball, pass to Steve Kerr for the game-winning shot?

Paul Oyer shows the many ways economics permeates the world of sports. His topics range from the business of sport to how great athletes use economic thinking to outsmart their opponents to why the world's greatest sports powerhouse (at least per capita) is not America or China but the principality of Liechtenstein. Economics explains why some sports cannot stop the use of performance-enhancing drugs while others can, why hundred-million-dollar player contracts are guaranteed in baseball but not in football, how one man was able to set the world of sports betting on its ear—and why it will probably never happen again. This book is an entertaining guide to how a bit of economics can make you a better athlete and a more informed fan.
Follow Paul Oyer on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: An Economist Goes to the Game.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jillian Medoff's "When We Were Bright and Beautiful"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: When We Were Bright and Beautiful by Jillian Medoff.

About the book, from the publisher:
You can have everything, and still not have enough.

Cassie Quinn may only be twenty-three, but she knows a few things. One: money can’t buy happiness, but it’s certainly better to have it. Two: family matters most. Three: her younger brother Billy is not a rapist.

When Billy, a junior at Princeton, is arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Cassie races home to Manhattan to join forces with her big brother Nate and their parents, Lawrence and Eleanor. The Quinns scramble to hire the best legal minds money can buy, but Billy fits the all-too-familiar sex-offender profile—white, athletic, and privileged—that makes headlines and sways juries.

Meanwhile, Cassie struggles to understand why Billy’s ex Diana would go this far, even if the breakup was painful. And she knows how the end of first love can destroy someone: Her own years-long affair with a powerful, charismatic man left her shattered, and she’s only recently regained her footing.

As reporters converge outside their Upper East Side landmark building, the Quinns gird themselves for a media-saturated trial, and Cassie vows she’ll do whatever it takes to save Billy. But what if that means exposing her own darkest secrets to the world?

Lightning-paced and psychologically astute as it rockets toward an explosive ending, When We Were Bright and Beautiful is a dazzling novel that asks: who will pay the price when the truth is revealed?
Visit Jillian Medoff's website.

My Book, The Movie: This Could Hurt.

Writers Read: Jillian Medoff (January 2018).

The Page 69 Test: When We Were Bright and Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Q&A with Ed Lin

From my Q&A with Ed Lin, author of Death Doesn't Forget:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Not too much, I hope! I tried to make it somewhat seamless, that readers are introduced to a flawed character they can relate to despite his shortcomings. I think once you can understand characters, you can empathize with them. Anything else that happens after, readers are invested in, and follow along.

What's in a name?

Not a super-lot, but a name sorta has to sound like a character, either fittingly or ironically. One guy in Death Doesn't Forget is named "Boxer," which is odd since he doesn't seem to be able to...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Ed Lin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Snakes Can't Run.

The Page 69 Test: One Red Bastard.

My Book, The Movie: Ghost Month.

Writers Read: Ed Lin (October 2016).

Q&A with Ed Lin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books about football

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged six must-reads to help prepare for the upcoming football season, including:
Path Lit by Lightning: The Life of Jim Thorpe
David Maraniss

Path Lit by Lightning is the biography of Jim Thorpe, an athlete who excelled at every sport. Jim Thorpe was highly decorated, winning gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Olympics, and All-American football player, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s first class, and played major league baseball for the New York Giants. And yet, for every success, there were also so many struggles, and this book tells of the trials and triumphs of his life.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Camilla Hawthorne's "Contesting Race and Citizenship"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Contesting Race and Citizenship: Youth Politics in the Black Mediterranean by Camilla Hawthorne.

About the book, from the publisher:
Contesting Race and Citizenship is an original study of Black politics and varieties of political mobilization in Italy. Although there is extensive research on first-generation immigrants and refugees who traveled from Africa to Italy, there is little scholarship about the experiences of Black people who were born and raised in Italy. Camilla Hawthorne focuses on the ways Italians of African descent have become entangled with processes of redefining the legal, racial, cultural, and economic boundaries of Italy and by extension, of Europe itself.

Contesting Race and Citizenship opens discussions of the so-called migrant "crisis" by focusing on a generation of Black people who, although born or raised in Italy, have been thrust into the same racist, xenophobic political climate as the immigrants and refugees who are arriving in Europe from the African continent. Hawthorne traces not only mobilizations for national citizenship but also the more capacious, transnational Black diasporic possibilities that emerge when activists confront the ethical and political limits of citizenship as a means for securing meaningful, lasting racial justice—possibilities that are based on shared critiques of the racial state and shared histories of racial capitalism and colonialism.
Visit Camilla Hawthorne's website and follow her on Twitter..

The Page 99 Test: Contesting Race and Citizenship.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ally Malinenko reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ally Malinenko, author of This Appearing House.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently reading Kelly Barnhill’s The Witch's Boy which I am loving. She has such an incredible talent for crafting what feels like a grounded dark fairy tale. I’m currently working on a witch book and Kelly’s is really keeping me excited about the project.

It’s the story of Ned, the titular Witch’s Boy. When his twin dies in an accident at the start of the book the villagers all think the “wrong boy lived.” His mother, Sister Witch, responsible for saving the Queen, is called away. When Ned learns how to wield her magic and gets kidnapped by bandits, it is only through...[read on]
About This Appearing House, from the publisher:
From the author of Ghost Girl comes another standalone spooky middle grade for fans of Nightbooks and Ghost Squad, about a terrifying house and the girl haunted by her experience with cancer, grief, and healing. Are you brave enough to step inside?

For as long as anyone could remember there wasn’t a house at the dead end of Juniper Drive . . . until one day there was.

When Jac first sees the House, she’s counting down to the five-year anniversary of her cancer diagnosis, when she hopefully will be declared NED, or “no evidence of disease.” But with a house appearing, and her hands shaking, and a fall off her bike, Jac is starting to wonder if these are symptoms—or if something stranger is happening.

Two classmates dare Jac and her friend Hazel to enter the House. Walking through the front door is the way in. It’s definitely not the way out. There’s something off about the House; Jac can feel it. The same way she knows it’s no coincidence that the House appeared for her five-year marker. It wants something from her. And she won’t be able to get out until she figures out what.
Visit Ally Malinenko's website.

Q&A with Ally Malinenko.

The Page 69 Test: Ghost Girl.

The Page 69 Test: This Appearing House.

Writers Read: Ally Malinenko.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 15, 2022

Meg Gardiner's six favorite crime fiction books

Meg Gardiner is the author of sixteen acclaimed, award-winning novels. Her thrillers have been bestsellers in the U.S. and internationally and have been translated into more than twenty languages. China Lake won an Edgar Award and UNSUB, the first in Gardiner’s acclaimed UNSUB series, won a Barry Award. Her third UNSUB novel, The Dark Corners of the Night, has been bought by Amazon Studios for development as a television series. A former lawyer, three-time Jeopardy! champion, and two-time president of Mystery Writers of America, Gardiner lives in Austin, Texas.

[The Page 69 Test: The Dirty Secrets ClubThe Page 69 Test: The Memory Collector; My Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Evan Delaney seriesThe Page 69 Test: The Liar's LullabyMy Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Jo Beckett seriesThe Page 69 Test: The Nightmare ThiefThe Page 69 Test: Ransom RiverThe Page 69 Test: The Shadow TracerThe Page 69 Test: Phantom InstinctThe Page 69 Test: UNSUBThe Page 69 Test: Into the Black NowhereThe Page 69 Test: The Dark Corners of the Night]

Gardiner's new novel, with director Michael Mann, is Heat 2. At The Week magazine Gardiner tagged six favorite books about crooks and their hunters, including:
These Women by Ivy Pochoda (2020)

In this chilling, immersive Los Angeles murder mystery, a killer targets victims who seem to have little to lose. The suspense builds relentlessly. Ivy Pochoda's portrayal of the tenacity of women who live on the edges is beautiful and stiletto-sharp.
Read about another entry on the list.

These Women is among Eliza Jane Brazier's ten top thrilling stories of Los Angeles, Stephen Miller's favorite crime titles of 2020 and Smith Henderson and Jon Marc Smith's ten American masterpieces that are actually crime fiction.

The Page 69 Test: These Women.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: R. V. Gundur's "Trying to Make It"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Trying to Make It: The Enterprises, Gangs, and People of the American Drug Trade by R. V. Gundur.

About the book, from the publisher:
Trying to Make It is R. V. Gundur's journey from the US-Mexico border to America's heartland, from America's prisons to its streets, in search of the true story of the drug trade and the people who participate in it. The book begins in the Paso del Norte area, encompassing the sister cities of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, which has been in the public eye as calls for securing the border persist. From there, it moves on to Phoenix, which was infamously associated with the drug trade through a series of kidnappings. Finally, the book goes on to Chicago, which has been a lightning rod of criticism for its gangs and violence.

Gundur highlights the similarities and differences that exist in the American drug trade within the three sites and how they relate to current drug trade narratives in the US. At each stop, the reader is transported to the city's historical and contemporary contexts of the drug trade and introduced to the individuals who have lived them. Drug retailers, street and prison gang members, wholesalers, and the law enforcement personnel who try to stop them offer readers a comprehensive look at how various illicit enterprises work together to supply the drugs that American users demand.

Most importantly, through a combination of macro- and microlevel vantage points, and comparative analysis of three key sites in illicit drug operations, the stories in Trying to Make It remind us that the people involved in the drug trade, for the most part, do not deserve vilification. Far from being a seemingly uniform, widespread threat or an unlimited array of bogeymen and women, they are ordinary people, living ordinary lives, just trying to make it.
Visit R. V. Gundur's website and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Trying to Make It.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kathleen M. Willett's "Mother of All Secrets"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mother of All Secrets: A Novel by Kathleen M. Willett.

About the book, from the publisher:
Her freedom, her sanity, her life. How much will a young mother sacrifice to protect her secrets?

Sleep deprived and overwhelmed, first-time mom Jenn is struggling to adapt to her new role. Frustrated with her loving but preoccupied husband and still grieving the death of her own mother, she feels isolated and depressed. It’s only when she joins a new-moms’ group that she starts to think she’s finally getting back on track.

Until Isabel, the group’s leader, suddenly disappears.

Now Jenn’s baby isn’t the only reason she can’t sleep. Consumed with worry over Isabel, Jenn is teetering on the edge of obsession. Concern turns to paranoia when Jenn finds clues that force her to look at herself, her marriage, and the women in her support group, who have more in common than Jenn realized. Much more.

Saving Isabel means unearthing secrets that were supposed to stay buried forever, and Jenn has to decide what she’s willing to risk to help a woman she barely knows. With each revelation, she gets closer to a slow-burning act of retribution that could easily and irrevocably draw her into the flames.
Visit Kathleen M. Willett's website.

Q&A with Kathleen M. Willett.

The Page 69 Test: Mother of All Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Mark Pryor's "Die Around Sundown," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Die Around Sundown: A Mystery by Mark Pryor.

The entry begins:
My main character, Henri Lefort, is a smart-aleck, highly intelligent, and has no time for fools (or Nazis). One actor kept popping into my head as I wrote him, because I've seen him exhibit all of those traits in the roles he's played: Jensen Ackles. Sure, he's handsome as heck, but he's also funny and a great actor. I first saw him in the TV series Supernatural, and over the course of 15 seasons I saw him grow as an actor, as his character Dean Winchester grew. I think he could carry Henri's great secret, and reveal it slowly as Henri does, and demonstrate the weight of that secret.

Henri's colleague and housemate, Nicola, is as French as can be, highly intelligent and hard-working, and not one to put up with Henri's nonsense. I see a lot of...[read on]
Visit Mark Pryor's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dominic.

Writers Reads: Mark Pryor (January 2018).

My Book, The Movie: Die Around Sundown.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Lesley-Ann Jones's "The Stone Age"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Stone Age: Sixty Years of The Rolling Stones by Lesley-Ann Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
An acclaimed rock and roll journalist evokes the legacy of The Rolling Stones—iconic, granitic, commercially unstoppable as a collective; and fascinating, contradictory, and occasionally disturbing as individuals.

As Lesley-Ann Jones writes, the Rolling Stones are "still roaming the globe like rusty tanks without a war to go to. Jumping, jacking, flashing, posturing, these septuagenarian caricatures with faces that might have been microwaved but coming on like eternal thirty-year-olds.”

On 12th July 1962, the Rollin’ Stones performed their first-ever gig at London’s Marquee jazz club. Down the line, a ‘g’ was added, a spark was lit and their destiny was sealed. No going back.

These five white British kids set out to play the music of black America. They honed a style that bled bluesy undertones into dark insinuations of women, sex, and drugs. Denounced as ‘corruptors of youth’ and ‘messengers of the devil,’ they created some of the most thrilling music ever recorded.

Now their sound and attitude seem louder and more influential than ever. Elvis is dead and the Beatles are over, but Jagger and Richards bestride the world. The Stones may be gathering moss, but on they roll.

Yet how did the ultimate anti-establishment misfits become the global brand we know today? Who were the casualties, and what are the forgotten legacies? Can the artist ever be truly divisible from the art?

Lesley-Ann Jones’s new history tracks this contradictory, disturbing, granitic and unstoppable band through hope, glory and exile, into the juggernaut years and beyond into rock’s ongoing reckoning . . . where the Stones seem more at odds than ever with the values and heritage against which they have always rebelled. Good, bad, and often ugly, here are the Rolling Stones as never seen before.
Visit Lesley-Ann Jones's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Stone Age.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books that speak the truth of war for civilians

Faleeha Hassan is a poet, playwright, writer, teacher, and editor who earned her master’s degree in Arabic literature and has published twenty-five books. A nominee for both the Pulitzer and Pushcart Prizes, she is the first woman to write poetry for children in Iraq. Her poems have been translated into twenty-one languages, and she has received numerous awards throughout the Middle East. Hassan is a member of the Iraq Literary Women’s Association, the Sinonu Association in Denmark, the Society of Poets Beyond Limits, and Poets of the World Community. Born in Iraq, she now resides in the United States.

Hassan's new book is War and Me: A Memoir, translated by William Hutchins.

At Electric Lit Hassan tagged seven books in which "readers learn the truth about war for innocent citizens: crushing poverty and starvation, constant danger and fear, job loss, severe lack of medical care, and the absence of security and freedom." One title on the list:
In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

In her memoir, Yeonmi Park delves into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, a country whose inhabitants live in abject poverty, starvation, deception, and misery. Park describes the constant indoctrination that prevents the population from rising up against the “Great Leader.” With dignity and bravery, she also divulges that she and her mother were sold into sexual slavery in China and endured horrific hardships before they found their way to freedom in South Korea. Now a human rights activist, Park works tirelessly to bring attention to the oppression of North Korea’s citizens.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Q&A with Kathleen M. Willett

From my Q&A with Kathleen M. Willett, author of Mother of All Secrets: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title is a little bit playful and, while there are some dark and heavy topics in the book, it's also a fun, rompy ride, so I think the title speaks to that. It also promises secrets, of which there are several! Originally, the title was Like a Mother, which I think alluded more to the revenge element of the book. My editors and I decided to change the title because there were a few other similarly titled books coming out around the same time.

What's in a name?

I tried to make the names distinct to help readers remember which woman was which, since it's a group of five women, which can be a bit much to keep straight especially in the beginning. Having Jenn have two N's in her name actually...[read on]
Visit Kathleen M. Willett's website.

Q&A with Kathleen M. Willett.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jon Lewis's "Road Trip to Nowhere"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Road Trip to Nowhere: Hollywood Encounters the Counterculture by Jon Lewis.

About the book, from the publisher:
How a new generation of counterculture talent changed the landscape of Hollywood, the film industry, and celebrity culture.

By 1967, the commercial and political impact on Hollywood of the sixties counterculture had become impossible to ignore. The studios were in bad shape, still contending with a generation-long box office slump and struggling to get young people into the habit of going to the movies. Road Trip to Nowhere examines a ten-year span (from 1967 to 1976) rife with uneasy encounters between artists caught up in the counterculture and a corporate establishment still clinging to a studio system on the brink of collapse. Out of this tumultuous period many among the young and talented walked away from celebrity, turning down the best job Hollywood—and America—had on offer: movie star.

Road Trip to Nowhere elaborates a primary-sourced history of movie production culture, examining the lives of a number of talented actors who got wrapped up in the politics and lifestyles of the counterculture. Thoroughly put off by celebrity culture, actors like Dennis Hopper, Christopher Jones, Jean Seberg, and others rejected the aspirational backstory and inevitable material trappings of success, much to the chagrin of the studios and directors who backed them. In Road Trip to Nowhere, film historian Jon Lewis details dramatic encounters on movie sets and in corporate boardrooms, on the job and on the streets, and in doing so offers an entertaining and rigorous historical account of an out-of-touch Hollywood establishment and the counterculture workforce they would never come to understand.
Learn more about Road Trip to Nowhere at the University of California Press.

The Page 99 Test: Hard-Boiled Hollywood.

The Page 99 Test: Road Trip to Nowhere.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best books about addiction

Matt Rowland Hill was born in 1984 in Pontypridd, South Wales, and grew up in Wales and England. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Independent, New Statesman, the Telegraph and other outlets. He now lives in London.

Original Sins: A Memoir is his first book.

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten of his favorite books about addiction, including:
Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari

Subtitled “The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs,” Hari’s blazing work is the best analysis of the politics and sociology of addiction there is. It exposes the ruinous way drug prohibition policies have led to epidemics of addiction in western countries—and is a clarion call for a new approach that treats addiction not as a crime but as a medical problem. But the real beauty of the book is in Hari’s irresistible storytelling, in which he relates the personal stories of the people he encounters during his research with novelistic verve.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Nina Renata Aron's top ten books about recovery, Leslie Jamison's six notable books about addiction, Lisa Levy's seventeen top addiction books, Jeff Somers's ten notable fictional detectives marked by their addictions, Mary Kate Carr and David Canfield's fifteen most powerful memoirs about addiction and recovery, and SJ Watson's top ten books about addiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 12, 2022

Five top books-within-books

E.G. Scott is the pen name of writing partners Elizabeth Keenan and Greg Wands. Together they have written three novels: The Woman Inside, In Case of Emergency, and The Rule of Three. Their first book, The Woman Inside, was an international bestseller, which has been translated into twelve languages and is in development for a television series by Blumhouse.

At CrimeReads they tagged "five great novels where the suspense revolves around writing and books," including:
Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews

Florence Darrow is a low-level publishing employee who dreams of literary success. Desperate to leave behind her humdrum Floridian upbringing and the lack of sophistication she equates it with, the young woman has moved to New York City in pursuit of her dream. Yet Florence can’t help but feel like an outsider, and harbors frustration at being stuck in what she considers a menial job. So when an opportunity presents itself to work as the assistant to a wildly successful yet anonymous author, the driven young woman jumps at the opportunity. Florence feels a kinship with the acclaimed writer, and something about the plotline of her wildly successful debut resonates with the determined young upstart’s sense of ambition. What follows is a diabolically twisty, acid-penned meditation on the ultimate costs of aspiration and opportunism as Andrews delivers a gleefully sinister morality tale for the ages.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Elisabeth Griffith's "Formidable"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality: 1920-2020 by Elisabeth Griffith.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Nineteenth Amendment was an incomplete victory. Black and white women fought hard for voting rights and doubled the number of eligible voters, but the amendment did not enfranchise all women, or even protect the rights of those women who could vote. A century later, women are still grappling with how to use the vote and their political power to expand civil rights, confront racial violence, improve maternal health, advance educational and employment opportunities, and secure reproductive rights.

Formidable chronicles the efforts of white and Black women to advance sometimes competing causes. Black women wanted the rights enjoyed by whites. They wanted to protect their communities from racial violence and discrimination. Theirs was not only a women’s movement. White women wanted to be equal to white men. They sought equal legal rights, political power, safeguards for working women and immigrants, and an end to confining social structures. There were also many white women who opposed any advance for any women.

In this riveting narrative, Dr. Elisabeth Griffith integrates the fight by white and Black women to achieve equality. Previously their parallel struggles for social justice have been presented separately—as white or Black topics—or covered narrowly, through only certain individuals, decades, or incidents. Formidable provides a sweeping, century-long perspective, and an expansive cast of change agents. From feminists and civil rights activists to politicians and social justice advocates, from working class women to mothers and homemakers, from radicals and conservatives to those who were offended by feminism, threatened by social change, or convinced of white supremacy, the diversity of the women’s movement mirrors America.

After that landmark victory in 1920, suffragists had a sense of optimism, declaring, “Now we can begin!” By 2020, a new generation knew how hard the fight for incremental change was; they would have to begin again. Both engaging and outraging, Formidable will propel readers to continue their foremothers’ fights to achieve equality for all.
Visit Elisabeth Griffith's website.

The Page 99 Test: Formidable: American Women and the Fight for Equality: 1920-2020.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ally Malinenko's "This Appearing House"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: This Appearing House by Ally Malinenko.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the author of Ghost Girl comes another standalone spooky middle grade for fans of Nightbooks and Ghost Squad, about a terrifying house and the girl haunted by her experience with cancer, grief, and healing. Are you brave enough to step inside?

For as long as anyone could remember there wasn’t a house at the dead end of Juniper Drive . . . until one day there was.

When Jac first sees the House, she’s counting down to the five-year anniversary of her cancer diagnosis, when she hopefully will be declared NED, or “no evidence of disease.” But with a house appearing, and her hands shaking, and a fall off her bike, Jac is starting to wonder if these are symptoms—or if something stranger is happening.

Two classmates dare Jac and her friend Hazel to enter the House. Walking through the front door is the way in. It’s definitely not the way out. There’s something off about the House; Jac can feel it. The same way she knows it’s no coincidence that the House appeared for her five-year marker. It wants something from her. And she won’t be able to get out until she figures out what.
Visit Ally Malinenko's website.

Q&A with Ally Malinenko.

The Page 69 Test: Ghost Girl.

The Page 69 Test: This Appearing House.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Erin Flanagan's "Blackout," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Blackout: A Thriller by Erin Flanagan.

The entry begins:
Seven hard-won months into her sobriety, sociology professor Maris Heilman begins having mysterious blackouts. She chalks it up to exhaustion, though she fears that her husband and daughter will suspect she’s drinking again. When another blackout lands her in the ER, Maris meets a network of women suffering the same fate, and they have limited time to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it before it’s too late.

While this novel is billed as a thriller, at its center it’s a book about women and how we balance our increasingly complicated lives. After her first blackout, Maris makes the decision not to tell her husband, Noel, what happened and instead explains away her odd forgetful behavior by saying she probably just needs a good night’s sleep. “She worked a demanding job, was hounded by trolls online for her articles on rape culture and masculinity, was raising a teenager, and was in her forties. Of course she needed a good night’s sleep.” But of course, too, she knows it’s more than that and an actress would need to be able to portray a character’s ability to lie to her husband and herself for different reasons.

While Jenny Slate is known mostly for her comedy (I loved her as Mona-Lisa Saperstein in Parks and Recreation), there’s a certain scrappiness to her that I would love to see take on Maris. Slate seems to understand that it’s difficult and exhausting to be a woman right now (and historically), and that it’s not just one job but many. That comedy she’s so good at is a form of...[read on]
Visit Erin Flanagan's website.

The Page 69 Test: Blackout.

My Book, The Movie: Blackout.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Abdulaziz Sachedina's "Islamic Ethics"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Islamic Ethics: Fundamental Aspects of Human Conduct by Abdulaziz Sachedina.

About the book, from the publisher:
There have been two main traditions of writing on ethics in the Islamic tradition, one philosophical and related to the works of Aristotle and other Greek philosophers, represented by thinkers such as Avicenna, and one theological, represented by such figures as the famous theologian al-Qadi Abd al-Jabbar. Some later scholars attempted to combine those two traditions. For the most part, however, the views of the jurists have been ignored. Abdulaziz Sachedina here calls attention to this third tradition of ethics, which has its home in legal literature. The problem is that Islamic jurists did not produce a genre of ethical manuals, and their form of ethics, which Sachedina terms juridical ethics, must be derived or extracted from works that ostensibly treat legal rulings and obligations, or scriptural hermeneutics and legal theory. Presenting an outline of the version of Islamic ethics that is embedded in the textual legacy of the Islamic legal tradition, he argues that this juridical ethics is an important, even dominant form of ethics in modern Islam. He notes that this form of ethics has been challenged by modernity and examines the variety of ways in which legal ethical thinkers have reacted. How do Muslim religious leaders come to grips with modern demands of directing their communities to live as modern citizens of nation-states? What kind of moral and spiritual resources are being garnered by their scholars to respond to the new issues in sciences, more immediately in medicine, and constantly changing social relationships? To answer these pressing questions, it is necessary to go beyond the philosophical ethics of virtue and human character and acknowledge the importance of ethics to the formulation in Muslim interpretive jurisprudence of religious and moral decisions that are based on reason and revelation.
Learn more about Islamic Ethics at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Islamic Ethics.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about women written out of history

Janina Ramirez is an Oxford lecturer, BBC broadcaster, researcher and author. She has presented and written over 30 hours of BBC history documentaries and series on TV and radio, and written five books for children and adults.

Ramirez's new book is Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It.

At the Guardian she tagged ten "books that have pushed the boundaries of history as a discipline and put the women back in." One title on the list:
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

This book has done more for women’s history than almost any other. Rather than continuing to fetishise the murderer, Hallie presents the victims’ stories. By immersing readers in the social conditions the women experienced, the five have contexts other than being written off as “prostitutes”. This book has also affected the true crime genre, where more writers are focusing on victims rather than perpetrators.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Pg. 69: Elisa Albert's "Human Blues"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Human Blues: A Novel by Elisa Albert.

About the book, from the publisher:
From an author whose writing has been praised as “blistering” (The New Yorker), “virtuosic” (The Washington Post), and “brilliant” (The New York Times) comes a provocative and entertaining novel about a woman who desperately wants a child but struggles to accept the use of assisted reproductive technology—a hilarious and ferocious send-up of feminism, fame, art, commerce, and autonomy.

On the eve of her fourth album, singer-songwriter Aviva Rosner is plagued by infertility. The twist: as much as Aviva wants a child, she is wary of technological conception, and has poured her ambivalence into her music. As the album makes its way in the world, the shock of the response from fans and critics is at first exciting—and then invasive and strange. Aviva never wanted to be famous, or did she? Meanwhile, her evolving obsession with another iconic musician, gone too soon, might just help her make sense of things.

Told over the course of nine menstrual cycles, Human Blues is a bold, brainy, darkly funny, utterly original interrogation of our cultural obsession with childbearing. It’s also the story of one fearless woman at the crossroads, ruthlessly questioning what she wants and what she’s willing—or not willing—to do to get it.
Learn more about the author and her work at Elisa Albert's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Book of Dahlia.

The Page 69 Test: After Birth.

The Page 69 Test: Human Blues.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Jayita Sarkar's "Ploughshares and Swords"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Ploughshares and Swords: India's Nuclear Program in the Global Cold War by Jayita Sarkar.

About the book, from the publisher:
India's nuclear program is often misunderstood as an inward-looking endeavor of secretive technocrats. In Ploughshares and Swords, Jayita Sarkar challenges this received wisdom, narrating a global story of India's nuclear program during its first forty years. The book foregrounds the program's civilian and military features by probing its close relationship with the space program. Through nuclear and space technologies, India's leaders served the technopolitical aims of economic modernity and the geopolitical goals of deterring adversaries.

The politically savvy, transnationally connected scientists and engineers who steered the program obtained technologies, materials, and information through a variety of state and nonstate actors from Europe and North America, including both superpowers. They thus maneuvered around Cold War politics and the choke points of the nonproliferation regime. Hyperdiversification increased choices for the leaders of the nuclear program but reduced democratic accountability at home. The nuclear program became a consensus-enforcing device in the name of the nation.

Ploughshares and Swords is a provocative new history with global implications. It shows how geopolitical and technopolitical visions influence decisions about the nation after decolonization.
Visit Jayita Sarkar's website.

The Page 99 Test: Ploughshares and Swords.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight titles about fraught mother-daughter relationships

Kayla Maiuri holds an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University. Born in the greater Boston area, she now lives in Brooklyn.

Mother in the Dark is her first novel.

At Electric Lit Maiuri tagged "eight books that explore the ways mothers and daughters can love, wound, and haunt," including:
Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain

Set in Depression-era Glendale, California, Mildred Pierce follows a mother-daughter pairing fueled by competition and jealousy. Cain centers a single mother, Mildred, who loves in a well-intentioned but smothering way, “acting less like a mother than like a lover who had unexpectedly discovered an act of faithlessness, and avenged it,” and a reptilian daughter, Veda, who seems determined to break her mother’s spirits. The novel reveals the emotional manipulation that can exist amongst mothers and daughters, and the dangers of a parent stifling their own needs for their child’s. I’ve read many novels about mother-monsters; the monster-daughter is rarer. You will be haunted by Veda’s horrific acts long after you’ve finished.
Read about another entry on the list.

Mildred Pierce is among Annaleese Jochems's great third wheels of literature, Carol Goodman's top ten books that explore the fears & ambivalences of motherhood, Patricia Abbott's five favorite novels about mothers and daughters, and Ester Bloom's ten favorite fictional feminists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

What is Joanna Schaffhausen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Joanna Schaffhausen, author of Long Gone: A Detective Annalisa Vega Novel.

Her entry begins:
My most recent read is The Disinvited Guest by Carol Goodman. Goodman is madly talented, and her gifts are on full display here. The book is tense, atmospheric, compelling and just a tad otherworldly. It’s also the first fiction I’ve read that bravely tackles the pandemic head-on, as this book is set ten years down the road during the onset of another pandemic. The characters are isolated together on a remote island in Maine, so when the bodies start dropping—from murder, not a virus!—they are already...[read on]
About Long Gone, from the publisher:
Long Gone, the next installment of Joanna Schaffhausen's critically acclaimed Detective Annalisa Vega series.

Chicago detective Annalisa Vega shattered her life, personally and professionally, when she turned in her ex-cop father for his role in a murder. Her family can’t forgive her. Her fellow officers no longer trust her. So when detective Leo Hammond turns up dead in a bizarre murder, Annalisa thinks she has nothing to lose by investigating whatever secrets he hid behind the thin blue line.

Annalisa quickly zeroes in on someone who had good reason to want Hammond dead: a wealthy, fast-talking car salesman who’d gotten away with murder once and wasn’t about to let Hammond take a second shot. Moe Bocks remains the number one suspect in his girlfriend’s brutal unsolved death, and now he’s got a new woman in his sights—Annalisa’s best friend.

Annalisa is desperate to protect her friend and force Bocks to pay, either for Hammond’s death or his earlier crime. But when no one else believes the connection, she takes increasingly risky chances to reveal the truth. Because both Hammond and Bocks had secrets to die for, and if she doesn’t untangle them soon, Annalisa will be next.
Visit Joanna Schaffhausen's website.

The Page 69 Test: All the Best Lies.

Writers Read: Joanna Schaffhausen (February 2020).

Q&A with Joanna Schaffhausen.

My Book, The Movie: Gone for Good.

The Page 69 Test: Gone for Good.

Writers Read: Joanna Schaffhausen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifteen top books about unforgettable friendships

At B&N Reads the editors tagged fifteen "favorite titles that feature unforgettable friendships," including:
Conversations with Friends
Sally Rooney

Reading Sally Rooney’s novels feels like eavesdropping on people you really, really want to know, and this is especially true when it comes to Frances and Bobbi’s friendship in Rooney’s first novel, Conversations with Friends. Frances and Bobbi aren’t the first couple to navigate new terms to their relationship after the break-up, but love is messy is so many ways, and well, let’s just say, while Frances and Bobbi aren’t quite prepared for what happens after they meet Melissa and her husband Nick, readers won’t want to turn away.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Emily Michelson's "Catholic Spectacle and Rome's Jews"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Catholic Spectacle and Rome's Jews: Early Modern Conversion and Resistance by Emily Michelson.

About the book, from the publisher:
A new investigation that shows how conversionary preaching to Jews was essential to the early modern Catholic Church and the Roman religious landscape

Starting in the sixteenth century, Jews in Rome were forced, every Saturday, to attend a hostile sermon aimed at their conversion. Harshly policed, they were made to march en masse toward the sermon and sit through it, all the while scrutinized by local Christians, foreign visitors, and potential converts. In Catholic Spectacle and Rome’s Jews, Emily Michelson demonstrates how this display was vital to the development of early modern Catholicism.

Drawing from a trove of overlooked manuscripts, Michelson reconstructs the dynamics of weekly forced preaching in Rome. As the Catholic Church began to embark on worldwide missions, sermons to Jews offered a unique opportunity to define and defend its new triumphalist, global outlook. They became a point of prestige in Rome. The city’s most important organizations invested in maintaining these spectacles, and foreign tourists eagerly attended them. The title of “Preacher to the Jews” could make a man’s career. The presence of Christian spectators, Roman and foreign, was integral to these sermons, and preachers played to the gallery. Conversionary sermons also provided an intellectual veneer to mask ongoing anti-Jewish aggressions. In response, Jews mounted a campaign of resistance, using any means available.

Examining the history and content of sermons to Jews over two and a half centuries, Catholic Spectacle and Rome’s Jews argues that conversionary preaching to Jews played a fundamental role in forming early modern Catholic identity.
Learn more about Catholic Spectacle and Rome's Jews at the Princeton University Press website, and follow Emily Michelson on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Catholic Spectacle and Rome's Jews.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Samantha M. Bailey

From my Q&A with Samantha M. Bailey, author of Watch Out for Her: A Novel:
How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage self wouldn’t be surprised by what I write, but she would be shocked that after twenty years of rejections, on novel after novel, her dreams finally came true. I grew up surrounded by books, and I was always drawn to the tantalizing and twisted, in both my reading and writing. I was hooked on stories by Stephen King, Patricia Highsmith, Daphne Du Maurier, and so many others. I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology behind people’s darkest...[read on]
Follow Samantha M. Bailey on Twitter and visit her website.

Q&A with Samantha M. Bailey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 08, 2022

Pg. 69: Lucy Burdette's "A Dish to Die for"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Dish to Die for by Lucy Burdette.

About the book, from the publisher:
National bestselling author Lucy Burdette returns to Key West for another delectable dish of secrets, intrigue, and murder.

Peace and quiet are hard to find in bustling Key West, so Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, is taking the afternoon off for a tranquil lunch with a friend outside of town. As they are enjoying the wild beach and the lunch, she realizes that her husband Nathan’s dog, Ziggy, has disappeared. She follows his barking, to find him furiously digging at a shallow grave with a man’s body in it. Davis Jager, a local birdwatcher, identifies him as GG Garcia, a rabble-rousing Key West local and developer. Garcia was famous for over-development on the fragile Keys, womanizing, and refusing to follow city rules—so it’s no wonder he had a few enemies.

When Davis is attacked in the parking lot of a local restaurant after talking to Hayley and her dear friend, the octogenarian Miss Gloria, Hayley is slowly but surely drawn into the case. Hayley’s mother, Janet, has been hired to cater GG’s memorial service reception at the local Woman’s Club, using recipes from their vintage Key West cookbook—and Hayley and Miss Gloria sign on to work with her, hoping to cook up some clues by observing the mourners.

But the real clues appear when Hayley begins to study the old cookbook, as whispers of old secrets come to life, dragging the past into the present—with murderous results.
Visit Lucy Burdette's website, Twitter perch, and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: An Appetite For Murder.

Writers Read: Lucy Burdette (January 2012).

The Page 69 Test: Death in Four Courses.

The Page 69 Test: A Scone of Contention.

My Book, The Movie: Unsafe Haven.

The Page 69 Test: A Dish to Die for.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top midlife coming-of-age novels

Sarah McCraw Crow grew up in Virginia but has lived most of her adult life in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has run in Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, Good Housekeeping, So to Speak, Waccamaw, and Stanford Alumni Magazine. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College (AB, history), Stanford University (MA, journalism), and Vermont College of Fine Arts (MFA in writing). When she's not reading or writing, she's probably gardening or snowshoeing (depending on the weather).

The Wrong Kind of Woman is her literary debut.

Q&A with Sarah McCraw Crow.

At Lit Hub the author tagged ten "notable midlife coming-of-age novels," including:
Elizabeth Strout, Amy and Isabelle

Elizabeth Strout’s debut novel, which roves between the perspectives of a mother and teen daughter, is a dual coming-of-age novel. Single mom Isabelle and sixteen-year-old daughter Amy live in the small and gossipy New England mill town Shirley Falls. It’s the late Sixties, and Isabelle is determined to live a proper life, despite her singlehood. As teenage Amy (naturally) rebels against Isabelle’s repressive strictures, falling in love with the wrong guy, Isabelle in turn struggles, resentful of Amy and unable to figure out how to parent her. The two move through a rough summer. By summer’s end Isabelle, the mom, is the more changed character, the one who sheds her false old self and really begins to live, and to love her daughter unconditionally.
Read about another entry on the list.

Amy and Isabelle is among Patricia Abbott's five top novels about mothers and daughters and James Mustich's five top books on mothers and children.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Justin Gregg's "If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal: What Animal Intelligence Reveals About Human Stupidity by Justin Gregg.

About the book, from the publisher:
This funny, "extraordinary and thought-provoking" (The Wall Street Journal) book asks whether we are in fact the superior species. As it turns out, the truth is stranger—and far more interesting—than we have been led to believe.

If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal
overturns everything we thought we knew about human intelligence, and asks the question: would humans be better off as narwhals? Or some other, less brainy species? There’s a good argument to be made that humans might be a less successful animal species precisely because of our amazing, complex intelligence.

All our unique gifts like language, math, and science do not make us happier or more “successful” (evolutionarily speaking) than other species. Our intelligence allowed us to split the atom, but we’ve harnessed that knowledge to make machines of war. We are uniquely susceptible to bullshit (though, cuttlefish may be the best liars in the animal kingdom); our bizarre obsession with lawns has contributed to the growing threat of climate change; we are sexually diverse like many species yet stand apart as homophobic; and discriminate among our own as if its natural, which it certainly is not. Is our intelligence more of a curse than a gift?

As scientist Justin Gregg persuasively argues, there’s an evolutionary reason why human intelligence isn’t more prevalent in the animal kingdom. Simply put, non-human animals don’t need it to be successful. And, miraculously, their success arrives without the added baggage of destroying themselves and the planet in the process.

In seven mind-bending and hilarious chapters, Gregg highlights one feature seemingly unique to humans—our use of language, our rationality, our moral systems, our so-called sophisticated consciousness—and compares it to our animal brethren. Along the way, remarkable tales of animal smarts emerge, as you’ll discover:

The house cat who’s better at picking winning stocks than actual fund managers
Elephants who love to drink
Pigeons who are better than radiologists at spotting cancerous tissue
Bumblebees who are geniuses at teaching each other soccer

What emerges is both demystifying and remarkable, and will change how you look at animals, humans, and the meaning of life itself.
Visit Justin Gregg's website.

The Page 99 Test: If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal.

--Marshal Zeringue