Monday, October 02, 2023

Seven top books about witches and badass covens

Kim DeRose writes dark, magical stories about strong, magical girls.

She grew up in Santa Barbara, California, where she spent childhood summers reading books and writing stories (which she was convinced her local bookstore would publish). She now lives in New York City, where she spends all seasons reading books and writing stories.

DeRose earned her MFA in film directing from UCLA, and currently works in digital media.

When she’s not reading or writing she can be found listening to podcasts on long walks, drinking endless cups of coffee, and spending time with her family.

For Girls Who Walk Through Fire is her debut novel.

At CrimeReads DeRose tagged seven books for those who "can’t get enough of witches and adore badass covens," including:
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Magic. Heartbreak. A Greenwich village apothecary. There is zero way I could create a list of badass covens and not include the Owens sisters. And while Gillian and Sally Owens from Practical Magic, with their sisterly bond and fierce protection of one another, are absolutely worthy of being on this list, it’s Aunt Jet and Aunt Frances I’ve always gravitated toward. This book is their story. Set in 1960’s New York City (think Patti Smith’s Just Kids), it follows a teenage Frances and Jet, and their charismatic brother, Vincent, as they discover the family curse first set in motion by Salem-witch ancestor, Maria Owens, and learn to own their extraordinary powers. If you love this prequel to Practical Magic, I have good news for you: there are a total of 4 books in this series (and counting? Pretty please, Ms. Hoffman?).
Read about another entry on the list.

The Rules of Magic is among Lydia Kang's eight spine-chilling titles about occult mysteries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Pg. 99: Russell Neuman's "Evolutionary Intelligence"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Evolutionary Intelligence: How Technology Will Make Us Smarter by W. Russell Neuman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A surprising vision of how human intelligence will coevolve with digital technology and revolutionize how we think and behave.

It is natural for us to fear artificial intelligence. But does Siri really want to kill us? Perhaps we are falling into the trap of projecting human traits onto the machines we might build. In Evolutionary Intelligence, Neuman offers a surprisingly positive vision in which computational intelligence compensates for the well-recognized limits of human judgment, improves decision making, and actually increases our agency. In artful, accessible, and adventurous prose, Neuman takes the reader on an exciting, fast-paced ride, all the while making a convincing case about a revolution in computationally augmented human intelligence.

Neuman argues that, just as the wheel made us mobile and machines made us stronger, the migration of artificial intelligence from room-sized computers to laptops to our watches, smart glasses, and even smart contact lenses will transform day-to-day human decision making. If intelligence is the capacity to match means with ends, then augmented intelligence can offer the ability to adapt to changing environments as we face the ultimate challenge of long-term survival.

Tapping into a global interest in technology’s potential impacts on society, economics, and culture, Evolutionary Intelligence demonstrates that our future depends on our ability to computationally compensate for the limitations of a human cognitive system that has only recently graduated from hunting and gathering.
Learn more about Evolutionary Intelligence at the The MIT Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Evolutionary Intelligence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Christina McDonald's "These Still Black Waters"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: These Still Black Waters (Jess Lambert) by Christina McDonald.

About the book, from the publisher:
Two women struggle toward a dark truth as a killer avenges the sins of the past in a twisting novel of suspense by the USA Today bestselling author of Do No Harm, Behind Every Lie, and The Night Olivia Fell.

After a violent home invasion, Neve Maguire returns with her daughter to Black Lake, her childhood summer home, hoping for a fresh start. But when the body of a woman is found floating among the reeds in the lake behind her house, she fears she has made a horrible mistake.

Neve is hiding secrets, though. Detective Jess Lambert can tell. Recently back after her own personal tragedy, Jess knows what it’s like to live with skeletons in your closet, and she’s sure Neve has a few of her own.

When another woman’s body is found, Jess and Neve are forced to confront a horrible truth. Because one thing is clear: the darkness of the past is waiting. And the secrets of Black Lake are only just beginning to surface.
Visit Christina McDonald's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Night Olivia Fell.

Writers Read: Christina McDonald (February 2019).

The Page 69 Test: These Still Black Waters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top fictional dinner parties gone wrong

Lee Kelly is the author of City of Savages, a Publishers Weekly “Best of Spring 2015” pick and a VOYA Magazine “Perfect Ten” selection, A Criminal Magic, which was optioned and developed for a television series by Warner Bros., The Antiquity Affair, co-written with Jennifer Thorne (2023), With Regrets (Fall 2023) and The Starlets (forthcoming, Fall 2024).

Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Gingerbread House, Orca, and Tor.com, among other publications, and she holds her MFA degree from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Kelly has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She currently lives with her husband and two children in New Jersey, where you’ll find them engaged in one adventure or another.

At Electric Lit she tagged "eight of my favorite recent novels featuring a dangerous dinner, with the term 'danger' encompassing quite a variety of threats and menacing situations." One title on the list:
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

The dinners featured in this mind-bending, heart-wrenching sci-fi novel dangerously defy the laws of time and space itself. Kin Stewart, a time-traveling agent from 2142, has been secretly marooned in the 1990s. Kin’s given up on being rescued, and has started a new life; he’s now an IT expert with a teenage daughter. When Kin’s rescue team arrives eighteen years too late, Kin becomes torn between two different timelines and realities—hosting dinner parties with his wife in 2142 while simultaneously trying to preserve his relationship with his daughter across the centuries. His attempts threaten to corrupt the entire time-space continuum, and potentially destroy history itself.
Read about another entry on the list.

Here and Now and Then is among Catriona Silvey's five SF&F character pairs with ever-changing relationships and Fran Wilde’s five books that prove portal narratives & time travel are connected.

My Book, The Movie: Here and Now and Then.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Pg. 99: Kim Akass's "Mothers on American Television"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mothers on American Television: From Here to Maternity by Kim Akass.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mothers on American Television takes an in-depth look at how motherhood is represented on some of the most popular television series produced this century. Adopting a feminist, Marxist, cultural studies and psychoanalytical approach, the book offers a history of the positioning of mothers within American society. It provides detailed analysis of The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Handmaid’s Tale and more, while reflecting on the newspaper ‘mommy wars’, employment patterns and alternative views of motherhood.
Follow Kim Akass on Twitter and Facebook.

The Page 99 Test: Mothers on American Television.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is John Keyse-Walker reading?

Featured at Writers Read: John Keyse-Walker, author of Reefs, Royals, Reckonings (A Teddy Creque Mystery, 4).

His entry begins:
There always seem to be three books on my radar screen at any one time - one I have recently finished, one I am in the midst of and one waiting patiently on deck. Here they are:

Recently finished — Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I’d put off reading this masterpiece for years because of its daunting length (over 800 pages). That was a mistake. This is the quintessential Western Novel and should be on everyone’s reading list. Its exploration of the cowboy life is riveting, brutal, beautiful and almost poetic in quality. I decided to...[read on]
About Reefs, Royals, Reckonings, from the publisher:
Constable Teddy Creque has to get to the bottom of a murder committed during a British royal reception in this lively and atmospheric mystery set in the sunny Caribbean.

When Constable Teddy Creque is assigned to the security detail at a grand reception on the little island of Tortola for Princess Portia and her husband Lord Sutherland, he’s prepared for a British royal night out. He’s less prepared for an evening of dreary small talk about bond prices and tax havens. But at least the event is going smoothly, he tells himself . . . That is, until it’s cut dramatically short by a shot ringing out from the direction of the garden.

Anxious that one of the royals is in danger, Teddy springs into action. He has to get the royal pair to safety, but first he has to find them. And they’re not the only ones missing – where is his superior, Deputy Commissioner Howard Lane?

Soon, in the depths of the tropical darkness, Teddy has his answer – and is confronted by his worst nightmare. Plunged into his most high-profile investigation yet, Teddy knows he has to solve this case fast . . . or heads will roll.

Reefs, Royals, Reckonings is the fourth novel in the Teddy Creque mystery by award-winning author John Keyse-Walker. Readers of traditional mysteries with tropical settings, lively characters and exciting plot twists will be thrilled.
Visit John Keyse-Walker's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sun, Sand, Murder.

My Book, The Movie: Beach, Breeze, Bloodshed.

The Page 69 Test: Palms, Paradise, Poison.

Q&A with John Keyse-Walker.

The Page 69 Test: Bert and Mamie Take a Cruise.

Writers Read: John Keyse-Walker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top books revolving around a historical collective trauma

Etaf Rum was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, by Palestinian immigrants. She lives in North Carolina with her two children.

Rum also runs the Instagram account @booksandbeans.

A Woman Is No Man is her first novel. Her new novel is Evil Eye.

At Lit Hub she tagged eight books in which "trauma is a central theme that shapes the lives of the characters and influences their choices, relationships, and identities." One title on the list:
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

This novel explores the trauma of family dysfunction, societal expectations, and the rigid caste system in India. The characters in the story carry the trauma of their childhood experiences into adulthood, affecting their relationships, self-esteem, and the choices they make.
Read about another entry on the list.

The God of Small Things is among Fatin Abbas's eight top books on borders concrete & intangible, Rebecca Wait's top ten books about twins, Alex Hyde's top ten mirrored lives in fiction, Saumya Roy's seven unlikely love stories in literature, and Miranda Doyle's top ten books about lies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 29, 2023

Pg. 99: Danielle N. Boaz's "Voodoo: The History of a Racial Slur"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Voodoo: The History of a Racial Slur by Danielle N. Boaz.

About the book, from the publisher:
Coined in the middle of the nineteenth century, the term "voodoo" has been deployed largely by people in the U.S. to refer to spiritual practices--real or imagined--among people of African descent. "Voodoo" is one way that white people have invoked their anxieties and stereotypes about Black people--to call them uncivilized, superstitious, hypersexual, violent, and cannibalistic.

In this book, Danielle Boaz explores public perceptions of "voodoo" as they have varied over time, with an emphasis on the intricate connection between stereotypes of "voodoo" and debates about race and human rights. The term has its roots in the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s, especially following the Union takeover of New Orleans, when it was used to propagate the idea that Black Americans held certain "superstitions" that allegedly proved that they were unprepared for freedom, the right to vote, and the ability to hold public office. Similar stereotypes were later extended to Cuba and Haiti in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the 1930s, Black religious movements like the Moorish Science Temple and the Nation of Islam were derided as "voodoo cults." More recently, ideas about "voodoo" have shaped U.S. policies toward Haitian immigrants in the 1980s, and international responses to rituals to bind Nigerian women to human traffickers in the twenty-first century. Drawing on newspapers, travelogues, magazines, legal documents, and books, Boaz shows that the term "voodoo" has often been a tool of racism, colonialism, and oppression.
Learn more about Voodoo: The History of a Racial Slur at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Voodoo: The History of a Racial Slur.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: D.W. Buffa's "Lunatic Carnival"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Lunatic Carnival by D.W. Buffa.

About the book, from the publisher:
D.W. Buffa’s first novel, The Defense, left the New York Times “wanting to go back to the beginning and read it again.” Lunatic Carnival, Buffa’s latest riveting and thought-provoking thriller, does that and more. In Lunatic Carnival, Buffa paints an unforgettable and timely portrait of an age in which nothing is thought more important than fame and money, a world in which immorality has become the trademark of success, and murder just another business decision.

A professional athlete, T.J. Allen, is charged with the murder of Matthew Stanton, the owner of the team. Antonelli agrees to take the case only after the trial court judge tells him that Allen is innocent and that “All of America contributed to the making of Matthew Stanton.” The evidence is firmly stacked against Allen: he was found standing over Stanton’s dead body, the murder weapon still in hand. The only way to prove Allen is innocent it is to find the real killer and their motive. Who had a reason to kill Matthew Stanton? What had he done, or what was he planning to do, that made the real killer think he had no choice? As Joseph Antonelli prepares for the most difficult case of his career, he will learn that the answer to that question will change not only the outcome of this trial, but could change the world as we know it.

D.W. Buffa’s novels have been “filled with remarkable prose and jaw-dropping suspense.” In Lunatic Carnival, a trial for murder becomes an indictment of a world gone mad in a compelling novel that will keep you in suspense until the very last page, and then, like only D.W. Buffa can do, it will make you want to go back to the beginning and read it all over again.
Visit D.W. Buffa's website.

Q&A with D.W. Buffa.

My Book, The Movie: The Privilege.

The Page 69 Test: The Privilege.

The Page 69 Test: Lunatic Carnival.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top novels about war

Audrey Gale long dreamed of being a writer, but never anticipated the circuitous road she’d take to get there. After twenty-plus years in the banking industry, she grew tired of corporate gamesmanship and pursued her master’s in fiction writing at the University of Southern California. Her first novel, a legal thriller entitled The Sausage Maker’s Daughters, was published under the name A.G.S. Johnson. Her second, The Human Trial, is the first book in a medical-thriller trilogy inspired by Gale’s own experiences with the gap between traditional medicine and approaches based on the findings of the great physicists of the 20th Century, like Einstein and Bohr.

At CrimeReads Gale tagged "five novels centered around war, mostly the Second World War, that focus on the crimes of the millions, both victims and perpetrators/accessories, into the small personal stories of individuals caught in the rip currents." One title on the list:
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

A slice of WWII told through two youngsters on opposite sides of the war—one a blind girl in Brittany, France, the other a young male orphan with an intuitive comprehension of the new radio technology that informs the conflict. The two connect through those invisible radio waves that represent the ephemeral cord between two young people caught by circumstances neither understands nor controls. In both its innocence and scientific possibility, the story is poignantly beautiful.
Read about another entry on the list.

All the Light We Cannot See is among Jyoti Patel's top ten books about family secrets, Kimi Cunningham Grant's top six books featuring father-daughter relationships, Liz Boulter's top ten novels about France, Emily Temple's fifty best contemporary novels over 500 pages, Jason Allen's seven top books with family secrets, Whitney Scharer's top ten books about Paris, David Baldacci's six favorite books with an element of mystery, Jason Flemyng's six best books, Sandra Howard's six best books, Caitlin Kleinschmidt's twelve moving novels of the Second World War and Maureen Corrigan's 12 favorite books of 2014.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Pg. 99: George Pavlich's "Thresholds of Accusation"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Thresholds of Accusation: Law and Colonial Order in Canada by George Pavlich.

About the book, from the publisher:
This critical socio-legal history probes pretrial accusations through which colonial criminal law forged social orders for settler-colonialism across western Canada, focusing on Alberta, 1874–1884. Following military intelligence, a Northwest Mounted Police force was established to compel Dominion law. That force began by deploying accusatory theatres to receive information about crimes, arrest suspects, and decide via preliminary examination who to send to trial. George Pavlich draws on exemplary performances of colonial accusation to show how police officers and justices of the peace translated local social lore into criminal law. These performances reflected intersecting powers of sovereignty, disciplinarily, and biopolitics; they held accused individuals legally culpable for crimes and obscured social upheavals that settlers brought. Reflecting on colonial legacies within today's vast and unequal criminalizing institutions, this book proposes that we seek new forms of accusation and legality, learning from Indigenous laws that tackle individual and collective responsibilities for societal disquiet.
Learn more about Thresholds of Accusation at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Thresholds of Accusation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight novels using television as a plot device

Nora Fussner has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from CUNY Brooklyn College. Prior to moving to western Pennsylvania, she lived in Brooklyn and taught for eight years for CUNY Start, an intensive developmental reading and writing program at Kingsborough Community College. Since moving to Pittsburgh in 2018, she has taught for the University of Pittsburgh.

The Invisible World was partially inspired by a freelance job she held while pursuing her MFA, working as a logger on several reality shows including The Haunted on Animal Planet and Psychic Kids on A&E.

Fussner grew up in a 200+ year old house but, sadly, never found evidence of a haunting.

She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their senior dog, Karly.

At Electric Lit Fussner tagged "eight novels about characters who are on TV, want to be on TV, or use television to in some way figure themselves out." One title on the list:
Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie

While plenty of other novels incorporate found footage, trial transcripts, etc., alongside narration, DiLouie cranks it up to 11—Episode Thirteen is all found footage/found documents: the lost tapes and journals of the crew of Fade to Black, a paranormal investigative show. Fade to Black’s crew is scrappy, and in need of some new stories as they embark on an investigation of Foundation House, a building used in the 1970s by researchers to conduct experiments in the paranormal, metaphysical, and hallucinogenic. The house has never been fully investigated, and it’s on the verge of being torn down. As the team spends more time inside, extending their shoot and the number of episodes they need to air their footage, their findings loop back to the crew themselves in seemingly impossible ways. A found-footage novel in 2023 ought to be self-aware of genre tropes, and one character confirms to the audience that the urge to document, even as their situation grows ever more frightening, persists.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Episode Thirteen.

My Book, The Movie: Episode Thirteen.

--Marshal Zeringue

12 Yoga Questions with Meredith R. Lyons

Featured at 12 Yoga Questions: Meredith R. Lyons, author of Ghost Tamer.

[Q&A with Meredith R. Lyons]

Lyons grew up in New Orleans, collecting two degrees from Louisiana State University before running away to Chicago to be an actor. In between plays, she got her black belt and made martial arts and yoga her full-time day job. She fought in the Chicago Golden Gloves, ran the Chicago Marathon, and competed for team U.S.A. in the savate world championships in Paris. In spite of doing each of these things twice, she couldn’t stay warm and relocated to Nashville. She owns several swords, but lives a non-violent life, saving all swashbuckling for the page, knitting scarves, gardening, visiting coffee shops, and cuddling with her husband and two panther-sized cats.

About Ghost Tamer, her first novel, from the publisher:
Death is one thing, it's what you do afterward that matters.

Aspiring comedian Raely is the sole survivor of a disastrous train wreck. While faced with the intense grief of losing her best friend, she realizes that someone is following her—and has been following her all her life. Trouble is, no one else can see him. For a ghostly tag-along, Casper’s not so bad. He might even be the partner Raely needs to fight the evil spirit hell-bent on destroying her.

Raely and her friend must learn why this demonic spirit is haunting Raely and how she can stop him before he destroys her life—and her soul. Which, much to her chagrin, means she needs the help of a psychic (although she’s sure they are all charlatans) and must rid herself of the pesky ghost hunter who’s interested in exploiting her new abilities.
Learn more about Meredith R. Lyons's yoga journey at 12 Yoga Questions and visit her website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Pg. 99: Melina Sherman's "How We Hurt"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: How We Hurt: The Politics of Pain in the Opioid Epidemic by Melina Sherman.

About the book, from the publisher:
How We Hurt dives into the institutional and cultural dimensions of the ongoing opioid epidemic. In a detailed analysis of pain management, opioid regulation, pharmaceutical branding, self-help, and public discourses on opioid addiction, Melina Sherman argues that the linchpin underlying the opioid epidemic's evolution in North America is the problem of pain. By unpacking the politics of pain in different domains, How We Hurt shows how the crisis emerged and shifted, and why it looks the way it does today. The book's chapters begin by tracing the trajectory of opioids in pain management, where decisions regarding the measurement of pain led to relief becoming wedded to opioids in medicine. The following chapters examine the problem of pain in opioid regulation, pharmaceutical branding, and the self-help industry. In these areas, a disastrous combination of strategic ignorance and deep-seated ties between public health entities and pharmaceutical companies drove the influx of opioids onto the market and into our medicine cabinets. The book's penultimate chapter applies the analysis of pain to the problem of opioid addiction in popular discourse and shows how the opioid crisis has evolved alongside new conceptions of addiction and people who use opioids that condition whose pain is seen as legitimate and whose is not. Finally, the book concludes by considering the implications of its findings for the development of drug policy and future research on public health disasters, insisting on an interdisciplinary and multi-faceted approach to the study of pain and its place American culture.
Visit Melina Sherman's website.

The Page 99 Test: How We Hurt.

--Marshal Zeringue

William Dameron's "The Way Life Should Be," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Way Life Should Be: A Novel by William Dameron.

The entry begins:
As Down East Magazine put it, my novel The Way Life Should Be "is a sprawling, occasionally ribald, often moving meditation on how people who love each other can overcome uncertainty and shame — and on how the consistency of the places we love, like funky Maine beach towns, can set the stage for healing." The ensemble cast includes three generations of a family perched on the coast of Maine for one summer, attempting to make a place for everyone and heal old wounds. These are nuanced characters who balance humor with poignancy, and to explore each character's growth fully, I envision it as a limited series. Not only do I imagine it as a limited series, I am writing it as one, and this is where the fun begins.

A writer's job is to utilize the medium they are working in to its fullest potential. In a novel, the writer can explore "interiority," the characters' unspoken thoughts, but dialogue and action must carry the story in a screenplay. As I write my script and study others (This is Us, Euphoria, Little Miss Sunshine), my characters' voices are becoming fine-tuned, and I am learning to hone mine.

So, who gets top billing? I turn to other ensemble series and actors that I admire. Murray Bartlett from The White Lotus and The Last of Us displays vulnerability in a way that would bring doubting Thomas to life. Jennifer Aniston is a shoo-in to play...[read on]
Visit William Dameron's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Way Life Should Be.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books that reckon with illness & time

Maria Smilios's new book is The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis. She learned about the Black Angels while working as a science book editor at Springer Publishing. As a native New Yorker and lover of history, medicine, and women’s narratives, she became determined to tell their story. In addition to interviewing historians, archivists, and medical professionals, she spent years immersed in the lives and stories of those close to these extraordinary women. Smilios holds a master of arts in religion and literature from Boston University, where she was a Luce scholar and taught in the religion and writing program.

At Lit Hub Smilios tagged "five books [that] reckon with time and mortality in different ways," including:
Paul Harding, Tinkers

Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Tinkers, tells the story of George Washington Crosby, a clock repairer, who lays dying in his living room. Surrounded by his kids, Crosby spends the last eight days of his life drifting in and out of consciousness, recalling the ecstasy and agony of his upbringing in Maine in early 1900. His memories, delivered in elegiac prose and steeped in the natural world — light and shadows and trees — contemplate the impermanence of time and reality, something Crosby desperately fears: “I will remain a set of impressions porous and open,” he says, and then slips back into memory, as if there he will solidify the image.

When his life comes to an end, Crosby finds solace in understanding that life is a series of fleeting moments, flashes of light that shine bright and fade away, and it’s the moment that matters, not what happens after: “Everything is made to perish… What persists beyond this cataclysm of making and unmaking?”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Tinkers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Pg. 99: Fabian Baumann's "Dynasty Divided"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Dynasty Divided: A Family History of Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism by Fabian Baumann.

About the book, from the publisher:
Dynasty Divided uses the story of a prominent Kievan family of journalists, scholars, and politicians to analyze the emergence of rivaling nationalisms in nineteenth-century Ukraine, the most pivotal borderland of the Russian Empire. The Shul'gins identified as Russians and defended the tsarist autocracy; the Shul'hyns identified as Ukrainians and supported peasant-oriented socialism. Fabian Baumann shows how these men and women consciously chose a political position and only then began their self-fashioning as members of a national community, defying the notion of nationalism as a direct consequence of ethnicity.

Baumann asks what made individuals into determined nationalists in the first place, revealing the close link to private lives, including intimate family dramas and scandals. He looks at how nationalism emerged from domestic spaces, and how women played an important (if often invisible) role in fin-de-si├Ęcle politics. Dynasty Divided explains how nineteenth-century Kievans cultivated their national self-images and how, by the twentieth century, Ukraine steered away from Russia. The two branches of this family of Russian nationalists and Ukrainian nationalists epitomize the struggles for modern Ukraine.
Learn more about Dynasty Divided at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Dynasty Divided.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five crime novels featuring law enforcement professionals who aren't detectives

Brooke Robinson is professional playwright who has had her work produced at London’s Vault Festival and the Old Vic, among others. She grew up in Sydney, Australia, and has worked as a bookseller, university administrator, and playwright there and in the UK. She started writing The Interpreter, her first novel, when the pandemic ground the theatre world to a halt, and is currently working on her second novel.

[Q&A with Brooke Robinson; The Page 69 Test: The Interpreter]

At CrimeReads Robinson tagged five crime novels featuring interpreters, transcribers, and other invisible law enforcement professionals, including:
In Nell Pattison’s The Silent House a shocking murder takes place in the Hunter household, a deaf family, making police reliant on British Sign Language interpreter Paige Northwood to conduct their investigation. Northwood’s links to the family, and the wider deaf community, make the situation extra complicated in this clever spin on the procedural thriller where the detectives are forced to step back.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 25, 2023

Pg. 99: Kendra Coulter's "Defending Animals"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Defending Animals: Finding Hope on the Front Lines of Animal Protection by Kendra Coulter.

About the book, from the publisher:
An in-depth look at the urgent struggle to protect animals from harm, cruelty, injustice, extinction, and their greatest threat—us.

Beloved dogs and cats. Magnificent horses and mountain gorillas. Curious chickens. What do we actually do to protect animals from harm—and is it enough? This engaging book provides a unique and eye-opening exploration of the world of animal protection as people defend diverse animals from injustice and cruelty. From the streets of major US cities to remote farms and tropical forests, Defending Animals is a gritty and moving portrait of the real work of animal protection that takes place in communities, courtrooms, and boardrooms.

Globally recognized expert Kendra Coulter takes readers across the different landscapes of animal protection to meet people and animals of all kinds, from cruelty investigators to forensic veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators and conservation leaders to animal lawyers and entrepreneurs, each working in their own ways to defend animals. Bringing unparalleled research and a distinct and nuanced analytical viewpoint, Defending Animals shows that animal protection is not only physical, intellectual, and emotional work but also a labor so rooted in empathy and care that it just might bridge the vast divide between polarized people and help create a more humane future for us all.
Learn more about Defending Animals at the MIT Press website and follow Kendra Coulter on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.

The Page 99 Test: Defending Animals.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven dark and thrilling novels about women who kill

Laura Picklesimer is the author of the novel Kill for Love by Unnamed Press. The book was the winner of the Launch Pad Prose Competition 2021 Top Book Prize and the Book Pipeline 2020 Grand Prize for Best Thriller/Mystery. Picklesimer’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, the Arkansas International, the Santa Ana River Review, and Gold Man Review, among other publications. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Fiction from Cal State Long Beach.

At Electric Lit Picklesimer tagged seven books that "feature women who kill, some for revenge and many just for the hell of it." One title on the list:
They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

If you’re looking for a story of revenge and feminist rage, this is your book. Dr. Scarlett Clark is an English professor at an East Coast university, and her extracurricular activities include uncovering men’s wrongs and making them pay. A female Dexter with a similarly strict code to her murders, her career and freedom are jeopardized when a colleague begins investigating the suspicious deaths that have plagued the college town since she took up tenure. The novel also features a second narrator, Carly, a new student who is learning to develop her own agency after leaving her abusive household behind. The story has plenty of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the suspense-filled close.
Read about another entry on the list.

They Never Learn is among Julia Bartz's five thrillers featuring female psychopaths, Misha Popp's eight recent novels featuring truly fatal femmes fatales, Lesley Kara's six top crime novels about settling old scores, Heather Levy's top eight books on those darkest guilty pleasures we love to devour, Melissa Colasanti's six deliciously duplicitous female characters in thrillers, Amy Gentry's novels of the new Dark Academia canon, and Molly Odintz's six best vigilante thrillers.

My Book, The Movie: They Never Learn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Third reading: D.W. Buffa on "The Letters of T.E. Lawrence"

D.W. Buffa's new novel is Lunatic Carnival, the tenth legal thriller involving the defense attorney Joseph Antonelli. He has also published a series that attempts to trace the movement of western thought from ancient Athens, in Helen; the end of the Roman Empire, in Julian's Laughter; the Renaissance, in The Autobiography of Niccolo Machiavelli; and, most recently, America in the twentieth century, in Neumann's Last Concert.

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

Buffa's "Third Reading" of The Letters of T.E. Lawrence begins:
On August 2, 1909, T. E. Lawrence, five days before his twenty-first birthday, wrote a letter to his mother in which he told her that he had “left Beyrout not long after the beginning of July, and walked straight to Sidon (30 miles or so),” and that “everywhere one finds remains of splendid Roman roads and houses and public buildings, and Galilee was the most Romanized province of Palestine.” This letter, more than 4500 handwritten words in length, is one of 583 letters included in The Letters of T. E. Lawrence, published in 1938. The first letter, also to his mother, was written August 4, 1906; the last, to Henry Williams, was written May 13, 1935, a few days before his death. Forty-six of the letters were written to his publisher, Edward Garnett; fourteen to E. M. Forster, the author of Passage To India, who became one of Lawrence’s close friends; nine to Bernard Shaw, who thought Seven Pillars of Wisdom a very great book; and seven to Robert Graves, whose book, Goodbye To All That, is essential to understanding what the First World War did to those who fought it.

Ten letters were written to John Buchan, an English writer and diplomat, who was convinced that Lawrence’s letters “will rank as high as any of his books, because they show nearly all the facets of his character.” Buchan, who knew everyone of importance, and considered Lawrence “the only man of genius I have ever known,” understood him, perhaps, better than anyone had. When he met him in 1920, “his whole being was in grave disequilibrium. You cannot in any case be nine times wounded, five times in an air crash, have many bouts of fever and dysentery, and finally at the age of twenty-nine take Damascus at the head of an Arab army, without living pretty near the edge of your strength.”

The letters Lawrence wrote read like a novel: everything he does, everything that happens to him, everything he tries, everything he learns, all follow in the ordered sequence of a well-told story; everything , from the very beginning to the very last letter, leading to a conclusion that seems not just appropriate, but inevitable. The twenty year old who decides to write, “a comparison of the castles built by the Crusaders in Syria and Palestine with those of Western Europe;” the twenty year old who, as he wrote on September 22, 1909, had walked more than 1100 miles and seen all but one of “37 out of the 50 odd castles” that “were on my proposed route,” and, in part of the journey, had been “the first European visitor;” the twenty year old who did this was, at the beginning of the war, the only Englishman who...[read on]
Visit D.W. Buffa's website.

Third reading: The Great Gatsby

Third reading: Brave New World.

Third reading: Lord Jim.

Third reading: Death in the Afternoon.

Third Reading: Parade's End.

Third Reading: The Idiot.

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

Third Reading: The Scarlet Letter.

Third Reading: Justine.

Third Reading: Patriotic Gore.

Third reading: Anna Karenina.

Third reading: The Charterhouse of Parma.

Third Reading: Emile.

Third Reading: War and Peace.

Third Reading: The Sorrows of Young Werther.

Third Reading: Bread and Wine.

Third Reading: “The Crisis of the Mind” and A Man Without Qualities.

Third reading: Eugene Onegin.

Third Reading: The Collected Works of Thomas Babington Macaulay.

Third Reading: The Europeans.

Third Reading: The House of Mirth and The Writing of Fiction.

Third Reading: Doctor Faustus.

Third Reading: the reading list of John F. Kennedy.

Third Reading: Jorge Luis Borges.

Third Reading: History of the Peloponnesian War.

Third Reading: Mansfield Park.

Third Reading: To Each His Own.

Third Reading: A Passage To India.

Third Reading: Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Third Reading: The Letters of T.E. Lawrence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Pg. 99: Julian Go's "Policing Empires"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Policing Empires: Militarization, Race, and the Imperial Boomerang in Britain and the US by Julian Go.

About the book, from the publisher:
The police response to protests erupting on America's streets in recent years has made the militarization of policing painfully transparent. Yet, properly demilitarizing the police requires a deeper understanding of its historical development, causes, and social logics. Policing Empires offers a postcolonial historical sociology of police militarization in Britain and the United States to aid that effort. Julian Go tracks when, why, and how British and US police departments have adopted military tactics, tools, and technologies for domestic use. Go reveals that police militarization has occurred since the very founding of modern policing in the nineteenth century into the present, and that it is an effect of the "imperial boomerang." Policing Empires thereby unlocks the dirty secret of police militarization: Police have brought imperial practices home to militarize themselves in response to perceived racialized threats from minority and immigrant populations.
Learn more about Policing Empires at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Patterns of Empire.

The Page 99 Test: Policing Empires.

--Marshal Zeringue

The twenty-five best & scariest horror books ever

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged twenty-five "must-read, truly bone-chilling" horror books, including:
The Hunger by Alma Katsu

So many pieces fit together to make The Hunger unmissable — the Donner party retelling, the sparkling prose, the weirdness of the west, the bizarre historical foundations. It’s all here, and it is masterfully woven to take you on a tense and gripping journey into the darkness of human nature. (And when you’re finished with this one, pick up Alma Katsu’s latest, The Fervor.)
Read about another entry on the list.

The Hunger is among Deborah E. Kennedy's seven hot mysteries set in the Midwestern winter, Meagan Navarro top ten scary good horror novels, Jac Jemc's top ten haunting ghost stories and Mallory O'Meara's top thirteen spine-chilling books written by female authors.

My Book, The Movie: The Hunger.

The Page 69 Test: The Hunger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Pg. 69: Anoop Judge's "Mercy and Grace"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Mercy and Grace: A Novel by Anoop Judge.

About the book, from the publisher:
From India to America, a woman’s search for family, home, and self becomes a journey of secrets and forgiveness in a powerful novel by the author of No Ordinary Thursday.

At twenty-one years old, Gia Kumari finally leaves the Delhi orphanage where she was raised. With few prospects for the future, she receives an unexpected invitation from a stranger named Sonia Shah in San Francisco: an internship at Sonia’s weddings and events company. Gia and America. It’s love at first sight as she navigates an unfamiliar but irresistible new world of firsts.

It’s Gia’s first real job; her first meeting with her only known family, her uncle Mohammed Khan; and her first romance with Sonia’s quirky yet charming stepson, Adi. But it might be too good to be true. Gia’s newfound happiness is unfolding in the shadow of a terrible family secret, the impact of which is still being felt in a place Gia now calls home. To save what matters most, Gia must come to terms with a tragic past she’s only beginning to understand―and a lifetime of lies she must learn to forgive.
Visit Anoop Judge's website.

The Page 69 Test: No Ordinary Thursday.

The Page 69 Test: Mercy and Grace.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books to awaken your inner ballerina

Charley Burlock writes for Oprah Daily about authors, writing, and reading. Her work has been featured in the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Review, Agni, and on the Apple News Today podcast. She is currently completing an MFA in creative nonfiction at NYU and working on an book about the intersection of grief, landscape, and urban design.

At Oprah Daily she tagged five ballet-themed "books that range from a steamy page-turner to a raw memoir to a searing investigation." One title on the list:
First Position, by Melanie Hamrick

If you thought Black Swan was steamy, you better hold on to your leg warmers: This sensually detailed debut novel is Fifty Shades of Grey en pointe. On the first page of her diary, Sylvie Carter wrote out a series of rules for herself: “Be good. be very good. be beyond reproach”; “drink rarely… Do no drugs”; “Do not have sex with anyone.” Five years into her career at the North American Ballet, she discovers the old rules and says, “Jesus. I’ve broken every single one.” Sylvie spent the first 18 years of her life in dogged pursuit of ballet’s rigid perfection, attending all the right schools, eating all the right foods, and abstaining from all sensual pleasures. Five years later, her closest friend is now her fiercest rival, and…let’s just say Sylvie has learned to use her body for more than just pirouettes. In technicolor flashes between the past and the present, we piece together the scandal that, as a friend inelegantly describes it, “ruin[ed] your career and damn[ed] you for all time.” But this is just the beginning of Sylvie’s story, and she’s determined to be in control of its ending—until a new dancer joins her company and, once again, her rigid discipline is overcome by her own visceral desire. Is this the start of a further fall from grace or the first crack in an artistic and sexual breakthrough?
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2023

Pg. 99: Feargal Cochrane's "Belfast"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Belfast: The Story of a City and its People by Feargal Cochrane.

About the book, from the publisher:
A lively and inviting history of Belfast—exploring the highs and lows of a resilient city

Modern Belfast is a beautiful city with a vibrant tradition of radicalism, industry, architectural innovation, and cultural achievement. But the city’s many qualities are all too frequently overlooked, its image marred by association with the political violence of the Troubles.

Feargal Cochrane tells the story of his home city, revealing a rich and complex history which is not solely defined by these conflicts. From its emergence as a maritime port to its heyday as a center for the linen industry and crucible of liberal radicalism in the late eighteenth century, through to the famous shipyards where the Titanic was built, Belfast has long been a hub of innovation. Cochrane’s book offers a new perspective on this fascinating story, demonstrating how religion, culture, and politics have shaped the way people think, act, and vote in the city—and how Belfast’s past continues to shape its present and future.
Learn more about Belfast at Feargal Cochrane's website.

The Page 99 Test: Northern Ireland.

The Page 99 Test: Belfast.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books with twists you won’t see coming

Maggie Giles is the Canadian author of The Things We Lost. Her writing interests span across a variety of genres, but she focuses on women’s fiction with suspense elements. A member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, she enjoys creating new connections and experiencing new opportunities.

Giles's new novel is Twisted.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten books in which the "authors masterfully leave clues and hints that cause the reader to look another way while subtly hiding the truth behind excellent prose and well-drawn characters." One title on the list:
Don’t You Dare by Jessica Hamilton

A sexy thriller that throws the main character into the Daring Game, a game from college which leads to affairs, dangerous secrets and all-around debauchery, until someone anonymous takes over and they know everything…
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Don't You Dare.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Linda L. Richards reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Linda L. Richards, author of Dead West.

Her entry begins:
Right now I am reading The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin. I have not read this book before, and yet it gives me the feeling of getting back to my roots as a crime fictionist. I’ll tell you why. The Edgar-Award winning novel came out in 1958. It has the slow burn and languorous pace of a Patricia Highsmith novel, where you find yourself with your heart in your throat and you can’t even imagine how it got there.

In The Hours Before Dawn, an overworked and undervalued young mom takes in a boarder who soon appears to be not quite what she seems. This is...[read on]
About Dead West, from the publisher:
Rule #1 of being a hired killer: never get to know your target ... and definitely don’t fall in love with them

Taking lives has taken its toll. Her moral justifications have faltered. Do any of the people she has killed—some of them heinous, but all of them human—deserve to die?

Her next target is Cameron Walker, a rancher in Arizona. When she arrives at his remote desert estate to carry out her orders, she discovers that he is a kind and beautiful man. After a lengthy tour of the ranch, not only has she not killed him—she’s wondering who might want him dead.

She procrastinates, instead growing closer to Cameron. She learns that he’s passionate about wild horses and has been fighting a losing political battle to save mustangs that live on protected land near his ranch—he’s even received death threats from his opponents.

Suddenly, she’s faced with protecting the man she was sent to kill, encountering kidnappers, murderers, horse thieves, and even human traffickers along the way. Can she figure out who has hired her before they take matters into their own hands?

Perfect for fans of Dean Koontz and Tana French
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 (May 2022).

The Page 69 Test: Exit Strategy.

The Page 69 Test: Dead West.

Writers Read: Linda L. Richards.

--Marshal Zeringue