Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Pg. 69: I.S. Berry's "The Peacock and the Sparrow"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Peacock and the Sparrow: A Novel by I.S. Berry.

About the book, from the publisher:
During the Arab Spring, an American spy’s final mission goes dangerously awry in this eerily realistic and sophisticated espionage debut from a former CIA officer that is perfect for fans of John le Carré, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Alan Furst.

Shane Collins, a world-weary CIA spy, is ready to come in from the cold. Stationed in Bahrain off the coast of Saudi Arabia for his final tour, he has little use for his mission—uncovering Iranian support for the insurgency against the monarchy. He certainly has no use for his naïve and ambitious twenty-eight-year-old station chief. Then Collins meets Almaisa, a beautiful and enigmatic artist, and his eyes are opened to a side of Bahrain most expats never experience, to questions he never thought to ask.

When his trusted informant becomes embroiled in a murder, Collins finds himself drawn deep into the conflict, his growing romance with Almaisa—and his loyalties—upended. In an instant, he’s caught in the crosshairs of a revolution. Drawing on all his skills as a spymaster, he must navigate a bloody uprising, earn Almaisa’s love, and uncover the murky border where Bahrain’s secrets end and America’s begin.

“A breathless tour-de-force, the perfect spy tale” (Ian Caldwell, author of The Fifth Gospel) and dripping with authenticity, The Peacock and the Sparrow is a timely story of the elusiveness of truth, the power of love and belief, and the universal desire to be part of a cause greater than oneself.
Visit I.S. Berry's website.

Q&A with I.S. Berry.

The Page 69 Test: The Peacock and the Sparrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six thrillers in which the house hides a sinister past

Jaclyn Goldis is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and NYU Law. She practiced estate planning law at a large Chicago firm for seven years before leaving her job to travel the world and write novels. After culling her possessions into only what would fit in a backpack, she traveled for over a year until settling near the beach, where she can often be found writing from cafés.

Her new novel is The Chateau.

At CrimeReads Goldis tagged six thrillers in which the house hides a sordid past, including:
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

I had to keep reminding myself to breathe as I flew through this eerie, heart-pounding thriller. A young woman down on her luck accepts a housesitting gig for an apartment in one of New York’s most ritzy buildings. But the plum job comes with strange rules: no visitors or nights away from the apartment permitted. Physical elements of the complex—an old dumbwaiter and a hidden wing used for nefarious purposes—contribute to the menacing ambiance and ratcheting tension. As a fellow resident disappears and the housesitter digs into the building’s terrifying past, she must expose its twisted history before she is targeted next. This one is super dark and mines unique motives—I loved it!
Read about another entry on the list.

Lock Every Door is among Caleb Roehrig's eight great thrillers with effective twists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Eric Helleiner's "The Contested World Economy"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Contested World Economy: The Deep and Global Roots of International Political Economy by Eric Helleiner.

About the book, from the publisher:
The rapid growth of the field of international political economy since the 1970s has revived an older tradition of thought from the pre-1945 era. The Contested World Economy provides the first book-length analysis of these deep intellectual roots of the field, revealing how earlier debates about the world economy were more global and wide-ranging than usually recognized. Helleiner shows how pre-1945 pioneers of international political economy included thinkers from all parts of the world rather than just those from Europe and the United States featured in most textbooks. Their discussions also went beyond the much-studied debate between economic liberals, neomercantilists, and Marxists, and addressed wider topics, including many with contemporary relevance, such as environmental degradation, gender inequality, racial discrimination, religious worldviews, civilizational values, national self-sufficiency, and varieties of economic regionalism. This fascinating history of ideas sheds new light on current debates and the need for a global understanding of their antecedents.
Learn more about The Contested World Economy at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Forgotten Foundations of Bretton Woods.

The Page 99 Test: The Neomercantilists.

The Page 99 Test: The Contested World Economy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Bryn Turnbull

From my Q&A with Bryn Turnbull, author of The Paris Deception: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Apparently, I’m terrible at choosing titles for my books, because my publisher has changed the names of all three! Over the course of writing a novel, I find the title tends to evolve with the book itself. Originally, The Paris Deception was called Avant Garde, but somewhere through the course of the story taking shape it changed into The Art of Deception, which I thought was rather clever, but my publisher coaxed me into calling it The Paris Deception, to geographically ground the story in the reader’s mind from the very outset.

Happily, I was able to keep The Art of Deception as a title in the epilogue, but I won’t spoil it by...[read on]
Visit Bryn Turnbull's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Paris Deception.

The Page 69 Test: The Paris Deception.

Q&A with Bryn Turnbull.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Nine top love stories for every decade of life

Nzinga Temu is a writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Howard University. During her undergraduate studies she has written for Zenger News and Picture This Post.

At Electric Lit she tagged "nine love stories, each in a different decade of life," including:
Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber

Sirene is 39 and remains blithely unmarried. Despite the consternation of her loving uncle, she is happy enough working as a chef at her Lebanese restaurant, and letting male attention come and go as it will. But she finds herself drawn to a returning customer, a well-known Arab Literature professor with a deep appreciation for her food. As she begins to fall for him, Sirene slowly unravels the professor’s story—of his family, and of his tragic exile from Iraq.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Bart Elmore's "Country Capitalism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet by Bart Elmore.

About the book, from the publisher:
The rural roads that led to our planet-changing global economy ran through the American South. That region's impact on the interconnected histories of business and ecological change is narrated here by acclaimed scholar Bart Elmore, who uses the histories of five southern firms—Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Walmart, FedEx, and Bank of America—to investigate the environmental impact of our have-it-now, fly-by-night, buy-on-credit economy. Drawing on exclusive interviews with company executives, corporate archives, and other records, Elmore explores the historical, economic, and ecological conditions that gave rise to these five trailblazing corporations. He then considers what each has become: an essential presence in the daily workings of the global economy and an unmistakable contributor to the reshaping of the world's ecosystems. Even as businesses invest in sustainability initiatives and respond to new calls for corporate responsibility, Elmore shows the limits of their efforts to "green" their operations and offers insights on how governments and activists can push corporations to do better.

At the root, Elmore reveals a fundamental challenge: Our lives are built around businesses that connect far-flung rural places to urban centers and global destinations. This "country capitalism" that proved successful in the US South has made it possible to satisfy our demands at the click of a button, but each click comes with hidden environmental costs. This book is a must-read for anyone who hopes to create an ecologically sustainable future economy.
Learn more about the book and author at Bartow J. Elmore's website.

The Page 99 Test: Citizen Coke.

The Page 99 Test: Country Capitalism.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Adam Mitzner reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Adam Mitzner, author of Love Betrayal Murder.

His entry begins:
I recently returned from vacation and devoured Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat, which struck me as a cross between Steven King’s Misery and Donna Tartt’s A Secret History, which are two of my favorites. A must read if you enjoy writing and...[read on]
About Love Betrayal Murder, from the publisher:
From the bestselling author of Dead Certain and The Perfect Marriage comes a smart and twisty legal thriller about love, life, and truth that careens to a shocking conclusion you won’t soon forget…

Matthew Brooks and Vanessa Lyons are a perfect love match, both attorneys at a powerful New York City law firm. But there’s a hitch: Matt just made partner, and Vanessa is coming up for partner next year. And Vanessa’s husband has his suspicions.

Vanessa is assigned to the biggest case at the firm, the one that will determine her future. Unfortunately, Matt has been working the case for years, leaving him no choice but to supervise his lover in violation of firm policy. When Vanessa is denied her partnership, despite assurances to the contrary, she can only assume that her affair with Matt was the reason.

Then, on a crowded Manhattan street corner, a knife flashes in the midday sun, leaving behind a scene of horror. But with so many having been betrayed, and no one telling the truth, will the murderer be brought to justice? Even after hearing the gripping courtroom testimony, readers will be unsure who is the betrayed and who is the betrayer, right up until the culminating jaw-dropping reveal.
Learn more about the book and author at Adam Mitzner's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Conflict of Interest.

My Book, The Movie: A Conflict of Interest.

The Page 69 Test: A Case of Redemption.

My Book, The Movie: A Case of Redemption.

The Page 69 Test: Losing Faith.

My Book, The Movie: Losing Faith.

The Page 69 Test: A Matter of Will.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner (July 2019).

My Book, the Movie: A Matter of Will.

My Book, The Movie: The Perfect Marriage.

The Page 69 Test: The Perfect Marriage.

Q&A with Adam Mitzner.

Writers Read: Adam Mitzner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 29, 2023

Six top quiet apocalypse titles

Jane Hennigan was born and raised in Aldershot in Hampshire. After a decade working in E-commerce, she gained a degree in English Literature and Philosophy from Royal Holloway, and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey. She spent seven years teaching English literature undergraduates, before moving to the seaside to concentrate on writing.

She is the author of the dystopian speculative fiction titles Moths and Toxxic.

At Lit Hub Hennigan tagged "six titles, centering around personal, introspective aspects of the demise of humanity—who would you want there with you on that final day, what it might feel like to watch the final days unfold, and what if the hero can’t save us all?" One entry on the list:
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Andrew and Eric and their adopted 7-year-old daughter Wen, go on holiday to a remote cabin, where they are confronted by four strangers claiming to have been sent to prevent the apocalypse. Exploring the tension between faith and doubt, the family are forced to grapple with the possibility of their actions determining the fate of the world. The strangers become more and more insistent on their bizarre beliefs, and Tremblay traces Andrew and Eric’s journey from incredulity, to dilemma, to despair. I found myself reading faster and faster until the end, dreading the climax but unable to look away. It’s currently being made into a movie and I can’t wait.
Read about another title on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: J. Barton Scott's "Slandering the Sacred"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Slandering the Sacred: Blasphemy Law and Religious Affect in Colonial India by J. Barton Scott.

About the book, from the publisher:
A history of global secularism and political feeling through colonial blasphemy law.

Why is religion today so often associated with giving and taking offense? To answer this question, Slandering the Sacred invites us to consider how colonial infrastructures shaped our globalized world. Through the origin and afterlives of a 1927 British imperial law (Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code), J. Barton Scott weaves a globe-trotting narrative about secularism, empire, insult, and outrage. Decentering white martyrs to free thought, his story calls for new histories of blasphemy that return these thinkers to their imperial context, dismantle the cultural boundaries of the West, and transgress the borders between the secular and the sacred as well as the public and the private.
Visit J. Barton Scott's website.

The Page 99 Test: Spiritual Despots.

The Page 99 Test: Slandering the Sacred.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Bryn Turnbull's "The Paris Deception"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Paris Deception: A Novel by Bryn Turnbull.

About the book, from the publisher:
From internationally bestselling author Bryn Turnbull comes a breathtaking novel about art theft and forgery in Nazi-occupied Paris, and two brave women who risk their lives rescuing looted masterpieces from Nazi destruction.

Sophie Dix fled Stuttgart with her brother as the Nazi regime gained power in Germany. Now, with her brother gone and her adopted home city of Paris conquered by the Reich, Sophie reluctantly accepts a position restoring damaged art at the Jeu de Paume museum under the supervision of the ERR—a German art commission using the museum as a repository for art they’ve looted from Jewish families.

Fabienne Brandt was a rising star in the Parisian bohemian arts movement until the Nazis put a stop to so-called “degenerate” modern art. Still mourning the loss of her firebrand husband, she’s resolved to muddle her way through the occupation in whatever way she can—until her estranged sister-in-law, Sophie, arrives at her door with a stolen painting in hand.

Soon the two women embark upon a plan to save Paris’s “degenerates,” working beneath the noses of Germany’s top art connoisseurs to replace the paintings in the Jeu de Paume with skillful forgeries—but how long can Sophie and Fabienne sustain their masterful illusion?
Visit Bryn Turnbull's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Paris Deception.

The Page 69 Test: The Paris Deception.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Five great thrillers about women getting revenge

Victoria Helen Stone, author of the runaway best seller Jane Doe, writes critically acclaimed novels of dark intrigue and emotional suspense. Aside from At The Quiet Edge, The Last One Home, Problem Child, Half Past, and the chart-topping False Step and Evelyn, After, she also published twenty-nine books as USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl and won the prestigious American Library Association Reading List award for best genre fiction.

Her new novel is The Hook.

At CrimeReads Stone tagged five favorite thrillers about women getting revenge, including:
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Four female friends. The inevitability of time. A retirement celebration of their successful careers. Sounds fun and familiar, right? But these four women weren’t teachers or attorneys, they were assassins, and there will be hell to pay when the party is crashed by a killer sent by their own company. Sometimes revenge is dark and dirty, and sometimes it’s dirty and fun. This was one of my favorite reads of the year, and you’ll revel in the fantastic power of women who gave up on societal norms a lifetime ago.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Carol Graham's "The Power of Hope"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Power of Hope: How the Science of Well-Being Can Save Us from Despair by Carol Graham.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why hope matters as a metric of economic and social well-being

In a society marked by extreme inequality of income and opportunity, why should economists care about how people feel? The truth is that feelings of well-being are critical metrics that predict future life outcomes. In this timely and innovative account, economist Carol Graham argues for the importance of hope―little studied in economics at present―as an independent dimension of well-being. Given America’s current mental health crisis, thrown into stark relief by COVID, hope may be the most important measure of well-being, and researchers are tracking trends in hope as a key factor in understanding the rising numbers of “deaths of despair” and premature mortality.

Graham, an authority on the study of well-being, points to empirical evidence demonstrating that hope can improve people’s life outcomes and that despair can destroy them. These findings, she argues, merit deeper exploration. Graham discusses the potential of novel well-being metrics as tracking indicators of despair, reports on new surveys of hope among low-income adolescents, and considers the implications of the results for the futures of these young adults.

Graham asks how and why the wealthiest country in the world has such despair. What are we missing? She argues that public policy problems―from joblessness and labor force dropout to the lack of affordable health care and inadequate public education―can’t be solved without hope. Drawing on research in well-being and other disciplines, Graham describes strategies for restoring hope in populations where it has been lost. The need to address despair, and to restore hope, is critical to America’s future.
Follow Carol Graham on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Happiness Around the World.

The Page 99 Test: The Power of Hope.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with I.S. Berry

From my Q&A with I.S. Berry, author of The Peacock and the Sparrow: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

A fair amount. I’m partial to titles with literary references, like For Whom the Bell Tolls or Tender is the Night—titles with layers of meaning that prompt the reader to think or do a bit of research. And I lean toward the poetic and oblique more than the literal and straightforward. Darkness at Noon, a reference to Stalin’s searing power juxtaposed against its black consequences, is one of my favorites.

My novel actually began with a different name, but another author happened to publish a book along the way with the same title! Luckily, I had a backup, which I ended up liking more than my original. The Peacock and the Sparrow is a reference to a parable in 1001 Arabian Nights: a sparrow ignores a peacock’s warning, strays from his path, and gets caught in a net. It’s about the futility of trying to outrun your destiny—one of my book’s themes—but there’s another, hidden meaning that readers won’t discover until...[read on]
Visit I.S. Berry's website.

Q&A with I.S. Berry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Eight books centered around fractured families & relationships

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged eight books centered around fractured families and relationships, including:
The Half Moon: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane

From the author of Ask Again, Yes comes a striking portrait of the complexities of marriage and small-town life. Throughout the span of a single week, a marriage is in crisis, a blizzard shuts off the town’s power leaving everyone stranded and a mysterious disappearance occurs. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Strout, The Half Moon is a touching tale of love, forgiveness, and second chances.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Adam Hart's "The Deadly Balance"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Deadly Balance: Predators and People in a Crowded World by Adam Hart.

About the book, from the publisher:
The predators that can hunt, kill and eat us occupy a unique place in the human psyche. In this book, Adam Hart looks at our relationship with these animals from a conservation perspective.

Whether it's lions in Africa, tigers in India or sharks in the world's oceans, we are fascinated by – and often terrified of – predators. Animals that can hunt, kill, and eat us occupy a unique place in the human psyche, and for good reason. Predation forms a big part of our evolutionary history, but in the modern world there are many people who live alongside animals that can, and sometimes do, make them prey.

In The Deadly Balance, biologist Adam Hart explores the complex relationships we have with predators, and investigates what happens when humans become prey. From big cats to army ants, via snakes, bears, wolves, crocodiles, piranhas and more, Hart busts some myths and explores the science behind such encounters. Despite their fearsome and often wildly exaggerated reputations, these animals have far more to fear from us than we do from them. By probing the latest conservation science, Hart explores how we might both conserve the world's predators and live safely alongside them.
Follow Adam Hart on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: The Deadly Balance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kelly McWilliams's "Your Plantation Prom Is Not Okay"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Your Plantation Prom Is Not Okay by Kelly McWilliams.

About the book, from the publisher:
Harriet Douglass lives with her historian father on an old plantation in Louisiana, which they’ve transformed into one of the South's few enslaved people’s museums. Together, while grieving the recent loss of Harriet’s mother, they run tours that help keep the memory of the past alive.

Harriet's world is turned upside down by the arrival of mother and daughter Claudia and Layla Hartwell—who plan to turn the property next door into a wedding venue, and host the offensively antebellum-themed wedding of two Hollywood stars.

Harriet’s fully prepared to hate Layla Hartwell, but it seems that Layla might not be so bad after all—unlike many people, this California influencer is actually interested in Harriet's point of view. Harriet's sure she can change the hearts of Layla and her mother, but she underestimates the scale of the challenge…and when her school announces that prom will be held on the plantation, Harriet’s just about had it with this whole racist timeline! Overwhelmed by grief and anger, it’s fair to say she snaps.

Can Harriet use the power of social media to cancel the celebrity wedding and the plantation prom? Will she accept that she’s falling in love with her childhood best friend, who’s unexpectedly returned after years away? Can she deal with the frustrating reality that Americans seem to live in two completely different countries? And through it all, can she and Layla build a bridge between them?
Visit Kelly McWilliams's website.

The Page 69 Test: Agnes at the End of the World.

Q&A with Kelly McWilliams.

The Page 69 Test: Your Plantation Prom Is Not Okay.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 26, 2023

Eight books set in Hawai’i by local writers

Lisa Zhuang is an intern at Electric Literature. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Emory University and currently resides in mid-Missouri.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight novels, short stories and poetry collections set in Hawaii and written by local authors, including:
Hula by Jasmin Iolani Hakes

When Laka Naupaka, a former Miss Aloha Hula, returns to Hilo with her white-skinned, red haired daughter Hi’i, Laka’s mother Hulali disowns her. Caught in the rifts of her family, Hi’i begins to practice hula, with the hopes that if she dances until her bones ache, then she can mend the scars of her family. But the Naupaka family trauma goes back farther than Hi’i realizes, all the way to the 1880s, when Hawai’i was forcibly taken from King Kalākaua and given to the United States. Hi’i’s great grandmother Ulu watched as countless families were evicted, and her protective anger has since passed down to her children and grandchildren. Hula is a multigenerational story about hidden history and family trauma.
Read about another entry on the list.

Q&A with Jasmin Iolani Hakes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Melissa Ditmore's "Unbroken Chains"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Unbroken Chains: The Hidden Role of Human Trafficking in the American Economy by Melissa Ditmore.

About the book, from the publisher:
An urgent exposition of the pervasive human trafficking that lies just beneath the surface of the US economy—from the stories of its survivors

The years of the COVID-19 pandemic have brought to light the exploitation of workers. In this moment of heightened visibility, Unbroken Chains demands that readers examine the hidden sector of American trafficked labor and understand its prevalence across our economy.

Drawing from nearly two decades of research on US and international human trafficking, Melissa Hope Ditmore sets forth the harrowing stories of human trafficking survivors and grounds their accounts in the long history of US indentured servitude, looking to its iterations in chattel slavery, Chinese contract labor, and prison labor. In this groundbreaking investigation of American trafficking, Ditmore unveils the unnerving reality that forced labor permeates many industries beyond sex work: in almost every aspect of consumption, people who create our everyday necessities are working amid inescapable exploitation, often without pay.

Unbroken Chains tells these workers’ stories: They are nannies for New York City’s diplomatic elites and door-to-door magazine salespeople in the American South. A trafficked person may have harvested your produce, sewn your clothes, or cleaned your apartment lobby. Ditmore offers readers an illuminating window on the world of forced labor, which exists within our own, and a road map for participating in its destruction.

Unbroken Chains will include more than a dozen images, including detailed maps, archival pictures, and trafficking documents. Among these images are a modern map of the Sonoran Desert in the American Southwest, a bill of sale for an enslaved woman forced into sex work, letters from men in compulsory plantation labor after the Civil War, and 19th-century “white slave” panic propaganda.
Visit Melissa Ditmore's website.

The Page 99 Test: Unbroken Chains.

--Marshal Zeringue

Bryn Turnbull's "The Paris Deception," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Paris Deception: A Novel by Bryn Turnbull.

About the book, from the publisher:
This is the first novel that I’ve written with fully fictional main characters, and when I started envisioning the novel I struggled with picturing my two main characters, Sophie and Fabienne. In my previous two books, I wrote historical heroines, meaning that I had photographs and newsreels to draw upon when picturing the character in my mind, but with this project I had difficulty envisioning the characters: they wavered on the edge of my mind’s eye, sometimes shifting into focus before blurring, frustratingly, once more.

I have Pedro Pascal to thank, in fact, for helping me solidify my characters. I was listening to an interview where he talked about developing scrapbooks to get himself into his character’s mindset, and I thought it sounded worth trying. In the course of developing my scrapbooks, I gravitated towards images that felt like one character or the other. I found their clothing – for Sophie, worn tweeds and pleated trousers; for Fabienne, rich velvets and flowing silks. Furniture for their apartments – a wrought-iron bed for Sophie, and a bathtub filled with pillows for Fabienne. The tools of their trades: palette knives and paintbrushes, coffee cups and champagne coupes. Finally, with a hundred different aspects of the characters down in the scrapbook I took a stab at their physical appearance.

To me, Sophie is Holliday Grainger, beautiful and strong with a cut-glass accent and victory curls. Having played queer historical heroines in the past, I think she would do wonderfully navigating the many levels on which Sophie has to hide her true self.

Fabienne, meanwhile, would be played to perfection by...[read on]
Visit Bryn Turnbull's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Paris Deception.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Top ten cops in fiction

Alan Parks worked in the music industry for over twenty years before turning to crime writing. His debut novel Bloody January was shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, February’s Son was nominated for an Edgar Award, Bobby March Will Live Forever was picked as a Times Best Book of the Year, won a Prix Mystère de la Critique Award and won an Edgar Award. The April Dead was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and May God Forgive won the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2022. He lives and works in Glasgow.

To Die In June is the sixth Harry McCoy thriller.

At the Guardian Parks tagged his top ten cops in fiction, including:
Harry Bosch

Bosch features in twentysomething of Michael Connolly’s LA-set series. After a horrendous upbringing and a spell in the army during the Vietnam war, Bosch has a past that keeps coming back to haunt him. This doesn’t stop him being a cop par excellence. These books are the benchmark for sustaining a character over a long series. Connolly’s gift is to keep Bosch evolving while he stays the same. Not easy to do. If you want to find out how a great crime thriller works just read one of these books.
Read about another entry on the list.

Harry Bosch is among Jeff Somers's six fictional cops who do things according to their own set of rules.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Christopher Yeomans's "The Politics of German Idealism"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Politics of German Idealism by Christopher Yeomans.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Politics of German Idealism reconstructs the political philosophies of Kant, Fichte and Hegel against the background of their social-historical context. Christopher Yeomans' guiding thought is to understand German Idealist political philosophy as political, i.e., as a set of policy options and institutional designs aimed at a broadly but distinctively German set of social problems. 'Political' here refers to use of the state's power to enforce law, and 'social' to the norms and groups which are regulated by that enforcement, but which also antedate or exceed that enforcement. Because the power to enforce law is very much still being actualized by state-building in the period at issue, 'political' refers quite narrowly to a certain kind of practical legal project rather than to a perennial set of problems from the history of philosophy. By way of method, Yeomans claims that to reveal the political nature of German Idealist political philosophy requires understanding German Idealism as both taking place in and conceptualizing its own historical present--this is the sense in which it is not only political, but political philosophy. The most important general feature of the historical present of the German Idealists is the way in which the period from 1770 to 1830 was a transitional period between early and late modernity, a so-called saddle period (Sattelzeit) in which the metaphor is of a Bergsattel or shallow valley between two mountain peaks.
Learn more about The Politics of German Idealism at the Oxford University Press.

The Page 99 Test: The Politics of German Idealism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Jasmin Iolani Hakes

From my Q&A with Jasmin Iolani Hakes, author of Hula: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

There was never a question of what the title was going to be for this book. Ancient Hawaiʻi was an oral culture full of epic poetry and performative arts. Hula and chants were ways to pass down the histories and explanations of various people, gods and goddesses, geological happenings like volcanic eruptions and valleys chronically full of mist, of flora and fauna, and of other ancient practices. I wanted to write a story about my hometown of Hilo that somehow captured the complexities of contemporary Hawaiʻi, its subtle cultural nuances, and present it in all its layered glory. So in that way, Hula is not a book about hula, it is a hula, in literary form. The word Hilo means to braid, so I laid out the book in verses and weaved the stories together to present a Hawaiʻi that...[read on]
Visit Jasmin Iolani's website.

Q&A with Jasmin Iolani Hakes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Five novels that go beyond London’s WWII “Blitz Spirit”

Jo Baker was born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford University and Queen’s University Belfast. She is the author of the best-selling novel Longbourn, as well as The Body Lies; A Country Road, A Tree; The Undertow; The Telling; The Mermaid’s Child; and Offcomer.

Baker's new novel is The Midnight News.

At Lit Hub she tagged five top novels that "depict the [London] Blitz, and that whole era, without seeking to simplify or mythologize." One title on the list:
Human Voices, Penelope Fitzgerald

Set at the BBC at the height of the Blitz, this is a brilliant comic novel, that’s also threaded through with darkness, danger and nostalgia. There’s an everyday heroism to its characters’ determination to broadcast the truth, however unwelcome or inconvenient, and to manage as best they can the mayhem that surrounds them. There’s also, for those with an eye for it, some lovely period detail, from the challenges of putting a decent outfit together for a night out, to the local corner café’s substitution of cold baked potatoes for bread rolls. Very filling, it’s observed.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Larry Wolff's "The Shadow of the Empress"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Shadow of the Empress: Fairy-Tale Opera and the End of the Habsburg Monarchy by Larry Wolff.

About the book, from the publisher:
A beguiling exploration of the last Habsburg monarchs' grip on Europe's historical and cultural imagination.

In 1919 the last Habsburg rulers, Emperor Karl and Empress Zita, left Austria, going into exile. That same year, the fairy-tale opera Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman Without a Shadow), featuring a mythological emperor and empress, premiered at the Vienna Opera. Viennese poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal and German composer Richard Strauss created Die Frau ohne Schatten through the bitter years of World War I, imagining it would triumphantly appear after the victory of the German and Habsburg empires. Instead, the premiere came in the aftermath of catastrophic defeat.

The Shadow of the Empress: Fairy-Tale Opera and the End of the Habsburg Monarchy explores how the changing circumstances of politics and society transformed their opera and its cultural meanings before, during, and after the First World War.

Strauss and Hofmannsthal turned emperors and empresses into fantastic fairy-tale characters; meanwhile, following the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy after the war, their real-life counterparts, removed from political life in Europe, began to be regarded as anachronistic, semi-mythological figures. Reflecting on the seismic cultural shifts that rocked post-imperial Europe, Larry Wolff follows the story of Karl and Zita after the loss of their thrones. Karl died in 1922, but Zita lived through the rise of Nazism, World War II, and the Cold War. By her death in 1989, she had herself become a fairy-tale figure, a totem of imperial nostalgia.

Wolff weaves together the story of the opera's composition and performance; the end of the Habsburg monarchy; and his own family's life in and exile from Central Europe, providing a rich new understanding of Europe's cataclysmic twentieth century, and our contemporary relationship to it.
Visit Larry Wolff's NYU faculty webpage.

The Page 99 Test: The Idea of Galicia.

The Page 99 Test: The Singing Turk.

The Page 99 Test: Woodrow Wilson and the Reimagining of Eastern Europe.

The Page 99 Test: The Shadow of the Empress.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Ashley Weaver's "Playing It Safe"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Playing It Safe (Electra McDonnell Series, Volume 3) by Ashley Weaver.

About the book, from the publisher:
The third in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, Playing It Safe is a delightful World War II mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and wit.

As the Blitz continues to ravage London, Ellie McDonnell—formerly a safecracking thief, but currently determined to stay on the straight and narrow to help her country—is approached by British Intelligence officer Major Ramsey with a new assignment. She is to travel under an assumed identity to the port city of Sunderland and there await further instructions. In his usual infuriating way, the Major has left her task as vague and mysterious as possible.

Ellie, ever-ready to aid her country, heads north, her safecracking tools in tow. But before she can rendezvous with the major, she witnesses an unnatural death. A man falls dead in the street in front of her, with a note clutched in his hand. Ellie’s instincts tell her that the man’s death is connected in some way to her mission.

Soon, Ellie and the major are locked in a battle of wits and a race against time with an unknown and deadly adversary, and a case that leads them to a possible Nazi counterfeiting operation. With bombs dropping on the city and a would-be assassin shadowing their every move, it will take all of Ellie’s resourcefulness and Major Ramsey’s fortitude to unmask the spymaster and avert disastrous consequences—for England and for their own lives.
Visit Ashley Weaver's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Most Novel Revenge.

The Page 69 Test: An Act of Villainy.

Writers Read: Ashley Weaver.

The Page 69 Test: A Dangerous Engagement.

The Page 69 Test: Playing It Safe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Six novels about extra marital affairs

Jessica Hamilton was born in Australia but grew up in Canada. She has lived and worked in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, India and Japan. She studied writing at the Humber School for Writers as well as George Brown College. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, son, and daughter. Her debut novel is titled What You Never Knew.

Hamilton's new thriller is Don't You Dare.

[The Page 69 Test: Don't You Dare]

At CrimeReads she tagged six top novels about illicit affairs, including:
The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

A sugar daddy scenario that goes very wrong. We have Natalie, a student at art college, who needs to pay the bills, and Gabe who is thirty years her senior, is married, but wants a younger companion from time to time. Seems like a simple relationship of transaction and convenience but as always, feelings get involved and all hell breaks loose. The Arrangement is the gripping story of a young woman who gets caught up by the allure and power of a wealthy older man who is trying to have it all and does not care who gets hurt in the pursuit of it.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Arrangement is among Pip Drysdale's seven revenge thrillers featuring women who have officially had enough and Kathleen Barber's eight novels that will make you never want to look at your phone again.

The Page 69 Test: The Arrangement.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Helen J. Nicholson's "Women and the Crusades"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Women and the Crusades by Helen J. Nicholson.

About the book, from the publisher:
The crusade movement needed women: their money, their prayer support, their active participation, and their inspiration...

This book surveys women's involvement in medieval crusading between the second half of the eleventh century, when Pope Gregory VII first proposed a penitential military expedition to help the Christians of the East, and 1570, when the last crusader state, Cyprus, was captured by the Ottoman Turks. It considers women's actions not only on crusade battlefields but also in recruiting crusaders, supporting crusades through patronage, propaganda, and prayer, and as both defenders and aggressors. It argues that medieval women were deeply involved in the crusades but the roles that they could play and how their contemporaries recorded their deeds were dictated by social convention and cultural expectations. Although its main focus is the women of Latin Christendom, it also looks at the impact of the crusades and crusaders on the Jews of western Europe and the Muslims of the Middle East, and compares relations between Latin Christians and Muslims with relations between Muslims and other Christian groups.
Follow Helen J. Nicholson on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Women and the Crusades.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tanis Rideout's "The Sea Between Two Shores," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Sea Between Two Shores: A Novel by Tanis Rideout.

The entry begins:
The writing of The Sea Between Two Shores was inspired by a brief paragraph I read in a left-behind guidebook while sitting overlooking the Pacific on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu.

The story stayed with me throughout the remainder of my trip and beyond and eventually after much reading and research developed into the first draft of a novel about two families, The Stewarts and The Tabés, who come together to reckon with their collective pasts.

I didn’t really dream cast the Stewart family while I was writing. They were much like people I knew, people I might run into at the supermarket or the library. I did however return to a film called Tanna a number of times while I was writing.

My husband and I saw the film while we were in Vanuatu. It is a tragic love story set on the island of Tanna and stars...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Tanis Rideout's website.

My Book, The Movie: Above All Things.

Writers Read: Tanis Rideout.

My Book, The Movie: The Sea Between Two Shores.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 22, 2023

Seven books featuring very, very complicated friendships

Ore Agbaje-Williams is a British Nigerian writer and book editor from London.

The Three of Us is her first novel.

At LitHub she shared a reading list of "books featuring very, very complicated friendships to make you and your friends feel like the normal, stable people you undoubtedly are." One title on the list:
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

This is one the of the most realistic portrayals of friendship I’ve ever read, spanning generations and multiple characters whose stories are intertwined. From Amma and Dominique’s bond and how it withstands Dominique’s abusive relationship, to Carole and LaTisha’s differing paths after being friends for so long at school, to Shirley and Penelope’s journey from despising one another to becoming friends, Bernardine’s Booker Prize-winning novel shows how friendship can shape, drive and affect us, sometimes without us even realizing it.
Read about another entry on the list.

Girl, Woman, Other is among Cecile Pin's seven novels featuring displacement in multicultural London and Kasim Ali's nine top books about interracial relationships.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Richard C. Hoffmann's "The Catch"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Catch: An Environmental History of Medieval European Fisheries by Richard C. Hoffmann.

About the book, from the publisher:
This definitive environmental history of medieval fish and fisheries provides a comprehensive examination of European engagement with aquatic systems between c. 500 and 1500 CE. Using textual, zooarchaeological, and natural records, Richard C. Hoffmann's unique study spans marine and freshwater fisheries across western Christendom, discusses effects of human-nature relations and presents a deeper understanding of evolving European aquatic ecosystems. Changing climates, landscapes, and fishing pressures affected local stocks enough to shift values of fish, fishing rights, and dietary expectations. Readers learn what the abbess Waldetrudis in seventh-century Hainault, King Ramiro II (d.1157) of Aragon, and thirteenth-century physician Aldebrandin of Siena shared with English antiquarian William Worcester (d. 1482), and the young Martin Luther growing up in Germany soon thereafter. Sturgeon and herring, carp, cod, and tuna played distinctive roles. Hoffmann highlights how encounters between medieval Europeans and fish had consequences for society and the environment - then and now.
Learn more about The Catch at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Catch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Jessica Hamilton's "Don't You Dare"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Don't You Dare: A Thriller by Jessica Hamilton.

About the book, from the publisher:
For fans of Riley Sager and Wendy Walker, Jessica Hamilton’s Don’t You Dare is a searing look at the things we are willing to do in the name of friendship; a spine-tingling suspense filled with secrets and lies.

When best friends Hannah and Scarlett meet Thomas in college—the chemistry is instantaneous. They grow closer while playing the Daring Game, where each dare is riskier than the last. As the trio's friendship begins to cross boundaries between the platonic and the illicit, jealousy and secrets quickly develop. As tensions between the three grow, so do the stakes in the Daring Game, resulting in tragedy with Scarlett’s final dare to Thomas. When Thomas gets expelled from school and leaves without a trace, it seems like the Daring Game has finally ended.

Sixteen years later, Hannah is unhappy in marriage and in life. That is, of course, until she gets a mysterious letter about the Daring Game from none other than Thomas himself. With Scarlett out of the picture, and a renewal of the dangerous game, the sparks begin to fly between them once more. Until the day Hannah and Thomas are called to the secret meeting place of the Daring Game, where they’re welcomed by a single dare—“to tell the truth.”

Someone else has joined the game and knows about their affair, going as far as leaving a cryptic message in Hannah’s house: Don’t You Dare. Hannah’s list of suspects is long: Could it be her nosy neighbor, Libby, who has a few secrets of her own? Or did her husband plan this as revenge for the torrid affair? Is Scarlett back and ready to play again?

The truth may set Hannah free—but only if she dares to risk everything she knows and loves.
Visit Jessica Hamilton's website.

The Page 69 Test: Don't You Dare.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Nine novels about infatuations that are all consuming

Hanna Halperin is the author of two novels, Something Wild and I Could Live Here Forever. Something Wild won the 2021 Edward Lewis Wallant Award and was a finalist for the 2021 National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction. Her stories have been published in The Kenyon Review, n+1, New Ohio Review, and Joyland. She has taught fiction workshops at GrubStreet in Boston and worked as a domestic violence counselor.

At Electric Lit Halperin tagged nine novels about characters looking to be transformed by sex or love, including:
A Novel Obsession by Caitlin Barasch

In A Novel Obsession, bookseller Naomi has great aspirations of writing a novel, but she doesn’t think she has interesting enough material. For inspiration, she begins to stalk her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, Rosemary Pierce. The more she learns about Rosemary, the hungrier she becomes for access to Rosemary—and the further she pushes, until she is totally enmeshed in Rosemary’s life. Naomi’s obsession with Rosemary grows huge and unmanageable, invasive, and quietly erotic. Barasch reminds us of all the ways we do so many of the very same things—compare, fixate and keep tabs. She is an honest and funny writer and this book was unputdownable.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Alejandra Dubcovsky's "Talking Back"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Talking Back: Native Women and the Making of the Early South by Alejandra Dubcovsky.

About the book, from the publisher:
A pathbreaking look at Native women of the early South who defined power and defied authority

Historian Alejandra Dubcovsky tells a story of war, slavery, loss, remembrance, and the women whose resilience and resistance transformed the colonial South. In exploring their lives she rewrites early American history, challenging the established male-centered narrative.

Dubcovsky reconstructs the lives of Native women—Timucua, Apalachee, Chacato, and Guale—to show how they made claims to protect their livelihoods, bodies, and families. Through the stories of the Native cacica who demanded her authority be recognized; the elite Spanish woman who turned her dowry and household into a source of independent power; the Floridiana who slapped a leading Native man in the town square; and the Black woman who ran a successful business at the heart of a Spanish town, Dubcovsky reveals the formidable women who claimed and used their power, shaping the history of the early South.
Follow Alejandra Dubcovsky on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Talking Back.

--Marshal Zeringue

Q&A with Samantha Jayne Allen

From my Q&A with Samantha Jayne Allen, author of Hard Rain: A Novel:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Hard Rain works on multiple levels. On a purely marketing level, the sound of it is punchy and dark, communicating to readers that this is a gritty crime novel. The story begins with a devastating flood in which a woman nearly drowns and is rescued by a mysterious stranger. The woman hires Annie, a rookie PI, to find the man who saved her, and after a different victim—shot dead, not drowned—turns up, Annie wonders if the hero she seeks is actually a killer. So, the title works on a literal level as reference to the flood, but also on a thematic level; there's nothing—no person, no place—in this small Texas community that wasn't touched by the devastation, and Annie, too, must now reckon with her conflicting feelings of agency and powerlessness. I also chose the title as a reference to the Bob Dylan song, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." The mysterious stranger is a blue-eyed wanderer, and Annie's search for him will take her to bear witness to all variety of...[read on]
Follow Samantha Jayne Allen on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads.

Q&A with Samantha Jayne Allen.

--Marshal Zeringue