Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What is Hannah Pittard reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Hannah Pittard, author of Listen to Me.

Her entry begins:
My reading life is all over the place right now. On my nightstand are The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Nancy Jo Sales’ American Girls, and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, all of which I’m actively reading. But the book I want to say something about is that one I've only just finished and have therefore already (and somewhat wistfully) re-shelved. This is Elizabeth Taylor’s Angel. It’s the story of Angel, an impetuous young woman (we meet her in the last year of Queen Victoria’s reign) who is determined to become an admired and famous writer. She does become a famous author but ...[read on]
About Listen to Me, from the publisher:
Mark and Maggie’s annual drive east to visit family has gotten off to a rocky start. By the time they’re on the road, it’s late, a storm is brewing, and they are no longer speaking to each other. Adding to the stress, Maggie—recently mugged at gunpoint—is lately not herself, and Mark is at a loss about what to make of the stranger he calls his wife. When the couple is forced to stop for the night at a remote inn completely without power, Maggie’s paranoia reaches an all-time and terrifying high. But as Mark finds himself threatened in a dark parking lot, it’s Maggie who takes control.
Visit Hannah Pittard's website.

Writers Read: Hannah Pittard.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sharon Farrow's "Dying For Strawberries," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Dying For Strawberries by Sharon Farrow.

Her entry begins:
One of my hobbies is second guessing the casting choices of many movies and TV shows I watch. Suffice it to say, I picked the cast for Dying For Strawberries while writing the first draft of my book.

Sandra Bullock is my only choice for Marlee Jacob, the 30-year-old brunette owner of The Berry Basket shop. While Marlee is pretty, she is not Angelina Jolie gorgeous; few people are. And the attractive Sandra Bullock deserves the series’ starring role. Especially Sandra as she appears in Miss Congeniality: strong, funny, down to earth, sarcastic and smart. Marlee’s fiancé Ryan Zellar is another easy one to cast. Marlee actually mentions in the book that it’s ironic he is named Ryan since he’s a dead ringer for...[read on]
Visit Sharon Farrow's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dying For Strawberries.

Writers Read: Sharon Farrow.

My Book, The Movie: Dying For Strawberries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best novels written as genre parodies that stand on their own

At the B&N Reads blog Nicole Hill tagged five novels written as genre parodies that stand on their own, including:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

The complexities run deep in Goldman’s beloved book and the equally beloved movie classic. In its published form, the narrative in-joke is that this, The Princess Bride, is merely an abridged version of a classic fairy tale, originally by S. Morgenstern, itself a supposed satire. It’s not, of course. Instead, Goldman penned the novel based on stories he made up for his daughters. The result is a book that lovingly tweaks the fairy tale format, while delivering a swashbuckling escapade that has all the fantasy elements you could want.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Princess Bride is among Jeff Somers's five best grandfathers in literary history, Sebastien de Castell's five duelists you should never challenge, the Guardian's five worst book covers ever, Nicole Hill's eight notable royal figures in fiction, Rosie Perez's six favorite books, Stephanie Perkins' top ten most romantic books, Matthew Berry's six favorite books, and Jamie Thomson's top seven funny books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: J. M. Tyree's "Vanishing Streets"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Vanishing Streets: Journeys in London by J. M. Tyree.

About the book, from the publisher:
Vanishing Streets reveals an American writer's twenty-year love affair with London. Beguiling and idiosyncratic, obsessive and wry, it offers an illustrated travelogue of the peripheries, retracing some of London's most curious locations. As J. M. Tyree wanders deliriously in "the world's most visited city," he rediscovers and reinvents places that have changed drastically since he was a student at Cambridge in the 1990s. Tyree stumbles into the ghosts of Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and the pioneers of the British Free Cinema Movement. He offers a new way of seeing familiar landmarks through the lens of film history, and reveals strange nooks and tiny oddities in out-of-the-way places, from a lost film by John Ford supposedly shot in Wapping to the beehives hidden in Tower Hamlets Cemetery, an area haunted by a translation error in W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz.

This book blends deeply personal writing with a foreigner's observations on a world capital experiencing an unsettling moment of transition. Vanishing Streets builds into an astonishing and innovative multi-layered project combining autobiography, movie madness, and postcard-like annotations on the magical properties of a great city. Tyree argues passionately for London as a cinematic dream city of perpetual fascinations and eccentricities, bridging the past and the present as well as the real and the imaginary.
Learn more about Vanishing Streets at the Stanford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Vanishing Streets.

The Page 99 Test: Vanishing Streets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top ten books on architecture

Barbara Miller Lane is Andrew W. Mellon Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and Research Professor in Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr College. Her books include Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918–1945, National Romanticism and Modern Architecture, Housing and Dwelling, and Houses for a New World: Builders and Buyers in American Suburbs, 1945–1965.

One of her top ten books on architecture, as shared at the Princeton University Press blog:
Looking Beyond the Icons: Midcentury Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism
Richard Longstreth

In this collection of persuasive writings, Richard Longstreth urges American architectural and urban historians to pay more attention to mid-century building and landscape design. New forms of shopping centers, new kinds of community buildings, new types of buildings for business, and above all, “extraordinary” new kinds of suburbs, are the focus of the author’s essays. The book represents an important shift of emphasis from “the icons”, that is, from the “masters of modern architecture” emphasis of many architectural historians, and from the focus on earlier periods by many historians of planning. Longstreth sees landscape as the “central defining component of post-World War II development.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Barry Eisler's "Livia Lone"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Livia Lone by Barry Eisler.

About the book, from the publisher:
Seattle PD sex crimes detective Livia Lone knows the monsters she hunts. Sold by her Thai parents along with her little sister Nason, marooned in America, abused by the men who trafficked them. . . the only thing that kept Livia alive as a teenager was her determination to find Nason.

Livia has never stopped looking. And she copes with her failure to protect her missing sister by doing everything she can to put predators in prison.

Or, when that fails, by putting them in the ground.

But when a fresh lead offers new hope of finding Nason and the men who trafficked them, Livia will have to go beyond just being a cop. Beyond even being a vigilante. She'll have to relive the horrors of the past. Take on one of the most powerful men in the US government. And uncover a conspiracy of almost unimaginable evil.

In every way, it's an unfair fight. But Livia has two advantages. Her unending love for Nason—

And a lifelong lust for vengeance.
Visit Barry Eisler's website.

The Page 69 Test: Livia Lone.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six magically weird YA fantasy novels

One title on Melissa Albert's list of six magically weird YA fantasy books, as shared at the BN Teen blog:
Worlds of Ink and Shadow, by Lena Coakley

From a mix of historical record, the Brontë sisters’ great novels (and unpublished juvenilia), and the windswept moors, early feminism, and pagan folk beliefs of the Brontës’ upbringing on the Yorkshire moors, Coakley has created a gripping, layered work of portal fiction, complete with forbidden love and devil’s deals. Her page-turner explores the dark terrain of childhood fancies, the indignities of growing up, and the idea of a child as the ruler—benevolent or tyrannical—of their play worlds, imagining the Brontë siblings can travel at will into the fantasy realms they create on the page. But soon their creations start developing inner lives, questioning the world order, and rebelling against being used as as living props. Not only does Coakley evoke the Brontës’ home and invented lives with equal verve, but she maps it effortlessly onto their extraordinary fates, using fantasy to explain how Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and brother Branwell created fictional works including two of the greatest books in the English canon, before meeting their early ends (three of them within a year of each other).
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Worlds of Ink and Shadow.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Sharon Farrow reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Sharon Farrow, author of Dying For Strawberries.

Her entry begins:
As a longtime fan of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, I was thrilled when Harris launched a new series set in the paranormal world first featured in Sookie’s hometown of Bon Ton, Louisiana. This time Harris has a new setting – Midnight, Texas – and a new cast of characters, each with a gift or secret as alarming as Sookie’s.

Over the summer, I read the first two books in Harris’s Midnight, Texas series: Midnight Crossroad and Day Shift. I’ve just finished Night Shift, her third installment. If you love Sookie and her coterie of vampires, shapeshifters, and shamans, you’ll find the new series...[read on]
About Dying For Strawberries, from the publisher:
With seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and the Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.

Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan. Between running the Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the thirty-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York...

But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Natasha disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body while searching for Natasha, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.
Visit Sharon Farrow's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dying For Strawberries.

Writers Read: Sharon Farrow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 24, 2016

Top ten books set in Bangkok

At Deep Travel and Lifestyle, Will Bowie tagged ten top books set in Bangkok, including:
Bangkok Tattoo (Sonchai Jitpleecheep) by John Burdett

My first exposure to John Burdett and still my favourite. There is many other classics, however this is the read that holds the most special place in my heart. I love the mix of buddhism balancing corruption, crime and the madness that is the infamous Soi Cowboy. I truly love how the fourth wall is broken & the narrator Sonchai speaks to you as ‘farang’.

To date, I’ve read (and reread) the first four of Burdett’s Bangkok novels, and found them all fun, diverting, and at times, fascinating reads – primarily for the protagonist’s semi-comic philosophical musings about the differences of view between East & West, North & South on everything from love, sex, violence, corruption, prostitution, etc.

Of the first four, the second, “Tattoo,” remains my favorite – it’s certainly the funniest of the first four – though I’d still recommend that the curious reader start with “Bangkok 8,” before jumping into the fun of “Tattoo.”

Looking forward to reading the fifth…
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Godfather of Kathmandu.

The Page 69 Test: Vulture Peak.

My Book, The Movie: Vulture Peak.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Steve Pincus's "The Heart of the Declaration"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Heart of the Declaration: The Founders’ Case for an Activist Government by Steve Pincus.

About the book, from the publisher:
An eye-opening, meticulously researched new perspective on the influences that shaped the Founders as well as the nation's founding document

From one election cycle to the next, a defining question continues to divide the country’s political parties: Should the government play a major or a minor role in the lives of American citizens? The Declaration of Independence has long been invoked as a philosophical treatise in favor of limited government. Yet the bulk of the document is a discussion of policy, in which the Founders outlined the failures of the British imperial government. Above all, they declared, the British state since 1760 had done too little to promote the prosperity of its American subjects. Looking beyond the Declaration’s frequently cited opening paragraphs, Steve Pincus reveals how the document is actually a blueprint for a government with extensive powers to promote and protect the people’s welfare. By examining the Declaration in the context of British imperial debates, Pincus offers a nuanced portrait of the Founders’ intentions with profound political implications for today.
Learn more about The Heart of the Declaration at the Yale University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: 1688: The First Modern Revolution.

The Page 99 Test: The Heart of the Declaration.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six fictional femmes who fatally fractured the glass ceiling

At the B&N Reads blog Nicole Hill tagged six fictional women who broke the glass ceiling, including:
Beryl Markham (Circling the Sun, by Paula McLain)

Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s May—no, she’s definitely born with it. McLain’s proven the go-to scribe for fictionalized accounts of real, bold, complicated women. Her latest novel follows pioneering female aviator Beryl Markham, who breaks hearts with the same ferocity she uses to break records. In the early 20th century, the air belonged largely to men. That didn’t stop Beryl from flying solo across the Atlantic. She was just as unflinchingly fascinating and independent in every other aspect in her life, including in love.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tabish Khair's "Just Another Jihadi Jane," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Just Another Jihadi Jane by Tabish Khair.

His entry begins:
My novel tells the story of two British-Asian girls who run off to Syria-Iraq to join the so-called ‘jihad,’ and what happens to them. One of them, Jamilla, has been born and brought up in a narrowly religious Muslim family from Pakistan, and almost grows into fundamentalism. The other, Ameena, comes from a broken Indian Muslim household, and is attracted to Islamist extremism for another set of (personal and political) reasons. Both are in their early 20s. Jamilla is studious, submissive and has been wearing a hijab from the time she turned thirteen; she is also strikingly beautiful: I think Nazneen Contractor, from Star Trek Into Darkness, has the sort of sensuality that will come across even in a hijab, and hence she will be good for the role, despite being a few years older than Jamilla in the book. Ameena is a different kind of girl, spunky, more conflicted that Jamilla: the Canadian actress, Lisa Ray from I Can’t Think Straight, or Freida Pinto, from Slumdog Millionaire, though both are...[read on]
Visit Tabish Khair's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Thing about Thugs.

My Book, The Movie: The Thing About Thugs.

Writers Read: Tabish Khair.

My Book, The Movie: Just Another Jihadi Jane.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Five top YA books inspired by real life murderers

At the BN Teen blog Sarah Hannah Gómez tagged five top YA books inspired by not-so-fictional murderers, including:
Charles Howard Schmid, Jr., in Half in Love With Death, by Emily Ross

You know how sometimes it’s just another day, and other times you wake up and just want to do something totally random? I think I’ll try sushi today, you might say. Or I want to learn fencing! Or maybe I want to kill a girl. Oh, is that last one just something Charles Schmid said? While this book about being drawn to someone with a dark side is technically about made-up people, the author is pretty clear on the fact that she was totally inspired by this charismatic chick magnet murderer, also known as the Pied Piper of Tucson.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Half In Love With Death.

My Book, The Movie: Half In Love With Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Jan Fedarcyk reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jan Fedarcyk, author of Fidelity.

Her entry begins:
The complicated challenges that America faces in the area of national security continues to drive my interest in non-fiction books that shed light on these issues. I tend to have at least two books that I alternate reading, and these can be historical or about current events that will define us for generations to come. Right now, I’m nearly finished with The Billion Dollar Spy by David E. Hoffman and...[read on]
About Fidelity, from the publisher:
A gripping debut novel from “the FBI’s First Lady” (Vanity Fair) Jan Fedarcyk, featuring a brilliant young Special Agent named Kay Malloy, whose assignment to the Counterintelligence Program in New York City has devastating consequences—both personal and professional.

Kay Malloy always knew hers would be a life of service. Following the tragic death of her humanitarian parents, Kay and her brother, Christopher, were raised in a world of wealth and culture by their godparents. With ambition and selflessness, Kay joins the FBI to honor her parent’s legacy, even while Christopher’s life grows increasingly aimless.

Paramilitary and male-dominated, the FBI could be an intimidating employer to anyone less confident, devoted, and insightful than Kay. But after early success in the Violent Crime Program in Baltimore she struggles working counterintelligence in New York. When Kay is assigned to investigate the loss of Russian government double agents, she sees this as her chance to prove herself. As pressure mounts and conflicting leads cloud the investigation, Kay discovers she must make the impossible choice between those she loves and the country she’s sworn to protect.

Filled with vivid detail from retired FBI Special Agent Jan Fedarcyk, Fidelity is both a thrilling, authentic look into the workings of the FBI and the gripping story of one woman’s fight to honor both love and duty.
Visit Jan Fedarcyk's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fidelity.

The Page 69 Test: Fidelity.

Writers Read: Jan Fedarcyk.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the best bachelors

At the Guardian Michael Hogan came up with a list of the ten best bachelors. Most of the entries are actual men; among the fictional characters to make the list:
Bertie Wooster

PG Wodehouse’s comic hero Bertram Wilberforce Wooster wouldn’t have got into nearly as many scrapes had he been married. Besides, his valet Jeeves in many ways fulfils the role of long-suffering wife. Bertie does propose several times – to icy blonde Lady Florence Craye (who tells him “your Aunt Agatha… called you a spineless invertebrate and advised me strongly not to marry you”), American millionaire’s daughter Pauline Stoker, scarily sporty Honoria Glossop, soppy romantic Madeline Bassett and reckless redhead Bobbie Wickham – but once the charms of his intended’s “lovely profile” wear off, he tends to see engagement merely as a trap from which Jeeves must extricate him. What ho!
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Sharon Farrow's "Dying For Strawberries"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Dying For Strawberries by Sharon Farrow.

About the book, from the publisher:
With seasonal crowds flocking to its sandy beaches, lively downtown shops, and the Berry Basket, a berry emporium with something for everyone, the lakeshore village of Oriole Point is ripe for summer fun—and murder.

Much has changed for Marlee Jacob since she returned to Oriole Point, Michigan. Between running the Berry Basket, dodging local gossip, and whipping up strawberry muffins, smoothies, and margaritas to celebrate the town’s first annual Strawberry Moon Bash, the thirty-year-old hardly has time for her fiancé, let alone grim memories of her old life in New York...

But unfortunately for Marlee, Oriole Point is muddled with secrets of its own. First her friend Natasha disappears after an ominous dream. Next the seediest man in town threatens to crush her business. Then an unknown person nearly kills her on the night of the Bash. When she discovers a dead body while searching for Natasha, Marlee realizes she’ll have to foil a killer’s plot herself—before the past permanently stains her future.
Visit Sharon Farrow's website.

The Page 69 Test: Dying For Strawberries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Seven top weird westerns

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at One of seven weird westerns he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Dark Alchemy, by Laura Bickle

Dark Alchemy is more neo-Western than weird Western, but still brings the bizarre West into focus. In the small town of Temperance, Wyoming, a geologist by the name of Petra Dee searches for clues to her father’s disappearance. Instead, she finds a town where meth flows as easily as gold once did, and a series of twisted skeletons somehow tied to the flocks of crows that keep appearing around town. It turns out that Temperance is, of course, a town with many alchemical secrets, and major powers will do anything to keep them hidden. Bickle has a good handle on her setting, but truly excels at building a steadily mounting sense of doom. It’s also a good time to catch up on Petra’s past actions, as her next adventure, Nine of Stars, comes out in December.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Dark Alchemy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Keally McBride's "Mr. Mothercountry," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Mr. Mothercountry: The Man Who Made the Rule of Law by Keally McBride.

The entry begins:
I envision Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role of Mr. Mothercountry, playing James Stephen, who was given that name because he ran the British Empire from 1813-1847. Running the British Empire sounds like a big job, but back then it was considered dull, pesky detail work. No one had ever heard of those places now that the North American colonies had declared independence! Stephen worked in a building that was literally falling down and regularly had raw sewage seep into its floors from London. Day-Lewis would be sitting in a basement usually alone, surrounded by maps, pouring over documents that determined the fates of thousands of people. The surprising thing is that Stephen really cared about all of these people, and worked himself into nervous exhaustion trying to use his position to be a force for good in what he saw as the evils of the British Empire. He was educated, devout, and hypersensitive. His wife said he was “a man with no skin”. He hated looking in mirrors, loved playing with the babies of his family, and led a life of complete rectitude and self-renunciation. His children said: “He was a walking categorical imperative.” His granddaughter, Virginia Woolf, recounted that he smoked a cigar once, and liked it so much that...[read on]
Learn more about Mr. Mothercountry at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Mr. Mothercountry.

My Book, The Movie: Mr. Mothercountry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Benjamin K. Bergen's "What the F"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves by Benjamin K. Bergen.

About the book, from the publisher:
It may be starred, beeped, and censored—yet profanity is so appealing that we can't stop using it. In the funniest, clearest study to date, Benjamin Bergen explains why, and what that tells us about our language and brains.

Nearly everyone swears—whether it's over a few too many drinks, in reaction to a stubbed toe, or in flagrante delicto. And yet, we sit idly by as words are banned from television and censored in books. We insist that people excise profanity from their vocabularies and we punish children for yelling the very same dirty words that we'll mutter in relief seconds after they fall asleep. Swearing, it seems, is an intimate part of us that we have decided to selectively deny.

That's a damn shame. Swearing is useful. It can be funny, cathartic, or emotionally arousing. As linguist and cognitive scientist Benjamin K. Bergen shows us, it also opens a new window onto how our brains process language and why languages vary around the world and over time.

In this groundbreaking yet ebullient romp through the linguistic muck, Bergen answers intriguing questions: How can patients left otherwise speechless after a stroke still shout Goddamn! when they get upset? When did a cock grow to be more than merely a rooster? Why is crap vulgar when poo is just childish? Do slurs make you treat people differently? Why is the first word that Samoan children say not mommy but eat shit? And why do we extend a middle finger to flip someone the bird?

Smart as hell and funny as fuck, What the F is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to know how and why we swear.
Learn more about What the F at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: What the F.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nose in a book: Robert Wilder

Who: Robert Wilder

What: Nickel by Robert Wilder

When: October 2016

Where: The Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, Denver, Colorado (Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, Fall Discovery Show 2016)

Photo credit: Tori

Visit Robert Wilder's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: Nickel.

Writers Read: Robert Wilder.

The Page 69 Test: Nickel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 21, 2016

Six YA books featuring teens with strange abilities

Parker Peevyhouse is the author of the acclaimed debut novel Where Futures End. One of her six favorite YAs centering on teens with unusual abilities, as shared at the BN Teen blog:
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar

Aspen can steal the strangest things—emotions, memories, thoughts, and even abilities. He can heal his own injuries by stealing your wellness, can get rid of his anxiety by skimming off a little of your peace of mind. But what’s really surprising is that Aspen uses much of what he steals to placate the cliff hanging over his town so it won’t come crashing down on everyone. In the end, Aspen is forced to face one of my favorite dilemmas in stories about gifted teens: he must finally choose whether to use his ability for himself or for the good of others.
Read about another book on the list.

Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is among Sarah Skilton's six amazing YA books that take place in slanted realities.

The Page 69 Test: Rocks Fall Everyone Dies.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Meera Lester reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Meera Lester, author of The Murder of a Queen Bee.

Her entry begins:
I’m currently reading After the Storm, by Linda Castillo. I’m enamored of her extraordinary storytelling ability. She writes police procedural thrillers that include Her Last Breath, Pray for Silence, Sworn to Silence, and others. An added plus is that she populates them with believable characters—English and Amish. These books tick all the boxes for me—an engaging and believable protagonist, and equally worthy adversary, and the intense roller-coaster ride for the truth. The author seamlessly integrates what activities the police must do to find a killer while revealing the inner conflicts, suppressed emotions, and compassion of her sleuth.

As with other authors, reading informs my writing. My choices in reading run an eclectic gamut, from early Christian history and Celtic spirituality to cozy mysteries, thrillers, women’s fiction, and modern fables. I often re-read novels and nonfiction...[read on]
About The Murder of a Queen Bee, from the publisher:
All abuzz about murder...

Former police officer Abigail Mackenzie has made a fresh start as a beekeeper and farmer in picturesque Las Flores, California—but she never suspected her new hometown would prove to be a hive of criminal activity.

When Abby invites her free-spirited friend, Fiona Mary Ryan, owner of Ancient Wisdom Botanicals, to her farmette for lunch, she never imagines that Fiona’s no-show will lead to a murder investigation.

Only hours after their lunch date, Fiona’s body is found in a burning car in what at first appears to be a tragic accident. But after the coroner’s report is issued, it’s clear she was dead before being placed in the vehicle. Someone has gone to great lengths to cover up a murder. But who—and why?

Driven by her loyalty to her friend, and her deeply ingrained skills as a trained investigator, Abby sorts through suspects—who seem to be sprouting up everywhere. Speculating that Fiona’s herbal business might hold the key to motive, Abby isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to smoke out a killer...
Visit Meera Lester's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Murder of a Queen Bee.

The Page 69 Test: The Murder of a Queen Bee.

Writers Read: Meera Lester.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven science fiction books that are often taught in college

At io9 Abhimanyu Das and Gordon Jackson tagged eleven science fiction books regularly taught in college classes, including:

The quintessential “cyberpunk” novel, Gibson’s Neuromancer has been taught in classes on gender studies at Dartmouth and media at Duke, as well as every liberal arts college in the continental United States and most of Canada.

Speaking to the inevitability of post-humanity, Gibson’s novel unfolds very closely to a heist novel, except the heist is actually a hack. Washed-up Henry Case is hired to pull off a complicated hack, aided by “razorgirl” Molly Millions (named so for the retractable blades beneath her fingernails), a mercenary-cyborg-bodyguard with vision-enhanced mirrored lenses grafted to her eyes, giving the impression she’s wearing sunglasses.

Neuromancer suggests the line between AI and humanity has become nearly impossible to distinguish—a concept now so ubiquitous to popular culture that “meat thing” is the go-to slur from robots against humans. (Some—few?—may recall Tim Curry’s Kilokhan in Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad providing the first instance of the phrase in a children’s show.)

Neuromancer is the one book you can reliably count on finding in the scifi section of every library, bookstore or cybercafé in the country, and I’ll bet it’s on your bookshelf too.
Read about another entry on the list.

Neuromancer made Steve Toutonghi's list of six top books that expand our mental horizons, Ann Leckie's top ten list of science fiction books, Madeleine Monson-Rosen's list of 15 books that take place in science fiction and fantasy versions of the most fascinating places on Earth, Becky Ferreira's list of the six most memorable robots in literature, Joel Cunningham's top five list of books that predicted the internet, Sean Beaudoin's list of ten books that changed his life before he could drive, Chris Kluwe's list of six favorite books, Inglis-Arkell's list of ten of the best bars in science fiction, PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time and Annalee Newitz's lists of ten great American dystopias and thirteen books that will change the way you look at robots.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: M. Tara Crowl's "Eden’s Escape"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Eden's Escape by M. Tara Crowl.

About the book, from the publisher:
Eden's greatest wish has finally come true. No longer confined to her lamp, she begins a spectacular life in Manhattan with her new guardian, Pepper, a bubbly genie alum who's also a Broadway actress. Eden only gets a taste of the city's wonders before she's whisked away for a wish granting--she is still a genie with a job, after all.

David Brightly isn't like other wishers Eden has met. The owner of the world's leading tech company seems more interested in tapping into the lamp's power than making his first wish. Trapped in Brightly's laboratory and unable to get to the lamp, Eden has no choice but to escape and go on the run.

She finds herself on the streets of Paris, nowhere near out of danger. Brightly has half the city searching for Eden, claiming she is his kidnapped daughter. She manages to don a disguise and get word of her predicament out to the loyal genies on earth. But Paris is also headquarters of Electra, a group of former genies bent on revenge against Eden, and it seems the scheming Sylvana has teamed up with Brightly to seize the lamp's power once and for all.

Eden embarks on a dangerous mission to retrieve the lamp and protect the centuries-old genie legacy. But Brightly has more tricks up his sleeve than any mortal Eden has met. Soon, every genie will have to pick a side in an epic showdown against the greatest threat the lamp has ever faced.
Visit M. Tara Crowl's website.

The Page 69 Test: Eden's Wish.

The Page 69 Test: Eden's Escape.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Six of the scariest ghosts in middle grade fiction

At the BN Kids blog Melissa Sarno tagged six of the scariest ghosts in middle grade literature, including:
The Girl Behind the Glass, by Jane Kelley

In this novel about a set of twins who move into a gloomy old house on Hemlock Road, a vengeful and mysterious ghost narrates the story and becomes more unstable and menacing as the book progresses, driving the twins apart, and haunting their family. The suspenseful tale will keep readers guessing, wondering who or what the ghost might be.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Keally McBride's "Mr. Mothercountry"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mr. Mothercountry: The Man Who Made the Rule of Law by Keally McBride.

About the book, from the publisher:
Today, every continent retains elements of the legal code distributed by the British empire. The British empire created a legal footprint along with political, economic, cultural and racial ones. One of the central problems of political theory is the insurmountable gap between ideas and their realization. Keally McBride argues that understanding the presently fraught state of the concept of the rule of law around the globe relies upon understanding how it was first introduced and then practiced through colonial administration--as well as unraveling the ideas and practices of those who instituted it. The astonishing fact of the matter is that for thirty years, between 1814 and 1844, virtually all of the laws in the British Empire were reviewed, approved or discarded by one individual: James Stephen, disparagingly known as "Mr. Mothercountry." Virtually every single act that was passed by a colony made its way to his desk, from a levy to improve sanitation, to an officer's pay, to laws around migration and immigration, and tariffs on products. Stephen, great-grandfather of Virginia Woolf, was an ardent abolitionist, and he saw his role as a legal protector of the most dispossessed. When confronted by acts that could not be overturned by reference to British law that he found objectionable, he would make arguments in the name of the "natural law" of justice and equity. He truly believed that law could be a force for good and equity at the same time that he was frustrated by the existence of laws that he saw as abhorrent.

In Mr. Mothercountry, McBride draws on original archival research of the writings of Stephen and his descendants, as well as the Macaulay family, two major lineages of legal administrators in the British colonies, to explore the gap between the ideal of the rule of law and the ways in which it was practiced and enforced. McBride does this to show that there is no way of claiming that law is always a force for good or simply an ideological cover for oppression. It is both. Her ultimate intent is to illuminate the failures of liberal notions of legality in the international sphere and to trace the power disparities and historical trajectories that have accompanied this failure. This book explores the intertwining histories of colonial power and the idea of the rule of law, in both the past and the present, and it asks what the historical legacy of British Colonialism means for how different groups view international law today.
Learn more about Mr. Mothercountry at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Mr. Mothercountry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about borders

Marcus Sedgwick's books have won and been shortlisted for many awards; most notably, he has been shortlisted for Britain’s Carnegie Medal six times, has received two Printz Honors, for Revolver and Ghosts of Heaven, and in 2013 won the Printz Award for Midwinterblood.

His new YA novel is Saint Death.

One of Sedgwick's top ten books about borders, as shared at the Guardian:
The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy

Such musings are echoed by a line in the middle book of the excellent Border Trilogy. In the scenes in which young Billy Parham heads south on horseback, with a bound and wounded wolf in tow, McCarthy tells us they “crossed sometime near noon the international boundary line into Mexico, State of Sonora, undifferentiated in its terrain from the country they quit, and yet wholly alien and wholly strange”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Crossing is one of Rose Tremain’s five best novels about arduous journeys. The Border Trilogy is among Rick Bass's five top books about Texas.

--Marshal Zeringue

J. M. Tyree's "Vanishing Streets," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Vanishing Streets: Journeys in London by J. M. Tyree.

The entry begins:
As a writer, I blend personal and creative writing with my academic interest in cinema. In Vanishing Streets, I originally planned to write a series of essays about the Free Cinema movement of British documentary that flourished in London in the 1950s. But the book quickly spiraled out of control into a highly personal project that includes my autobiography and my photography as well as my notes on traveling to film-related and literary locations in London. As far as I wandered, I found my own experience was inescapable, and that I would need to write about my life, my marriage, and my friendships as well as my journeys if I wanted to be honest about my own research and writing process.

This is a roundabout way of saying...[read on]
Learn more about Vanishing Streets at the Stanford University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: Vanishing Streets.

--Marshal Zeringue