Monday, January 16, 2017

Four books that changed Rosalie Ham

Rosalie Ham's books include the bestselling novel The Dressmaker, which became a 2015 film starring Kate Winslet, and Summer at Mount Hope.

One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard

In The Transit of Venus, Shirley Hazzard writes everything, internally and externally, from a subtly objective third-person point of view. Carefully chosen images and words infuse every phrase, sentence and paragraph with atmosphere. Every event is complex and glints with subtext. Characters' impetus, motivation and physical appearance are succinct and precise, yet detailed, and I enjoy analysing her sharp, multilayered paragraphs with students. I would have loved to sit opposite Shirley Hazzard [who died aged 85 in December] in a foyer and watch her watching.
Read about another book on the list.

The Transit of Venus is among Zoë Heller's five best books on sisters and Jennifer Egan's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kimberley Reynolds's "Left Out"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Left Out: The Forgotten Tradition of Radical Publishing for Children in Britain 1910-1949 by Kimberley Reynolds.

About the book, from the publisher:
Left Out presents an alternative and corrective history of writing for children in the first half of the twentieth century. Between 1910 and 1949 a number of British publishers, writers, and illustrators included children's literature in their efforts to make Britain a progressive, egalitarian, and modern society. Some came from privileged backgrounds, others from the poorest parts of the poorest cities in the land; some belonged to the metropolitan intelligentsia or bohemia, others were working-class autodidacts, but all sought to use writing for children and young people to create activists, visionaries, and leaders among the rising generation.Together, they produced a significant number of both politically and aesthetically radical publications for children and young people. This "radical children's literature" was designed to ignite and underpin the work of making a new Britain for a new kind of Briton. While there are many dedicated studies of children's literature and childrens' writers working in other periods, the years 1910-1949 have previously received little critical attention. In this study, Kimberley Reynolds shows that the accepted characterization of interwar children's literature as retreatist, anti-modernist, and apolitical is too sweeping and that the relationship between children's literature and modernism, left-wing politics, and progressive education has been neglected.
Learn more about Left Out at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Left Out.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Six top novels connected to the 1980s

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged "awesome fantasy/mystery novels from—or almost from, or inspired by, or spiritually connected to—the [19]80s," including:
Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones

If you’re a fan of [1980s fantasy movie] Labyrinth—and let’s be honest, how could you not be?—then you need to get your hands on Wintersong. When Liesl’s sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl must travel into the Underground to save her. The Underground is a dark, enchanting world Liesl must work out how to navigate and survive in. This debut is a spellbinding tale of love, music, and finding out who you really are. It comes out in February, but fear not, here’s a sneak peek of the first five chapters, because you’re awesome and you deserve it.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Elizabeth Heiter's "Stalked"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Stalked by Elizabeth Heiter.

About the book, from the publisher:
If you're reading this, I'm already dead…

That's the note seventeen-year-old Haley Cooke leaves behind when she disappears from inside her high school. FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is called in to figure out who had reason to hurt her. On the surface, the popular cheerleader has no enemies, but as Evelyn digs deeper, she discovers that everyone close to Haley has something to hide. Everyone from estranged parents, to an older boyfriend with questionable connections, to a best friend who envies Haley's life.

Secrets can be deadly…

One of those secrets may have gotten Haley killed. If she's still alive, Evelyn knows that the more the investigation ramps up, the more pressure they could be putting on Haley's kidnapper to make her disappear for good. It's also possible the teenager isn't in danger at all, but has skillfully manipulated everyone and staged her own disappearance. Only one thing is certain: uncovering Haley's fate could be dangerous—even deadly—to Evelyn herself.
Visit Elizabeth Heiter's website.

My Book, The Movie: Vanished.

The Page 69 Test: Vanished.

The Page 69 Test: Seized.

My Book, The Movie: Seized.

My Book, The Movie: Stalked.

The Page 69 Test: Stalked.

--Marshal Zeringue

David Haig's six best books

David Haig is an English actor perhaps best known to US audiences for Two Weeks Notice (2002), My Boy Jack (2007), and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
OSCAR AND LUCINDA by Peter Carey

An eccentric couple of loners in Victorian times find love. The concept of building a glass church for the women you love is just fantastic.

I love the way it is written and you feel people should not judge others just because they’re odd or don’t conform.
Read about another book on the list.

Oscar and Lucinda also appears among Katharine Norbury's top ten books about rivers, the Guardian's ten best unconsummated passions in fiction, and Elise Valmorbida's top ten books on the migrant experience, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best horse races in literature, ten of the best fossils in literature, ten of the best thin men in literature and ten of the best card games in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Christine Husom reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Christine Husom, author of Frosty the Dead Man.

Her entry begins:
I have stacks and stacks of to-be-read books on my shelves, and each one seems to cry out, “Pick me, it’s my turn,” when I’m perusing through them. I discovered Up Like Thunder by Colin T Nelson was a treat to read. I first met Colin at a Twin Cities Sisters in Crime some years ago. Besides being a wonderful storyteller, he’s also a great guy, all around.

Up Like Thunder follows Investigator Pete Chandler from Minneapolis to Myanmar, the former Burma. Myanmar, after years of maintaining closed borders, began allowing tourists and limited business interests in the country in 2011. When Bridget Holmes, a young American woman who is working in the country, goes missing, her influential father contacts Chandler, and implores him to find Bridget and bring her home safely. Although it’s about the last thing on earth he wants to do, Chandler reluctantly agrees. He soon finds himself in a dangerous world he...[read on]
About Frosty the Dead Man, from the publisher:
A snow globe becomes a murder weapon in the latest cozy mystery from the national bestselling author of Snow Way Out and The Iced Princess.

Mayor Lewis Frost has always been known as Frosty to his friends—not that he has many these days. Controversies swirling around the city council have members wondering if Frosty is trying to snow them. After one councilman storms off in a huff, the mayor turns to curio shop manager Camryn Brooks and asks her to consider taking a seat on the council.

Later, when Cami goes to his office to discuss the proposal, her blood runs cold. She finds Frosty dead, and the very snow globe she sold him earlier that day lies in sparkling shards on his carpet—along with a large diamond. Does the snow globe—which features a peculiar tableau of an armed man and three menacing bears—hold a clue to Frosty’s demise? One way or another, it’s up to Cami to shake things up before the killer’s trail goes cold...
Visit Christine Husom's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Iced Princess.

My Book, The Movie: Frosty the Dead Man.

The Page 69 Test: Frosty the Dead Man.

Writers Read: Christine Husom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Seven novels with mind-bending chronologies

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged seven "books that mess with the fundamentals of time and space so thoroughly...[that it] can be an exhilarating experience." One title on the list:
Good as Gone, by Amy Gentry

Taking its cue from the horrific story of Elizabeth Smart, Gentry’s new thriller tells the story of a 13-year old girl, Julie Whitaker, who is kidnapped from her home while her younger sister cowers in the closet. Eight years later, Julie suddenly returns, telling a grim story of abuse, rape, and other horrors. The question of whether this really is Julie is up-front—but is clouded by the reverse chronology Gentry employs, and a series of first-person accounts by women and girls who may or may not be Julie or someone else. Gentry uses this technique to explore what makes us us, the very nature of identity—and the result is thrilling, if challenging on the first read-through.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Ayelet Waldman's "A Really Good Day"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life by Ayelet Waldman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A revealing, courageous, fascinating and funny account of the author’s experiment with microdoses of LSD in an effort to treat a debilitating mood disorder, of her quest to understand a misunderstood drug, and of her search for a really good day.

When a small vial arrives in her mailbox from "Lewis Carroll," Ayelet Waldman is at a low point. Her mood storms have become intolerably severe, she has tried nearly every medication possible, her husband and children are suffering with her. So she opens the vial, places two drops on her tongue, and joins the ranks of an underground, but increasingly vocal group of scientists and civilians successfully using therapeutic microdoses of LSD. As Waldman charts her experience over the course of a month-- bursts of productivity, sleepless nights, a newfound sense of equanimity--she also explores the history and mythology of LSD, the cutting-edge research into the drug, and the byzantine policies that control it. Drawing on her experience as a Federal public defender, and as the mother of teenagers, and her research into the therapeutic value of psychedelics, Waldman has produced a book that is eye-opening, often hilarious, and utterly enthralling.
Learn more about the author and her work at Ayelet Waldman's website.

The Page 69 Test: Love and Treasure.

The Page 69 Test: Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.

The Page 99 Test: A Really Good Day.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Gerald Brandt's "The Operative"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Operative by Gerald Brandt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Kris Merrill was a survivor. She’d lost her parents as a young girl, and she’d been forced to flee the dubious shelter of her aunt’s home at thirteen to escape the unwanted attentions of her uncle. She’d lived on the streets of San Angeles, finding refuge in the lowest level of the city. When she got the chance, Kris found a room to rent on Level 2, earning a precarious living as a motorcycle messenger, a courier delivering sensitive materials the megacorporations would not trust to any method that could be hacked.

A year ago, Kris’s life changed irrevocably when a delivery went terribly wrong, and she was targeted for termination by the Meridian corporation, one of the most powerful ofthe megaconglomerates that controlled the government. Salvation came in the form of Ian Miller, who rescued Kris from certain death, recruiting her for the underground resistance group of which he was a part.

Since then, Kris has been hidden with the resistance, training to become an operative. Just as her training with the anti-corporate movement is nearing its end, their compound is destroyed by surprise attack. Ready or not, Kris and the other trainees are recalled to the dangerous metropolis of San Angeles. But their transport is shot down and Ian Miller, the man she loves, is captured. Someone, it seems, is using him to get to Kris.

With the help of a retired operative with PTSD, and the mysterious man who fled the scene when Kris’s parents were killed, Kris searches for any sign of Ian. As the corporations battle civil unrest—and each other—the city slowly shuts down. Kris and San Angeles are running out of time….
Visit Gerald Brandt's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Operative.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five top books on media and government

Derek B. Miller's new novel is The Girl in Green. One of his five recommended books on media and government, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Lights, Camera, War: Is Media Technology Driving International Politics? by Johanna Neuman (1996)

Neuman was a White House correspondent, and twenty years ago she rightly wondered about who is leading whom in politics—if it's the media or the government. With Trump coming to power and what is likely to be an assault on free speech, free freedom, and media access (by controlling access to the White House, using favoritism as a carrot and threats as a stick, at the very least), Neuman helps us—like Mindich—see the big picture. Neuman helps us remember that all the discussions about "time and space shrinking" because of social media are almost exactly the conversations we had about the telegraph. We need this perspective, otherwise we'll ignore voices and ideas from the pre-Internet era at our peril.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see Derek B. Miller's ten top books about the Iraq War.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brad Ricca reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brad Ricca, author of Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation.

His entry begins:
I am reading The Complete Peanuts 1999-2000 by Charles Schulz that I just got for Christmas. Before you say are you twelve? I will politely respond that Peanuts has always been, for me, the best example of narrative storytelling there is. That, and I like stories about depressive kids with dogs. This is the last collection of Fantagraphics’ brilliant repackaging of the entire series so it’s a little bittersweet. Because though I don’t remember all the strips (though I read them all in the newspaper, more or less), I know the last one that waits for me at the end – that giant panel, full- shot of Snoopy waxing nostalgic over his typewriter as Schulz says goodbye. We knew he...[read on]
About Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, from the publisher:
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes tells the incredible true life story of Mrs. Grace Humiston, the New York lawyer and detective who solved the famous cold case of Ruth Cruger, an 18-year-old girl who disappeared in 1917. Grace was an amazing lawyer and traveling detective during a time when no women were practicing these professions. She focused on solving cases no one else wanted and advocating for innocents. Grace became the first female U.S. District Attorney and made ground-breaking investigations into modern slavery.

One of Grace's greatest accomplishments was solving the Cruger case after following a trail of corruption that lead from New York to Italy. Her work changed how the country viewed the problem of missing girls. But the victory came with a price when she learned all too well what happens when one woman upstages the entire NYPD.

In the literary tradition of In Cold Blood and The Devil in the White City, Brad Ricca's Mrs. Sherlock Holmes is a true crime tale told in spine-tingling fashion. This story is about a woman whose work was so impressive that the papers gave her the nickname of fiction’s greatest sleuth. With important repercussions in the present about kidnapping, the role of the media, and the truth of crime stories, the great mystery of the book – and its haunting twist ending – is how one woman can become so famous only to disappear completely.
Visit Brad Ricca's website.

The Page 99 Test: Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.

Writers Read: Brad Ricca.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about surviving surveillance

At Tor.com, Stephen W. Potts tagged five useful books about surviving surveillance, including:
1984 by George Orwell (1949)

1984 reflects the author’s concerns about the dictatorships of his time, although it was also inspired by his activity at BBC radio during World War II, rewriting the news to make it conform to the propaganda needs of wartime. Orwell extrapolated the growing influence of electronic media—radio, movies, and TV—and their potential for misuse by power, from the broadcasting of propaganda rallies to televisions that can watch us back. As a classic awful warning tale, it established the parameters for surviving (or not, in this case) the surveillance state.
Read about another book on the list.

Nineteen Eighty-four is on Linda Grant's top ten list of books about postwar Britain, Ella Cosmo's list of five fictional books-within-a-book too dangerous to read, the list of four books that changed Peter Twohig, the Guardian's list of the five worst book covers ever, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, W.B. Gooderham's top ten list of books given in books, Katharine Trendacosta and Amanda Yesilbas's list of ten paranoid science fiction stories that could help you survive, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Gabe Habash's list of ten songs inspired by books and a list of the 100 best last lines from novels. The book made Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels we pretend to have read, Juan E. Méndez's list of five books on torture, P. J. O’Rourke's list of the five best political satires, Daniel Johnson's five best list of books about Cold War culture, Robert Collins' top ten list of dystopian novels, Gemma Malley's top 10 list of dystopian novels for teenagers, is one of Norman Tebbit's six best books and one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It made a difference to Isla Fisher, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best Aprils in literature, ten of the best rats in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sibel Hodge's "Untouchable," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Untouchable by Sibel Hodge.

The entry begins:
When I'm writing a novel I always see the scenes playing out in my head like a movie so I visualise my characters easily, and I often picture actors/actresses. Untouchable is told by three different narrators: Jamie, Maya, and Mitchell, each with their own demons to deal with.

For Jamie, I'd choose Jamie Dornan. Ideally, he'd look as he did in The Fall, just without the serial killer bits! My Jamie has had a heartbreaking past to deal with, which slowly comes to light as the story unfolds. But I think Jamie Dornan would...[read on]
Visit Sibel Hodge's website.

My Book, The Movie: Untouchable.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What is Jonathan W. Stokes reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jonathan W. Stokes, author of Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas.

One book tagged in his entry:
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Extremely well written, keenly observed, often funny, often poignant, and without a single false note. The plot kept surprising me as well. It was a little experimental (an entire chapter without commas, for instance), but only in ways that served the narrative. Really ...[read on]
About Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas, from the publisher:
Twelve-year-old Addison Cooke just wishes something exciting would happen to him. His aunt and uncle, both world-famous researchers, travel to the ends of the earth searching for hidden treasure, dodging dangerous robbers along the way, while Addison is stuck in school all day.

Luckily for Addison, adventure has a way of finding the Cookes. After his uncle unearths the first ancient Incan clue needed to find a vast trove of lost treasure, he is kidnapped by members of a shadowy organization intent on stealing the riches. Addison’s uncle is the bandits’ key to deciphering the ancient clues and looting the treasure ... unless Addison and his friends can outsmart the kidnappers and crack the code first. So it’s off to South America, where the excitement, danger, gold, booby traps, and car chases are never-ending!

Full of laugh-out-loud moments and nonstop action, and perfect for fans of Indiana Jones or James Patterson’s Treasure Hunters series, Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas is sure to strike gold with kid readers.
Visit Jonathan W. Stokes's website.

Writers Read: Jonathan W. Stokes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Brad Ricca's "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City's Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation by Brad Ricca.

About the book, from the publisher:
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes tells the incredible true life story of Mrs. Grace Humiston, the New York lawyer and detective who solved the famous cold case of Ruth Cruger, an 18-year-old girl who disappeared in 1917. Grace was an amazing lawyer and traveling detective during a time when no women were practicing these professions. She focused on solving cases no one else wanted and advocating for innocents. Grace became the first female U.S. District Attorney and made ground-breaking investigations into modern slavery.

One of Grace's greatest accomplishments was solving the Cruger case after following a trail of corruption that lead from New York to Italy. Her work changed how the country viewed the problem of missing girls. But the victory came with a price when she learned all too well what happens when one woman upstages the entire NYPD.

In the literary tradition of In Cold Blood and The Devil in the White City, Brad Ricca's Mrs. Sherlock Holmes is a true crime tale told in spine-tingling fashion. This story is about a woman whose work was so impressive that the papers gave her the nickname of fiction’s greatest sleuth. With important repercussions in the present about kidnapping, the role of the media, and the truth of crime stories, the great mystery of the book – and its haunting twist ending – is how one woman can become so famous only to disappear completely.
Visit Brad Ricca's website.

The Page 99 Test: Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books that weigh the pros & cons of immortality

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. One of seven books that weigh the pros and cons of immortality that he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Stubs, The Skill of Our Hands by Steven Brust and Skyler White

For thousands of years, a small group of dedicated individuals have been making our world a better place. While they move slowly, and change things in increments, they’re responsible for bringing humanity into the 21st century and clearing the way for incredible progress, both technologically and socially. When one of these “Incrementalists” dies, their soul and memories are stored in a “stub,” a kind of mystical receptacle for consciousness that allows them to be rehoused in a new body when the remaining Incrementalists find a willing candidate. The candidate then resumes helping to change the world in whatever ways they can…after a period of adjustment.

Pros: This is a pretty cool one. For the price of a hangover and weird dreams, you’re given the ability to influence people and change the world with just a few words. You’re also given your own backdoor into a dimension that functions as a collective subconscious, the guarantee of immortality, and a support network to help you adjust. On top of money, connections, and anything else you could think of…
Cons: …provided you win a mental coin toss that means your consciousness doesn’t get overwritten by the host body your friends decide to put you into. And provided you won the same coin flip when it was your turn to play host. Otherwise, chances are you just got overwritten, either by the host body, or by the incoming stub. On top of which, I cannot emphasize this enough, it’s not particularly fun to have a nightmare-causing piece of wood stabbed into your brain, regardless of how awesome the rewards are.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Laura Benedict's "The Abandoned Heart"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Abandoned Heart: A Bliss House Novel by Laura Benedict.

About the book, from the publisher:
Three women. A cursed house. Generations of lives at stake. The third novel in the acclaimed Bliss House series reveals the secret that started it all.

There is no bliss to be found in Bliss House. In Old Gate, Virginia, stands a grand house built by Randolph Bliss, a charming New York carpetbagger who, in 1878, shook off dire warnings to build his home elsewhere. For the ground beneath Bliss House is tainted with the kind of tragedy that curses generations, seeping through the foundation and sowing madness in its wake. His first and second wives, and his young Japanese mistress, Kiku, bear witness to Randolph’s growing insanity with stories of his cruel manipulations and their desperate struggles to find happiness for themselves and their children. Their desire to live and love and even take revenge also fills the house, triumphing even over death. Spanning half a century, The Abandoned Heart is the prequel to Charlotte’s Story and Bliss House, forming a trilogy of southern Gothic novels in which one haunted house begets haunted lives that echo over centuries. A haunting so powerful that even Bliss House’s destruction cannot kill it.
Visit Laura Benedict's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bliss House.

The Page 69 Test: The Abandoned Heart.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ten top books about wild women

Danielle Dutton is the author of the novel, Margaret the First. One of her ten top books about wild women, as shared at the Guardian:
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

Better known as a surrealist painter, Carrington was equally strange and ferocious as a fiction writer. This 1976 novel centres on a band of gutsy old ladies as they revolt against the petty despots and quack psychiatrists running a bizarro retirement community like something out of Alice in Wonderland. When it isn’t weird like a David Lynch movie, it’s sweet like an old-lady buddy novel; then it’s a biting satire of power structures; then it’s a mystical fable of the occult.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tony Healey's "Hope's Peak," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Hope's Peak by Tony Healey.

The entry begins:
When I was writing Hope's Peak, I only had one actress in mind for the main character of Jane Harper. Anna Torv really wowed me in Fringe, playing Olivia Dunham. She has swagger, and confidence, but is really able to portray true emotion, and is a joy to watch.

For the serial killer, Lester Simmons, I always pictured Tom...[read on]
Visit Tony Healey's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Hope's Peak.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best morally complex YA novels

One title on Melissa Albert's list of seven top morally complex YA novels, as shared at the BN Teen blog:
Some Girls Are, by Courtney Summers

Regina is a pitiless mean girl at the top of her high school’s food chain—until she puts her trust in the wrong person following a rape attempt by her best friend’s boyfriend. Her friends turn on her, their abuse rapidly escalates, and the only people willing to put a hand out to help are two former victims of her clique’s mindlessly cruel scorched-earth campaigns. Regina endures the growing pains of her stunted conscience, and balancing righteous anger with the knowledge that she’s getting exactly what she once dished out. The book stuns and terrifies with its vividly believable vision of trial-by-peer, and the brutality of a teen world adult rules can’t penetrate.
Read about another entry on the list.

Some Girls Are is among Jenny Kawecki's top six YA novels that "take your stereotypical mean girl and give her agency, motives, an inner life" and Dahlia Adler's top five dark YA novels for Heathers fans and top five YA books told from the bully’s perspective.

The Page 69 Test: Some Girls Are.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Ellie Alexander reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Ellie Alexander, author of Fudge and Jury: A Bakeshop Mystery #5.

Her entry begins:
I just finished The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. I picked it up at my favorite bookshop a few months ago because the title struck me as did this introduction: “Monsieur Perdu is a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs. Perdu mends broken hearts and souls.”

How could I not immediately fall in love with a novel centered around the power of books? There’s something magical about the concept of finding the perfect book to heal or transform. It’s as if each of us has a book soulmate. The right words destined to change our lives are floating out there waiting for us to discover them. So I snapped up a copy of The Little Paris Bookshop and couldn’t wait to dive in.

But before I could start reading...[read on]
About Fudge and Jury, from the publisher:
Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious…and, now, suspicious.

It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter—unless murder taints the batter.

Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for—literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead…right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?
Visit Ellie Alexander's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fudge and Jury.

The Page 69 Test: Fudge and Jury.

Writers Read: Ellie Alexander.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Five dystopian worlds that might actually work

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged five dystopian societies that might actually function. One title on the list:
Panem (The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins)

At first blush, Collins’ dystopia seems to play fast and loose with the future: Panem is divided up into Districts, each of which provides basically one thing—coal, wheat, livestock—with the citizens of each District doomed to remain there, regardless of their talents or wishes. But this system might actually work if the central government put enough effort into stopping people from cheating, which it apparently does (if you consider slaughtering dissenters effort). The reason it might work is simple: the government is artificially controlling supply, demand, and wages everywhere, simultaneously, which create systemic stability—again, assuming no meddling kids get big ideas. It’s almost like there would be no stories at all if not for those meddling kids.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on P.C. Cast’s top ten list of all-time favorite reads for fantasy fans, Keith Yatsuhashi's list of five gateway books that opened the door for him to specific genres, Catherine Doyle's top ten list of doomed romances in YA fiction, Ryan Britt's list of six of the best Scout Finches -- "headstrong, stalwart, and true" young characters -- from science fiction and fantasy, Natasha Carthew's top ten list of revenge reads, Anna Bradley ten best list of literary quotes in a crisis, Laura Jarratt's top ten list of YA thrillers with sisters, Jeff Somers's top eight list of revolutionary SF/F novels, Tina Connolly's top five list of books where the girl saves the boy, Sarah Alderson's top ten list of feminist icons in children's and teen books, Jonathan Meres's top ten list of books that are so unfair, SF Said's top ten list of unlikely heroes, Rebecca Jane Stokes's top ten list of fictional families you could probably abide during holiday season and top eight list of books perfect for reality TV fiends, Chrissie Gruebel's list of favorite fictional fashion icons, Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Christine Husom's "Frosty the Dead Man"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Frosty the Dead Man by Christine Husom.

About the book, from the publisher:
A snow globe becomes a murder weapon in the latest cozy mystery from the national bestselling author of Snow Way Out and The Iced Princess.

Mayor Lewis Frost has always been known as Frosty to his friends—not that he has many these days. Controversies swirling around the city council have members wondering if Frosty is trying to snow them. After one councilman storms off in a huff, the mayor turns to curio shop manager Camryn Brooks and asks her to consider taking a seat on the council.

Later, when Cami goes to his office to discuss the proposal, her blood runs cold. She finds Frosty dead, and the very snow globe she sold him earlier that day lies in sparkling shards on his carpet—along with a large diamond. Does the snow globe—which features a peculiar tableau of an armed man and three menacing bears—hold a clue to Frosty’s demise? One way or another, it’s up to Cami to shake things up before the killer’s trail goes cold...
Visit Christine Husom's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Iced Princess.

My Book, The Movie: Frosty the Dead Man.

The Page 69 Test: Frosty the Dead Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books with unforgettable animal sidekicks

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

Bickle's new novel is Nine of Stars.

Among the author's five favorite books with unforgettable animal sidekicks, as shared at Tor.com:
TALAT THE HORSE, AND THE FOLTSZA AND YERIG ARMIES in The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

Every young dragon slayer needs a trusty steed, and Talat serves Aerin loyally. As her father’s injured war horse put out to pasture, he provides unconditional love for an overlooked young woman with no magic. Talat heroically brings the young dragon slayer home, every time.

As Aerin gathers her army to save her kingdom, she wins the trust of the giant wild cats, the foltsza, and the wolf-like yerig. Her all-furry army helps her defeat the enemy, as the creatures follow her where no other human would dare go.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kevin Dann's "Expect Great Things"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Expect Great Things: The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau by Kevin Dann.

About the book, from the publisher:
To coincide with the bicentennial of Thoreau's birth in 2017, this thrilling, meticulous biography by naturalist and historian Kevin Dann fills a gap in our understanding of one modern history's most important spiritual visionaries by capturing the full arc of Thoreau's life as a mystic, spiritual seeker, and explorer in transcendental realms.

This sweeping, epic biography of Henry David Thoreau sees Thoreau's world as the mystic himself saw it: filled with wonder and mystery; Native American myths and lore; wood sylphs, nature spirits, and fairies; battles between good and evil; and heroic struggles to live as a natural being in an increasingly synthetic world.

Above all, Expect Great Things critically and authoritatively captures Thoreau's simultaneously wild and intellectually keen sense of the mystical, mythical, and supernatural.

Other historians have skipped past or undervalued these aspects of Thoreau's life. In this groundbreaking work, historian and naturalist Kevin Dann restores Thoreau's esoteric visions and explorations to their rightful place as keystones of the man himself.
Visit Kevin Dann's website.

The Page 99 Test: Expect Great Things.

--Marshal Zeringue