Friday, March 6, 2015

Ten top castles in fiction

Jessamy Taylor is the author of King’s Company, an historical adventure story.

At the Guardian she tagged her ten top castles in fiction, including:
The Castle of the Forest Sauvage, from The Sword in the Stone by TH White

TH White’s castle is solid and warm, a paradise for children to grow up in. His version of medieval England, where ruddy-faced barons are fatherly landlords to a contented peasantry, is a myth – his description of an idyllic Christmas in the castle finishes: “Even the weather behaved itself”. But it’s a lovely fantasy, of freedom and security combined. As the year turns and the Wart learns his lessons from Merlin, Sir Ector’s castle is the safe home at the end of all his adventures, until he leaves for London, and the sword which waits in the stone.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Sword in the Stone is on John Dougherty's top ten list of fictional badgers and Gill Lewis's top ten list of birds in books; it is the first part of The Once and Future King, which is among Philip Womack's best classic children's books and Lev Grossman's five top fantasy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ten top books about women in the 1950s

Virginia Nicholson is the author of Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: The Story of Women in the 1950s.

At the Guardian, she tagged her ten top books about women in the 1950s, including:
A Fine Day for a Hanging by Carol Ann Lee

The story of women in the 1950s would not be complete without telling the bitter tale of the nightclub hostess Ruth Ellis, who in 1955 became the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Carol Ann Lee’s sympathetic disentangling of the evidence produces much new material and gives an account of Ellis that today would have spared her the noose. Probably abused as a child, she was certainly on the receiving end of snobbery, bullying, violence. Lee also points out that she was discriminated against for being a woman who not only needed but wanted to pursue ambitions outside the home.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The 19 books on the "How to be a man" reading list

At the Telegraph Chris Moss tagged "19 books - novels, poetry and non-fiction - that provide life lessons, relationship counselling and sex education for the modern male," including:
Fight Club (1996)

Chuck Palahniuk’s exploration of the sickness of modern masculinity wrought by consumerism and our belonging to “a generation of men raised by women” is better known in its film version, but the book has a verve all of its own. When two men decide to establish a bare-knuckle fight club with a strict patriarchy in their bid to self-heal, they find no shortage of willing combatants.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

Fight Club is among E. Lockhart's seven favorite suspense novels, Joel Cunningham's top five books short enough to polish off in an afternoon, but deep enough to keep you thinking long into the night, Kathryn Williams's eight craziest unreliable narrators in fiction, Jessica Soffer's ten best book endings, Sebastian Beaumont's top ten books about psychological journeys, and Pauline Melville's top ten revolutionary tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top ten books about love

Jemma Forte's novels include If You’re Not the One and When I Met You.

One of her top ten books about love, as shared at the Daily Express:
The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford

As much as I’m opposed to the rather lazy over used tag ‘chick lit’ that doesn’t mean to say I don’t enjoy reading light, witty, clever books about trying to meet Mr Right and love.

It all comes down to how they’re written and I can only imagine how much this book was adored back in the 1940’s when it first appeared. The fact that it still reads so well now tells you all you need to know about the extraordinary skill of the writer.

This book is timeless, full of energy and the humour and fun shine off the page. It’s also fascinating because it’s such a great account of what it was like to be an aristocratic female during this period.

Nancy Mitford was a blue blood and this book is largely autobiographical, something which is true of so many debuts.

Written during a time when upper class society girls were expected to ‘marry not fall in love’ this is about love and growing up, so something we can all relate to (even if we’re still trying to achieve that…)
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Pursuit of Love is among Anjelica Huston's seven favorite books, Elizabeth Buchan's top ten books to comfort & console during a divorce, and Anna Quindlen's five best novels on women in search of themselves.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tatjana Soli's six favorite books that conjure exotic locales

Tatjana Soli is the author of The Lotus Eaters, The Forgetting Tree, and The Last Good Paradise.

One of her six favorite books that conjure exotic locales, as shared at The Week magazine:
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I love novels like this that create their own microcosm of the world. In an unnamed South American country, guests at a fancy birthday party are kidnapped by terrorists. The outcome is unexpected and magical. I reread this novel whenever I want to remind myself about the possibilities of literature.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Bel Canto is among Kathryn Williams's six top novels set in just one place, Dell Villa's top eight books to read when you’re in the mood to cry for days, John Mullen's ten best birthday parties in literature, and Joyce Hackett's top ten musical novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Five top books about revenge

Fanny Blake's books include With a Friend Like You, The Secrets Women Keep, What Women Want, and Women of a Dangerous Age.

One of her five top books about revenge, as shared at the Daily Express:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The snowballing story of the disintegrating marriage of Amy and Nick Dunne opens with the disappearance of Amy on their fifth anniversary.

Nick is soon the prime suspect for her murder. But, as in the rest of this novel, appearances are deceptive.

Taking revenge on Nick for his infidelity and other failures as a husband, Amy has concocted a plot to destroy him that’s so devious, it’s brilliant.

But her plan for revenge spirals into something else. I can’t say more without plot-spoiling.
Read about the other books on the list.

Gone Girl made Monique Alice's list of six great fictional evil geniuses, Jeff Somers's lists of six books that’ll make you glad you’re single and five books with an outstanding standalone scene that can be read on its own, Lucie Whitehouse's ten top list of psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart and Kathryn Williams's list of eight of fiction’s craziest unreliable narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Peter Twohig

Peter Twohig was a rock musician, public servant, management consultant and naturopath before turning to full-time writing. He has degrees in professional writing and philosophy, and lives on the NSW Central Coast. His first novel, The Cartographer, won the prestigious Ned Kelly Award. Its sequel, The Torch, is "a novel about innocence for grown-ups" set in 1960s Melbourne.

One of four books that changed him, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

Anthony Burgess

This was the book that showed me it's the artist who determines art, not society. Burgess freely invented an argot for the main characters, then played with it happily, if darkly. It was impossible not to be drawn into thought-forms conjured by the slang, not to enjoy the evil. What a thrilling power to possess. I wanted it. I read the book when I was 15; shortly after, I would hear a similar linguistic power on the radio. It was John Lennon.
Read about the other books on the list.

A Clockwork Orange is among Darren Shan's top ten books about outsiders for teenagers, Ian Rankin's six best books, and Laura Hird's literary top ten.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Six top SF/F novels with non-white protagonists

Lauren Naturale likes literary fantasy, the gothic, historical fiction, and sensational things to read on trains; she writes in and about all of these genres.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog she tagged six SF/F novels with non-white protagonists that aren’t by Octavia Butler, including:
Half-Resurrection Blues, by Daniel José Older

Older’s first novel, but third published book—he’s also the author of Salsa Nocturna, a collection of short stories, and one of the editors of Long Hidden, an anthology of diverse historical SFF —details the adventures of Carlos Delacruz, an “inbetweener” in a vividly realized alternate Brooklyn where ghosts and demons roam openly (still recognizable as the Brooklyn of our own world, where the walking dead are a bit more discreet). Carlos, who’s neither dead nor alive, works for the New York Council of the Dead (NYCOD) as a kind of mediator between the two worlds. When another inbetweener releases a horde of demons, it’s up to Carlos to stop him from before he destroys the city.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 27, 2015

Top ten bad boys with good(ish) hearts in YA fiction

Catherine Doyle lives in the west of Ireland. She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in English from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Vendetta, her debut novel, is the first part of the Blood for Blood series.

For the Guardian she tagged her top ten bad boys with good(ish) hearts in YA fiction, including:
Dante Walker in the Dante Walker series by Victoria Scott

"But let me tell ya, spend every day living only for yourself, every day indulging in little sins that aren’t that big of a deal, and one day I may be showing you the ropes in hell. Amen."
― Victoria Scott, The Collector

Dante Walker is about as bad as they come. Sinfully attractive, this boy is, quite literally, bad to the bone. Hailing from hell and on a mission to bring good people down with him, he collects souls for the Devil himself, and Dante definitely doesn’t care about where they come from. That is, until he encounters Charlie Cooper. Dante’s cavalier attitude to morality meshes seamlessly with both arrogance and charm, but when he meets his new good-girl target, he gets more than he bargained for. For the first time, being bad doesn’t feel so good, and unassuming, selfless Charlie Cooper is the only person who can show him that.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Collector.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Seven books to celebrate the Year of the Sheep

At B & N Reads Ginni Chen tagged seven books to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Sheep, including:
The Woman Warrior, by Maxine Hong Kingston

No exploration of the Chinese immigrant experience in America is complete without Kingston’s critically acclaimed The Woman Warrior. Part autobiography, part collection of Chinese folk tales, this book explores a Chinese American woman’s navigation of life in 20th-century America and the age-old stories of her roots.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Woman Warrior is among Eva Hoffman's top five striking memoirs and Julia Alvarez's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten fictional troublemakers

Matt Sumell's new book is Making Nice.

One of the author's top ten fictional troublemakers, as shared at the Guardian:
Guy Grand in The Magic Christian by Terry Southern

A hilarious billionaire determines to prove that there is nothing so awful that someone won’t do it for money. Whether it’s paying parking officers enormous amounts of money to eat the tickets, bribing an actor on a live TV show to deviate from the script, or buying a prestigious advertising firm just to install a pygmy as the president – it’s a book so funny and irreverent it led to Stanley Kubrick hiring Southern for Dr Strangelove.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Six great fictional evil geniuses

At B & N Reads Monique Alice tagged six great fictional evil geniuses, including:
Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of The Lambs and The Hannibal Lecter Series, by Thomas Harris)

If “evil genius” were a phrase in the dictionary, there’s a good chance the definition would include a picture of Hannibal Lecter. Part of what terrifies us so much about him is his grisly taste for human flesh (he even pairs it with fancy wines!), but this proclivity can be understood as merely the manifestation of Hannibal’s desire to dissect, possess, and consume his victims psychologically. We have no trouble believing that, had Dr. Lecter used his clinical cunning for good, he would have been a superb psychotherapist. Instead, it’s up to Agent Starling to get inside Lecter’s mind without letting him take control of her own.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Silence of The Lambs is among sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards. Red Dragon appears on Kimberly Turner's list of the ten most disturbing sociopaths in literature and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best dragons in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, and the (U.K.) Telegraph 110 best books; Andre Gross says "it should be taught as [a text] in Thriller 101."

--Marshal Zeringue