Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Six top YA novels set in college

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog, Dahlia Adler tagged six top YA novels set in college, including:
Love Story, by Jennifer Echols

Erin and Hunter are new freshmen with an old shared past—one that unfolds throughout the book as their writing assignments turn into passive-aggressive jabs at each other and the secrets they keep. Echols is nothing if not a master of YA swoon (you may as well add Going Too Far to your cart; you won’t be sorry), and the romance is among her steamy best, but, for this creative writing minor, it’s the painfully accurate depiction of the critique circles that make this one of my college-set faves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 1, 2014

Six top biographies of underappreciated historical figures

A. Scott Berg has written five biographies including Lindbergh, a 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner, and Wilson, a portrait of the 28th U.S. president. One of his six favorite biographies of underappreciated historical figures, as shared at The Week magazine:
A Country of Vast Designs by Robert Merry

Dwarfed by other political personalities in his time, James K. Polk stands tall in Merry's illuminating biography. The 11th U.S. president proves to be a commanding figure, acquiring the western third of continental America…and a conquistador mentality with it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Country of Vast Designs is one of John Steele Gordon's five best books about one term presidents.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Top ten books about serial killers

Laura McHugh's debut novel is The Weight Of Blood. One of her ten favorite books about serial killers, as shared at the Telegraph:
RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris

Harris does an incredible job of developing his serial-killer characters and making them deeply horrifying, and “The Tooth Fairy” in this novel is one of his best. Rarely have I felt so intimately acquainted with a sadistic killer.
Read about the other books on the list.

Red Dragon also appears Kimberly Turner's list of the ten most disturbing sociopaths, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best dragons in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, and among the Telegraph's 110 best books; Andre Gross says "it should be taught as [a text] in Thriller 101."

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Top ten twisted histories

Christopher Edge is the author of the Twelve Minutes to Midnight series and other books.

For the Guardian, he tagged his ten favorite twisted histories (also known as alternate histories, counterfactuals, "what-if" fiction), including:
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Set in an alternate 1985 where superheroes are real, Richard Nixon is still the US president and the doomsday clock is ticking ever closer to midnight, this groundbreaking graphic novel helped launch geek culture: changing the world of comics from four-colour fandom to the 3D Hollywood-devouring spectacle we see today.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Watchmen also appears among Jo Nesbø's 7 favorite books, Ian Rankin's six best books, and Lev Grossman's top ten graphic novels list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five top new girl-powered sci-fi and fantasy novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Nicole Hill tagged five of the best new girl-powered sci-fi and fantasy novels, including:
The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen

Johansen juxtaposes medieval high fantasy with dystopian future in this debut. After a childhood spent in hiding, 19-year-old Kelsea makes the perilous journey to assume the throne of the Tear that has been vacant (aside from her scheming, laughably dastardly uncle, The Regent) since her mother’s death. The Tear, a downtrodden kingdom whose capital is New London, is not, as you’d expect, set in the past. Instead, this civilization—along with the adjacent, antagonistic Mortmesne and a handful of other city-states—is the result of a great migration following an environmental catastrophe in our own time. (Just as we read the texts of Plutarch to understand the ancients, Kelsea looks to J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien.) As Kelsea attempts to clean up a dominion in disarray, it quickly becomes apparent to both readers and every man she comes across that this queen is no pushover. In fact, she could be a savior.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The top ten fictitious biographies

Jonathan Gibbs is a writer and journalist born in Trinidad, raised in Essex, and living, now, in London. His debut novel is Randall.

For the Guardian, Gibbs tagged his top ten biographies of made-up persons as if they were real. (Note: these books are not fictionalized biographies – novels based on the life of a famous person. Those are more common.) One title on the list:
The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Vladimir Nabokov

It's no surprise that many "fictitious biographies" include a fair bit of the biographer in their narrative. The model for this is surely AJA Symons's The Quest for Corvo, with its detective story premise, which came out shortly before Nabokov started writing this, his first English language book. It is the tale of celebrated writer Sebastian Knight, told by his half-brother, V, though as you'd expect with this author the elusive quarry retreats even as the befuddled hunter advances, and by the end we're as uncertain about the one as we are about the other.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight appears on Louise Welsh's literary top 10.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Twenty books as great today as they were in the 90s

At the Huffington Post, Stephen Graham Jones tagged twenty books as great today as they were in the 90s, including:
Bastard Out of Carolina (1993):

And this book changed me, too. You mean, if I wanted to, I could just write about where I grew up? And I don't have to sell it as exotic or weird, I can just tell it the way it is? For some reason I had never considered that. And, Dorothy Alison has one of the four or five best scenes in all of bookdom in Bastard: her uncle's out there driving the backroads, seeking justice but really it's just a gesture. It's a gesture we all find ourselves making. I would like to erase my mind, please, and read this one all over again for the first time.
Read about the other books on the list.

Bastard Out of Carolina is on Hanna McGrath's list of five favorite child narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Four must-read science fiction debuts

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Paul Goat Allen tagged four must-read science fiction debuts, including:
RedDevil 4, by Eric C. Leuthardt

A science-fiction thriller that is as thematically powerful as Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, this debut novel—set in the year 2053—is flawless. Featuring a cast of brilliantly developed characters, breakneck pacing, and literally nonstop action, the storyline revolves around the spread of a virus in neuroprosthetic implants (used by the majority of the population to stay connected to the Internet) that turns ordinary people into mindless murderers. Not only is Leuthardt’s portrayal of the near future meticulously described and incredibly plausible, the social and political implications of humankind “upgrading” their consciousnesses are chilling to say the least. If you like your thrillers heaped with a healthy dose of scientific speculation, you’re going to love RedDevil 4.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best vampire novels ever

At SciFiNow Jonathan Hatfull tagged the ten best vampire novels ever, including:

Anne Rice’s vampire novels are arguably the most influential post-Stoker interpretation of vampires. Her elegant, disaffected, beautiful, tragic creations staring longingly at each others’ throats paved the way for the waves of imitators that followed. While her later novels would focus on Lestat, it’s the “happy family” of Claudia, Louis and Lestat at the centre of this first novel that makes it so memorable. The character of Claudia, trapped in a child’s body forever, is more interesting than the impulsive, rebellious Lestat, but possibly less fun.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Interview With The Vampire is among Ryan Menezes' top five movies that improved the book, Will Hill's top 10 vampires in fiction and popular culture, and Lynda Resnick's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 25, 2014

Five engaging novels that will make you a more interesting conversationalist

At the Telegraph, Radhika Sanghani recommended five books "guaranteed to stimulate your evening drinks – but not bore you on the beach," including:
The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

I absolutely loved this book. It’s the epic tale of a young South African woman called Nombeko. At the start of the book, she’s 14-years-old and working in the sewers. By the end? She’s owned diamonds, hung out with political officials, learnt Chinese and taken charge of a missile.

The novel is hilarious, sad and very, very clever. It’s guaranteed to make you think about current affairs (South Africa’s nuclear missiles, in particular). But it’s also about those vast themes of the human condition: honesty, luck, hard-work and an acceptance that life will always be unpredictable. The only problem with this book? It's such addictive reading that you might not want to talk to anyone – you’ll just want to keep on turning the pages.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The twenty best British and Irish novels of all time

One title on the Telegraph's list of the twenty best British and Irish novels of all time:
The Sea
John Banville (2005)

A masterful exploration of memory, and of loss, Banville’s Booker-winning novel focuses on an art historian reaching back to the seaside years of his childhood, and of the people and experiences and loves that have subsequently shaped the meaning of his life.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Sea is on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books from Ireland's newer voices and John Mullan's list of ten of the best swimming scenes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ten top first lines in children's and teen books

Jon Walter is the author of the novel Close To The Wind.

One of his ten top first lines in children's and teen books, as shared at the Guardian:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.
This book has a fantastic opening as we follow the knife and the hand that holds it, letting it lead us through a murder scene in search of a missing baby, the last one to be killed. This masterful device puts the gruesome scene at a safe enough distance for us to cope with and means we are rooting for the hero's escape before we've even met him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Graveyard Book is among Helen Grant's ten "best books with settings that are strikingly brought to life" and Nevada Barr's 6 favorite books.

Also see: Top ten opening lines of novels in the English language.

--Marshal Zeringue