Friday, August 26, 2016

Seven notable angry YA protagonists

At the BN Teen blog Sarah Skilton tagged seven notable angry YA protagonists, including:
Imogen in Bruised, by Sarah Skilton

Full disclosure: I wrote this one, and I put my heroine through the wringer. When Imogen witnesses a robbery and fails to prevent the shooting that follows, she blames herself for the loss of life. Why? Because she’s a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and has been training for years to handle that type of situation. Anger at herself, her womanizing older brother, her parents, her TKD instructor, and her friends manifests in the urge to participate in a real fight, no holds barred, no padding, and most importantly, no protective gear. Will she get her wish? And what will it do to her if she does?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ten essential books about The Beatles

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged ten top books about The Beatles, including:
Here, There and Everywhere, by Geoff Emerick

Emerick was the sound engineer on two of The Beatles’ most popular albums, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which arrived after the band gave up live performances to focus on working in the studio. The sound of these two albums reverberates through pop music today. Emerick offers a nice balance of engineering geekery and straightforward explanation that will make you hear the music differently.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Philip Norman's ten top books about The Beatles and five top books on The Beatles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten seaside novels

Alison Moore's first novel, The Lighthouse, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Awards (New Writer of the Year), winning the McKitterick Prize. Both The Lighthouse and her second novel, He Wants, were Observer Books of the Year. Moore's new novel is Death and the Seaside.

One of the author's ten top seaside novels, as shared at the Guardian:
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (2007)

In the summer of 1962, Edward and Florence are honeymooning in a hotel on the Dorset coast. On their first night, as they sit down to supper, they are all too aware of the view, through the open bedroom door, of a four-poster bed with a pure-white bedcover. With the point of view shifting tidally between them, the narrative traces the couple’s history, their anxieties, and the crucial failures of communication and understanding that lead to the story’s painful denouement.
Read about the other entries on the list.

On Chesil Beach also appears among Radhika Sanghani ten top books about losing one's virginity, Ella Berthoud's five top books on love, Eli Gottlieb's top 10 scenes from the battle of the sexes, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best honeymoons in literature, ten of the best beaches in literature, ten best marital arguments in literature, and ten of the best failed couplings in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Five terrific novels about art and artists

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five top novels about art and artists, including:
The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins

In this novel that seamlessly weaves together historical and contemporary fiction, a writer named Marianne Wiggins (who has some biographical overlap with the author) has written a book about Edward Curtis, the famed photographer of Native Americans and other inhabitants of the old West. Some disturbing news about her wayward father sends her on a roadtrip and gets her meditating on the life of Curtis. A section of the book is told from the perspective of Curtis’s frequently abandoned wife, Clara. Clara remembers what her dad told her about artists: “Talent, her father used to say, is more abundant than you think. You have to have the temperament to tolerate hard work. You have to flirt with luck. You have to take the chances that most people wouldn’t take.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eight speculative works narrated by dead people

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged eight speculative works with dead narrators, including:
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold

Perhaps the most famous modern example of the form, Sebold’s bestseller is both a meditation of what death does to the survivors who must reassemble their lives with one huge piece missing, and an exploration of one possible version of the afterlife. As the novel opens, 14-year-old Susie Solomon is cruising around a strange version of heaven that is shaped by her own living dreams and imaginings, even as she peers into the lives and hearts of her surviving family members—and spies on the man who murdered her. Though a literary sensation, this one could easily be shelved with other works of fantasy, as the speculative elements only become more prominent as the book reaches its somber, sad, ultimately uplifting finale.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Lovely Bones is among Nadiya Hussain's six best books, Judith Claire Mitchell's ten best (unconventional) ghosts, Laura McHugh's ten favorite books about serial killers, and Tamzin Outhwaite's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 22, 2016

Seven of the most unlikely platonic pairings in YA lit

At the BN Teen Blog Sarah Hannah Gómez tagged seven of the most unlikely platonic pairings in YA lit, including:
Dess and Hope (Peas and Carrots, by Tanita S. Davis)

Dess just wants to be reunited with her baby brother, but that means going to live with his foster family, since they haven’t seen their biological mother in years. And when Dess arrives, she finds she has a foster sister just her age, Hope. They are instant enemies. Hope sees Dess as rude, and she doesn’t like that Dess already seems to be fitting in with the cooler kids at school. But being forced to live together helps them to start seeing the ways they can help each other.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Five fantasy books you won’t find in the fantasy section

Michael Swanwick has received the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards for his work. His newest collection of short fiction is Not So Much Said the Cat. One of Swanwick's top five fantasy books you won’t find in the fantasy section, as shared at Tor.com:
Ragnarok by A. S. Byatt

Commissioned to rework a myth in novella form, Byatt chose to concentrate on a “thin child” in WWII Britain who knows her RAF pilot father will not return from the war. The girl (Byatt herself) discovers a book on the Norse gods, whose vivid, terrifying stories have much greater application to what feels like the end of the world than do those of the kindly god she hears in church. Ragnarok is full of invention, Rándrasill, the undersea mega-kelp equivalent of Yggdrasil, the World-Tree, being a particularly brilliant example. Byatt also provides unexpected insights into the original myths. She points out, for example, that Loki can change shape when none of the other gods can, and then draws a moving portrait of his strange yet loving relationship with his daughter, the world-serpent.

In addition to everything else, Ragnarok serves as a lovely introduction to Byatt’s longer works.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five fabulous works of fiction for musicians

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five fabulous works of fiction for musicians, including:
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett

Patchett’s riveting 2001 novel involves an opera singer who is taken hostage at the home of the Vice President of an unnamed South American country. In order to entice Katsumi Hosokawa, a Japanese business executive and opera lover, to invest in his country, the Vice President throws him a birthday party featuring the soprano Roxane Cross. When terrorists break in and discover that their target, the President, has not attended the party, they decide to hold everyone hostage. During this crisis, two pairs of characters fall in love. Patchett was inspired by the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru in 1996, thinking it sounded operatic, and according to the Chicago Tribune, her working title for the book was “How to Fall in Love with Opera.” An editor talked her out of that one, worried it would be filed in the how-to section. Patchett’s love of opera was requited: last year the Lyric Opera adapted Bel Canto into an opera.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Bel Canto is among Jeff Somers's top five novels set in a single pressure cooker location, Tatjana Soli's six favorite books that conjure exotic locales, 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

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Five notable gateway books

Keith Yatsuhashi's debut novel is Kojiki. One of five gateway books that opened the door for him to specific genres, as shared at Tor.com:
Gateway to Post-apocalyptic: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

I know The Hunger Games could fit nicely in the post-apocalyptic sub-genre, but that series started me reading YA, so I needed something else. The title that hit the spot for me here was M.R. Carey’s grim The Girl with All the Gifts. This book is horrific and exhilarating, and for some unknown reason, reminds me of Ridley Scott’s Alien. Maybe because it’s elegant, or maybe it’s because Carey took a tried-and-true formula—zombies, end of the world, survival, etc.—and turned the whole clichéd premise on its head and made it something completely new. I blew through this book in a day or two because I was riveted. The Girl with All the Gifts isn’t as well known as the others on this list, but it should be.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Girl with All the Gifts is among C. A. Higgins's top five books with plot twists that flip your perception.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 19, 2016

Twelve kick-ass women from sci-fi and fantasy

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. His new story is The Stringer.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Somers tagged twelve kick-ass women from sci-fi and fantasy whose strength doesn’t necessarily imply masculine traits, including:
Tan-Tan, Midnight Robber, by Nalo Hopkinson

When her father commits an unforgivable sin, Tan-Tan is banished along with him to the alien world of New Half-Way Tree, where the castoffs of a technologically advanced future Earth must eke out a primitive kind of survival among a strange alien race. Brutalized by her father, Tan-Tan kills him in self-defense, and flees into the forests, where she must contend with hardship, integrate herself into an alien society, and plan her revenge against those responsible for her situation. By the time she takes on the mantle of the Midnight Robber, a Robin Hood-like character who takes from the rich, Tan-Tan has hardened herself to the point she’s hardly recognizable. Hopkinson’s novel is a painful, ultimately triumphant look at the terrible reservoirs of strength it takes for an abused, controlled girl to emerge from the shadows of her past as her own strong, independent woman.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about long marriages

Jane Rogers has published eight novels, written original television and radio drama, and adapted work for radio and TV. Her last book, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, was the 2012 winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction; it was also longlisted for the Booker Prize. She has won the Somerset Maugham Award, the Writers’ Guild Best Fiction Book, has been a finalist for the Guardian Fiction Prize, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is Professor of Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, and she lives in Banbury, England.

Rogers's new novel is Conrad & Eleanor.

One of the author's top ten books about long marriages, as shared at the Guardian:
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (2015)

Tyler often writes about marriage, and always writes true. The first 10 pages of this novel are almost entirely dialogue and reveal Abby and Red Whitshank brilliantly. They are arguing helplessly over how to handle a phone call from their son Denny announcing he is gay. Abby theorises that his getting a girl into trouble while he was still at school might have been a symptom of homosexuality. Red asks, “Come again?” “We can never know with absolute certainty what another person’s sex life is like.” “No, thank God.” Their love for one another is as comfortable and worn as the old slippers and colourless dressing gown each wears.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Seven top genre-bending historical fiction YA books

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of seven genre-bending historical fiction YA books he tagged at the BN Teen blog:
Sekret, by Lindsay Smith

I’ve talked up Smith’s duology on here before (make sure you pick up Skandal too!), as it’s probably my favorite genre-bending alternative history. In it, we’re taken back to the Cold War, and while the rest of the world thinks mankind is simply stewing in fear over nuclear weapons and the threat of war, the reality is far more interesting: Psychic. Soldiers. The KGB wants Yulia, a teen with special psychic gifts she uses to survive the landscape of Communist Russia, but she’d rather not get scooped up and forced to fight. However, with a powerful American psychic soldier hot on her trail, she might not have a choice. It’s packed with political intrigue, romance, and serious suspense, set against a brilliantly researched backdrop.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sekret is one of Dahlia Adler's top eight internationally set YA novels.

--Marshal Zeringue