Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ten top stories of hubris

Tommy Wieringa is an award-winning Dutch writer. One of his top ten stories of hubris, as shared at the Guardian:
The Possibility of An Island by Michel Houellebecq

Houellebecq embroiders further upon his infectious train of thought. The reader follows two incarnations of Daniel, a French comedian. The first, on whom all newer and better clones are based, suffers from every single bane of existence, while the 24th incarnation of Daniel lives in gentle, everlasting light. Inside him, however, there lives on an echo of the avidity that has led mankind to its downfall. It is more or less impossible to think about the total lack of desire and pleasure without feeling slightly nauseous. We are enamoured of our misery and addicted to our fate. Human shortcomings are the only thing that make our species vaguely interesting. Without vices, the life of a man is about as interesting as that of a roundworm.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

Read Ray Taras's review of Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Six irresistible tales from Old Hollywood

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At B&N Reads she tagged six top novels about Old Hollywood, including:
What You See in the Dark, by Manuel Muñoz

110 miles north of L.A., a dusty inland city currently known for its poor air quality and 108-degree summers, Bakersfield was a very different place in the 1950s, beautifully rendered by Muñoz in his unforgettable 2011 debut novel. An unassuming, lovely young Mexican American singer dates the most coveted white man in town, but their apparently dream-like romance ends in horror. As their star-crossed relationship plays out, Alfred Hitchcock arrives in town (complete with his film crew and leading lady, Janet Leigh), to film his seminal masterpiece, Psycho. Differing perspectives from out-of-towners and locals makes for a rich tapestry. “There is what you see and what you make of it, what you know for sure and what you have to experience, what others tell you and what gets confirmed.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Six top novels about freaky cults

Brian Evenson's latest book is The Warren.

One of his six favorite "weird cult novels—which is to say, cult novels that don’t follow the typical tropes that cult novels do," as shared at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
The Shelter Cycle, by Peter Rock

Peter Rock’s The Shelter Cycle is about the Church Universal and Triumphant, an actual cult based in the American West that in the 1980s believed the world was going to be destroyed by nuclear war and began building survival shelters. What makes Rock’s book weird is the degree to which it’s less the cult that is unsettling, but someone who has survived it—someone who, having lost his rudder, might be capable of anything. We like to think that when we leave a cult we enter safety, but Rock’s book is partly about how cults continue to live inside us, evolving and changing, spawning other sorts of things, even long after we leave.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Shelter Cycle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 26, 2016

Neil deGrasse Tyson's 6 favorite books

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the author of ten books, including StarTalk, a new companion volume to his podcast and cable show of the same name. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins

Dawkins is a longtime friend, and a tireless defender of the real story of how we all got here. This 1986 book is a reminder that the laws of evolution and natural selection, given billions of years, have no trouble generating stupefying complexity among life-forms on Earth.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Blind Watchmaker is one of Steven Pinker's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Six romances that break the mold

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and semi-professional nerd.

At the B&N Reads blog she tagged six romances with unexpected twists on the genre, including:
Sinner’s Creed, by Kim Jones
Twist: Non-traditional Plot

The first in the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club series, this book will take you for a real emotional ride. I can’t tell you what makes this book so different from most books without revealing major spoilers, but it breaks the mold so hard, that many have argued it’s not a romance at all. Real life includes love and tragedy, and this book has both in spades. It follows Dirk, a troubleshooter for his MC, and Saylor Samson, who has always been drawn to the mysterious Dirk. Fate brings them together over and over again, but now fate has a new test for them, and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching. You’ll fall in love right along with this couple as they face the types of challenges you never expect to see in a romance. A book that deals with similar real-world issues, albeit in a fantasy setting, is J.R. Ward’s The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood #13).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Five top books where insanity is normalized

Brian Evenson's latest book is The Warren.

One of his five favorite books where insane characters come to be taken for or treated as normal,as shared at Tor.com:
Emmanuel Carrere, The Mustache

A simple plot. A man who has always worn a mustache shaves it off, planning to surprise his wife. But when he reveals his shaved face, she isn’t surprised at all. She says, “But you never had a mustache.” At first, he thinks she’s joking, but slowly it becomes clear to him that he’s the only one to remember he had a mustache. Her non-response to what he sees as a dramatic change in his appearance ends up threatening his own sanity…
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five books that are set during one school year

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 five books that are more or less set during one school year, including:
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier

Cormier’s classic story of rebellion and bullying is set over the course of Jerry Renault’s first year at an all-boy’s Catholic school. The fundraiser involving chocolate bars is something every kid and parent has some experience with, and serves as the catalyst for a book that remains controversial more than forty years after its initial publication, as the overbearing Brother Leon seeks to make his mark as school administrator by setting records for the year’s chocolate sales. The plan is threatened by Jerry’s refusal to participate, which leads to a series of increasingly crazy events involving the school’s secret society. Anyone who has ever dealt with peer pressure, bullies, or adults who have lost their way will feel this book in their bones.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Top ten books on corruption

John Sweeney is a writer and broadcaster, currently working for BBC Newsnight. His latest book is Cold.

One of Sweeney's ten top books on corruption, as shared at the Guardian:
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

In this satire on the fantasy land of the intelligence agencies, specifically MI6 (for whom Greene worked), the urge to make a bit of money on the side in a corrupt and seedy pre-Castro Cuba entraps the hero. He ends up constructing a web of deceit that envelops him and others to their cost. It’s the under-told story that too many James Bonds are on the take.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Our Man in Havana also made Francesca Kay's top ten list of books about the Cold War, Jesse Armstrong's top ten list of comic war novels, Allegra Frazier's top five list of books to remind you of warmer climes, Pico Iyer's list of four essential novels by Graham Greene and Alan Furst's five best list of spy books; it is one of Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Five great reads featuring creepy ass water

Kendare Blake's newest novel is Three Dark Crowns. One of his favorite reads that somehow star creepy water, as shared at Tor.com:
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

This book won the Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature and it is 100% deserved. There’s creepy water in it, islands surrounded by the stuff, people lost to it and what have you. It is seven connected stories exploring the theme of sacrifice, and you should just read it, okay? Do you like The Wicker Man?

No, not that one. Don’t be ridiculous.

If you like The Wicker Man, you should check out Midwinterblood.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Five of the best opening scenes in YA fiction

At the BN Teen blog Kayla Whaley tagged five of the best opening scenes in YA lit, including:
Best Not-Actually-a-Scene

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

In a letter addressed to the Headmaster and Board of Directors of her elite prep school, Frankie Landau-Banks confesses to masterminding a string of, as she calls them, mal-doings committed by the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, a storied secret society at Alabaster Prep. What follows is the delightful tale of how exactly Frankie came to admit in a written missive to “behavior [that] disrupted the smooth running of your patriarchal establishment.” The story would technically work without the opening letter, but why would you want it to?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is among Sona Charaipotra's five top YA books to read when you're burnt out on love and Sabrina Rojas Weiss's ten favorite boarding school novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 19, 2016

The ten funniest books

Adam Ehrlich Sachs, who studied atmospheric science at Harvard, is the author of Inherited Disorders. One of ten funny books he tagged at Publishers Weekly:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Spark’s elliptical tale of a fascistic teacher (Mussolini, she informs her young students, has “performed feats of magnitude”) and her mostly devoted brood is never funnier than when it’s killing off the stupidest student, Mary MacGregor, in one of its hilariously abrupt, brutal glimpses into the distant future: “ ‘Sandy won’t talk to me,’ said Mary, who later, in that hotel fire, ran hither and thither till she died.”
Read about the other books on the list.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is among Sebastian Faulks's six favorite books, Stuart Husband's top ten fictional teachers, Rachel Cooke's top ten spinsters, Karin Altenberg's top ten books about betrayal, Megan Abbott's five most dangerous mentors in fiction, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on teaching and learning and Ian Rankin's six best books. Miss Jean Brodie is one of John Mullan's ten best teachers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Seven YA characters having a rough back to school season

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of seven "recent YA reads with teens having a way worse start to the school year than you are" he tagged at the BN Teen blog:
Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner

It feels kinda wrong to tease this book, seeing as it doesn’t come out until March of next year, but I’m here to encourage your pre-orders. Because. This. Book. I can’t imagine starting off school the way poor Carver Briggs does in Zentner’s sophomore novel.

Because he has killed his best friends.

Well, not really. He sends a text message to one of them, and when that friend tries to respond, he crashes the car he’s driving, killing all the passengers on board. Carver is left rolling in crippling guilt, as lawsuits and media descend upon him. Between battling the sinking feeling in his chest that never seems to go away and trying to navigate a complicated, maybe-blossoming relationship with his deceased friend’s girlfriend, it’s a beautifully complex novel about learning how to grieve and forgive yourself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue