Friday, August 17, 2018

Top ten books for fans of "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine"

At the Waterstones blog Martha Greengrass tagged ten books for fans of Gail Honeyman's debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. One title on the list:
How to Stop Time
Matt Haig

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he's been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. It’s a life he once had, long-since buried but buried secrets have a habit of catching up with you and nobody can outrun their own past.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Top ten books about Americans abroad

Ian MacKenzie is the author of the novels Feast Days and City of Strangers. One of his ten favorite books that both handle and complicate the theme of Americans abroad, as shared at the Guardian:
Running by Cara Hoffman

Young, ragged expats hustling and sweating it out in the Athens of the 1980s, a busted love triangle, run-down hotels far from the Acropolis, the romance and terror of living hand-to-mouth a long way from home. The writing is impressionistic and soulful, the characters scarred and affecting.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Five of the best books on self-obsession

Will Storr is an award-winning journalist and novelist. His latest book is Selfie: How the West Became Self-Obsessed.

One of Storr's five best books on self-obsession, as shared at the Guardian:
Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard specialises in semi-fictional self-obsession. A Death in the Family [My Struggle, Book One], translated by Don Bartlett, charts a period of his life centring around his alcoholic father’s death. Knausgaard has a spectacular gift for finding profundity in the mundane details of his existence. In other books, his fascination with himself can sometimes become too much, but the balance between intimate detail and story is pretty much perfect here.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Eight intriguing dark fantasy noir novels

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged "eight novels that blend the darker side of fantasy with the dark side of detective fiction," including:
The Manual of Detection, by Jedediah Berry

In a bizarre city that seems stuck in a perpetually rainy day in the 1930s, clerk Charles Unwin is suddenly promoted to the position of Inspector at his monolithic detective agency. His job is to solve the disappearance of the agency’s star detective, Travis T. Sivart, whose absence may threaten to upset the balance of power in the city, and whose greatest cases might have been solved incorrectly. It wouldn’t be a detective story without numerous twists and turns, and by the time Berry’s surrealistic city noir reaches its conclusion, it’s unclear whether the city is even fully real, whether the Agency is on the level, or exactly who (if anyone) is on Unwin’s side. This weirdness just enhances a terrific mystery that’s really an examination of the very nature of mysteries.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Manual of Detection is among Patrick Hemstreet's five top books for the psychonaut.

The Page 69 Test: The Manual of Detection.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 13, 2018

Caitlin Moran's 7 favorite books about youth, music, & fame

Caitlin Moran's new novel is How to Be Famous. One of her seven favorite books about youth, music, and fame, as shared at The Week magazine:
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett

The true heir to David Niven's sweat-and-glitter memoirs, Everett's endlessly funny, endlessly frank account of going from rent boy to Hollywood star effectively torpedoed his career for the next decade, as Hollywood decided it could not deal with this much ravishingly bitchy truth. His observations on co-stars Sharon Stone and Madonna will never be bettered.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ten books to read after "The Handmaid's Tale"

At the Waterstones blog Martha Greengrass tagged ten books for readers "enthralled by Margaret Atwood's haunting dystopian vision in The Handmaid's Tale," including:
Women & Power
Mary Beard

“We have to retell stories of women’s power, re-evaluate what power is.” Acclaimed classicist Mary Beard presents a revolutionary manifesto for our time, exploring women in power from Medusa to Merkel and presenting a new feminist roadmap. Hard-hitting, unapologetic and wise.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Ten essential sexy thrillers

Laura Griffin's latest novel is Desperate Girls.

One of her ten favorite steamy thrillers, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

This chilling psychological thriller is set in Alaska, where Dr. Evelyn Talbot runs a maximum-security psychiatric facility called Hanover House. Evelyn’s work studying psychopaths encounters widespread resistance from locals, including the town’s police sergeant, who comes to Evelyn’s aid when she becomes the target of a disturbed killer. The story showcases Novak’s talent for dark suspense with an undercurrent of romance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 10, 2018

Ten books to read before getting divorced

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged ten books for those considering divorce, titles that "will offer perspective, advice, and entertainment, and just might make the decision easier for you, whatever you choose." One entry on the list:
Heartburn, by Nora Ephron

Not only was Ephron a great writer, and not only is this a great novel, but the fact that it’s largely autobiographical should be comforting. If a smart, rich, successful people like Ephron can suffer through a brutal divorce, you don’t have to feel too bad about your own. And if she can come out stronger and wittier for it, maybe you can too. As an added bonus, this story of cookbook author Rachel’s split from her philandering husband is side-splittingly funny.
Read about the other books on the list.

Heartburn is among Diana Secker Tesdell's top ten memorable meals in literature and Anna Murphy's top ten lesser-known literary heroines.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Top ten novels about riots

A.G. Lombardo is the author of Graffiti Palace: A Novel.

One of his ten favorite novels about riots and rebellion, as shared at the Guardian:
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Roth’s alternate history speaks to today’s intolerance. In 1940, aviation hero (and antisemite) Charles Lindbergh joins the America First party (sound familiar?). He becomes the surprise celebrity Republican candidate for president. Wildly popular in the midwest and south, he’s elected. Young Philip’s Jewish family is torn apart under the new regime. Jewish boys are shipped to southern farms to be “Americanized”. Entire Jewish families are relocated. Riots and resistance tear lives apart. Personal and public, the Roth family’s story is America’s.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Plot Against America is on Tara Sonin's lits of twenty-five notable fictional presidents, James Miller's top ten list of conspiracy theories in fiction, Jeff Somers's six best list of insane presidents, D.J. Taylor's top ten list of counter-factual novelsKatharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's top ten list of epic power struggles, Steven Amsterdam's list of five top books on worry, Stephen L. Carter's list of five top presidential thrillers, and David Daw's list of five American presidents in alternate history.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Ten of the best book covers of all time

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged ten of the best book covers of all time, including:
The Godfather, by Mario Puzo

Simple and stark, this cover, created by S. Neil Fujita, conveys the rotten power Puzo examines, even as it intrigues the potential reader. It could just as easily be the cover to a horror novel—which isn’t actually that far off the mark, if you think about it. There aren’t too many book covers that create what’s essentially a brand logo, but that’s just what this one did.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

Also see: The five worst book covers ever.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tessa Arlen’s top five historical novels

Tessa Arlen is the author of the Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson historical mystery series set in England in the early nineteen-hundreds. Her latest mystery, Death of an Unsung Hero, takes place in 1916 in WW1 in a hospital for shell-shocked officers.

One of Arlen’s top five historical novels:
I, Claudius, by Robert Graves is a superbly chronicled account of Rome’s ambitious, corrupt and ruthless Julio-Claudian dynasty. Richly detailed, often very funny, it relates the adventures of the Emperor Claudius who was considered to be an idiot by his powerful family. By playing up to their expectations Claudius survived Emperor Augustus' ruthlessly ambitious wife, Livia, who had a tendency to meddle with poison, to become the only emperor who struggled to return Rome to the republic.

Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins. I am never disappointed by this author, and her two books about the Todd family (spanning the first five decades of the 20th century) are extraordinarily atmospheric in time and place. A God in Ruins (Book #2) tells the story through Teddy Todd: would-be poet, heroic WW2 fighter pilot, husband, father, and grandfather, as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world that brought out some of the very best and worst of human kind.

Patrick O'Brian’s honest to goodness and utterly lovable Captain Jack Aubrey and his more complex friend and fellow shipment (surgeon/spy/naturalist) Stephen Maturin are the mainstays of this twenty-one book series set during the Napoleonic wars in the British Royal Navy. In The Nutmeg of Consolation, the name of a sweet-smelling ship from the spice islands, Aubrey and Maturin are temporarily out of action on an island in the South China Sea where Aubrey and his starving crew are attacked by pirates then rescued by a Chinese ship that takes them to Batavia, where Raffles (Sir Stamford who bought the island of Singapore in 1822) has a ship, the Nutmeg, for them. O’Brian used the massive naval archive of documents and ships logs at the British Maritime Museum for his research, but it is his richly depicted characters that make these books such pleasurable reading.

Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose takes place in a bleakly cold and isolated Benedictine monastery in 1327 during the darkest days of Christian government when the Catholic church considered heresy to be an unpardonable sin and had perfected the atrocities of the Inquisition to root out dissenters. This is not the sort of book you want to read on a cold, wet winter afternoon when your bank account is at an all-time low, or your adolescent children are giving you hell, but it does have some wonderful moments, not least a plot with as many twists and turns as an ancient medieval library.

The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton. I was thirteen and teeming with hormones, so this deeply romantic love story was everything I needed to while away the tedious hours of a girls boarding school in rural England. Written in 1954 it tells the story of the historically important, 14th-century love affair in England between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the third surviving son of King Edward III. I was in love with John of Gaunt for years, but more importantly, this well-researched novel is a fascinating mediaeval history of the last of the Plantagenet rulers. If you have an adolescent daughter who spends too much time texting, then give her this to read!
Visit Tessa Arlen's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Tessa Arlen & Daphne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 6, 2018

Five books about ridiculously powerful wizards

Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, three cats and a nearly infinite number of opinions on anything from Sumerian mythology to the correct way to make a martini. She is a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing epic fantasy. A long-time devotee of storytelling, she traces her geek roots back to playing first edition Dungeons & Dragons in grade school and reading her way from A to Z in the school’s library.

Her debut epic fantasy novel, The Ruin of Kings (first in the five-book Godslayer Cycle,) is scheduled for release from Tor Books in Winter, 2019.

One of Lyons's "five favorite books (or series) with wizards, witches, and sorcerers who were not at all squeamish about opening a magical can of ungodly power on their enemies, deities, and the whole world, not necessarily in that order," as shared at
The Black Company by Glen Cook

This take on a mercenary company caught in the crossfire of a rebellion against an evil god-like sorceress was my introduction to grimdark fantasy. I was blown away by Cook’s descriptions of wizards so powerful they were immortal and all but unkillable, in a world where everyone was interesting but nobody was good. I was equally impressed by the sorcerous women, every bit as terrifying as the men; women who didn’t depend on feminine whiles or seduction (although yes, the Lady is beautiful and in later books there is a romance sub-plot) but preferred to magically annihilate anyone who got in their way. This tale of soldiers desperately trying to hang on to what little humanity they still possess remains one of my all-time favorites.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue