Friday, September 20, 2019

Eight books with monstrous mothers

Evelyn Toynton’s most recent novel is Inheritance.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight favorite books which "contain mothers who regard their children chiefly as a means to their own gratification, or as obstacles to that gratification, without any concern for those children’s happiness." One title on the list:
William Trevor, Felicia’s Journey

Mr. Hilditch, the bland-seeming catering manager who lures vulnerable, friendless young women into his house and murders them, is the sinister bogeyman in this novel, a truly horrifying portrait of a serial killer. As certain facts about his shadowy past emerge, we watch in mounting dread, expecting the worst for poor, pregnant, friendless Felicia, whose only money he steals and whom he manipulates into having an abortion. But then Trevor brings the horror full circle: he shows flashbacks of Mr. Hilditch’s life with his mother, a drunken “loose” woman who, when she could no longer entice the policeman or the insurance salesman or any other man into her bed, drew her son into it, always promising she would never make him have sex with her again, always breaking that promise.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Five fantasy books steeped in history

Jennifer Giesbrecht's debut novel is The Monster of Elendhaven.

At Tor.com she tagged five favorite fantasy books steeped in history, including:
Everfair—Nisi Shawl

Everfair is a work of Steampunk-tinged alternative history that imagines a group of socialists and African-American missionaries buying a slice of the Belgium Congo out from under the genocidal grip of King Leopold II. Then it follows the evolution of this new proto-Utopia over the course of nearly three decades, using a “longue durée” narrative device that touches on a broad multiplicity of perspectives at every level of society. In many ways, the novel is more that “meaningful historiographical discourse” I was talking about in the introduction than it is fiction. Understanding the way Steampunk is utilized in this story is like getting a high-speed crash course in how the study of history rapidly changed in the 20th century, from something that was understood on an unspoken level to have a culturally edifying, propagandic purpose, to the multi-faceted, deconstructive school of thought it is today. Steampunk first gained popularity as a highly romanticized view of the Victorian Era, but was quickly co-opted and intelligently deconstructed through the lens of post-colonialism and third-worldism by non-white authors. Everfair goes for the jugular by derailing one of the most horrific tragedies of late colonialism. It’s a beautiful example of how fantasy can reveal just as much about where humanity has been, where we can go, and what we can be as the very best science fiction.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Everfair is among Kate Heartfield's five books featuring women in love with women and Ginn Hale's five top alternate histories that embrace diversity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ten top novels about burning issues for young adults

Sif Sigmarsdóttir is a writer and a journalist. She was born in the apparent feminist utopia that is Iceland and now lives in London.

The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake is her second book in the English language.

At the Guardian, Sigmarsdóttir tagged her top ten novels for young adults about current affairs. One entry on the list:
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

If it weren’t for Donald Trump, we’d still be gasping over what an awful president George W Bush turned out to be. American Wife is the literary reimagining of one man’s journey to the White House seen through the eyes of his long-suffering wife – a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Laura Bush.
Read about the other books on the list.

American Wife is among Jenny Eclair's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight novels featuring atypical amateur sleuths

Sarah Lotz is a novelist and screenwriter with a fondness for the macabre.

Her books include Day Four, The Three, and most recently, Missing Person, a novel about a group of amateur detectives infiltrated by the sadistic killer whose crimes they’re investigating.

At CrimeReads, Lotz tagged eight novels featuring unlikely amateur detectives, including:
The Caveman’s Valentine, by George Dawes Green

The protagonist, Romulus Ledbetter, once a brilliant pianist, now struggles with mental health issues and lives in a cave in a New York park. When the frozen body of a photographer’s model is found outside his cave, he decides to conduct his own deeply unconventional investigation. Original and lyrical.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Seven top books about the techniques of persuasion

Edith Hall is Professor in the Classics Department at King's College London.

Her books include Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life.

At the Guardian, Hall tagged some of the best books on the "techniques of persuasion – which the ancient Greeks called the science of rhetoric" – including:
A speaker who is anything but neutral is the civil rights activist Angela Davis. Her collection The Meaning of Freedom, and Other Difficult Dialogues gathers 12 previously unpublished speeches, delivered between 1994 and 2009, which expose the beating heart of the racist carceral state, global neoliberalism, and patriarchy’s symbiosis with capitalism. This is rhetoric at its compelling best, because skill is allied with moral conviction. Unlike many politicians, Davis’s authenticity shines through every phrase.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 16, 2019

Six of Samantha Powers's favorite books

Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and William D. Zabel ’61 Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School.

From 2013 to 2017 Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as well as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. Her new memoir is The Education of an Idealist.

At The Week magazine Power shared six of her favorite books, including:
Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi (1947).

Levi's searing account of the Nazis' "demolition of man" raises often unanswerable moral questions. I read this memoir in my early 20s, and it helped ignite an abiding interest in the causes and consequences of the Holocaust. Rereading the book recently, I was struck again by the depth of Levi's character and the enduring power of his understanding of human nature.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Survival in Auschwitz is among Michael Palin's six best books, Eve Claxton's top ten memoirs and autobiographies, and Gail Caldwell's five groundbreaking memoirs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Five of the most chilling extreme religion believers in fiction

Lizzy Barber studied English at Cambridge University. Having previously dabbled in acting and film development, she has spent the last ten years as head of marketing for a restaurant group.

Her first novel, A Girl Named Anna, won the Daily Mail and Random House First Novel Prize 2017.

Barber lives in London with her husband, a food writer.

At CrimeReads she tagged five favorite novels featuring extreme religion believers, including:
Carrie, by Stephen King

Stephen King’s first published novel was a big influence on A Girl Named Anna —I even reference the book, when school bullies place a bucket of blood in Anna’s locker with a note referring to her as “Carrie.” Carrie’s mother, Margaret White, rules over her teenage daughter with an iron fist, striking fear into her heart should she do something deemed “unproper.” Religion is the scapegoat here, and also the punishment: the words ‘go to your closet and pray’ haven’t stopped echoing in my mind since that unsettling first read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Carrie is on Katie Lowe's top ten list of books about angry women, Jo Jakeman's list of the ten best revenge novels, Ania Ahlborn's list of ten of the scariest books of all time, Jeff Somers's list of the five worst mothers in literary history, Becky Ferreira's list of six of the most memorable bullies in literature, Julie Buntin's list of favorite literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, and James Dawson's top ten list of books to get you through high school.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Ten writers pushing space opera forward

John Birmingham is the author of Emergence, Resistance, Ascendance, After America, Without Warning, Final Impact, Designated Targets, Weapons of Choice, and other novels, as well as Leviathan, which won the National Award for Nonfiction at Australia’s Adelaide Festival of the Arts, and the novella Stalin’s Hammer: Rome. He has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, Rolling Stone, Penthouse, Playboy, and numerous other magazines.

Birmingham's newest novel is The Cruel Stars.

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten authors shaking up space opera, including:
The Salvagers series by Alex White

Okay, yes, it starts with a magic car race. But it's very colorful magic, and a very exciting car race, and White is a supercool stylist who soon drags you into the search for A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe. A misfit crew, a ship of legend, a universe in peril, all of the big boxes are ticked with big colorful technomagical pens. Boots Ellsworth, White’s washed up and not entirely trustworthy treasure hunter, and Nilah Brio, a brilliant racer framed for murder, make an engaging team as they heist, scheme, and copulate their way across the cosmos.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe.

The Page 69 Test: A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 13, 2019

Five of the best Londons in fantasy fiction

Deborah Hewitt lives in the UK, somewhere south of Glasgow and north of London. She’s the proud owner of two brilliant boys and one very elderly dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found watching her boys play football in a muddy field, drinking tea or teaching in her classroom. Occasionally she cooks. Her family wishes she wouldn’t. The Nightjar is her first book.

At Tor.com Hewitt tagged five favorite Londons in fantasy fiction, including:
Smoke by Dan Vyleta

In an alternate Victorian London, the people are marked, literally, by sin. Smoke is expelled from the body and soot appears every time a minor misdeed, act of greed, small fib or criminal transgression is committed. This is a world in which every wicked thought and wrongdoing can be seen by others, and no one can hide what lurks beneath the surface. This London, appropriately, is the London of chimney sweeps, factory smokestacks and grimy slums; the city as soiled as its lower-class inhabitants. Yet there is a ruling class who have learned to restrain their more base desires and live smoke-free, their cleanliness and virtue a sign of their right to rule. We follow two young aristocrats, Thomas and Charlie, as they witness an event that makes them question the rules of their society—and uncover the truth about the nature of smoke.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Smoke is among Nicole Hill's top six fantasy novels that infuse the real cities in which they're set with new magic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ten novels that explore the world of women spies in WWII

Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of The New York Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today-bestselling Maggie Hope mystery series, starting with the Edgar Award-nominated and Barry Award-winning Mr. Churchill’s Secretary.

Her latest book is The Prisoner in the Castle, the eighth novel in the series.

At CrimeReads, MacNeal tagged ten "favorite novels with female spies, written by women (with one exception), and inspired by the feats of the heroic women who served as spies in WWII." One title on the list:
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Quinn spins a tale inspired by a real-life incident a small town in German-occupied northwestern France, a few days after the D Day landings in Normandy. Great War spy Louise de Bettignies, whose code-name was “Lili,” is joined by fictional British/French Evelyn Gardiner, code-named “Marguerite.” Marguerite works in a collaborator’s restaurant, serving Germans and picking up information along the way to pass to Lili, her British handler. To learn more about Bettignies’s WWI spy work, try Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War by Tammy M. Proctor.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Alice Network.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten culinary memoirs

Isabel Vincent is a Canadian investigative journalist who writes for the New York Post, an alumna of the University of Toronto Varsity newspaper, and the author of several books, including Gilded Lily: Lily Safra, The Making of One of the World's Wealthiest Widows and Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship.

At the Guardian Vincent tagged ten of the best culinary memoirs, including:
Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater by Gail Simmons

Simmons is a presenter/judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, but she’s also a fellow Canadian who found herself struggling to make it in a tough industry in New York. In this memoir, she writes about growing up in Toronto with a mother who wrote food columns and conducted cooking classes in their suburban home. Simmons’s trial-by-fire in some of the toughest high-end restaurant kitchens in New York City makes for a great read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Eight novels about academics behaving disgracefully

T. M. Logan, the bestselling author of Lies, was born in Berkshire to an English father and a German mother. He studied at Queen Mary and Cardiff universities before becoming a national newspaper journalist.

Logan's new novel is 29 Seconds.

At CrimeReads he tagged eight favorite books about academics behaving disgracefully, including:
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study on ethics and morality conducted by the mysterious Dr. Lydia Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money and leave. Anonymity is guaranteed – or so she is led to believe. Suffice it to say that things get weird… As the questions grow more and more invasive, and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to lose track of what is real and what is just part of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiment.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue