Friday, July 29, 2016

Five top fantasies rooted in folklore

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged five top fantasies rooted in folklore, including:
Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman

Few labor so effectively in the fields of myth and legend as Gaiman, whose American Gods plunked a party pack of deities into the modern American landscape, and who will soon delve further into Norse mythology with a “non-fiction novel.” Anansi Boys shines, however, because Gaiman devotes his full attention to a single source: the titular West African trickster god. When “Mr. Nancy” dies in an appropriately mischievous incident at a karaoke bar, his son, Fat Charlie, begins to unravel his father’s true divine identity—and meets his long-lost brother Spider, who inherited dear old dad’s powers and naughty streak.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Five fantastic fictional cities

Willow Palecek's new novella is City of Wolves. One of five fantastic cities she tagged at
New Crobuzon — Perdido Street Station by China MiĆ©ville

Perhaps the most fantastic city ever imagined, New Crobuzon is a vast city in a Victorian fantasy world, a corrupt industrial capitalist city, filled with citizens who are truly alien, rather than the traditional fantasy cultural depictions. New Crobuzon is truly cosmopolitan, with bug-headed and mute Khepri, the froglike Vodyanoi, with the power to shape water, and the proud and bird-like
Garuda. In New Crobuzon, technology and magic exist side by side, and often combine with unexpected results. It is a dirty city, of mistrust and intrigue and revolution, of fantastic machinery, both political and mechanical, slowly falling apart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books to clarify what’s going on in national politics now

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. He has published over thirty short stories as well. One of Somers's seven recommended books to help understand what’s going on in national politics now, as shared at B&N Reads:
It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

Mann and Ornstein offer a clear-eyed assessment of the harm stratified partisan politics are doing to the country, because our system of government was never designed to be partisan. They make the argument that as both political parties coalesce into parliamentary-style groups with rigid agendas and purity tests, the system of separated powers baked into the American system becomes less and less effective. In short, they say, the Constitution was designed for representatives more interested in running the country than political ideology. They then go on to offer solutions that would fix an often paralyzed system, leaving it to the reader to wonder whether any of their proposals would have a chance of being enacted in the modern world. Anyone who shakes their head in mystification every time the government shuts down or fails to pass what look like common-sense laws will find this book incredibly enlightening.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Top ten books about the Australian bush

Cal Flyn, a a freelance writer and reporter from the Highlands of Scotland, is the author of Thicker Than Water. One of her ten top books about the Australian bush, as shared at the Guardian:
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

Stella “Miles” Franklin wrote My Brilliant Career (1901) when she was only a teenager, and it was an immediate hit, printed with a foreword from Henry Lawson. Franklin was “born of the bush”, he said, and her story of a bookish, headstrong farmgirl was full of “startlingly, painfully real” descriptions of rural life and land (although “the girlishly emotional parts”, he added, were “for girl readers to judge”). Free-spirited Sybella struggles against society’s limiting expectations of women, and dreams of a life of art, literature and theatre as sandstorms whip the walls of her family’s lonely homestead. Closely autobiographical – so much so that some neighbours sued Franklin after its publication – this coming-of-age classic is also a proto-feminist text.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books that’ll make you scared to go back in the water

At the B&N Reads blog Kat Rosenfield tagged eight books that will scare you out of the water and on to the beach, including:
Jaws, by Peter Benchley

Before Jaws was a classic beachgoer’s horror starring Richard Dreyfuss and a host of hi-tech animatronic sharks, it was a beach read that would (and still will!) keep you quivering on the shore until winter. You know how the story goes, but if anything, the shark attacks are even more ghastly and gruesome in print than they were onscreen.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jaws is among Rebecca Jane Stokes's seven books not to bring to the beach, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books set at the beach, and six hugely popular books that accidentally screwed the world.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Five books that get survival right

Alexandra Oliva has a BA in history from Yale University and an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her new novel is The Last One. One of five novels she discovered that get important aspects of survival right, as shared at
Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

A hunter goes missing in the woods. A ranger sets out to find her. Reading this novel, I had an inner monologue going that was essentially, “Yes… yes… wow, really? Yes!” The realities of emergency wilderness situations are bluntly portrayed—how quickly a situation can go south when poor decision-making is involved—and the portrayal of search and rescue procedure is fascinating. I don’t have experience in search and rescue, but I believe the author, and for days after finishing this novel I bit back an urge to join local search and rescue outfits just to learn more.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 25, 2016

Five of the sexiest scenes in literature

Stuart Jeffries is a feature writer and columnist for the Guardian. One of his five sexiest scenes in literature:
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

“I had touched her before, to wash and dress her, but never like this,” narrates Sue, a lady’s maid. “So smooth she was! So warm! It was like I was calling the heat and shape of her out of the darkness – as if the darkness was turning solid and growing quick, under my hand.” What gives this passage such erotic power is how both Sue and Maud, her mistress, are blindsided by desire. At the start of the book, Sue has been lured to work as a lady’s maid by a swindler called Gentleman who aims to marry and ruin the heiress Maud, before dumping her in an asylum and making her fortune his own. Like you do. Sue will get a cut of the fortune if the plot is successful. In the above scene, Sue is ostensibly coaching naive Maud in what she must do on her wedding night after, as planned, marrying Gentleman. Instead, Sue forgets her role in the plot as she explores Maud’s body. She brings Maud to orgasm and then, against her scheming, falls sweetly for the woman she planned to help destroy:

“She began to shake. I supposed she was still afraid. Then I began to shake, too. I forgot to think of Gentleman, after that. I thought only of her. When her face grew wet with tears, I kissed them away.

“You pearl,” I said. So white she was! “You pearl, you pearl, you pearl.”

Well, it worked for me.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fingersmith is among Kirsty Logan's ten best LGBT sex scenes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Six top YA books for "Mr. Robot" fans

At the BN Teen blog Michael Waters tagged six must-read YA books for Mr. Robot fans, including:
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

Another in the “HOLY CRAP WHAT JUST HAPPENED IS THIS REAL” genre, We Were Liars made a splash when it was released two years ago because of its thrilling, unreliable narrative. Like Mr. Robot it’s one of those stories where the less that is said, the better—but it involves a large rich family whose lives aren’t as perfect as they present them, and who, every summer, vacation together on a remote island. Tragedy strikes, but nothing is as it seems. Propelled by Lockhart’s atmospheric, often unsettling prose, We Were Liars is perfect for anyone who wants to puzzle through a complicated plot while waiting for the full story behind Mr. Robot and Elliot to be revealed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We Were Liars is among Lindsey Lewis Smithson's top seven sob-inducing books that deserve to be made into movies, Ruth Ware's top ten psychological thrillers, and Meredith Moore's five favorite YA thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best stories about prison life

Erwin James is a Guardian columnist. He served 20 years of a life sentence in prison before his release in August 2004. His books include two collections of essays, A Life Inside: A Prisoner's Notebook and The Home Stretch: From Prison to Parole, and Redeemable: A Memoir of Darkness and Hope.

One of James's five best stories about prison life, as shared at the Guardian:
In the Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau

Rideau served almost 44 years in prison before he was released in 2005. Rideau was originally convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1961 when he was 19. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when the death sentence was temporarily abolished in Louisiana in 1972. Rideau spent the majority of his sentence in Angola State Penitentiary (also known as the Farm), where he started writing a column about prison life called The Jungle. Rideau went on to become editor of the Angolite, the prison’s award-winning magazine. In 1998 he helped to produce an Oscar-nominated documentary about Angola State, titled The Farm. The story of his life in this deftly written book is an example of what can be achieved in the direst circumstances with just a positive attitude and a pen.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Six YA mysteries for "Broadchurch" fans

At the BN Teen blog Samantha Randolph tagged six YA mysteries for fans of the British television series Broadchurch, including:
The Darkest Lie, by Pintip Dunn

Broadchurch tackles many tough questions, including the chilling, “What happens when I don’t know someone like I thought I did?” From Danny’s unexpected death to the sordid backgrounds of the various suspects, Broadchurch reminds you that even living with someone isn’t a guarantee that you know everything they’re hiding. Dunn’s protagonist, CeCe Brooks, asks this question about her mother, who allegedly committed suicide six months ago after rumors went rampant about her having sex with a student. CeCe never imagined her mother doing either of those things, and when she’s forced to volunteer at the crisis hotline her mother worked at, she finds clues that suggest everything isn’t as it seems.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books that capture the 50s of Chicago

At The Culture Trip Karla Sullivan tagged ten books that capture the 1950s of Chicago, including:
Letting Go

Philip Roth’s first book, Goodbye, Columbus, won the 1960 US National Book Award for Fiction, but his subsequent books are equally important. Set in the 1950s in Chicago, New York and Iowa City, Letting Go concerns the lives of three characters that struggle as they deal with the social restraints of the decade. One spent time in the Korean War, and a couple suffers from society’s ignorant views of their Jewish-Christian mixed marriage. Characters are confronted with other issues that include abortion, divorce and adoption.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lisa Jewell's six best books

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of at least twelve novels. One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

One of her shorter books though I adore her big fat ones as well. It’s about a woman left in sole charge of her great-aunt after an old people’s home is shut down. Addictive, delicate and satisfying.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue