Friday, May 22, 2015

Ten of the best dark books

Amelia Gray's new story collection is Gutshot.

One of her ten best dark books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Thinking back I imagine every scene taking place in the pitch black, figures chained or roiling in the background, human and animal figures screaming. The book’s sentences group about their paragraphs like a band of feral cats munching on corpses. They raise the hairs on your arms. The running story is a post-apocalyptic march alternating terror and gloom in pursuit of the sea for some reason. Finishing it threw me into such a delicious depression, I started reading it again right away.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Road appears on Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Top ten rural noir novels

Tom Bouman's Dry Bones in the Valley won the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller and the 2015 Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

For the Guardian Bouman tagged his top ten rural noir novels, including:
The Dave Robicheaux Series (1987-2013) by James Lee Burke

In the mystery world, he has no equal. The books in this series set on the Louisiana Bayou have a dilapidated, lyrical charm, and Burke excels at physical atmosphere. But his greatest achievement, in my humble opinion, is emotional atmosphere, and the rich interior life of his lead character.
Read about the other entries on the list.

James Lee Burke is among C.J. Box's top 10 US crime novelists who "own" their territory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Seven of the best girl packs in YA fiction

At the B&N Teen Blog Natalie Zutter tagged seven of the best girl packs in YA fiction, including:
Reunited, by Hilary Weisman Graham

Alice, Summer, and Tiernan spent all of middle school united by their love for the rock band Level3. But as the band members went their separate ways, so did the girls, spending high school alternately on the honors track, at the popular table, or not even bothering to show up. But the summer before college, the girls discover Level3 is doing a one-night-only reunion concert. Of course they have to drive 2,000 miles cross country to be there for the historic event…and, along the way, figure out why they grew apart and what was actually keeping them together.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top ten (unconventional) ghosts in literature

Judith Claire Mitchell is the author of the novels The Last Day of the War and A Reunion of Ghosts. She teaches undergraduate and graduate fiction workshops at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is a professor of English and the director of the MFA program in creative writing. She has received grants and fellowships from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and Bread Loaf, among others. She lives in Madison with her husband, the artist Don Friedlich, and Josie the West Highland White Terrier.

At the Guardian Mitchell tagged ten of the best (unconventional) ghosts--"they may not necessarily scare, but they manage to haunt, long after the pages have been turned"--in literature, including:
Beloved in Toni Morrison’s Beloved

The ghost in Beloved is the most conventional ghost I’ve listed, and yet Morrison writes in a manner that makes us see ghosts and a familiar world of unfathomable suffering as if we’ve never seen them before. A fictional horror story based on a historical horror story (a desperate act of matricide caused by the more horrific institution of American slavery), the book also illustrates King’s point: Morrison’s ghosts are manifestations of her character’s past choices.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beloved also appears on Kelly Link's list of four books that changed her, a list of four books that changed Libby Gleeson, The Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Elif Shafak's top five list of fictional mothers, Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten great books you didn't know were science fiction or fantasy, Peter Dimock's top ten list of books that challenge what we think we know as "history", Stuart Evers's top ten list of homes in literature, David W. Blight's list of five outstanding novels on the Civil War era, John Mullan's list of ten of the best births in literature, Kit Whitfield's top ten list of genre-defying novels, and at the top of one list of contenders for the title of the single best work of American fiction published in the last twenty-five years.

Coffee with a Canine: Judith Claire Mitchell & Josie.

The Page 69 Test: A Reunion of Ghosts.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 18, 2015

Top ten books about Brighton

Peter James, born in Brighton, is the #1 international bestselling author of the Roy Grace series, with more than 15 million copies sold all over the world. His novels have been translated into thirty-six languages; three have been filmed and three are currently in development. All of his novels reflect his deep interest in the world of the police, with whom he does in-depth research.

At the Guardian, James tagged his ten favorite works of fiction set in or around Brighton, including:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Although Brighton is not directly described in the novel, it plays a key role in the plot. Austen herself clearly had a poor view of the place, as shown in a 1799 letter to her sister Cassandra: “Here I am once more in this scene of dissipation and vice, and I begin already to find my morals corrupted.” And here, from the book: “In Lydia’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. She saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing-place covered with officers. She saw herself the object of attention, to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. She saw all the glories of the camp – its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The ten best city novels

Elizabeth Day, an award-winning journalist and author, is currently a feature writer at the Observer. She has written three novels: Scissors, Paper, Stone, Home Fires and Paradise City.

At the Guardian, Day tagged her ten favorite books about cities, including:
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853)

London was a central character in many of Dickens’s novels, reflecting his own love of walking through the city. His perambulations were often conducted at night after he had dashed off a review in his job as theatre critic before striding home to Bloomsbury and, later, Marylebone. Of his works I’ve chosen Bleak House for its magnificent opening paragraph, where London is described with brilliantly damp and gloomy lyricism: “Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the Earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.”
Read about the other books on the list.

Bleak House is one of Daisy Hildyard's ten best poems, books and plays about our human inheritance, George Packer's six favorite books, Oliver Ford Davies's six best books, Ian Rankin's 5 favorite literary crime novels, Tim Pigott-Smith's six best books, James McCreet's top ten Victorian detective stories and one of Rebecca Ford's favorite five fiction books. It is on John Mortimer's list of the five best books about law and literature and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature and ten of the best men writing as women, and is among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jeffrey Archer's six best books

Jeffrey Archer is an English author and former Member of Parliament. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

I first read this as a schoolboy. The hero is accused of a crime he didn’t do and has to reach a place to prove it and it’s about the chase. You turn the page and turn the page because you have got to find out more.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Thirty-Nine Steps is one of Sam Bourne's five favorite classic thrillers.

Also see Archer's top ten romans-fleuves.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top sci-fi books featuring strong women

At the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged seven books "which have the audacity to suggest that women be treated like the awesome badasses they are," including:
God’s War, by Kameron Hurley

Nyxnissa so Dasheem is a Bel Dame, a licensed bounty hunter who cuts off heads on behalf of her government on the ravaged, war-torn colony world Umayma. She’s a veteran of the front lines in the planet’s never-ending Holy War. Her body has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times, she’s not even sure if she’s still human. And she has not an ounce of compassion for you or anyone else. Hurley’s brutal Bel Dame trilogy is filled with brittle, fascinating, alienating characters, none more so than Nyx, who is a self-destructive madwoman who cleaves to no principals other than her own self-interest, and God help you if you make the unfortunate decision to become her ally, because it’s probably not going to turn out well. She is perhaps the fiercest female character in all of genre fiction, unapologetically vicious, shaped into a monster by a remorseless society and a heartless world. Oh, and her most dangerous opponents tend to be her fellow Bel Dames, women enhanced with strange, bug-based tech that gives them powers akin to magic. You don’t want to be a dude on Umayma. (No one wants to be on Umayma.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: God’s War and Infidel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 15, 2015

Top five books with geeky heroes

Brooke Johnson is a stay-at-home mom and tea-loving writer. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she journeys through life with her husband, daughter, and dog. She is the author of The Brass Giant, the first novel in the Chroniker City steampunk series for young adults from Harper Voyager Impulse.

One of her top five books with geeky heroes, as shared at
Leo Valdez, Inventor and Mechanic
Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series

Demigod Leo Valdez (perhaps my favorite character in the sequel series to Percy Jackson & The Olympians) is a son of Hephaestus, the Greek god of forges, blacksmiths, craftsmen, metals, and fire, which means that he has an innate talent for crafting machines and a dangerous pyrotechnic ability. He can understand and even sense machinery and has the ability to operate and repair anything mechanical. The prankster of the group of demigods, he mostly uses his skills to comedic effect, but when the need arises, he utilizes a magical tool belt to create and repair whatever machines or devices might help the heroes on their journey, repairs the broken Bronze Dragon of Camp Half-Blood, who becomes his companion throughout the series, and even builds an airship and cracks the Archimedes Sphere. Pretty brilliant for a sarcastic joker.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Seven YA novels that will make you scared of the sea

At B & N Teen Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged seven YA novels that will make you terrified of the ocean, including:
Deep Blue, by Jennifer Donnelly

Serefina is a mermaid who will some day become the ruler of her people. Sounds great, except for the dreams she’s been having, about an ancient evil returning to cause chaos. After her mother is shot with an arrow by an assassin, Serefina embarks on a quest to unite with mermaids across the mer nations, to prevent their world from falling apart. Apparently the mer world is a rougher place than The Little Mermaid led us to believe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The 21 greatest TV adaptations

One title (#5) on the Telegraph's list of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels:
I, Claudius (1976, BBC)

Some may see this adaptation of Robert Graves’s novels about Imperial Rome as Dynasty in togas, but that is to undervalue its clever excavation of power politics as well as its emotional intelligence, represented by the great Derek Jacobi in the role of Claudius, a failed intellectual who has greatness thrust upon him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I, Claudius also appears on the Telegraph's list of the twenty best British and Irish novels of all time, Daisy Goodwin's list of six favorite historical fiction books, a list of the eleven best political books of all time, David Chase's six favorite books list, Andrew Miller's top ten list of historical novels, Mark Malloch-Brown's list of his six favorite novels of empire, Annabel Lyon's top ten list of books on the ancient world, Lindsey Davis' top ten list of Roman books, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best emperors in literature and ten of the best poisonings in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Five top SFF novels featuring interesting, powerful friendships

Karina Sumner-Smith is the author of the Towers Trilogy.

At she tagged her five favorite science fiction and fantasy novels that feature interesting, powerful friendships, including:
Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace

This post-apocalyptic ghost story grabbed me from the first page. The titular character agrees to travel to the underworld to help the ghost of a super-soldier find the spirit of his lost colleague and friend. The story and emotional bond between the ghost and his friend is played out in pieces of memory, and the glimpses of that relationship and their history are every bit as compelling as the surreal underworld through which Wasp and the ghost travel to find her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue