Thursday, November 23, 2017

Four books that changed Tess Evans

Tess Evans is the author of the novels Book of Lost Threads, The Memory Tree, Mercy Street, and The Ballad of Banjo Crossing. One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
A KESTREL FOR A KNAVE Barry Hines

Set in a grey mining town, Barry Hines' novel is tough and uncompromising – vastly different from the classic English novels I was reading. Hines' language is spare, depicting lives of misery and brutality, but for young Billy Caspar, a kestrel opens the window to something sublime. This book plunged me into lives I had been too cosy to imagine, widening the scope of both my reading and empathy.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Minette Walters's six best books

Minette Walters is England’s bestselling crime writer. Her new novel is The Last Hours.

One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Another children’s story, though I still read it now. It’s about incredible loneliness.

I felt quite lonely because my father was in the Army so we were constantly moving. The secret garden is a place where there’s love and you can make friends.

I’ve read this at least 10 times and would argue that it’s the first psychological crime thriller.

Understanding of the human mind was still in its infancy but she created an extraordinary character in Rebecca who is psychopathic and dominates the story yet she is dead. An astonishing piece of work.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Secret Garden is among Vivian Swift's ten top books about gardens and Mary Sebag-Montefiore's top ten classics every child should read before they are 10.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ten of the most important political texts on black consciousness

At the Guardian, David Olusoga tagged ten key political texts on black consciousness, including:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley (1976)

Co-authored by Alex Haley and based on a series of interviews with Malcolm X, this is one of the greatest biographies of the last century. Through his own life story, and that of the key figures of his troubled years in the underworld of New York, Malcolm bore witness to the racism of 1930s and 40s. It’s impossible to believe he would occupy the cultural position he holds today had the book never been written.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is among Alexei Sayle's top ten books about revolutionaries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Five fantasy armies you don’t want to sign up for

At Tor.com Adrian Tchaikovsky tagged five fictional armies you definitely don’t want to join, including:
Don’t join the Black Company

(Chronicles of the Black Company – Glen Cook)

At first glance this is a cushy option. You’ve signed up for a mercenary company that has regular employ with the local ruler. Sure, the locals might not like you much, but the main fighting’s already been and gone. You even have a competent healer on the squad, and that’s rarer than you might think.

Only, as time goes on, you’ll start to notice something slightly odd about the fear and loathing you get from the locals – does that not go somewhat beyond what’s normally reserved for a peace-keeping force? Don’t those rebel fighters seem just a bit more committed than you were expecting? And how come none of the veterans is exactly keen to talk about past engagements and the history of the company?

Except the medic, and, believe me, you don’t want to get him started. And as for your employer, well, she’s a sight, to be sure, but some of the things she does, and that’s nothing to what people say she has done, back when there was more fighting. And eventually you’re left with that really awkward question to ask your superiors. You sidle up to your sergeant in the middle of the night watch and you whisper, “Sarge, are we the bad guys?” and he just looks at you, with that hollow, traumatized look you’ve gotten used to, and you have your answer. You’re the villains after all. You work for the Dark Lady. Was that really what you wanted, when you took their coin?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 20, 2017

Six books that will transport you

Louise Erdrich's new novel is Future Home of the Living God. One of the author's six favorite books that will transport you, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

World entered: chess — specifically the suspenseful, treacherous world of high-stakes tournament chess as experienced by a prodigiously talented orphan. Will she conquer the Russians, or will her demons conquer her? The ending always moves me, so I try to forget the ending. That way, I can experience it again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Six of the best ensemble casts in YA fiction

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged six of the best YA ensembles, including:
The Sidekicks, by Will Kostakis

Australian author Kostakis’s first stateside novel is a touching exploration of grief that focuses on Ryan, Harley, and Miles, three teens struggling to come to terms with the death of their friend Isaac. The three are all very different—Ryan is the swimmer, the jock of the group; Harley is the rebellious drug-dealer; Miles is movie-obsessed—but they are all connected by the loss of Isaac. Each of them narrates a section of the book, which lets us see exactly how each one is processing what happened. None of them like each other at first. But as the novel progresses, they come to realize they might have more in common than they know, and having each other’s friendship might just be better than being alone.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Five books that rewrite magic, myths, and ballads

Jane Yolen's latest collection of fantasy short fiction is The Emerald Circus, which has both fantasy short stories and poems about fairy tales, fantasy authors and their works, and back matter about how she wrote the tales. One of her five favorite books that rewrite magic, myths, and ballads, as shared at Tor.com:
Gregory Frost took a huge leap writing Fitcher’s Brides, revisioning of the dark fairy tale “Bluebeard.” He sets the story of that peculiar mass murderer of young women in a utopian community that is part of the 1840s period of America’s “Great Awakening.” Elias Fitcher is a charismatic preacher in the Finger Lakes district of New York State. (The title of the novel comes from the Grimm variant of the fairytale, #46.) Fitcher has his wicked mind set on the Charter sisters. There is blood upon the key! Frost’s version of the tale is, in fact, eventually quite bloody, so take that as a trigger warning. It also has a slow and leisurely buildup to both the murders and the magic, which may put off readers who prefer plot-plot-plot driven books. But I till shiver fondly when I think of the this story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 17, 2017

Five of the best YA love triangles of all time

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged five top YA love triangles, including:
The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater

Speaking of love parallelograms, have you read The Raven Boys yet? Blue Sargent has been told since birth when she kisses her true love, he’ll die. So when she sees the spirit of a local private school boy on Saint Mark’s Eve, it seems likely he’ll be the recipient of her fateful first kiss. That boy turns out to be a the smart, rich, charming Gansey, and Blue can’t help but be curious, especially because Gansey is on a hunt to find and wake the body of a sleeping Welsh king named Glendower. Through Gansey, Blue meets the rest of the Raven Boys: angry Ronan, determined Adam, and quiet Noah. And though Blue is drawn to Gansey, she’s intrigued by Adam, too. It only gets more complicated as the series continues and even more feelings develop, but I promise you’ll love this messy, lovable group of friends and their quirkily paranormal world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to take you on a trip to the medieval Middle East

S. A. Chakraborty's new novel is The City of Brass. At Tor.com she tagged five books "to take you beyond One Thousand and One Nights and on a trip to the medieval Middle East," including:
Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz

Moving into the modern era, Naguib Mahfouz, the master himself, takes on the aftermath of the Nights in a wickedly sharp, entertaining and poignant short novel. Shahrzad has used her stories to save herself and the women of her city from the blood-letting despot Shahriyar, but the magic of her tales is not quite done with them. Arabian Nights and Days, one of my favorite books, takes the themes and characters of the original story and imbues them with emotional heft, political satire and a reflection on faith that makes this a masterpiece.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eight YA must-reads with awesome inspirations and backstories

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. At the BN Teen blog she tagged eight YA must-reads with awesome origin stories, including:
Dear Martin, by Nic Stone

Nic Stone’s debut stunner, Dear Martin, has its roots in social justice. In the slim but powerful novel, the main character, Yale-bound teen Justyce, finds himself in hot water despite doing everything right. The inspiration for the story, she has said, was “a combination of three things: the shooting deaths of unarmed teens (specifically Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Mike Brown), the rise of Black Lives Matter, and the negative responses in the media that often cited MLK as someone who would be against the protests. Something about that last part just felt off to me, so I thought to myself, ‘How would Dr. King’s teachings hold up here in 2016 in light of everything going on?'”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten talking animals in books

Pajtim Statovci is the award-winning author of the debut novel My Cat Yugoslavia. One of his ten top talking animals in books, as shared at the Guardian:
Maf in The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan

Frank Sinatra gave Mafia Honey, a Maltese terrier, to Monroe as a Christmas present in 1960. O’Hagan’s fourth novel follows the final years of the actor from the point of view of this singular pooch. This well-educated and articulate dog will not only give you a unique perspective on Monroe’s life, it will steal your heart away. He’s that charming and spot-on.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ten numbers-obsessed sci-fi & fantasy stories for math geeks

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 Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten SFF stories in "which math isn’t just a spice, it’s the main course," including:
Last Call by Tim Powers

Math is part of the bubbling atmosphere of this book’s universe, which mixes tarot, the Fisher King, and a host of other legends alongside the deeply magical mathematics of poker. That games of chance aren’t games of chance so much as games of complex math shouldn’t surprise anyone, but in this lush story, which begins with Bugsy Siegel building the Flamingo Hotel as part of a ploy to become the literal Fisher King and eventually sits the reader at a poker game played with tarot cards where every aspect of the environment alters the odds—and raise the stakes. You don’t need a degree in math to appreciate this wonderful novel, but a glancing familiarity will definitely deepen the experience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue