Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Seven titles told from the perspective of domestic workers

Julia Spiro lives year-round on Martha’s Vineyard, where she enjoys fishing, clamming, scalloping, and anything on the beach. She also teaches spin classes in Edgartown and considers spinning her second passion. She previously worked in the film industry and lived in Los Angeles. She graduated from Harvard College.

Spiro's new novel is Someone Else’s Secret.

[Q&A with Julia Spiro; The Page 69 Test: Someone Else's Secret.]

At CrimeReads she tagged seven books told from the perspective of domestic workers, including:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

In pursuit of a fresh start, Jane takes a job as a governess for a sweet child at a grand manor called Thornfield. What could go wrong? Throw in a mysterious and brooding master of the house, a locked-up wife that’s gone mad, a few house fires, a secret family fortune, multiple marriage proposals, and you’ve got a sprawling story bursting with romance, deception, difficult decisions, and lots of contemplation overlooking the misty moors.
Read about another entry on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Jane Healey's list of five favorite gothic romances, Annaleese Jochems's list of the great third wheels of literature, Sara Collins's list of six of fiction's best bad women, Sophie Hannah's list of fifteen top books with a twist, E. Lockhart's list of five favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” Sophie Hannah's top ten list of twists in fiction, Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 6, 2020

Eight anti-capitalist sci-fi and fantasy novels

Jae-Yeon Yoo is a volunteer intern at Electric Literature.

She tagged eight novels by authors who "have found ways to critically examine capitalism—and its alternatives—in speculative fiction." One title on the list:
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

In Foundryside’s city of Tevanne, magic, or “scriving,” has become industrialized and controlled by the Merchant Houses. The Merchant Houses have used scriving to encode everyday objects; as a result, Tevanne runs like a brutal, well-oiled machine. All this may change when Sancia, a young thief with an ability to sense scriving, is sent to steal an artifact of immense power. This artifact, responsible for generating the codes for the current system, is equally capable of revolutionizing and rewriting the world of Tevanne. (Not to bring in too much Marx here, but Bennett’s “artifact” really reminds me of the famous quote in The Communist Manifesto, where Marx and Engels proclaim that the tools for overthrowing the bourgeoisie will grow from the very system of capitalism itself.) Using magic as a framework, Foundryside—the first book in Bennett’s series—doesn’t shy away from examining the ethics of capitalism and the consequences of corporatization.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Ten crime novels about returning home

Katie Tallo has been an award-winning screenwriter and director for more than two decades. In 2012, Katie was inspired to begin writing novels.

Dark August is her debut novel.

At CrimeReads, Tallo tagged ten "terrific novels featuring some dark and stormy journeys back home," including:
Faithful Place by Tana French

In this gripping thriller from Tana French, her main character, Frank Mackey, returns to Dublin and the dead end street called Faithful Place where he grew up. He left years earlier after his first love, Rosie, failed to show up for their planned elopement to London. A couple of decades later, Frank’s a detective and Rosie’s suitcase mysteriously turns up in an abandoned house on Faithful Place. Another dysfunctional family, another unresolved mystery and another reluctant hometown return by a protagonist hell-bent on finding out the truth – all of which makes this novel both heart-wrenching and nail-biting.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Eight spine-chilling titles about occult mysteries

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, adult fiction and non-fiction, and poetry. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction.

Her most recent novel is Opium and Absinthe.

At Electric Lit, Kang tagged eight favorite supernatural stories about ghosts, magic, and seances. One title on the list:
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

I’ve been a fan of the movie Practical Magic since it released in 1998, but didn’t read the book until much later. When the prequel came out, I knew I’d gobble up the back story to this family of witches. The book brings you into the charmed (and not so charmed) lives of Franny, Jet, and Vincent. The story is more of a slow unfolding of truths and revelations, rather than a true mystery. But no doubt you’ll be reading it as if secrets hide on every page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 3, 2020

Eleven novels of vacations gone horribly wrong

Katherine St. John is the author of The Lion's Den.

At CrimeReads she tagged eleven "favorite books that feature vacations—and not just any vacations, but vacations gone wrong," including:
Searching for Sylvie Lee, Jean Kwok

Though it begins as a mystery and has elements of suspense, Searching for Sylvie Lee is a beautifully written family drama at its core. Amy has always idolized her older sister Sylvie, who lived with family in the Netherlands until their Chinese immigrant parents made enough money to bring her to New York. Years later, when Sylvie never returns from a trip overseas to tell her dying grandmother goodbye, Amy sets out to find her. While staying with the family she never knew in the Netherlands, Amy learns about culture and identity and uncovers the secrets and lies that will eventually lead her to the truth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Searching for Sylvie Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Top ten best-dressed characters in fiction

Amanda Craig is a British novelist, short-story writer and critic. Her novels include Hearts And Minds and The Lie Of the Land. Her new novel is The Golden Rule, which was inspired by both Patricia Highsmith’s classic Strangers on a Train and the fairy-tale of Beauty and the Beast.

At the Guardian, Craig tagged ten of the best-dressed characters in fiction, including:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The tomboyish Katniss must compete for her life in a dystopian TV contest. Her sympathetic costume designer Cinna puts her into “a simple black unitard… and a fluttering cape made of streamers of orange, yellow and red” that bursts into synthetic flames during the initial parade, instantly transforming her from dull representative of Panem’s despised coal-mining District to the public’s “Girl on Fire” heroine. Collins’s trilogy came to us before Trump’s America, but its satire on the kind of cruelly divisive populist culture that led to his victory looks increasingly prescient. Katniss’s costume is especially thrilling because she will indeed become the fiery rebel leader of a revolution against the Capitol.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hunger Games also appears on Sarah Driver's list of her five favorite fictional siblings, Meghan Ball's list of eight books or series for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, Jeff Somers's lists of "five pairs of books that have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other," top five list of dystopian societies that might actually function, and top eight list of revolutionary SF/F novels, P.C. Cast’s top ten list of all-time favorite reads for fantasy fans, Keith Yatsuhashi's list of five gateway books that opened the door for him to specific genres, Catherine Doyle's top ten list of doomed romances in YA fiction, Ryan Britt's list of six of the best Scout Finches -- "headstrong, stalwart, and true" young characters -- from science fiction and fantasy, Natasha Carthew's top ten list of revenge reads, Anna Bradley ten best list of literary quotes in a crisis, Laura Jarratt's top ten list of YA thrillers with sisters, Tina Connolly's top five list of books where the girl saves the boy, Sarah Alderson's top ten list of feminist icons in children's and teen books, Jonathan Meres's top ten list of books that are so unfair, SF Said's top ten list of unlikely heroes, Rebecca Jane Stokes's top ten list of fictional families you could probably abide during holiday season and top eight list of books perfect for reality TV fiends, Chrissie Gruebel's list of favorite fictional fashion icons, Lucy Christopher's top ten list of literary woods, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best books with teenage narrators, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of teen thrillers, Gregg Olsen's top ten list of deadly YA books, Annalee Newitz's list of ten great American dystopias, Philip Webb's top ten list of pulse-racing adventure books, Charlie Higson's top ten list of fantasy books for children, and Megan Wasson's list of five fantasy series geared towards teens that adults will love too.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Seven tales of shipbound life

Lisa Alther was born and grew up in Tennessee. Her novels include Kinflicks, a feminist coming-of-age chronicle. Her other books include Original Sins, Other Women, Bedrock, and a book of conversations between Alther and the painter Fran├žoise Gilot (About Women). Alther’s books have been published in seventeen languages and have appeared on best-seller lists worldwide.

Her new novel is Swan Song.

At Lit Hub Alther tagged seven "books [that] are some of [her] favorites for the ways in which they capture both the sublime and the sinister aspects of life at sea," including:
Kate Christensen, The Last Cruise

When I was in high school, my Auntie Mame grandmother persuaded my Latin teacher to circle the globe with her on the original Queen Mary. They sent home photos of themselves vamping onboard in their fox fur boas. Once I could afford it, I followed their glamorous lead. Unfortunately, during my own cruise I came to understand that my comfort depended on the misery of overworked and underpaid people in the belly of the ship. The Last Cruise explores this theme when such a ship stalls without power in the middle of the Pacific. Soon food is thawing and spoiling in the freezers, toilets are overflowing, and the ship itself is surrounded by acres of floating black plastic bags full of garbage. What begins as a sophisticated comedy of manners devolves into a chilling dystopian parable about the future of our overpopulated planet.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Seven fictional characters who are bent, but not broken

Kate McLaughlin's new novel is What Unbreakable Looks Like.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven "favorite Bent-But-Not-Broken characters who take the traumas of their past and triumph over them, or use them as sources of strength." One title on the list:
The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Charlie, Charlie, Charlie—you are a contender. Twenty-eight years ago, young Charlie survived an attack on her family that not only robbed her of her mother, but robbed both she and her sister of their father, as he never quite recovered from the loss. Now, an adult and a lawyer like her father, Charlie is drawn into an investigation that brings back memories of that horrible time—memories she has done her best to bury. As usual, Slaughter delivers some amazing characters and unexpected twists and turns. The tragedy of a school shooting only adds to the darkness Charlie carries within her. She struggles to keep her life together, struggles to be who she wants to be, but nothing will stop her from getting to the truth, and when the truth about what happened that long ago night finally comes to light, it doesn’t destroy her as it could have, but rather starts her on a path of healing that is as heart-breaking as it is hopeful.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 29, 2020

Eleven thrilling procedurals that don’t involve police

Preety Sidhu, an intern at Electric Literature, tagged eleven thrilling nonfiction procedurals that don’t involve police, including:
Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders, M.D.

Physician Lisa Sanders, who worked as an advisor to the TV show House, M.D. and graduated from the Yale School of Medicine, offers up a collection of real life medical puzzles, from stomach pains following a barracuda dinner to perplexing full body rashes to headaches induced by a zebra attack. She illuminates the combination of expertise, careful procedure, and luck that it takes for doctors to successfully diagnose and treat their patients, inviting readers to share in the confusions experienced along the way and the thrills of finally hitting on the right solution.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Six crime titles for those in need of a fresh start

Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control.

Clark's new novel is The Last Flight.

At CrimeReads she tagged six "books that fall under the theme of escaping. Of slipping into someone else’s skin and leaving our old lives for something better," including:
Watch Me Disappear, by Janelle Brown

A missing mother, presumed dead after not returning from a hike in the mountains. A daughter who refuses to believe her mother is truly gone, and a husband who begins to unearth his wife’s many secrets. Watch Me Disappear forces the reader to tear through the pages, to figure out whether Billie Flanagan died on that mountain, or if she perhaps found an ingenious way to disappear instead. Watch Me Disappear is one of those rare books that will truly have you guessing until the very last page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Watch Me Disappear.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Ten top works of literary fiction for runners

Emily Temple holds a BA from Middlebury College and an MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns fellow and the recipient of a Henfield Prize.

Temple's new novel, her first, is The Lightness.

At Lit Hub she tagged ten works of fiction "to boost your new running routine, or just help you cool down... complete with running-centric quotations to help you choose." One title on the list:
Naomi Benaron, Running the Rift (2010)

The runner squinted into the sun, and a field of wrinkles mapped his eyes. “No wonder, then. Do you know who you are named for?”

“The god who brings the thunder,” Jean Patrick said.

“Yes—Nkuba, Lord of Heaven, the Swift One.” Telesphore touched Jean Patrick below tthe left eye. “I see it there: the hunger. Sometday you will need to run as much as you need to breathe.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 26, 2020

Five top thrillers set in isolated places

Nina Laurin studied Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal, where she currently lives. She arrived there when she was just twelve years old, and she speaks and reads in Russian, French, and English but writes her novels in English. She wrote her first novel while getting her writing degree, and Girl Last Seen was a bestseller a year later in 2017.

Laurin's latest novel is A Woman Alone.

At CrimeReads she tagged five great thrillers set in isolated places, including:
Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

A meticulously researched journey into the world of contemporary art, Fake Like Me takes us to a remote abandoned resort where a group of artists once created their scandalous masterpieces, led by sculptor Carey Logan who later killed herself by drowning in the lake at that very compound. The nameless protagonist of Fake Like Me (so nameless that even her passport is rendered blank at the start of the novel) is here to recreate the paintings that got destroyed when her building burned down—and she must do it in complete secrecy because the paintings have already been sold. Oops.

Soon, she stumbles upon a box of unfamiliar drawings and finds herself drawn into the mystery of Carey Logan’s death. Fake Like Me isn’t only about art and fraud but about disillusionment and the disintegration of our most sacred idols.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue