Sunday, August 31, 2014

Top ten books about serial killers

Laura McHugh's debut novel is The Weight Of Blood. One of her ten favorite books about serial killers, as shared at the Daily Express:
RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris

Harris does an incredible job of developing his serial-killer characters and making them deeply horrifying, and “The Tooth Fairy” in this novel is one of his best. Rarely have I felt so intimately acquainted with a sadistic killer.
Read about the other books on the list.

Red Dragon also appears Kimberly Turner's list of the ten most disturbing sociopaths, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best dragons in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, and among the Telegraph's 110 best books; Andre Gross says "it should be taught as [a text] in Thriller 101."

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Top ten twisted histories

Christopher Edge is the author of the Twelve Minutes to Midnight series and other books.

For the Guardian, he tagged his ten favorite twisted histories (also known as alternate histories, counterfactuals, "what-if" fiction), including:
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Set in an alternate 1985 where superheroes are real, Richard Nixon is still the US president and the doomsday clock is ticking ever closer to midnight, this groundbreaking graphic novel helped launch geek culture: changing the world of comics from four-colour fandom to the 3D Hollywood-devouring spectacle we see today.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Watchmen also appears among Jo Nesbø's 7 favorite books, Ian Rankin's six best books, and Lev Grossman's top ten graphic novels list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five top new girl-powered sci-fi and fantasy novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Nicole Hill tagged five of the best new girl-powered sci-fi and fantasy novels, including:
The Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen

Johansen juxtaposes medieval high fantasy with dystopian future in this debut. After a childhood spent in hiding, 19-year-old Kelsea makes the perilous journey to assume the throne of the Tear that has been vacant (aside from her scheming, laughably dastardly uncle, The Regent) since her mother’s death. The Tear, a downtrodden kingdom whose capital is New London, is not, as you’d expect, set in the past. Instead, this civilization—along with the adjacent, antagonistic Mortmesne and a handful of other city-states—is the result of a great migration following an environmental catastrophe in our own time. (Just as we read the texts of Plutarch to understand the ancients, Kelsea looks to J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien.) As Kelsea attempts to clean up a dominion in disarray, it quickly becomes apparent to both readers and every man she comes across that this queen is no pushover. In fact, she could be a savior.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The top ten fictitious biographies

Jonathan Gibbs is a writer and journalist born in Trinidad, raised in Essex, and living, now, in London. His debut novel is Randall.

For the Guardian, Gibbs tagged his top ten biographies of made-up persons as if they were real. (Note: these books are not fictionalized biographies – novels based on the life of a famous person. Those are more common.) One title on the list:
The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Vladimir Nabokov

It's no surprise that many "fictitious biographies" include a fair bit of the biographer in their narrative. The model for this is surely AJA Symons's The Quest for Corvo, with its detective story premise, which came out shortly before Nabokov started writing this, his first English language book. It is the tale of celebrated writer Sebastian Knight, told by his half-brother, V, though as you'd expect with this author the elusive quarry retreats even as the befuddled hunter advances, and by the end we're as uncertain about the one as we are about the other.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight appears on Louise Welsh's literary top 10.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Twenty books as great today as they were in the 90s

At the Huffington Post, Stephen Graham Jones tagged twenty books as great today as they were in the 90s, including:
Bastard Out of Carolina (1993):

And this book changed me, too. You mean, if I wanted to, I could just write about where I grew up? And I don't have to sell it as exotic or weird, I can just tell it the way it is? For some reason I had never considered that. And, Dorothy Alison has one of the four or five best scenes in all of bookdom in Bastard: her uncle's out there driving the backroads, seeking justice but really it's just a gesture. It's a gesture we all find ourselves making. I would like to erase my mind, please, and read this one all over again for the first time.
Read about the other books on the list.

Bastard Out of Carolina is on Hanna McGrath's list of five favorite child narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Four must-read science fiction debuts

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Paul Goat Allen tagged four must-read science fiction debuts, including:
RedDevil 4, by Eric C. Leuthardt

A science-fiction thriller that is as thematically powerful as Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, this debut novel—set in the year 2053—is flawless. Featuring a cast of brilliantly developed characters, breakneck pacing, and literally nonstop action, the storyline revolves around the spread of a virus in neuroprosthetic implants (used by the majority of the population to stay connected to the Internet) that turns ordinary people into mindless murderers. Not only is Leuthardt’s portrayal of the near future meticulously described and incredibly plausible, the social and political implications of humankind “upgrading” their consciousnesses are chilling to say the least. If you like your thrillers heaped with a healthy dose of scientific speculation, you’re going to love RedDevil 4.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best vampire novels ever

At SciFiNow Jonathan Hatfull tagged the ten best vampire novels ever, including:

Anne Rice’s vampire novels are arguably the most influential post-Stoker interpretation of vampires. Her elegant, disaffected, beautiful, tragic creations staring longingly at each others’ throats paved the way for the waves of imitators that followed. While her later novels would focus on Lestat, it’s the “happy family” of Claudia, Louis and Lestat at the centre of this first novel that makes it so memorable. The character of Claudia, trapped in a child’s body forever, is more interesting than the impulsive, rebellious Lestat, but possibly less fun.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Interview With The Vampire is among Ryan Menezes' top five movies that improved the book, Will Hill's top 10 vampires in fiction and popular culture, and Lynda Resnick's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 25, 2014

Five engaging novels that will make you a more interesting conversationalist

At the Telegraph, Radhika Sanghani recommended five books "guaranteed to stimulate your evening drinks – but not bore you on the beach," including:
The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

I absolutely loved this book. It’s the epic tale of a young South African woman called Nombeko. At the start of the book, she’s 14-years-old and working in the sewers. By the end? She’s owned diamonds, hung out with political officials, learnt Chinese and taken charge of a missile.

The novel is hilarious, sad and very, very clever. It’s guaranteed to make you think about current affairs (South Africa’s nuclear missiles, in particular). But it’s also about those vast themes of the human condition: honesty, luck, hard-work and an acceptance that life will always be unpredictable. The only problem with this book? It's such addictive reading that you might not want to talk to anyone – you’ll just want to keep on turning the pages.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The twenty best British and Irish novels of all time

One title on the Telegraph's list of the twenty best British and Irish novels of all time:
The Sea
John Banville (2005)

A masterful exploration of memory, and of loss, Banville’s Booker-winning novel focuses on an art historian reaching back to the seaside years of his childhood, and of the people and experiences and loves that have subsequently shaped the meaning of his life.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Sea is on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books from Ireland's newer voices and John Mullan's list of ten of the best swimming scenes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ten top first lines in children's and teen books

Jon Walter is the author of the novel Close To The Wind.

One of his ten top first lines in children's and teen books, as shared at the Guardian:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.
This book has a fantastic opening as we follow the knife and the hand that holds it, letting it lead us through a murder scene in search of a missing baby, the last one to be killed. This masterful device puts the gruesome scene at a safe enough distance for us to cope with and means we are rooting for the hero's escape before we've even met him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Graveyard Book is among Helen Grant's ten "best books with settings that are strikingly brought to life" and Nevada Barr's 6 favorite books.

Also see: Top ten opening lines of novels in the English language.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 22, 2014

The ten best Haruki Murakami books

Matthew Carl Strecher is professor of Japanese language, literature, and culture at Winona State University. He is the author of Dances with Sheep: The Quest for Identity in the Fiction of Haruki Murakami, Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Reader’s Guide, and The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami.

One title on Strecher's list of the ten best Haruki Murakami books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Norwegian Wood

Another “Naoko”—or is it the same one?—forms the center of this work, a retrospective look at Watanabe Tōru’s tragic relationship with a mentally disturbed young woman who hears the voice of “Kizuki”—her dead lover and soul mate—calling to her from the “other world.” Tōru spends part of the story trying to prevent her from following this voice, and part of it struggling with his desire for “Midori,” the vibrant “other woman” in the novel.
Read about the other books on the list.

Norwegian Wood is among Melissa Albert's five best books that inspire great mix tapes and Julith Jedamus' top ten Japanese novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about Detroit

At The Daily Beast, Bill Morris tagged his top ten books about Detroit, including:
Amos Walker: The Complete Story Collection
by Loren D. Estleman (2010)

The fictional hard-boiled private eye might seem like a relic from an earlier era, but Amos Walker, the durable and lovable gumshoe created by Loren D. Estleman, remains fresh and relevant. A tough guy with a soft interior and a taste for cheap scotch, Walker has spent the past three and a half decades trying to clean up Detroit, a city he insists on loving even as it continues to break his heart. In the introduction to this delightful doorstop of a book, Estleman explains what inspired him to set Amos Walker loose on the raw streets of the Motor City: “Where others saw desolation and despair, I saw color. It’s the worm in the apple that makes the apple interesting.”
Read about the other books on the list.

Detroit is one of Mark Binelli's top ten cities in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The top ten restaurants and bars in modern literature

Michael Gibney began working in restaurants at the age of sixteen and assumed his first sous chef position at twenty-two. He ascended to executive sous chef at Tavern on the Green, where he managed an eighty-person staff. In addition to his experience in the food service industry, Gibney also holds a BFA in painting from Pratt Institute and an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. He is the author of Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line.

At the Guardian, Gibney tagged the top ten restaurants and bars in modern literature, including:
O'Connell's in White Teeth by Zadie Smith

The Menu: "O'Connell's is an Irish pool house run by Arabs with no pool tables … there are reasons why the pustule-covered Mickey will cook you chips, egg and beans, or egg, chips and beans, or beans, chips, eggs and mushrooms but not, under any circumstances, chips, beans, eggs and bacon."

The Appeal: "A place to discuss everything from the meaning of Revelation to the prices of plumbers. And women. Hypothetical women."
Read about the other entries on the list.

White Teeth is on Mary Beard's six best books list, John Mullan's list of the ten most notable New Years in literature, Melissa Albert's list of five notable--and ambitious--debut novels and Nigel Williams's list of ten of the best books about suburbia.

Also see: Esther Inglis-Arkell's ten best bars in science fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Eight top doomsday books

For Omnivoracious, Neal Thompson tagged eight top doomsday books, including:
World of Trouble, Ben H. Winters

What the heck happened? A ginormous asteroid is barreling toward Earth. We don’t stand a chance, and everyone knows it.

Now what? As most humans prepare for the end with parties, prayer, or suicide, a quixotic police detective decides to leave his well-stocked safehouse and look for his missing sister in bleak small-town Ohio. He brings along his dog, Houdini.
Read about the other books on the list.

World of Trouble is the final installment in the Edgar Award winning Last Policeman series.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: Countdown City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Five of the best books by doctors

Gabriel Weston is an ear, nose and throat surgical specialist and author of the memoir, Direct Red: A Surgeon’s View of her Life-or-Death Profession.

One of her five best books by doctors, as shared at The Daily Beast:
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov’s tale of a visit by the devil to the Soviet Union, is a brilliant and beautifully written satire. It also should offer hope to any writer feeling exasperated by getting a novel finished, since Bulgakov started writing it in 1928 and it wasn’t published until 1967.
Read about the other books Weston tagged.

The Master and Margarita is among Joel Cunningham's nine favorite talking animals in fiction, Josh Ritter's six favorite books that invoke the supernatural, Cornelius Medvei's's top ten talking animals in literature, Joseph Fiennes' six best books, and Daniel Johnson's five best books about Cold War culture. It's also a book that English actor and writer Stephen Fry tries to read as often as he can.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ten of the creepiest books

Stephanie Feldman's debut novel The Angel of Losses "explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters."

For Publishers Weekly, Feldman tagged ten of her favorite "books that are smart and scary—just frightening enough for catharsis, and just exotic enough in their trappings that you'll probably still be able to sleep at night, if you're not lying awake thrilled by just how good they are." One title on the list:
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Another classic source of Freudian creepiness: fairy tales. The original Grimms' collection is filled with murderous parents, missing limbs, and gouged eyes. Angela Carter’s retellings of Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood (among others) go beyond spare allegory. They offer lush prose, vibrant heroines, and candid sexuality.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Bloody Chamber is one of Jonathan Stroud's favorite fantasy books.

Visit Stephanie Feldman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Four high-stakes horror stories set in the real universe of girlhood

For Hazlitt, Anna Fitzpatrick tagged four books "featuring small towns, teen girls, intimate friendships on the border between love and hate, and brutal murders," including:
Conversion, by Katherine Howe, is based on the very real case of the twitching girls in Le Roy, New York. Tensions are high between a group of second-semester seniors at an elite private school in small-town Massachusetts, vying for spots at the same Ivy League colleges. Howe draws parallels between the mysterious illness that befalls her protagonists and the Salem Witch Trials of the late 17th century, in which a group of tween girls faked an illness and pointed their fingers, leading to the deaths of 19 adults, most of them women.
Read about the other books Fitzpatrick tagged.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Top ten books about hair

Bea Davenport drew on her experiences as a journalist for her first novel, In Too Deep, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Luke Bitmead Bursary. Her children’s novel, The Serpent House, was shortlisted for the 2010 Times/Chicken House Award.

One of Davenport's top ten books about hair, as shared at the Guardian:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Any girl with anything about them wanted to be Jo, the only one of the March sisters with the guts to challenge convention. None of the others would have had the nerve to sell her chestnut hair for $25, to raise money for her ill father. What's more, she told her sisters that she had realised: "It will do my brains good to have that mop taken off."
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Women also appears among nine notable unsung literary heroines, Sophie McKenzie's top ten mothers in children's books, John Dugdale's ten notable fictional works on winter sports, Melissa Albert's five favorite YA books that might make one cry, Anjelica Huston's seven favorite coming-of-age books, Bidisha's ten top books about women, Katherine Rundell's top ten descriptions of food in fiction, Gwyneth Rees's ten top books about siblings, Maya Angelou's 6 favorite books, Tim Lewis's ten best Christmas lunches in literature, and on the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Erin Blakemore's list of five gutsy heroines to channel on an off day, Kate Saunders' critic's chart of mothers and daughters in literature, and Zoë Heller's list of five memorable portraits of sisters. It is a book that disappointed Geraldine Brooks on re-reading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five fictional characters who deserved better than they got

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert tagged five fictional characters who deserved better than they got, including:
Maria Bertram (Mansfield Park).

Yes, Maria treats her poor cousin and foster sister, the obnoxiously noble Fanny Price, like an unwanted glove. For her much-deserved ill rewards, we prescribe a stiff round of snubbing and a severe lack of new ribbon. But Bertram goes too far when she ditches her boring husband, Mr. Rushworth, for the handsome cad Henry Crawford. Adultery? Very bad. But in this case (and in the case of most cheating women in Austen’s day, we assume), the punishment is insanely harsh: Maria is forced to live out the remainder of her life in near-seclusion, in the home of her dreadful Aunt Norris. We bet Mr. Rushworth could’ve cheated without so much as a slap on the wrist.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books set on the seaside

Anna Wilson is the author of many books for children and teens, including Summer's Shadow. One of her ten top books set on the seaside, as shared at the Guardian:
The Beach by Alex Garland

This novel was published as an adult read, but it is definitely a crossover title which fans of YA fiction will enjoy. I read it when it was published, which was shortly after I had left university, so I empathized with the main character who is a student. I have not been fortunate enough to go backpacking in Thailand looking for an isolated beach untouched by tourism, but I can dream – isn't that what reading is all about anyway?
Read about the other books on the list.

The Beach also appears on Kate Kellaway's ten best list of fictional holidays, the Guardian editors' list of the 50 best summer reads ever, John Mullan's list of ten of the best swimming scenes in literature, and Sloane Crosley's list of five depressing beach reads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Top ten hotel novels

Mark Watson's new novel is Hotel Alpha. One of ten top hotel novels he tagged at the Guardian:
The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

One of Irving's sweeping modern-Dickensian novels, it follows the various dramas of a family in two separate hotels, each called the Hotel New Hampshire. Among a huge cast, there's an author who kills herself as a result of writer's block, which possibly isn't the sort of thing you want to read while researching a novel about hotels.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Four unique YA steampunk novels

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Katherine Monasterio recommended four unique YA steampunk novels, including:
Extracted, by Sherry Ficklin & Tyler H. Jolley

The plot: The Tesla Institute (yes, that Tesla) trains teenage time travelers to protect the time stream from other time-travelers seeking to alter it. It’s a time-travel war, and the battlefields are everywhere and anywhere in time. One of these time-traveling teens is Lex, whose girlfriend dies during a mission gone wrong. The only way to save her is to alter the time-stream without changing his own past, which means going behind enemy lines for tech that can take him back. That’s when Lex runs into Ember. To their surprise, Lex and Ember know each other, and the pasts hidden from them both come flooding back. With the truth on their side, Lex and Ember have to work together to save their futures before the time war takes away their pasts—again.

What makes it unique: Time travel! Steam-powered mechanics are fun enough, but using it to jump through time and alter history? This story had me from page one. That, and some serious time spent on pondering the consequences and ethics of changing history. The icing on the Extracted cake is the fascinating and fun relationship between the two main characters, siblings each dedicated to their different sides in the time war.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three thrillers inspired by Watergate

J. Kingston Pierce is both the editor of The Rap Sheet and the senior editor of January Magazine. One of three top thrillers inspired by Watergate he tagged at Kirkus Reviews:
[B]etter than most was Conflict of Interest (1976), by Les Whitten, another Post newshawk and a frequent contributor to investigative journalist Jack Anderson’s syndicated “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column. The book introduces readers to Aubrey Warder, a middle-aged and longtime reporter for the Washington Eagle, whose stories about how prominent government officials “dipped in the till or otherwise screwed the country” had burned numerous high-level, “cozy sources” and made him no friends among his newspaper’s national staff. But the Eagle’s publisher was fine with a little “creative tension” in the newsroom; and Warder was awfully damn good at uncovering sleaze in D.C.’s legislative ranks, even if—at risk to his weak heart—he did sometimes employ sex to win the confidence of women with inside information about wrongdoings. “I don’t screw my way into many stories,” he tells a colleague, somewhat defensively, “I do my time in the files.”

The focus of Warder’s latest pursuit is the swaggering Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Pommery Edwards of Kansas. Although deft in negotiating political standoffs and navigating safely through shifts of administration, Edwards is known (at least by the press, if not by the public) as “a corrupt lush, unable to function if some emergency summoned him after seven or eight.” Warder thinks voters should know about the Speaker’s weakness. Edwards’ wife, though, convinces him to back off that story—but only by feeding him a better one.

As Warder strikes up a more intimate relationship with Betty Page Edwards, he...[read on]
Read about the other thrillers on Pierce's list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books set in the Mediterranean

Sophia Bennett won first place is the second annual (London) Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition with her debut novel Sequins, Secrets, and Silver Linings, which is the first title in a trilogy that combines her long-standing obsession with fashion with her keen desire to write for young readers. Her latest YA novel is The Castle.

For the Guardian, Bennett named her top ten books set in the Mediterranean.  One book on the list:
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

If that's all a bit too energetic on a summer's day, picture Hercule Poirot in cream linen, travelling up the Nile on an old-fashioned cruise ship. Agatha Christie was inspired to write the story while on a steamer that you can still cruise on. There is something about a very hot sun and a very wicked murder plot that just seems to work.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ten top dystopias

At the Observer, Guy Lodge rounded up ten of the best dystopias in fiction, art, film, and television, including:
The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood, 1985

Atwood disputes the theory that her 1985 novel is set in a purely feminist dystopia: class comes before gender as a ranking factor in Gilead, a military dictatorship built on the remains of the US. Still, it’s close, with women divided into eight strata – “wives” at the top, “unwomen” at the bottom. Somewhere between lies the handmaid, one of the fertile minority required to surrender control of their wombs to the privileged and barren. Nearly 30 years on, Atwood’s projection of the most extreme victory imaginable for the anti-choice lobby retains its political tang.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Handmaid's Tale made Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Charlie Jane Anders and Kelly Faircloth's list of the best and worst childbirth scenes in science fiction and fantasy, Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of the top Arthur C. Clarke Award winners, and PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The ten best historical novels...ever?

One title on the Telegraph's list of the ten best historical novels:
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy's epic masterpiece, published in 1869, is a story of family life set against the backdrop of war, as Napoleon's armies sweep through Europe. Seen through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families, the novel culminates in the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and Napoleon's defeat. It is widely considered to be Tolstoy’s finest work and one of the greatest novels ever written, historical or otherwise, although the writer himself said that it was “not a novel, even less is it a poem, and still less a historical chronicle”.
Read about the other books on the list.

War and Peace appears among Simon Sebag Montefiore's five top books about Moscow, Oliver Ford Davies's six best books, Stella Tillyard's four favorite historical novels, Ann Shevchenko's top ten novels set in Moscow, Karl Marlantes' top ten war stories, Niall Ferguson's five most important books, Norman Mailer's top ten works of literature, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best battles in literature, ten of the best floggings in fiction, and ten of the best literary explosions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Four great books that will send young readers back to the Victorian Age

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Melissa Albert tagged four great books that will send young readers back to the Victorian Age, including:
Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times, by Emma Trevayne

The neglected child of rich parents, Jack is the perfect target for a ruthless otherworldly Lady, who lives in an alternate, steampunk London and longs for a human son. Jack enters the world of Londonium by magical means, and once there finds himself torn between continued adventures and returning to the safety of home. Ratcheting danger, atmospheric writing, and quirky characters such as the indefatigable mechanical girl known as Beth Number Thirteen will keep your kid fully invested in Trevayne’s action-packed world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 8, 2014

The five worst book covers ever

One entry on the Guardian's list of the five worst book covers ever:
The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Anyone for Princess Buttercup as a wild shaman with a bird on her head and snakes coming out of her backside? And why are there so many skulls? I’m willing to bet that illustrator Ted CoConis’s take sold loads, though. Because, y’know, breasts.
Read about the other covers on the list.

The Princess Bride is among Nicole Hill's eight notable royal figures in fiction, Rosie Perez's six favorite books, Stephanie Perkins' top ten most romantic books, Matthew Berry's six favorite books, and Jamie Thomson's top seven funny books.

Also see: Nine of the best art-and-book-cover matches.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four top novels of ice and snow

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged four top stories of ice and snow, including:
Snowblind, by Christopher Golden

For a change of pace, try this horror novel set in the picture-postcard town of Coventry, Massachusetts. There’s a large cast of characters, all written with empathy as living, breathing people you’ll swear you recognize from your own hometown, but the main character is…the storm. Filled with malevolent spirits, this storm has a will of its own.

I prefer my horror without buckets of blood, and Golden delivers, giving the townspeople psychological dilemmas every bit as suspenseful as the supernatural one. Twelve years ago Coventry was hit with a whiteout that left 18 dead, some of them (this is my favorite image) dragged out of windows by icy hands. Now, as they brace for another Nor’easter, the survivors have to face both their fear and traumatic memories of the earlier storm. There are shivers aplenty—and a climax that’ll knock your socks off.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ten essential books about The First World War

Justin Go is author of The Steady Running Of The Hour. For the Telegraph, he tagged his ten favorite works about The First World War, including:
A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway

Not quite a war book, Hemingway’s novel of romance and disillusionment is at its best in its action scenes.

The account of the chaotic Italian defeat at Caporetto is masterful, as is the portrayal of one’s couple’s attempt to survive the war together, against overwhelming odds.

The love story occasionally drifts into cliché but its ending - deeply touching and painfully true to life - redeems the book beyond all doubt.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Molly Schoemann-McCann's top ten books about World War I.

A Farewell to Arms is #2 on Nancy W. Sindelar's ranked list of the six best Hemingway novels. It also appears on Drew Barrymore's six best books list and Jeffrey Hart's list of five books essential to appreciating American literature of the 1920s, and is among Atul Gawande's ten favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books where psychiatrists take center stage

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged "four mind-bending books, in which therapists and the life of the mind take center stage," including:
Waiting for Wednesday, by Nicci French

One problem I have with non-police mysteries is credibility: why would your average priest/granny/piano tuner be able to solve a tricky murder case? The best mysteries make me believe it, as in this series featuring psychotherapist Frieda Klein. Given her profession, it’s only natural Frieda would have a working relationship with police and plenty of insight into the deviant mind. If there’s a killer on the loose, she’d certainly be able to put herself in the guy’s shoes and predict what he’d do next. This is why Frieda rocks!

Ruth Lennox is a seemingly ordinary housewife and mother found brutally murdered. When it comes out that Ruth was leading a double life, and when her son becomes friends with Frieda’s niece, the case quickly takes a personal turn. Complicating matters is Frieda’s own state of mind, as she tries to recover from an attack on her life. Untangling the truth will take every bit of grit and experience she’s got.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Top ten novels about childbirth

Bethan Roberts's novels are The Pools, The Good Plain Cook, My Policeman, and Mother Island.

At the Guardian she tagged her top ten novels about childbirth, including:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I read this whilst pregnant and was delighted to find, hidden in the most famous European novel about adultery, illicit passion and moral codes (and almost everything else besides), Dolly's thoughts about the bleak drudgery of pregnancy and childbirth. Of all the sentences I'd expected to find in a novel by Tolstoy, this was not one of them: "Darya Alexandrovna shuddered at the mere recollection of the pain from cracked nipples that she had endured with almost every child." Tolstoy understood.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Anna Karenina also appears on Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Top ten literary rodents

At the Guardian, author Kate DiCamillo tagged ten of the best rodents she has known and loved in children's books, including:
Abel from Abel's Island, by William Steig

This story of how the mouse Abelard Hassam di Chirico Flint (Abel for short) gets separated from his wife and his civilized life and learns to survive alone on an island in the middle of a river is inspiring, funny, and elegant.
Read about the other rodents on the list.

Also see John Mullan's list of ten of the best rats in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twelve great pandemic novels

At Slate, Torie Bosch tagged twelve great pandemic novels, including:
Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy looks at a world depopulated by a vicious, Ebola-like disease created by a mad scientist, while the new viruses of Paolo Bacigalupi'’s The Windup Girl are just some of many man-invented problems plaguing Earth.
Read about the other novels on the list.

Oryx and Crake is among Annalee Newitz's top ten works of fiction that might change the way you look at nature and Liz Jensen's top 10 environmental disaster stories.

The Windup Girl is among Madeleine Monson-Rosen's top 15 books that take place in science fiction and fantasy versions of the most fascinating places on Earth and Annalee Newitz's lists of books to prepare you for the economic apocalypse and the 35 essential posthuman novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 4, 2014

Eight bone-chilling books

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ginni Chen tagged eight bone-chilling books to help beat the summer heat, including:
Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk

Though not in the vein of classic ghost stories, Palahniuk’s collection of short stories will nonetheless make your blood curdle. The premise? A bunch of writers think they’re on a retreat, then realize they’ve signed up for something much more sinister. What they do in response is incredibly unnerving, gory, and entertaining. You’ll get pangs of phantom pain alongside the shivers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Haunted is among Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders's ten horror novels that are scarier than almost any movie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Daisy Goodwin's six favorite historical fiction books

Daisy Goodwin's new novel is The Fortune Hunter.

One of her six favorite historical fiction books, as shared at The Week magazine:
I, Claudius by Robert Graves

The first historical novel I remember reading and still one of the finest treatments of imperial Rome. Graves is very good on pre-Judeo-Christian morality, and the women are gloriously villainous. No one in Game of Thrones has anything on Livia or Messalina.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I, Claudius also appears on 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

Eight books that will transport you to Old Hollywood

Jennifer Niven's books include American Blonde, book four in the Velva Jean series. Niven lives in Los Angeles (where her film Velva Jean Learns to Drive won an Emmy Award).

For the Huffington Post she tagged eight books that will transport you to Old Hollywood, including:
I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl

For those who don't know, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was one of the biggest (no pun intended) stars of the 1920s. As Booklist observes, his was a "rags-to-riches-to-rags story." That story gets a fictional retelling here, with Fatty as narrator, although the author sticks to the facts of the comedian's life -- the heroin addiction, the wild parties, and, most famously, the party that led to accusations of rape and murder, which resulted in the most sensational trial of the decade. Arbuckle was most likely innocent, but it ruined him and his career. I, Fatty takes us through the highs and lows of Hollywood and one man's journey there, and is at once poignant and bawdy, harrowing and heartbreaking.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Stefan Kanfer's five best books on remarkable Hollywood lives and Jane Ciabattari's five best list of novels on Hollywood.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Four tough fictional women you’ll root for

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Ellen Wehle tagged four "tough, savvy female characters who don’t just pad the story, they are the story," including:
The Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist

Another great book that’s hard to categorize. I found my copy in the fiction section, but it could just as easily have been shelved with sci-fi. In the not-too-distant future, society is humming along nicely. Every citizen contributes, and there’s very little hunger or suffering. The catch? “Dispensables,” that is, people who haven’t produced children, don’t die peacefully in bed. They report to Units where they give up their bodies piece by piece for laboratory testing and organ donation. But—and here’s the kicker—no one is forced to go. They go willingly, for the sake of society.

On her fiftieth birthday Dorrit Weger checks into the Unit because she’s expected to, because it’s what good people do. Life inside is luxurious, with better food, clothing, and care than she was ever able to afford on her own. If other women at the swimming pool look like Holocaust survivors because they’ve been sprayed with chemicals for random scientific tests, Dorrit just thanks God it isn’t her. Not until she falls in love with a man in the Unit does she begin to question, and to fight. The choices she makes will haunt you long after you turn the last page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 1, 2014

Six great Australian YA lit classics

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Janet Manley tagged six of the most widely read Australian classics for teens, including:
If you loved The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, try Tomorrow, When the War Began, by John Marsden

Before we all got our knickers in a knot over the complexity and kickbuttness of Katniss, Australian teens were busy imagining themselves as Ellie, the tough, pragmatic hero of this dystopian series.

Australia is invaded overnight during national celebrations, and most of the population is locked up in prison camps. Ellie and a crew of teenaged country buddies are camping out in the bush, and return home to their farms to find dogs unfed, houses deserted, and broadcasts reduced to occasional cries for help over the wireless. After sneaking into town and glimpsing their families locked up at the fairground, the gang returns to the wilderness to formulate a plan for guerrilla warfare.

The Tomorrow series is seven books long, over which time Ellie kills (and suffers the moral fallout), falls in and out of love, loses friends, and learns to lead. What the book does so well is shows a character who doesn’t always make perfect decisions, who can be prickly to her lovers and her friends, and who ultimately has to overcome the incompetency of adults (and she is far less manipulated than her Panem equivalent). The gang also consists of one of the most diverse and realistic set of friends I’ve seen in YA lit—there’s the fierce Robyn, sweet, waifish Fiona, godly Homer, easily hurt Lee, courageous Corrie, fallible Kevin, and loner Chris. Plus, it stars the beautiful Australian outback!

The first book was made into a movie in 2010, if you’d like to check out the cinematic version.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten birds in books

Childrens' author Gill Lewis lives in Somerset with her young family and pets. She writes from a tree house, in the company of squirrels.

One of the author's top ten birds in books, as shared at the Guardian:
The Sword in the Stone by TH White

In TH White's re-telling of the Arthurian Legends, Merlyn changes young Wart into different animals to see the world from others' perspectives. Through birds' eyes, Wart learns to see the folly of man and to understand what it takes to become a great leader. White's descriptions of flight, perfectly encapsulate what it is to be a bird.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Sword in the Stone is the first part of The Once and Future King, which is among Philip Womack's best classic children's books and Lev Grossman's five top fantasy books.

--Marshal Zeringue