Monday, December 18, 2017

Eleven books with beautifully strange love stories

At Entertainment Weekly Sarah Weldon tagged eleven beautifully strange romance books to read if you loved the awards season frontrunning film The Shape of Water. One title on the list:
Issac Marion, Warm Bodies

Told from the perspective of R, a zombie in the middle of a "no-life" crisis, this love story between a human-eating zombie and a human girl causes a ripple in their world. The novel, which became a 2013 film starring Nicholas Hoult, is quirky, haunting, and deeply romantic in equal measure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Warm Bodies is among Ceridwen Christensen's seven top books with thinking zombies, Jeff Somers's eight best speculative works with dead narrators, Sarah Skilton's six most unusual YA narrators, Rachel Paxton-Gillilan's five funniest YA zombie novels, Nick Harkaway's six favorite holiday books, and Nicole Hill's seven favorite literary oddballs.

The Page 69 Test: Warm Bodies.

My Book, The Movie: Warm Bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Nine memoirs that reveal the dark side of Hollywood

At Bustle, Sadie Trombetta tagged nine memoirs that reveal the dark side of Hollywood, including:
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Though it is rife with humor and wit, Carrie Fisher's bestselling memoir reveals darkness behind the laughter that so often serves as a mask in Hollywood. In Wishful Drinking, the Star Wars megastar uses her personal experience growing up as Hollywood royalty and becoming a famous actress herself to explore the rampant sexism, substance abuse, and scandal in Tinseltown. Sharp and unapologetic, this celebrity memoir is unlike any other, and a must read for fans who want to know what it was really like in the limelight for the dearly departed star.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six great books with a Cincinnati-area connection

At Cincinnati Magazine Justin Williams tagged six great books with local or regional connection to Cincinnati. One entry on the list:
Tornado Weather by Deborah E. Kennedy

Fikus Ward is a salt-of-the-earth bus driver from Colliersville, Indiana, who makes the grave mistake of letting a 5-year-old girl travel home alone as a storm draws near. Her subsequent disappearance forces the small town to reconcile its differences and listen to its neglected voices.
My Book, The Movie: Tornado Weather.

The Page 69 Test: Tornado Weather.

Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Five delicious food memoirs to drool over

At B&N Reads Madina Papadopoulos tagged five delicious food memoirs, including:
Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace, by Ella Brennan and Ti Martin

New Orleans is one of those cities that instantly conjures up images of food and fine dining. Just the mention of “The Big Easy” sends déjà vu taste buds and smells swirling through the mind. And couple that with the surname, “Brennan,” well; brunch is pretty much served. The Brennan family of New Orleans has a long history as restaurateurs, among the most eminent is the inimitable Ella Brennan, leader of Commander’s Palace, first established in 1893. The book, whose colors recall the restaurant with its vibrant blue and white, follows the story of Brennan’s life and career. Brennan co-wrote it with one of her daughters (and restaurant partners), Ti Adelaide Martin.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ten essential neo-noir authors

In 2013 Richard Thomas tagged ten top neo-noir authors at Flavorwire. One entry on the list:
Holly Goddard Jones

There are few stories or collections that have left me weeping, but Holly Goddard Jones’s Girl Trouble is one of them. A mixture of Flannery O’Connor and Denis Johnson, with a sprinkle of John Cheever, what Jones does so well is create tension and fear while at the same time whispering in our ear that everything is going to be all right. But it isn’t going to be all right, that’s the problem — it will never be the same again. Her story “Proof of God,” from this very collection, went on to be selected for the Best American Mystery Stories anthology. Jones can take a scene as innocent and common as watching a daughter dive into a pool, taking a little bit too long to come up for air, and make it pulsate with foreshadowing and danger. Her latest novel, The Next Time You See Me, builds on that history, creating a layered tapestry, torn and stained at the edges.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a canine: Holly Goddard Jones & Bishop.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six hilarious middle grade novels

At the BN Kids Blog Rachel Paxton tagged six hilarious middle grade novels, including:
Well, That Was Awkward, by Rachel Vail

Middle school relationships can be complicated—a fact middle grade readers know very well. But that awkwardness and weirdness can make for some funny moments, which is exactly what this grin-inducing book is about. It follows Gracie as she tries to woo AJ for her best friend Sienna by crafting Sienna’s texts. Unfortunately, Gracie also likes AJ. It’s a modern Cyrano story told through the lens of text messages and middle schoolers that is as awkward as it is hilarious.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Eight books to read during Hanukkah

At Bustle, Melissa Ragsdale tagged eight books that "go right along with the spirit of [Hanukkah]," including:
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

If you're looking for a Jewish adventure story, Michael Chabon's your guy. This brilliant novel takes place in Sitka, an independent Jewish colony in Alaska that, after sixty years, is about to become part of Alaska again. We follow the slightly off-the-rails homicide detective Meyer Landsman, as he works to solve a murder that may just be tied in closely with the fate of Sitka.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union is among Jeff Somers's five best oddball detective novels, J.D. Taylor's ten top counter-factual novels, and Molly Driscoll's top six alternate-history novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Top ten books about growing old

Christopher Matthews is the author of The Old Man and the Knee: How to Be a Golden Oldie. One of his ten top books about growing old, as shared at the Guardian:
Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

Reading this book is like going on a long walk with a friend who is as erudite and serious as he is entertaining. Barnes is at his most contemplative as he takes us through his family and childhood and into arguments about the existence of God (“I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him”) and startling exchanges with his philosopher brother. But what preoccupies him most is death and the fear of death – his, mainly. What will it be like when it comes? A good one, or one filled with pain and regret?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top retellings of "Alice in Wonderland"

At Natalie Zutter tagged seven of the best retellings of Alice in Wonderland, including:
Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot

The greatest shipbuilding port in the world during Lewis Carroll’s time and a supposed inspiration for his Alice books (it literally rhymes with “Wonderland”), Sunderland possesses a rich history. In his 300-page, nonlinear graphic novel, writer-illustrator Bryan Talbot delves into Carroll’s famous visits and the legacy of the area itself in relation to art and imagination. To do so, Talbot must draw himself into the narrative; true to the book’s subtitle—An Entertainment—he takes on the roles of both Traveler and Storyteller for what Teen Reads describes as “theatrical performance with academic lecture.” Fitting with Alice’s journey, it’s the kind of topsy-turvy tour that readers should just give themselves over to, and all the nonsense will give way to sense.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Three of the best books on Ethiopia

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka tagged three top books on Ethiopia. One title on the list:
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste

Mengiste’s novel of the early years of Ethiopia’s revolution begins in 1974 as student demonstrations and famine lead to the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie by the military. She creates an intimate portrait of an extended family, and it is through their eyes that we see the revolution unfolding – and descending into chaos and brutality.

Hailu, a respected surgeon in Addis Ababa, and his elder son Yonas, a university professor, prefer to keep their distance from Ethiopia’s violent and dangerous politics. But the younger son, Dawit, is determined to be politically active. Initially, he is a student protestor against the emperor and supports the Marxist junta. Later, when the military begins to crush dissent and sow terror, he becomes a brave and dogged opponent of the regime. Dawit recalls his mother telling him that “hope can never come from doing nothing”.

When the military forces Hailu to treat a young woman who has been horrifically tortured, a decision he makes causes him and his family to be swept up in the political storm.

This compassionate, tightly woven tale immediately draws the reader into its unfurling domestic and political drama. It’s an impressive literary debut.

Mengiste’s family left Ethiopia when she was a child; she now lives in the US.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Smithsonian" magazine's ten best history books of 2017

One of Smithsonian magazine's ten best history books of 2017:
Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig.

Much has been written about the many dimensions of Muhammad Ali’s life, namely his boxing prowess. In this tome, Jonathan Eig sets out to write the definitive biography of “The Greatest,” complete with information from more than 500 contemporary interviews, hours of interviews from the 1960s, and thousands of pages from newly released Department of Justice and FBI files. He follows the arc of the man’s life, from his humble beginnings in Louisville to his larger-than-life success as a boxer. Ali isn’t a saint-like figure, though; interviews with those close to him suggest that the man was a bundle of contradiction, both fighting for racial justice and hurting those who loved him.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Ali: A Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 11, 2017

Six notable books about self-deception

Emily Fridlund is the author of the story collection Catapult and History of Wolves, a debut novel that was a finalist for the Man Booker Award. One of her six favorite books about self-deception, as shared at The Week magazine:
Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam

This is one of the most unflinching and seductive novels I know about a man's drive to deceive himself. David Lamb kidnaps an 11-year-old girl and takes her on a road trip out West, all the while telling himself, and her, the sweepingly romantic story that he is rescuing her from her lonely suburban life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seventeen books for "Jane Eyre" lovers

At Bustle, Kristian Wilson tagged seventeen books for Jane Eyre lovers, including:
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye's eponymous heroine murdered the schoolmasters who made her life miserable. Then she disappeared. Now her late aunt's second husband, Mr. Thornfield, needs a governess, and the job might be just the thing to help her create a life off the run.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Seven top middle grade mysteries

At the BN Kids Blog Maria Burel tagged "seven middle grade mysteries to cozy up with on dreary days," including:
Absolutely Truly, by Heather Vogel Frederick

Truly Lovejoy is accustomed to change. Her father’s military career means they move often. But the kind of change that comes when her father loses an arm in Afghanistan and decides to move the family to middle-of-nowhere Pumpkin Falls to take over the family bookstore is a little more than Truly can handle. During the middle of a bitter cold New Hampshire winter, Truly finds a mysterious letter tucked into the pages of a rare book. The letter starts her on a journey that will not only lead her into mysteries of the past, but also draw her closer to the current residents of her new hometown.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Jesse Blackadder

Jesse Blackadder is an author and screenwriter. She has published seven books for adults and children. Her latest novel, Sixty Seconds, is about a family's journey to forgiveness after their toddler son drowns. One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE WOMEN'S ROOM - Marilyn French

I read this novel at 15 and felt the electrifying sensation that an author had somehow understood my unarticulated feelings and written them on the page. I felt a powerful sense of recognition and identification with the main character Mira, even though I was growing up 10 years later than the 1950s setting in which Mira was coming of age. My deeply felt feminism was given form and voice by reading The Women's Room.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Five top food history books

At B&N Reads Madina Papadopoulos tagged five top food books for history buffs, including:
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson

When foodies discuss their favorite dishes and chefs, they tend to forget the silent guest at every meal: the eating utensil. But food writer Bee Wilson is here to remind us in beautifully detailed descriptions and history just how important forks are. Looking at how humans first began to use utensils, how those tools evolved, and in turn, how they affected food, Wilson takes an in-depth look at metal forks, wooden spoons, chopsticks, and their friends. After reading Consider the Fork, eaters might find a newfound appreciation when loading the dishwasher.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ten essential books of the American West

Alex Higley's new novel is Old Open.

One of the author's ten favorite books about the American West, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Works of Love by Wright Morris

I’m not sure if it was the accretion of mentions of Wright Morris by Michael Silverblatt on Bookworm over the years that caused me to seek Morris’s work out, or if it was that I stumbled across his photography while deep in a Robert Adams image search. Probably one of those two scenarios, or both, is the truth. When I finally did read Morris, The Works of Love, the experience was haunted. His interests and humor and his eye, all felt modern and deeply familiar to me. It was one of those instances where I felt reading the book, “I know this writer.” Here’s the opening: “In the dry places, men begin to dream. Where the rivers run sand, there is something in man that begins to flow. West of the 98th Meridian–where it sometimes rains and it sometimes doesn’t–towns, like weeds, spring up when it rains, dry up when it stops.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the unlikeliest SFF love stories ever told

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 times sci-fi & fantasy went looking for love outside our species, including:
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers

There are several interspecies romances in Chambers’ delightful debut novel, including one between the nominal main character Rosemary and the reptile-like alien Sissix—who overcomes his distaste for the way humans smell—and a one-sided love affair between a technician and the AI that runs their ship. Chambers assumes that if you cram numerous sentient biological—and, er, non-biological—entities onto a ship together and send them on an extended trip across the stars, eventually, love will find a way. We have to agree.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Five books for getting a feel for the South Carolina Lowcountry

At MapQuest Travel Rebecca Robertson tagged five top books for getting a feel for the South Carolina Lowcountry, including:
Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

Set in the "arrogantly shabby" setting of Pawleys Island in Georgetown County, this book with the same name follows Rebecca Simms after the dissolution of her marriage. Rebecca comes to the island to make a fresh start, but a cast of island characters changes her life once she's invited into their circle of friendship.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Top ten novels about God

Neil Griffiths is the author of Betrayal in Naples, winner of Authors' Club Best First Novel, and Saving Caravaggio, shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel of the Year. His new novel is As a God Might Be. One of the author's ten top novels about God, as shared at the Guardian:
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The first “God is dead” narrative, and Ivan Karamazov is its storyteller. In the chapter Mutiny, he explains to Aloysha, his younger brother and novice monk, why he is returning his ticket to be present at the end of time when all those who have suffered are finally redeemed. Focusing on reports of the torture and murder of children with a kind of ecstatic glee, he asks Aloysha whether he himself would make a world that ends with universal love at the cost of a single child’s suffering. It is the question all believers must ask themselves and then live with the answer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Brothers Karamazov made Becky Ferreira's list of the eight best siblings in literature, Alexandra Silverman's list of four famous writers who spent time in jail, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked priests in fiction, James Runcie's top ten list of books about brothers, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten biggest bootlickers from literature and history

Deborah Parker is Professor of Italian at the University of Virginia. Mark Parker is Professor of English at James Madison University. They are coauthors of Inferno Revealed: From Dante to Dan Brown and Sucking Up: A Brief Consideration of Sycophancy.

One of their ten biggest bootlickers from literature and history, as shared at Electric Lit:
While the bargain struck by the sycophant — fleeting moments of vain gratification — often seems a losing proposition, the arrangement can at times have some advantage. In The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst presents a virtuoso suck- up in Nick Guest, a well-educated hanger-on in a rising conservative MP’s home. Hollinghurst brilliantly links Nick’s aesthetic sensibility to his abilities as a flatterer. Early in the novel Nick accompanies the family of a friend as they drive to a country estate. But while the family can be bored as they contemplate the visit, Nick is essentially on duty as resident sycophant. From the outside, one would be uncertain of Nick’s intentions. But upon arrival, Nick revels in the pleasures of an intense connoisseurship, tracing the beautiful surfaces of the estate, noting the details of its elegance and its rich evocation of architectural traditions. Nick is a flunkey but this seems the price of the ticket to the world of the rich and powerful. He savors the view, but he also relishes his intense response to it: Nick understands and enjoys what the family owns better than they do.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Line of Beauty is among Kwasi Kwarteng's top ten books about Thatcherism.

The Page 99 Test: Sucking Up.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ursula K. Le Guin's six favorite timeless novels

Ursula K. Le Guin is America's reigning queen of literary science fiction. Her new essay collection is No Time to Spare. One of the author's six favorite timeless novels, as shared at The Week magazine:
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

Gaskell's first novel, the tale of a working-class girl in Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, probably isn't her best, but I've not yet got through it without tears. It's so alive with indignation, sympathy, and compassion.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 4, 2017

Five of the best "Snow White" retellings

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 five of the best Snow White retellings, including:
The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

I’m not a huge Gaiman fan, but I’m obsessed with his retelling of Snow White, which is illustrated by Chris Riddell. A mash-up of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, it follows a young queen who sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment on her wedding night. The drawings are gorgeous and plot twists of this illustrated short story will keep you at the edge of your seat.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Five top works of SF with weird bug behavior

Spencer Ellsworth’s newest novel in the Starfire Trilogy is Shadow Sun Seven. At he tagged five top works of SF that turn weird bug behavior into great fiction, including:
Children of Time and Slaver Ants, & Pretty Much Anything Arachnic

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time is a mindblowingly weird and forward-looking science fiction novel, with a dozen different ways to explain the premise, but for brevity’s sake: there was an uplift/terraforming project. It was supposed to uplift monkeys. Instead, we got spiders.
From there, things get interesting.

(Beware: if you’re an extreme arachnophobe, this novel will either convince you that you were wrong, or make you scream and throw your Kindle/paperback out the window.)
Tchaikovsky is an arachnophile and bug-o-phile in general. So his sentient spiders learn to chemically manipulate ants to use them for purposes from fighting to mining, to working as a living computer, all through pheromones and smell signals.

It’s reminiscent of the slaver ants, though not nearly as cruel. Slaver ants move into another species’ nest, kill the adult ants, and enslave the next generation of the pupae. They do this by using the Dufour’s gland, which secrets the chemicals and pheromones so the adult ants they’re wiping out become confused and turn on one another. Basically, they pump out a steady stream of ANGER like little ant Palpatines in a nest full of Anakins.

However, the slaves don’t quite go willingly. They’ll raise their own pupae in slavery, but in some cases they’ll tear the actual slaver pupae to pieces. It’s a common enough tendency that scientists speculate that slavery among ants might soon die out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Six of the best YA books featuring furry (or scaly) companions

At the BN Teen blog Samantha Randolph tagged six incredible animal friends in YA fiction. One entry on the list:
Even the Darkest Stars, by Heather Fawcett

In Heather Fawcett’s Even the Darkest Stars, Kamzin longs to explore the world outside her small village. When a chance arises to accompany River Shara, a famous explorer, to climb the tallest mountain, Raksha, she seizes it. Alongside her is her familiar, a spunky and adorable fox. What I love most about Fawcett’s depiction of their relationship is the way Kamzin’s familiar refuses to leave her side and how Kamzin protects him. Though Kamzin is on a very dangerous journey filled with witches, snowy mountain ranges, and deception, her familiar stays by her side, even when she tells him not to. If anyone has had a beloved pet before, you know how loyal they can be and how much you’ll fight to make sure they stay safe and happy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Simon Kernick's 6 best books

Simon Kernick latest novel is The Hanged Man. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
STONER by John Williams

An old book that became a bestseller a few years ago. I'd had enough of a grisly crime book I was reading and was drawn to this. It's about a university professor and it just goes through his life. The way it's told is brilliant and I was moved constantly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Stoner is among The Secret Teacher author's ten top books about teaching, Jamie Fewery's ten best fictional fathers, and Colum McCann's top ten novels featuring poets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 1, 2017

Seven politically-charged contemporary YA novels

At the BN Teen Blog, Nicole Brinkley tagged seven socially conscious contemporary YA novels, including:
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Marvin decides to tag along with his twin brother Tyler to a party—and it ends with Tyler dead, shot and killed by the police. As their mother unravels and his brother becomes immortalized as just another hashtag, Marvin struggles to figure out what justice and freedom really mean. Featuring one of my favorite YA covers of all time, Jay Coles’ debut has set expectations sky high.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about high tech

Leslie Berlin is the author of Troublemakers: How a Generation of Silicon Valley Upstarts Invented the Future. One of her top ten books about high-tech, as shared at the Guardian:
Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove

The greatest guide to how technology becomes business – from one of the tech industry’s greatest managers. Grove, who died in 2016, was a hugely influential and successful CEO at Intel, the pioneering microchip company. He describes how he led the company and fostered teamwork among employees (measuring everything and imposing discipline are key features). In some sense a harbinger of today’s data-heavy management practices, the book also shares great stories. My favourite details how Grove and board chairman Gordon Moore made the wrenching decision to abandon the company’s core memory business to focus on the microprocessors that today are at the heart of Intel’s success.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ten top sci-fi locked-room mysteries

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 fiendishly clever sci-fi locked room mysteries, including:
Lightless, by C.A. Higgins

On board the ship Ananke, computer scientist Althea has a relationship with the ship’s artificial intelligence—and the AI is evolving into a sentient personality, complicating her work. As are the intruders, including handsome Ivan, who have somehow tricked the ship into letting them on board. One of them escapes into the ship while Ivan is being interrogated, but what worries Althea is how they got onboard in the first place—and what they’ve done to the AI’s code. What ensues is a pressure-cooker story, a locked-room mystery in which the room itself cannot be trusted to play fair.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lightless is among Sam Maggs's five books about awesome women in space.

The Page 69 Test: Lightless.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Krysten Ritter's six favorite mysteries

Krysten Ritter is the star of the Netflix series Jessica Jones. Her debut novel is Bonfire.

One of Ritter's six favorite mystery books, as shared at The Week magazine:
In the Woods by Tana French

Tana French is a master of the mystery genre. This story of a detective with a hidden past was the first of her books I read, and ever since I've been obsessed. In the Woods is mysterious and thrilling while also managing to be a cathartic and heartbreaking character study.
Read about the other entries on the list.

In the Woods is among Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Emma Straub's ten top books that mimic the feeling of a summer vacation, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books from Ireland's newer voices, and Judy Berman's ten fantastic novels with disappointing endings.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Five top YA novels set at boarding school

Alyssa Sheinmel's new novel is R.I.P. Eliza Hart. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five favorite books set at boarding school, including:
Looking for Alaska, by John Green

A new John Green book may have just hit the shelves, but that’s no reason not to go back and read an oldie—and a goodie. In this award winner, Miles “Pudge” Halter starts attending the Culver Creek Boarding School and his life has just become a lot more interesting—because at Culver Creek, Pudge lives down the hall from Alaska Young. Alaska isn’t like anyone Pudge has ever met before: she’s beautiful and funny, smart and sexy—and she has a dangerous self-destructive streak. Pudge’s life goes from dull to thrilling—he survives a hazing, plots his revenge, and has a new group of friends, including Alaska. But one night, after an upsetting phone call, Alaska sneaks off campus. The next morning, the school announces that she was killed in a car accident. Pudge is certain that there’s more to the story—and he’s determined to find out what really happened the night Alaska died.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ten top books about mental hospitals

A.F. Brady is a writer, psychotherapist and mental health counsellor. Her debut novel is The Blind.

One of the author's ten best books about mental hospitals, as shared at the Guardian:
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Vizinni’s beautifully narrated tale of institutionalisation after a suicide attempt is made all the more powerful and relevant in the wake of the author’s suicide. Having grown up in New York City, Vizzini created a semi-autobiographical young adult story of a privileged New York City teenager trudging through the depths of depression, who learns in treatment that he has talents that he can use to aid in his recovery. It’s a hopeful story, highlighting the often overlooked hopeful possibilities of psychiatric treatment.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: It's Kind of A Funny Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Terry Waite's 6 best books

Terry Waite was the Church of England hostage negotiator held captive in Beirut by Hezbollah from 1987 to 1991. His books include Taken On Trust and Solitude. One of Waite's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

Judt was a great social historian who was completely immobile in his later years when he wrote this remarkable book, looking back on his life. He was a man of deep feeling and many contradictions. To a lesser extent, I know what it's like to be confined and your mind does go back.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Five great coming-of-age stories

In 2012 David Nicholls tagged five favorite coming-of-age stories at the Telegraph. One title on the list:
Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides (1993) deals with similar ideas in an innovative way; it’s written in the first person plural; the protagonist is not an individual but “we”, every single lovelorn young man idolising the unattainable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Virgin Suicides is among Julia Fierro's thirteen most dysfunctional parents in literature, Rosa Rankin-Gee's ten top novellas about love, Kate Finnigan's top ten fictional fashion icons, Patrick Ness's top ten "unsuitable" books for teenagers, Cathy Cassidy's top ten stories about sisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five forgotten classics worth revisiting

In 2013 Parul Sehgal tagged (for NPR) five forgotten classics worth revisiting, including:
My Last Sigh: The Autobiography of Luis Bunuel by Luis Bunuel and Abigail Israel

I've long loved this strange, slanted little book for its offhand genius and excellent gossip. But I used it to prop up a wobbly table in Calcutta in 2003 and haven't seen it since. It's been reissued, and I'm happy to find it as remarkable as I recall. Like any surrealist masterpiece, it's playful, subversive and (frequently) baffling.

Devoted to protecting the "essential mystery in all things," Bunuel doesn't excavate the past or take us behind the scenes of Belle de Jour (a pity). It's not information he cares for, or veracity, but wisdom and beauty; not memories but the act of remembering. Scenes come to us highly aestheticized. In one early memory, Bunuel walks with his father in an olive grove. They come across a strong, very sweet odor, and then the bloated body of a dead donkey. Around the carcass, vultures staggered, too full to fly.

He's a confident, discursive writer eager to riff on what he loves ("vast damp forests wreathed in fog," "little tools like pliers," firearms) and loathes (crowds, Borges, newspapers). He recounts meeting Hitchcock, collaborating with Dali, mourning Federico Garcia Lorca, attempting an orgy with Charlie Chaplin. He settles scores and spills his friends' secrets shamelessly. On the topic of Dali's sexual proclivities he tells us that the painter was fond of seducing American heiresses, but being almost entirely asexual, "those seductions usually entailed stripping them naked in his apartment, frying a couple of eggs, putting them on the women's shoulders, and, without a word, showing them to the door."
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 24, 2017

Five books on late-stage capitalism

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a staff writer for The Millions. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, Slate, Salon, Guernica, Poets & Writers, and The Guardian. Her novel is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster (when she finally finishes it). She teaches fiction at Columbia and shares a hometown with Bob Dylan. One of five books on late-stage capitalism she tagged at The Millions:
Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? (2016) by Katrine Marçal

I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis in economics on “Economic Development and Women’s Labor Force Participation,” and concluded that in developed versus under-developed countries, the end game was the same: women did most of the work, including the never-off labor that does not get counted in traditional economic measures. Additionally, the financial penalties of this unpaid work (family stress, “mommy track” drag on careers, unequal pay due to gender discrimination, etc.), don’t factor into our economic world view because the variables that are “important” in economic models have been mostly decided by men. Marçal does a brilliant job making economics accessible and shows the egregious mistake of excluding women from basic economic market principles, and how this invisibility reinforces inequality.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

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:

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 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
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 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