Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bernard Cornwell's 6 best books

Bernard Cornwell is the author of the Sharpe novels as well as a series about Saxon England; both series have been adapted for television. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
SLOW HORSES by Mick Herron

The first of his series about MI5 and a character called Jackson Lamb, one of the great monsters of modern fiction. He’s a wonderfully cynical writer and there’s a lot of dark humour in it. I’m not clever enough to write this sort of thing.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Eight top YA books about loss

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged eight must-read YA books about loss and grieving, including:
How to Be Brave, by E. Katherine Kottaras

For Georgia, the loss of her mother was a truly life-altering one, and as she works to pick up the pieces, the hardest one to figure out might be who she is now that the closest person in the world to her is gone. Georgia doesn’t want to fade away; she wants to live. So what better way than to make a list of all the things she’s always wanted to do and to go ahead and do them, no matter how much they scare her? As Georgia embarks on her bucket list, her brave endeavors definitely have mixed results. But real life is made up of both triumphs and failures, and Georgia will have to experience a whole lot of both to find herself along the way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bassem Youssef's 6 favorite books

Bassem Youssef was the host of Albernameg, the first-of-its-kind political satire show in the Middle East from 2011 until the show's termination by the Egyptian government in 2014. He now lives in the United States.

Youssef's new book is Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Forcing God's Hand by Grace Halsell

This 1999 book opened my eyes to how religion and Rapture theory ran deep in the rhetoric and ideology of right-wing America. In a country that has a constitution separating church and state, religion had a much deeper impact than I'd thought. Using scripture to steer national policy? Sounds very familiar to me.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The ten unluckiest characters in science fiction & fantasy

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged ten of the unluckiest characters in science fiction & fantasy, including:
Neville Longbottom (The Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling)

Some might argue for another Harry here, but we feel for poor Neville Longbottom. Often characterized as a tagalong to the trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, Neville nevertheless tends to attract his own brand of trouble. He and Harry were born close together, and if fate had gone another way, he may have been revered as the Boy Who Lived. And yeah, that would’ve meant his parents were dead, but was he that much better off, considering they were instead driven insane by the Lestranges? Raised by his pushy grandmother, he’s shy, nervous, and frequently a failure in school. Neville tries so hard. The series often rewards him, but only after humiliating or harming him. Standing up to Harry, Hermoine, and Ron earns him 10 points for Gryffindor, but only after he’s spent the night paralyzed by a spell. The Battle of Hogwarts finally turns Neville into a hero, but his m.o. before that is being bullied, terrified, and generally bad at life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Harry Potter books made Anna Bradley's list of the ten best literary quotes in a crisis, Nicole Hill's list of seven of the best literary wedding themes, Tina Connolly's top five list of books where the girl saves the boy, Ginni Chen's list of the eight grinchiest characters in literature, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of mothers in children's books, Nicole Hill's list of five of the best fictional bookstores, Sara Jonsson's list of the six most memorable pets in fiction, Melissa Albert's list of more than eight top fictional misfits, Cressida Cowell's list of ten notable mythical creatures, and Alison Flood's list of the top 10 most frequently stolen books.

Professor Snape is among Sophie Cleverly's ten top terrifying teachers in children’s books.

Hermione Granger is among Brooke Johnson top five geeky heroes in literature, Nicole Hill's nine best witches in literature, and Melissa Albert's top six distractible book lovers in pop culture.

Neville Longbottom is one of Ellie Irving's top ten quiet heroes and heroines.

Mr. Weasley is one of Melissa Albert's five weirdest fictional crushes.

Hedwig (Harry's owl) is among Django Wexler's top ten animal companions in children's fiction.

Scabbers the rat is among Ross Welford's ten favorite rodents in children's fiction.

Butterbeer is among Leah Hyslop's six best fictional drinks.

Albus Dumbledore is one of Rachel Thompson's ten greatest deaths in fiction.

Lucius Malfoy is among Jeff Somers's five best evil lieutenants (or "dragons") in SF/F.

Dolores Umbridge is among Melissa Albert's six more notorious teachers in fiction, Emerald Fennell's top ten villainesses in literature, and Derek Landy's top 10 villains in children's books. The Burrow is one of Elizabeth Wilhide's nine most memorable manors in literature.

Remus Lupin is among Aimée Carter's top ten shapeshifters in fiction.

Fang (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is among Brian Boone's six best fictional dogs.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appears on Amanda Yesilbas and Katharine Trendacosta's list ot twenty great insults from science fiction & fantasy and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest prison breaks in science fiction and fantasy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone also appears on Kenneth Oppel's top ten list of train stories, Jeff Somers's top five list of books written in very unlikely places, Phoebe Walker's list of eight mouthwatering quotes from the greatest literary feasts, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best owls in literature, ten of the best scars in fiction and ten of the best motorbikes in literature, and Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, Charlie Higson's top 10 list of fantasy books for children, Justin Scroggie's top ten list of books with secret signs as well as Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that publishers didn't want to touch. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire made Chrissie Gruebel's list of six top fictional holiday parties and John Mullan's list of the ten best graveyard scenes in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ten of the best supernatural mysteries

Jess Kidd has a PhD in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s University. She grew up as a part of a large family from Mayo and now lives in London with her daughter. Himself is her first novel. She is currently at work on a second novel and a collection of short stories.

One of Kidd's ten essential supernatural mysteries, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg

This wicked blend of murder and the occult has Harry Angel, hard-boiled private eye, hired to investigate the case of a missing man, Johnny Favorite. A once promising crooner injured in the Second World War, Favorite has fallen off the face of the earth. Following Favorite’s trail, Angel descends into a nightmarish world of voodoo, sex, and violence where nothing is quite what it seems and he’s in danger of losing more than his life. For it turns out that Favorite kept some unusual company and had an interest in the otherworldly. Against a backdrop of 1950s New York, Hjortsberg fashions a wonderful, twisted, supernatural noir. Complete with a sharp plot, tortured humor, and moments of visceral horror.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five YA thrillers with a supernatural twist

S. Jae-Jones is the author of Wintersong. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five YA thrillers with a supernatural twist, [spoiler alert] including:
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

Cadence is suffering memory gaps and strange physical symptoms of unknown origin, and it all has to do with what happened the summer she can’t recall. Now, two years later, she’s returning to the private island owned by her family for the first time since that summer, hoping that reuniting with her cousins Johnny and Mirren and her friend Gat will help her remember. The four of them were known as the Liars, and have spent summer together on the private island since they were young. What begins as a mystery about what happened to Cadence turns into a slow unraveling and deconstructing of the privilege that allowed the Liars their summer idylls. The twist may not necessarily be a shock for savvy genre readers, but the twist of the heartstrings might be.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We Were Liars is among Jeff Somers's six novels in which nothing is as it seems, Avery Hastings's five favorite books featuring unreliable narrators, Darren Croucher's five favorite YA novels featuring liars, Michael Waters's six must-read YA books for Mr. Robot fans, Lindsey Lewis Smithson's top seven sob-inducing books that deserve to be made into movies, Ruth Ware's top ten psychological thrillers, and Meredith Moore's five favorite YA thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Top ten stories of obsession

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son.

Murphy's newly released first novel is The Possessions.

One of the author's ten top stories of obsession, as shared at the Guardian:
You by Caroline Kepnes (2014)

Kepnes’s disturbingly funny novel is a stalker tale for the digital era. Joe Goldberg, a wry, self-righteous bookseller, has a meet-cute with Beck, an MFA student. His crush rapidly escalates into stalking. When Joe manages to steal Beck’s phone, he gains unprecedented access to her every thought and move. It’s the technological equivalent of mindreading, every bit as creepy as it sounds. As Joe increasingly crosses boundaries to keep his dream girl within his grasp, the second-person narrative gives the novel a queasy intimacy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Possessions.

The Page 69 Test: The Possessions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ten sci-fi & fantasy books that will remind you that life is about more than suffering

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Sarah Gailey tagged ten sci-fi & fantasy books that will remind you what joy feels like, including:
To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis

It’s impossible to construct a working time machine while under the watchful eye of a well-trained security bear, but this book will transport you in ways the bears can’t prevent! Ned Henry’s time-travel to Victorian England insearch of a missing antique artifact…and true love? is a witty, intricate science-fiction comedy-of-manners, and will deliver a much-needed dose of sunlight into your to-read list. Unfortunately for the cave dwellers among us, no actual sunlight.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Five excellent books about people who simply…disappeared

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged five top books about people who simply…disappeared, including:
Fatal Journey, by Peter C. Mancall

You may remember Henry Hudson from school—there’s a pretty major river and some other geographical locations named in his honor, after all. But not everyone remembers that Hudson’s final expedition, in 1610, ended in horror when his ship became trapped in ice. With food and other supplies running low, Hudson’s crew mutinied, putting Hudson, his young son, and a few loyal crew members into a skiff and abandoning them in the Hudson Bay. None of those nine people were ever seen again, and no sign of their boat or their activities after that has ever been detected. While it’s easy to imagine what might have happened, the details remain one of the great mysteries of history.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 20, 2017

Amy Dickinson's six favorite books

Amy Dickinson is author of the memoirs The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Story of Surprising Second Chances and Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home. She writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Bettyville by George Hodgman

Hodgman's story mirrored my own in many ways: We both left big cities (New York; Chicago) to move back to tiny hometowns (Paris, Missouri; Freeville, New York) to take care of our irascible mothers (Betty; Jane). Hodgman is mordantly funny about holding up the twin pillars of elder care (indignity and intimacy) while running into everyone you went to high school with.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ten of the best child narrators

At the Guardian, John Mullan tagged ten of the best child narrators, including:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Haddon's protagonist, Christopher, is 15, but (though this is unstated) has Asperger's syndrome and finds the emotions of other characters almost unintelligible. The story is narrated in his own flat, factual way, letting us glimpse what he cannot comprehend.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is among Kim Hood's top ten books with interesting characters who just happen to have a disability, Julia Donaldson's six best books, and Melvyn Burgess's top ten books written for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Five recent comic novels that are hilariously reviving the form

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged five recent comic novels that are hilariously reviving the form, including:
The Stench of Honolulu, by Jack Handey

One could make an argument that Jack Handey is the greatest jokesmith of all time. He wrote for Saturday Night Live for years, most notably the recurring segment that bore his name: “Deep Thoughts.” A book of these goofy, ridiculous, and absurd pronouncements was published in the ’90s, establishing Handey’s distinct voice. (A favorite “Deep Thought”: “If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I’d say Flippy, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong, though. It’s Hambone.”) Handey doesn’t write for the screen much anymore, choosing instead to write comic essays (collected in What I’d Say to the Martians) and novels, such as the delightful The Stench of Honolulu. An unreliable narrator is one thing, but the first-person narrator at the center of this novel, accurately reports what’s happening, but he’s completely unaware of how incredibly stupid and destructive he is. Handey’s rhythm, which is somewhat important to comedy, is impeccable—almost every paragraph ends with a joke.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 17, 2017

Top ten novels on rural America

At the Guardian, Emily Ruskovich, author of Idaho, tagged her ten favorite rural American novels, including:
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Told in raw and perfect language, in 15 distinct and memorable voices, this is an honest, mystifying, painful story about a family’s promise to their dying mother that they would transport her body across the rivers and rough countryside of Mississippi to the place of her birth, to be buried. The characters who live are utterly alive, their motives complicated and often secret. Even their deceased mother, heavy in a casket that her family nearly loses a few times on their difficult journey, is a living force to be reckoned with.
Read about the other entries on the list.

As I Lay Dying is on Jeff Somers's top five list of books written in very unlikely places, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, Nicole Hill's lists of nine of the biggest martyrs in fiction and five books that, like country and western songs, tell "stories of agony and ecstasy, soaring highs and mighty powerful lows, heartache and hard living," Laura Frost's list of the ten best modernist books (in English), Helen Humphreys's top ten list of books on grieving, John Mullan's list of ten of the best teeth in literature, Jon McGregor's list of the top ten dead bodies in literature, Roy Blount Jr.'s list of five favorite books of Southern humor, and James Franco's six best books list.

The “My mother is a fish.” chapter in As I Lay Dying is among the ten most notorious parts of famous books according to Gabe Habash.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Seven novels that show us how dangerous a college campus can be

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged seven novels that show us how dangerous a college campus can be, including:
The Accursed, by Joyce Carol Oates

Set in Princeton in the early 20th century, when Woodrow Wilson was president of the university, Oates’ meticulously structured novel follows the misfortunes of the school’s elite families after a real, honest-to-God curse is activated against them. What follows should be a mess: it involves vampires and ghosts, angels and demons, alternate universes and extremely horrifying violence. But it does work, because Oates has planned the story so very well. You might think attending Princeton would be a great start to a successful life, but Oates makes the case that being anywhere near this Ivy League institution might result in madness, death—or worse.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Accursed is among Gabe Habash's nine top art-and-book-cover matches.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Five top books with birds in their titles

At Tor.com Chuck Wendig tagged five books with birds in their titles, including:
Swan Song by Robert McCammon

Everybody loves Stephen King’s The Stand, and they damn well should. But for me, the magic of epic horror was first revealed in the form of McCammon’s Swan Song, which plays not off the fear of a world-ending disease, but rather off the fear of nuclear holocaust, with the natural and supernatural horrors that emerge from a ruined America. Bonus points: it’s suddenly all the more relevant, isn’t it? Ha ha ha oh no what have we done. Double bonus points: McCammon also wrote the pre-Revolutionary War mystery novel, Speaks the Nightbird, which is a very good novel that also contains a bird in the title.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Five middle grade novels for the musical soul

At the BN Kids Blog Maria Burel tagged five top middle grade novels for the musical soul, including:
Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace, by Nan Marino

11-year-old Elvis Ruby is headed straight for the top, via the reality show “Tween Star.” But on the big night, with millions of people watching, something goes horribly wrong. Actually, everything goes horribly wrong. Now Elvis has changed his appearance (and his trademark hair) in order to hide out from the paparazzi and flip pancakes at his aunt and uncle’s Piney Pete’s Pancake Palace. But the town oddball Cecelia threatens to blow his cover. And Cecelia has her own agenda, centered around a family legend, and the strange music coming from the woods. Sometimes real life is even stranger than what you see on TV.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Nan Marino & Tai Chi Marino.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 13, 2017

Nine essential books by Arab writers

Louisa Ermelino is the Reviews Director at Publishers Weekly. Her most recent book is Malafemmena, a collection of stories, many of them set in the Middle East and Asia. One of her nine favorite books by Arab writers:
The Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees, trans. from the Arabic by Max Weiss

This novel was handed to me by the publisher, which doesn’t happen as often as you might think, and I was so staggered by it that I interviewed the author, who was at Brown University for a literary residence. Powerful, funny, life-affirming, and one of PW’s 10 best books of 2013, it follows a writer in an unnamed country whose work is banned (the silence) by the repressive regime, as he moves through the city trying to reach the women in his life during a rally (the roar) for the “Leader.” Prescient when it was first published in English and more timely than ever, the author, who has been compared to Kafka and Orwell, is a Syrian exile living in Berlin. How does an author survive being silenced? Sirees answered that question in an interview: "There is always a solution. The best ones are love, sex and humour."
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Five amazing standalone epic fantasies

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged five amazing titles that build a whole world in one book, including:
Warbreaker, by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson is known from writing towering multi-book sagas like Mistborn and The Stormlight Archives, but he can also do it in one. In Warbreaker, he creates a fully-formed world with a beautiful, unique, and complex magic system—Awakening, the use of breath and commands to give an illusion of life to inanimate objects, fueled by draining the colors in from the surrounding environment. The story is no less layered or intriguing, as a marriage-by-treaty deception leads to reversals, betrayals, and mysteries revealed. The characters are slowly revealed like the layers of an onion, and a plot that could have easily been stretched out over three volumes is more satisfying encapsulated into a single adventure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best interlinked short story collections

Michael Knight's new story collection is Eveningland. One title on his list of the ten best interlinked short story collections, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro

What makes these stories about shy Rose and her rough-around-the-edges stepmother, Flo, so memorable is the complexity of the relationship at the heart of the book and of course, Munro herself. Even this early in her career, her singular vision is on display, her insight, her moxie. Inimitable. Is there a better writer of short fiction alive right now? Probably not. Has there ever been? Hard to say. Notable Story: “Royal Beatings.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Six great YA books about female friendship

At the BN Teen Blog Natasha Ochshorn tagged six great YA novels about female friendship, including:
Ghost World, by Daniel Clowes

For a book written by a dude, this poignant, funny graphic novel sure gets it. The story follows best friends Enid and Becky through the summer after high school graduation, as they first continue on as normal, and then slowly drift apart. The book, more than almost anything else I’ve ever read, captures exactly how excruciating that kind of drift can be, how it can feel like a betrayal and a death all at once.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six must-reads for Women’s History Month

At Thirty on Tap Joanna Grey Talbot tagged six must-reads for Women’s History Month, including:
Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman.

In 1889 two female reporters followed in the footsteps of the fictional Phileas Fogg and raced around the world. Nellie Bly, an investigative journalist for the World newspaper left New York City by steamship and headed east. Elizabeth Bisland, a journalist for The Cosmopolitan magazine, boarded a train in New York City and headed west. Without giving away who won, these women circumnavigated the world at a time when it was unheard of for women to travel solo. Their thrilling story will keep you on the edge of your seat!
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Eighty Days.

The Page 99 Test: Eighty Days.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 10, 2017

Nine sci-fi books in which women rule

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged nine "great sci-fi novels that flip that script to tell a story in which it is the men who are oppressed, enslaved, or otherwise made miserable," including:
The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri S. Tepper

Tepper’s post-apocalyptic world sees women separating themselves from men, who are confined to a militaristic culture—they ritualistically reject their mothers and join a “garrison” when they come of age. Women govern, they research, they cultivate the crops,they write the poetry. The men fight each other senselessly, standing ready to do battle, and little else. Tepper follows the life of Stavia from her girlhood to serving as a member of the Women’s Council; her decision along the way to start giving books to a man named Chernon has unintended consequences. The premise seems simplistic on the surface, but only grows more fascinating as you drill down into the deft characterizations.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Top ten fantasy fiction universes

In 2013, Samantha Shannon published The Bone Season, the internationally bestselling first installment in a seven-book series of fantasy novels. Its first sequel, The Mime Order, was published in 2015, and the third book in the series, The Song Rising, is out this month.

One of Shannon's ten top fantasy fiction universes, as shared at the Guardian:
Filigree Street, from The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

While this tale is set in the real cities of London and Oxford – and shot with glimpses of Meiji-era Japan – you won’t find the titular Filigree Street on any map. Pulley braids the real and the whimsical in her vision of London in 1883. Home Office clerk Nathaniel Steepleton finds himself intrigued by the Japanese watchmaker Keita Mori, whose home in Filigree Street is ticking with eccentric clockwork creations – including an unforgettable octopus named Katsu. Mori has a mysterious gift: he can remember things that have not yet come to pass. Grounded with details of Victorian life, this steampunk-esque fantasy teeters on the brink of explaining its mysteries with science, but never feels less than magical.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Six novels in which nothing is as it seems

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged six "novels [that] make you think you know what’s going on, only to completely twist you up when you’re done reading," including:
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

This YA novel is a corker of a bookish puzzle that will blow minds of all ages. Cadence Eastman spends her childhood summers on a small island owned by her incredibly wealthy grandfather. Her first 14 summers there are idyllic, spent romping with the “Liars,” Cadence’s cousins and and a beloved family friend. The fifteenth summer, however, is different: Cadence wakes up after a mysterious accident, suffering from a host of mental problems, including amnesia. She spends a summer away from the island, then returns, only to find everything has changed. As Cadence delves into the mystery of what happened to her, the reader will be fooled right up until the last moment—and then will feverishly flip back to the front to see how they could possibly have missed the clues along the way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We Were Liars is among Avery Hastings's five favorite books featuring unreliable narrators, Darren Croucher's five favorite YA novels featuring liars, Michael Waters's six must-read YA books for Mr. Robot fans, Lindsey Lewis Smithson's top seven sob-inducing books that deserve to be made into movies, Ruth Ware's top ten psychological thrillers, and Meredith Moore's five favorite YA thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top dystopian novels

One of Robert Collins's top ten dystopian novels, as shared at the Guardian:
Idoru by William Gibson

I've often found Gibson hard to get on with: his narrative description can be as dense as computer code. But he updates [Philip K.] Dick's preoccupations to the cyberpunk era, and evokes the delirious intermingling of human consciousness with virtual experience, through the sprawling psychosis of the internet.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ten literary kids with very crummy childhoods

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged ten literary kids with extremely difficult childhoods, including:
Jack, Julie, Sue, and Tom in The Cement Garden, by Ian McEwan

McEwan’s debut remains a disturbing black mirror to Party of Five. When the kids’ parents die, they hide their mother’s corpse by encasing it in cement in the basement and try to avoid going into the “system.” To say this does not go well for them is an understatement. To say it’s surprising that all that happens is some sociopathic derangement and enthusiastic incest is also an understatement. And the ending is just ambiguous enough that you can’t be certain they all survive—or that they should.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 6, 2017

Five books with deadly games

Peter Tieryas is the author of United States of Japan and Bald New World. One of his five favorite books that have games with deadly consequences, as shared at Tor.com:
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

I had no idea what the book by Koushun Takami was about when I first picked it up. I knew there was a movie based on the book and it was a bestseller in Japan. But when a group of classmates in junior high are subjected to sleeping gas and wake up, only to be informed they’ll be taking place in a deathmatch against each other, I was stunned. Metal collars are placed around their necks that will explode if they try to escape, and they’re each given a weapon ranging from guns to worthless items like a fork. Some embrace the violence, like Kazuo Kiriyama who is a sociopath and relishes his chance to take part in the games. Others try to resist, only to be mercilessly slaughtered. I was both enthralled and repulsed, unable to put the book down but wishing it wasn’t disturbing me so much (the extreme violence resulted in the book being condemned by the Japanese National Diet).

What’s most chilling is how they start to turn on one another and how that forces you to wonder what you would do in their shoes. Morality is turned upside down and the social commentary is disturbing as you realize everything is being broadcast for the public. It’s as though The Purge were vicariously mixed with something on E!, audiences chowing on sponsored popcorn and soda as analysts commented on the brutality and effectiveness of each killing.

(Note: As much as I enjoyed Running Man and The Hunger Games, I’m leaving them off this list because of the similarities they share with Battle Royale).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Four books that changed Ian McGuire

Ian McGuire's new novel is The North Water.

One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
WASHINGTON SQUARE
Henry James

I've taught literature in universities for 20 years, and Washington Square is probably my favourite novel to teach. It's short (an advantage in the era of brief attention spans) but almost perfect in its structure, as well as being beautifully written, complex, clever, utterly unsentimental and terribly sad.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Washington Square is among five books that changed Carol Wall and Will Eaves's top ten siblings' stories.

Learn about Ian McGuire's ten top adventure novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Top ten kids' books with kickass heroines

One of Joanne Harris's ten top "kids' books with kickass heroines," as shared at the Guardian:
The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven

After his visit to Chinatown, Jack will never be the same again. Demons, martial arts and vomiting bats feature in this strange and fabulous world - not to mention the Black Tattoo itself, and Esme, a young girl with the most spectacular fighting skills kids' fiction has ever see.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 3, 2017

Five delightfully disturbing narrators

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the B&N Reads blog she tagged five "messed-up narrators of... recent novels [who] make for scandalously fascinating storytellers," including:
David Federman in Loner, by Teddy Wayne

Wayne’s Justin Bieber-inspired The Love Song of Jonny Valentine was so real it hurt. Expect to feel similarly empathetic toward Harvard freshman David Federman (rhymes with “fader,” as in, he fades into the background) despite the fact that you won’t want to; he’s stalking a female classmate. Smart and obsessive, lonely (though not socially clueless, which actually makes his experiences more painful to read about), David straddles the line between “normal” and not. It’s a testament to his precise narrative voice—filled with astute observations about millennial life—that readers will relate to his struggles despite cringing over his choices. Pair with You, by Caroline Kepnes, if you’re feeling daring.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top black comedies

In 2007 novelist and short story writer Ray French tagged his top ten black comedies for the Guardian. One title on the list:
The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe

Meet Francie Brady: "When I was a young lad 20 or 30 or 40 years ago I lived in a small town where they were all after me on account of what I done on Mrs Nugent." The narrator's tragic descent into isolation, madness and violence is told in disturbing yet hilarious language. Imagine Hitchcock writing the plot for one of Beckett's rambling monologues and you get some idea of the sheer brilliance of McCabe's novel. But, throughout, the author's enormous compassion for Francie shines through. Once you've met him, Francie Brady is impossible to forget.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Butcher Boy is on Allen Barra's top twelve list of the best postwar Irish novels, Nick Brooks's top 10 list of literary murderers, Declan Burke's 2008 top ten list of Irish crime fiction, and Edward Hogan's top ten list of stories set outside the city.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Top ten books about adopted children

Kate Hamer's new novel is The Doll Funeral. One of her top ten books about adopted children, as shared at the Guardian:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

How could this not be in the Top 10? When Mrs Reed unwillingly adopts Jane, the young girl begins a fight to define herself in the face of others attempting to do it for her. This is the ultimate novel, for so many people, about how one holds onto identity in the face of overwhelming odds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made 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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Eight books behind Elon Musk's billions

At the Daily Express, George Simpson tagged eight of billionaire Elon Musk's favorite books, including:
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M Conway

This book is written by two historians who believe modern scientists who have connections in the political and corporate worlds have created alternative facts on issues like smoking and global warming.

Musk tweeted on it in 2013: “Same who tried to deny smoking deaths are denying climate change.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten YA novels that celebrate the way the internet connects us

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged ten YA novels that celebrate the way the internet connects us, including:
Tash Hearts Tolstoy, by Kathryn Ormsbee

Leo Tolstoy is Tash’s idol, and the original brains behind her passion project, a web series called Unhappy Families. But he’s not the only guy who inspires Tash—not as long as adorable Thom Causer is sharing her blogosphere. When Unhappy Families blows up and Tash gets an opportunity to meet Thom in person, she knows she can’t pass it up, even if most of the rest of the cast and her best friends can’t make the trip. The only problem is that Tash doesn’t quite know how to navigate the dating pool yet; how and when do you tell a guy you like that you’re a romantic asexual, and that no matter how cute you find him, sex is off the table?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue