Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Ten top boundary-breaking women of fiction

Louisa Treger has worked as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. Treger subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early 20th century women’s writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship “for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature.” The Lodger was published in 2014, The Dragon Lady in 2019 and she is currently working on her third novel.

At CrimeReads Treger tagged ten "strong women who refused to conform and who struggled to find their place in the world," including:
Smilla from Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg

Smilla is a bundle of contradictions. She lives in low-rent public housing, yet she dresses expensively. She seems emotionally self-sufficient, yet she falls in love and it terrifies her. She is beautiful and petite, yet she is capable of surprising violence against stronger opponents. The daughter of a wealthy Danish physician and an Inuit hunter, she doesn’t fit in anywhere.

Smilla realizes that the suspicious death of Isiah, the Greenlandic boy she looks after, is only the tip of an iceberg of violent crime. Armed with nothing but her intelligence, her courage, and her two special gifts—her almost psychic understanding of snow and ice, and her perfect sense of direction – she gets to the heart of the mystery, putting herself in mortal danger, and keeping her promise to Isiah “not to leave him in the lurch, never, not even now.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Smilla's Sense of Snow is among Amber Tamblyn's six favorite books, Charlie Jane Anders's ten great books you didn't know were science fiction or fantasy, Elizabeth Hand's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about humans making a mess of things

Rob Hart's new novel is The Warehouse.

At Tor.com he tagged "five books that mold our current state of constant anxiety into thoughtful, timely, terrifying fiction." One title on the list:
Unamerica by Cody Goodfellow

A dystopian fever dream about a city buried beneath the desert at the US-Mexico border, where excess is the name of the game. Goodfellow offers madcap satire of capitalism, religion, and drug culture. Warning: This is not for the faint of heart. It’s fiction you grind up and freebase directly into your cerebral cortex.

There are bonus points to be had here too, because the publisher, King Shot Press, a punk rock indie press from Portland. They do daring work—books to light the revolution by. Unamerica isn’t even available as an eBook yet! That’s okay though. Nothing beats the feel of a real book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 19, 2019

Six of the best New York City biographies

Christopher Bonanos is city editor at New York magazine, where he covers arts and culture and urban affairs. He is the National Book Critics Circle Award–winning author of Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous and Instant: The Story of Polaroid.

At The Week magazine Bonanos tagged six favorite New York City biographies, including:
Just Kids by Patti Smith (2010).

Punk legend Patti Smith was also Robert Mapplethorpe's muse, and he was hers. The two were lovers who eventually, after his coming-out, remained the closest of friend-collaborators until his 1989 death. I can't imagine a more vivid and romantic description of what it was like to be young and artsy and hungry and fearless in the broken-down New York of the '70s.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Just Kids is among Barbara Bourland's ten essential books about contemporary artists, Dana Czapnik's favorite novels featuring kids or young adults coming of age in cities, and Dan Holmes's twenty best memoirs written by musicians.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five thrillers featuring a small group of friends

Cambria Brockman grew up in Houston, London, and Scotland and attended Holderness School in New Hampshire. She graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, with a degree in English literature. She owns an award-winning wedding and portrait photography company, Cambria Grace, along with its popular Instagram account. Brockman lives in Boston with her husband, son, and dog.

Tell Me Everything is her first novel.

At CrimeReads Brockman tagged five thrillers featuring a small group of friends, including:
The Secret Place, by Tana French

An all girls boarding school. A hidden wall where students anonymously post their darkest thoughts and grievances. Secrets. Lies. Gossip. Rumors. And a sixteen-year-old boy who is brutally murdered, the case unsolved. A year later that all changes when one of the students, Holly Mackey, gives Detective Stephen Moran a photograph of the murdered boy with the words I know who killed him written on it. The story follows Holly and her close group of friends as they navigate the nasty rumor mill of private school, and their individual relationships with the victim. More than that, this book reveals the dangerous world of teenage girls and the cruel things they are capable of when succumbed to the pressure of adolescence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Secret Place is among Adele Parks's eight crime novels featuring intense female friendship, Kristen Lepionka's ten top female detectives in fiction, the B&N Reads editors' five favorite fun, fearless femmes fatales in fiction, and Kelly Anderson's seven amazing female friendships in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Eleven top books about/with cats

Jessie Burton is the author of three novels, The Miniaturist (2014), and The Muse (2016), published in 38 languages, and The Confession which publishes September 2019. The Miniaturist and The Muse were Sunday Times no.1 bestsellers, New York Times bestsellers, and Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.

At the Guardian Burton tagged some of her favorite books about/with cats, including:
For something a bit different, I’d recommend dipping a paw into Japanese literature, where cats feature in wonderful variety. Natsume Sōseki’s I Am a Cat is a biting satire of Meiji-era Japan told through the eyes of a sardonic street kitten, while The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa beautifully explores the friendships we share with our pets through the eyes of Nana, as he takes a road trip with his beloved human Satoru. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared From the World is a much more pleasant read than its horrifically dystopian title would suggest, while 1Q84 by renowned cat-obsessive Haruki Murakami features a town populated entirely by cats. Heavenly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Seven great mysteries about rare books & bibliophiles

Born near Boston, Marlowe Benn grew up in an Illinois college town along the Mississippi River. She holds a master’s degree in the book arts from the University of Alabama and a doctorate in the history of books from the University of California, Berkeley. A former editor, college teacher, and letterpress printer, Benn lives with her husband on an island near Seattle. Relative Fortunes is her first novel.

At CrimeReads Benn tagged seven great mysteries about bibliophiles and rare books, including:
Donna Leon, By Its Cover (Atlantic Monthly, 2014)

In her 23rd novel featuring Venetian police commissario Guido Brunetti, Leon delves into the chilling world of systematic looting of the nation’s heritage collection of rare books and manuscripts. Brunetti is called in when a librarian at one of Venice’s venerable libraries reports that several rare volumes have been stolen or vandalized—engraved plates razored out—despite rigorous security. Yet the library’s two regular patrons seem unlikely suspects, and one soon turns up murdered. In typical fashion, the contemplative Brunetti ponders the moral as well as legal vagaries of the case, considering how the theft of irreplaceable cultural artifacts represents more than the loss of their most recent selling prices.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 16, 2019

Ten of the best tigers in fiction

Katy Yocom was born and raised in Atchison, Kansas. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism, she moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where she has lived ever since. Her new novel, Three Ways to Disappear, won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature and was a finalist for the Dzanc Books Disquiet Open Borders Book Prize and the UNO Press Publishing Lab Prize.

In researching the novel, Yocom traveled to India, funded by a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. In 2019, she received an Al Smith Fellowship Award for artistic excellence from the Kentucky Arts Council. She has also received grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and served as writer-in-residence at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Crosshatch Hill House, and PLAYA. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, Salon, LitHub, American Way (the American Airlines magazine), The Louisville Review, decomP magazinE, and elsewhere. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University.

Yocom lives with her family in Louisville and serves as associate director of the low-residency graduate writing programs of the School of Creative and Professional Writing at Spalding University, where it's her great good fortune to work with writers every day.

At LitHub she tagged the ten best tigers in fiction, including:
R. K. Narayan, A Tiger for Malgudi

An aging Bengal tiger looks back on his eventful life. When he meets a guru, he learns to adopt the way of nonviolence. This slim novel, told from the tiger’s point of view, gives us a life spent evolving, finding companionship, and finally letting go. In the introduction, Narayan writes, “[W]ith a few exceptions here and there, humans have monopolized the attention of fiction writers.” This touching fable asks us to consider that humans aren’t the only animals with individual lives that matter.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Five notable sympathetic fictional psychopaths

Elizabeth Macneal's debut novel is The Doll Factory.

At CrimeReads she tagged five sympathetic fictional psychopaths, including:
Amy Dunne from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

On the morning of Nick and Amy Dunne’s wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing. What follows is a he said / she said account of what led to her disappearance, with Nick looking increasingly guilty. But things are not as they seem, and a fantastic twist reveals Amy Dunne as a psychopath—I actually gasped when I read it.

But rather than loathing Amy, I found myself not only impressed by her, but actively rooting for her. Part of this, I think was because of her relatability—her rant on “the cool girl” myth, and her fight against perfection, after always feeling the need to conform to the stories of “Amazing Amy.” What’s more, Flynn’s decision to place her in jeopardy around Jeff and Shawna, and later Desi, left me wanting her to escape, to survive. And behind it, her husband Nick might be redeemable, but he is also ineffectual, unfaithful and scarcely knows her—didn’t he deserve some sort of punishment, I wondered? There was something so escapist in her unapologetic quest for revenge—hers is a turbo-charged account of the bold, outrageous lengths we could go to if wronged, but know we never will.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone Girl made Jo Jakeman's top ten list of revenge novels, Amanda Craig's list of favorite books about modern married life, Sarah Pinborough's top ten list of unreliable narrators, C.A. Higgins's top five list of books with plot twists that flip your perception, Ruth Ware's top ten list of psychological thrillers, Jane Alexander's top ten list of treasure hunts in fiction, Fanny Blake's list of five top books about revenge, Monique Alice's list of six great fictional evil geniuses, Jeff Somers's lists of the top five best worst couples in literature, six books that’ll make you glad you’re single and five books with an outstanding standalone scene that can be read on its own, Lucie Whitehouse's ten top list of psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart and Kathryn Williams's list of eight of fiction’s craziest unreliable narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Ten top absurd quests in fiction

Joanna Kavenna grew up in various parts of Britain, and has also lived in the USA, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Her first book The Ice Museum was about traveling in the remote North, among other things. Her second was a novel called Inglorious, which won the Orange Award for New Writing. It was followed by a novel called The Birth of Love, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Then came her novel Come to the Edge, a satire. Kavenna's latest novel is Zed, "a blistering, satirical novel about life under a global media and tech corporation that knows exactly what we think, what we want, and what we do--before we do."

At the Guardian, Kavenna tagged ten absurd quests in fiction, including:
The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung (2009)

In a slightly sci-fi version of China, a month has disappeared from the official records and from collective memory. Old Chen, the central character (an idle, self-obsessed author who just wants to lounge around drinking Lychee Black Dragon Lattes) is persuaded by an ex, Little Xi, to find out what really happened in this month, and why the authorities want to erase it from history. A bold, exhilarating satire of the tech-totalitarianism of contemporary China.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books about working undercover

Dana Ridenour is a retired FBI agent and the author of three FBI undercover novels: Behind The Mask, Beyond The Cabin, and Below The Radar.

At CrimeReads she tagged five of the best books about working undercover, including:
No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton

Jay Dobyns worked for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for twenty-seven years. He was the first federal agent to infiltrate the inner circle of the outlaw Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. In his memoir, Dobyns discusses the 21-month operation that almost cost him his family, his sanity, and his life. Dobyns doesn’t hold back when he describes the pain and despair of living a double life. His intimate prospective reveals to readers the psychological impact of undercover work. I related to the pain that Dobyns experienced from being separated from his wife and children for such a lengthy and dangerous assignment This is where fiction and nonfiction differs when it comes to books about undercover work. Works of fiction rarely show the true impact that undercover work has on an agent or officer. This is one of the reasons why I chose to write my first novel. I wanted to show the psychological toll that a long-term undercover investigation has on an agent. Dobyns’s harrowing first-person account illustrates the psychological trauma of working dangerous undercover missions and gives readers a fascinating look inside the inner circle of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Eighteen SFF books that get serious about economics

Jeff Somers is the author of Writing Without Rules, the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged eighteen science-fiction and fantasy novels that get serious about economics, including:
The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson

Hearing that the protagonist of a new fantasy novel is essentially a renegade accountant might send you running, but Dickinson’s assured, confident debut novel’s main character, Baru Cormorant, is so much more than that—and so much more interesting than another anti-hero thief or sellsword. When her tiny island nation is conquered by the all-consuming Empire of Masks, Baru vows to destroy her enemy from within, assimilating outwardly and rising quickly to a position as Imperial Accountant in Aurdwynn, a troublesome out-of-the-limelight territory the empire is trying to bring to heel. Here, Baru sees her chance, and embarks on a program of economic manipulation and sabotage that sparks a revolt and sows chaos, forcing her to pick a side. The economy of the Empire of Masks is detailed and described in ways that make it seem as exciting as any magic system, setting this trilogy-launching book apart. (The fallout for Baru’s actions is explored in last year’s sequel The Monster Baru Cormorant).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 12, 2019

Six crime books that explore the experience of veterans

Siobhan Adcock is the author of the novels, The Barter and The Completionist.

At CrimeReads she tagged "a few mysteries and thrillers by and about veterans that you might not have already read, and that open up an understanding of how combat experience can shape a story, and its storyteller," including:
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This Pulitzer Prize-winning espionage novel follows an undercover agent for the North Vietnamese Army, embedded in South Vietnam during the fall of Saigon and subsequently living undercover in Los Angeles. Fast-paced and darkly funny, the book offers a perspective on the Vietnam War decidedly different from what American moviegoers and readers typically see­—in fact, in one section, the anonymous main character serves as a consultant on a film that sounds suspiciously like Platoon or Apocalypse Now, and spectacularly fails in his efforts to convince the director to add even a tiny bit of nuance to the film’s vision.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Sympathizer is among Shelley Wood's five top epistolary novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Téa Obreht's 6 favorite novels shaped by place

Téa Obreht was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, and grew up in Cyprus and Egypt before eventually immigrating to the United States. Her debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction, and was a 2011 National Book Award finalist and an international bestseller.

Obreht's new novel is Inland.

One of the author's six favorite novels shaped by place, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970).

Morrison's first novel, about a childhood in small-town Ohio, has remained my favorite, possibly owing to the particular claustrophobia produced by its clash between place and person-hood, and its suggestion that how you experience the world is governed by age, race, and whether or not one grows up loved.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Bluest Eye is among Jeff Somers's ideal starter novels for 10 “must read” authors, George Saunders' six favorite books, James McBride's six favorite books, and Susheila Nasta's top ten cultural journeys.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Seven titles from a high school class on trauma literature

Kate McQuade is the author of the story collection Tell Me Who We Were.

At LitHub she tagged seven books from a high school class on trauma literature, including:
Lan Cao, Monkey Bridge

Cao’s haunting novel opens in 1979 Virginia, where Mai, a teenage refugee from Vietnam, is caring for her mother, Thanh, after a stroke. Throughout the novel, interstitial chapters interrupt Mai’s coming-of-age narration: excerpts from Thanh’s diary, which Mai finds hidden in a dresser and secretly reads, hoping it will help her better understand not just her mother’s story, but her own. Gradually, both Mai and the reader come to recognize that the diary isn’t what it appears to be, and the truth is slowly, and tragically, revealed.

Although Thanh’s diary is the problematic text whose discovery—and dishonesty—sparks Mai’s biggest reckoning, the texts she doesn’t find collectively prove just as formative. As her well-meaning mother shields her from the traumatic truth of her ancestry, Mai searches her local library for information about her grandfather’s life, but finds no books about contemporary Vietnam. She sees depictions of Vietnam on screens all around her—on television, on the news, in her local movie theater—but the portrayals are insultingly primitive. She knows they don’t come close to the “untranslatable world” she’s from, let alone to her life in America.

“We were,” she notes of her fellow Vietnamese refugees, “a ragtag accumulation of unwanted, an awkward reminder of a war the whole country was trying to forget.” Failing to find her immigrant experience represented in the many narratives around her, Mai struggles to shape the story of who she really is.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Eight crime novels focused on the bonds of parent and child

Haylen Beck is the pseudonym of acclaimed, Edgar Award-nominated author Stuart Neville. His latest novel is Lost You.

At CrimeReads he tagged eight crime novels that focus on the bonds of parent and child, including:
Gone Baby Gone, by Dennis Lehane

While most novels involving missing children show us frantic parents enduring a living nightmare, little Amanda McCready’s mother Helene doesn’t seem overly distraught at her daughter’s abduction. Lehane’s detective duo, Kenzie and Gennaro, discover that Amanda has been little more than an inconvenience to her neglectful mother, but the story raises the question: does that wipe out Helene’s moral right to her child? The author refuses to give an easy solution to the conundrum, and the book is all the better for it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 9, 2019

Nineteen books about white supremacy

At Bustle Kristian Wilson tagged nineteen books about white supremacy and how to combat it, including:
The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter

If you've ever heard the argument that "the Irish were slaves, too," or had to endure complaints of "historical inaccuracy" over the inclusion of a nonwhite person in a work of fiction, this is the book you're going to want to read. In The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter traces the history of racial concepts from ancient tribalism to modern-day whiteness, which came to be defined through exclusion in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Top ten (UK) true crime books

Duncan Campbell has been writing about crime for nearly half a century. He was the crime correspondent of the Guardian and chairman of the Crime Reporters’ Association. He has written extensively on the subject of crime for various publications, including Guardian, Observer, Esquire, New Statesman, London Review of Books, Radio Times and Oldie.

His books on crime include: That Was Business, This Is Personal; A Stranger and Afraid; If It Bleeds; We’ll All Be Murdered in Our Beds! The Shocking History of Crime Reporting in Britain; and Underworld: The Definitive History of Britain’s Organised Crime.

At the Guardian he tagged ten (UK centric) examples of the "best writing by and about criminals and cops, villains and victims," including:
The Profession of Violence by John Pearson

The best book of the more than 50 volumes so far on the Kray twins. Pearson was granted remarkable access to Ronnie and Reggie at the same time as they were busy posing for David Bailey portraits. Hard to imagine that any modern-day gangsters will be quite as open with any would-be biographer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Ten novels that harness unreliable narrators

New York Times bestselling author Hallie Ephron, Edgar Award finalist and five-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, writes books she hopes readers can’t put down.

Her latest suspense novel, Careful What You Wish For, was inspired by the Marie Kondo life-changing decluttering tips. It explores the relationships built by professional organizers and their clients—showing just how easily the lines between professional and personal can be blurred. In it, Emily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; she’s married to man who can’t drive past a yard sale without stopping. Sometimes she find herself wondering if he sparks joy. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it “outstanding.”

At CrimeReads Ephron tagged "ten of [her] favorite novels that harness unreliable narrators, playing just this side of fair." One title on the list:
Defending Jacob by William Landay

Please tell the court…

Criminal prosecutor Andy Barber tries to “lawyer away” mounting evidence that his son Jacob killed a classmate. Barber knows that violence runs in his family, but he can’t believe that his son could kill. Wracked with guilt, Jacob’s mother Laurie revisits incidents from Jacob’s childhood that she can no longer rationalize. Through the clever use of courtroom transcripts, Landay withholds what Andy is unwilling to face and what Laurie is willing to do about it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Defending Jacob is among Charlie Donlea's top ten slow-burn thrillers, Alafair Burke's six top legal fiction / domestic suspense hybrids, Kate Moretti's eight suspense novels that explore nurture vs. nature and Nicholas Sparks' six top books about family.

The Page 69 Test: Defending Jacob.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Seven of the best books about running

English poet and critic Ben Wilkinson is a keen distance runner, lifelong Liverpool Football Club fan, and among other things he works as poetry critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement.

His debut full collection of poems, Way More Than Luck, appeared from Seren Books in February 2018.

Wilkinson is co‑editor of The Result Is What You See Today: Poems about Running.

At the Guardian he tagged a few books books that explore our love of running, including:
Writers of all stripes have questioned why we run. In Born to Run, Christopher McDougall discovers a hidden tribe in Mexico’s Copper Canyon; the realisation dawns that “the world’s most enlightened people were also the world’s most amazing runners”. An author’s quest to run injury-free broadens into an anthropological study of our running lineage.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 5, 2019

Jia Tolentino's book recommendations

Jia Tolentino is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of the essay collection Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion.

Formerly, she was the deputy editor at Jezebel and a contributing editor at the Hairpin. She grew up in Texas, went to University of Virginia, and got her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan.

Tolentino recommended six books at The Week magazine. One title on the list:
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud (2006).

As a treat to myself, I reread this 500-page novel every summer, and every time I feel totally swallowed up in it, as if the book were soaking me with golden light. There's so much pleasure in the plotting, the emotional acuity, the satire, the language itself. It also makes the best use of September 11 of any work of fiction I've ever read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Emperor’s Children is on Rebecca Jane Stokes's list of ten must-reads for Liane Moriarty fans, Porochista Khakpour's top ten list of novels about 9/11, Jimmy So's list of five novels that deal with 9/11 in significant if oblique ways, Rachel Syme's list of the ten most attractive men in literature, the (London) Times' list of the 100 best books of the last decade, and the New York Times' list of the 10 best books of 2006.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Eight top paranormal books

Craig Davidson was born and grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, near Niagara Falls. His books of literary fiction include Rust and Bone, which was made into an Oscar-nominated feature film of the same name, The Fighter, and Sarah Court. Davidson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his articles and journalism have been published in the National Post, Esquire, GQ, The Walrus, and The Washington Post, among other places.

His latest novel is The Saturday Night Ghost Club.

At LitHub Davidson tagged eight top works of paranormal literature, including:
Victor LaValle, The Devil in Silver

LaValle’s The Changeling and The Ballad of Black Tom are excellent, but his third novel hits all the right notes. Shades of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, with the patients at a mental hospital battling the uncaring staff and a monster (of sorts) roaming the halls.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Devil in Silver is among Jason Segel's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Five great Cold War thrillers

Owen Matthews reported on conflicts in Bosnia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq and Ukraine and was Newsweek’s Bureau Chief in Moscow from 2006-2016. He is the author of several nonfiction books including Stalin’s Children, Glorious Misadventures and An Impeccable Spy.

Matthews's debut novel is Black Sun.

At CrimeReads he tagged five favorite Cold War thrillers, including:
The Innocent by Ian McEwan (1990)

Based on the true story of Soviet spy George Blake who betrayed a secret tunnel bored under the Berlin Wall by the CIA to intercept Soviet telephone cables, the Innocent is an exquisitely written portrait of a young man caught in a moral maze. Leonard Marnham is a young British Post Office telephone engineer who is employed by the Americans to install monitoring equipment in the secret tunnel. Post-war Berlin, still half-ruined, represents the wreck of the old world. Bob Glass, a CIA officer who befriends Marnham, represents the new world of the Cold War—paranoid, self-righteous, obsessed with security for its own sake. The innocent Leonard discovers love, sex, and death, but never finds any kind of righteousness in his own side’s cause beyond his own unthinking childish patriotism. The superb plot winds the life and fate of ordinary, frightened, loving humans through the politics and subterfuge of the Cold War—and in the end Leonard finds a way to save himself and his lover by using the pervasive culture of secrecy to his own, intensely personal ends.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Innocent is among Malcolm Burgess's ten best books set in Berlin and Suzanne Munshower's top ten books about the Berlin Wall.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 2, 2019

Six fantasy novels that infuse a real city with new magic

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog, Nicole Hill tagged six fantasy novels that infuse the real cities in which they're set with new magic, including:
Borderline, by Mishell Baker
Los Angeles

Could there be a better setting for a faerie story than Los Angeles, the city where any flight of fantasy seems within the realm of possibility? The titular word “borderline” here refers to a couple of things: First is Millie Roper, recovering from the consequences of a failed suicide attempt and coming to terms with her Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis. When she’s contacted by the top-secret (and a little sketchy) Arcadia Project, however, the borderline of emphasis becomes the quite-literal portal between the streets of LA and the world of the fey. The predicament Millie finds herself mired in is a stew of inter-world complications: the glitz of Hollywood on a collision course with the glamour of the fey.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Ten top libraries in fiction

Stuart Kells is an author and expert on antiquarian books. His books include Rare, a biography of Kay Craddock, Penguin and the Lane Brothers: The Untold Story of a Publishing Revolution, and The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders.

At the Guardian Kells tagged ten top libraries in fiction, including:
Peter Kien’s books in Auto-da-Fé by Elias Canetti

Peter Kien, a middle-aged Sinologist, assembles some 25,000 volumes in his Vienna apartment. His insatiable appetite for books is matched only by the fear that they will be lost in fire. He marries his sturdy housekeeper with the idea that she will help keep the books safe. Instead, she forces him out of his apartment and he enters a nightmarish world of cutthroats, con artists, seedy bars and bungling police. The book ends with a powerful depiction of the horror of burning books.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Seven top workplace thrillers

Chandler Baker lives in Austin with her husband and toddler where she also works as a corporate attorney. Whisper Network is her adult debut. Baker is the author of the young adult thriller, Alive, as well as the High School Horror series.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven "workplace thrillers guaranteed to make you feel better about your job," including:
Force of Nature by Jane Harper

This book will make you think twice about going on next year’s corporate retreat. A woman goes missing in the midst of a weekend of team-building exercises and it turns out not only did she not have the rosiest of relationships with her coworkers (#relatable), but she also was onto some less than savory financial behavior by the company’s CEO. Harper revisits Aaron Falk, who is one of my favorite book detectives and some readers might remember from the book, The Dry, which—bonus points—will soon be a movie starring Eric Bana. So, jump on the bandwagon before it’s cool. Actually, wait, sorry it already is cool, but do it anyway.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top historical novels

The King’s Evil is the third novel in acclaimed author Andrew Taylor's Marwood-and-Lovett series set in the aftermath of the Great Fire, which began with The Ashes of London.

Taylor has won many awards, including the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, an Edgar Scroll from the Mystery Writers of America, the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award (the only author to win it three times) and the CWA’s prestigious Diamond Dagger, awarded for sustained excellence in crime writing.

He lives with his wife Caroline in the Forest of Dean.

At the Waterstones blog Taylor tagged five favorite historical novels, including:
Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian

This is the first novel in the O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin series. Read it, and then plunge joyfully into the next nineteen of them. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, the series deals with the adventures of a British naval officer and his ship’s surgeon, a Catalan-Irishman who also works as a spy and as a naturalist. The novels combine an absorbing narrative with a total immersion into another time, another culture.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Aubrey/Maturin Series appears on Jeff Somers's lists of five great books that will expand your vocabulary and top five books and series for old-fashioned adventure in the 19th century, the Telegraph's list of the ten best historical novels, Bella Bathurst's top ten list of books on the sea. Master & Commander is one of Peter Mayle's six best books. Dr Stephen Maturin is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best good doctors in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Eight true crime books that combine the personal and the literary

Lisa Levy is a columnist and contributing editor at LitHub and CrimeReads.

At CrimeReads she tagged eight true crime books that combine the personal and the literary, including:
Beverly Lowry, Crossed Over: A Murder, A Memoir (Vintage)

In this unusual book Lowry, a novelist, recounts the hit-and-run death of her son as she begins to visit one of the most notorious female murders in history, Karla Faye Tucker, who committed her crime in the Houston area where Lowry lived. Tucker, on imprisoned for stabbing two people she was burglarizing with a pickaxe, was an unusual death row inhabitant. Not many women end up on death row, let alone being executed, as Tucker was in late 1984. Lowry begins to visit Tucker because she needed something to help her grieve her lost son, but the friendship Tucker and Lowry develop goes both ways. Tucker also lost a son, Peter, and recounts a biography full of violence and heartbreak which bonds the unlikely pair of women together.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 29, 2019

Piper Kerman's book recommendations

Piper Kerman is the author of the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison from Spiegel & Grau.

The book has been adapted by Jenji Kohan into an Emmy Award-winning original series for Netflix.

Kerman is a graduate of Smith College. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her family and teaches writing in two state prisons as an Affiliate Instructor with Otterbein University.

At The Week magazine, she recommended six books, including:
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward (2013).

This elegiac book stands as a memorial to five young men lost to Ward and to her close-knit small-town community in Mississippi. It is a personal reckoning with death, with family history, with racial inequality, and with the undeniable pull homeward.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue