Friday, August 14, 2020

Five fantasy novels driven by traumatic family bonds

Jordan Ifueko is a Nigerian-American author of Young Adult fiction. She stans revolutionary girls and 4C curls.

Raybearer is her debut novel.

At Tor.com she tagged five favorite fantasy titles that expertly explore traumatic family bonds, including:
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli

I include this book because it traumatized me as a young reader, showing just how abusive mother-daughter bonds can go. Zel is a retelling of Rapunzel, from the perspective of Mother, a soft-spoken witch who aches to have a baby—and Zel, the child she manages to procure. It follows the storyline of the original fairy tale, which is significantly grimmer than any Disney iteration (the prince gets blinded by falling into a patch of thorns, and that’s among the least traumatic events in this book), but concentrates heavily on the sincere love that Mother has for Zel, which teeters constantly toward obsession, until it tumbles into emotional (and finally physical) abuse. This classic retelling is not for the faint of heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The best frenemies in fiction

E. G. Scott is a pseudonym for Elizabeth Keenan and Greg Wands, two writers who have been friends for over twenty-years, and have been writing plays, screenplays, and short stories separately since they were kids. They've collaborated on multiple projects from the beginning of their friendship.

Their new novel is In Case of Emergency.

At CrimeReads they tagged ten "favorite works featuring complex relationships, shifting allegiances, and odd bedfellows galore," including:
Clarice Starling & Dr. Hannibal Lecter
The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris

Sophisticated, charming, polite to a fault… just don’t let him have you for dinner. When clever, ambitious FBI trainee Starling enlists the help of incarcerated serial murderer Lecter—known not-so-affectionately as “Hannibal the Cannibal”—to aid in an active investigation, the two form a unique bond based on mutual respect that sees them through a veritable rollercoaster of a relationship. Come for the psychological gamesmanship, stay for the emotional tenderness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Silence of The Lambs is among Caroline Louise Walker's six terrifying villain-doctors in fiction, Kathy Reichs's six best books, Matt Suddain's five great meals from literature, Elizabeth Heiter's ten favorite serial killer novels, Jill Boyd's five books with the worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving, Monique Alice's six great fictional evil geniuses, sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Seven novels about studying abroad

Rashi Rohatgi, a Pennsylvania native who lives in Arctic Norway, is the author of Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in A-Minor Magazine, The Misty Review, Boston Accent Lit, Anima, Allegro Poetry, Lunar Poetry, and Boston Accent Lit. Her non-fiction and reviews have appeared in The Review Review, Wasafiri, World Literature Today, Africa in Words, The Aerogram, and The Toast. She is a Bread Loaf Sicily and VONA alumna.

At Electric Lit, Rohatgi tagged seven favorite novels about studying abroad, including:
Paradise of the Blind by Dương Thu Hương, translated by Nina McPherson & Phan Huy Đường

This novel—possibly the most stunningly lyrical I’ve ever read—has been banned in Vietnam for its denouncement of the post-war Vietnamese government, but the story’s present takes place in the USSR. Hang, who’s been forced to leave college and go abroad to make money for her family, struggles to make sense of what she owes her family, who themselves have as many different valuations of what she owes as they do political opinions. Only in her interactions with The Bohemian, a boy she’d had chemistry with back home who’s now a student in Moscow, does she get a respite from responsibility.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Ten exciting crime novels featuring a small-town setting

Poppy Gee's new novel, Vanishing Falls, is set in a fictional rainforest area, near the Liffey Falls, an enchanting three-tiered waterfall beneath the Great Western Tiers in northern Tasmania.

At CrimeReads, the author tagged ten favorite small town mysteries from the US, Canada and Australia, including:
The Dark Lake, by Sarah Bailey (2017)

The folk of close-knit Smithson, a tranquil patch of green among acres of dry farmland in Australia, learn that a killer is among them when Rosalind, a beautiful, popular English teacher is found strangled in the lake. The high school was the last place Rosalind was seen alive, following her staging of a school play. Students and teachers provide the pieces of puzzle to solve the mystery for investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, however the policewoman is concealing her own complicated high school rivalry with the victim. This layered psychological mystery will have you guessing until the end, with a list of suspects that includes Rosalind’s mysterious, wealthy family. While police procedurals are not generally my favourite, this one stands out for its full bodied, intriguing characters. It is a twisty, riveting plot… maybe the lovely Rosalind is not as perfect as everyone thinks.

Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Lake.

My Book, The Movie: The Dark Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 10, 2020

Five of the best books about justice

David Lammy was born in London to Guianese parents and has served as the MP for Tottenham since 2000. He was the first black Briton to study at Harvard Law School and before entering politics practised as a barrister. He served as a minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and his first book, Out of the Ashes: Britain after the Riots, was published to widespread acclaim in 2011.

Lammy's latest book is Tribes: How Our Need to Belong Can Make or Break Society.

At the Guardian, he tagged five of the best books about the legal system:
As cuts [in justice system spending] deepen, the backlog of criminal cases grows, leaving defendants sitting in their cells waiting for a trial. Defendants such as Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death in Alabama in 1988 for killing a white woman, serving six years before his conviction was overturned. In his powerful memoir, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson tells McMillian’s story and recalls his own struggles against injustice as a young lawyer. Thankfully, we do not have the death penalty in the UK. But our backlog of 41,000 criminal cases means some people are being held on remand for an even longer period than they would serve if convicted of their alleged offence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Just Mercy is among Samantha Powers's six recommended books and Brené Brown's six top books that inspire bravery.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Six novels that bring together mystery and time travel

Julie McElwain is a national award-winning journalist. Born and raised in North Dakota, she graduated from North Dakota State University, and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for a fashion trade newspaper.

Her first novel, A Murder In Time, was one of the top 10 picks by the National Librarian Association for its April 2016 book list. The novel was also a finalist for the 2016 Goodreads’ readers choice awards in the Sci-fi category, and made Bustle’s list of 9 Most Addictive Mystery series for 2017.

The series continues Kendra Donovan’s adventures in Regency England with A Twist in Time, Caught in Time, Betrayal in Time, and Shadows in Time.

At CrimeReads McElwain tagged six novels that test the boundaries of time itself, including:
11/22/63, by Stephen King

Traveling back in time with the purpose of changing history—and therefore the future—is an idea that has been explored in movies, TV (the old Twilight Zone had a few thought-provoking episodes on the subject), literature, philosophical discussions, and even in science classes. Yet Stephen King boldly—and brilliantly—explored the concept with perhaps the biggest do-over of all time with our main character, Jake (aka George), trying to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating John F. Kennedy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

11/22/63 is among Dwyer Murphy's eleven modern classics of conspiracy noir, Peter May's six best books, and Molly Driscoll's top six novels that explore a slightly alternate version of very familiar events.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Seven books about coming of age in a small town

Frances Macken is from Claremorris, County Mayo, Ireland.

She completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford, and also studied film production at the National Film School, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

Macken likes mysteries, twists in the tale, the supernatural, and the unexplained. She especially enjoys developing characters and creating fictional worlds. Her writing is creepy, humorous and experimental. You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here is her first novel of literary fiction.

Macken currently lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books about the adventures and the heartbreaks of becoming an adult, including:
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

Lives of Girls and Women by Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro was first published in 1971. The novel comprises short stories chronicling the life of Del Jordan, a girl growing up in small-town Jubilee, Ontario in the 1940s. Del learns about womanhood from the women she observes in her surroundings, including her mother Addie (with whom she has a strained relationship), various female relatives, and her mother’s boarder Fern. Several feminist themes are explored, including female self-actualization, the relationships between mothers and daughters, and women’s role in society. Del’s formative love relationships also feature, though male characters are only lightly drawn.

Having always felt like an outsider, dissatisfied with small town life and continually seeking meaning, Del will leave Jubilee behind in order to further her own development. The novel is considered to contain several autobiographical elements from Munro’s own life; at the very least, the author grew up in a small town in Ontario, and became a writer, as her lead character Del intends to.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lives of Girls and Women is among four books that changed Libby Gleeson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 7, 2020

Six crime novels exploring the complexities of relationships between men

USA Today-bestselling author David Bell's newest novel is The Request.

At CrimeReads he tagged six "darkly suspenseful novels that explore some complicated—and dangerous—male friendships," including:
Understand This by Jervey Tervalon

A powerful coming-of-age novel with eight narrators set in South Central LA. The protagonist is Francois, a guy who has some friends who are dealing drugs…and he experiences the temptations of being led down that path and the consequences that come from it. This is a debut novel, and it’s rich, raw, and perfectly written. And it’s about what all great books are about—real people making tough choices, even when sometimes the choice is between the lesser of two evils.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Ten top books about probation

Kate Simants is a writer of psychological thrillers and crime fiction.

After a decade working in the UK television industry, specialising in investigative documentaries, police shows and undercover work, Simants relocated from London to Bristol to concentrate on writing. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Brunel University (2007) and another in Crime Fiction from the University of East Anglia (2018), where she was the recipient of the UEA Literary Festival Scholarship. Her first novel Lock Me In was shortlisted for the 2015 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, and is published by HarperCollins.

Simants won the 2019 Bath Novel Award with her second novel The Knocks, which is now published under the title A Ruined Girl.

At the Guardian, Simants tagged ten rich, human stories in the space between prison and the rest of life, including:
Slow Motion Riot by Peter Blauner

Steve Baum, a Harlem probation officer during the 1980s crack epidemic, shares a lot with my protagonist. Both suspect they’re fighting a losing battle, but refuse to let go of hope. As Baum puts it: “Here’s the secret, which I almost never say out loud: Every once in a while, you might just turn one of these guys around.” In this pacey, compassionate thriller, Blauner explores the conflict between intention and reality in Baum’s work.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Five of the best adoption thrillers

Jeff Abbott is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of many mystery and suspense novels.

His new novel is Never Ask Me.

At CrimeReads Abbott tagged five top adoption thrillers. One title on the list:
Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski (1949)

This novel should be better known—but it’s such a wonderfully well-kept secret. (It was strangely turned into a film musical in 1953 starring. . .Bing Crosby. No, I haven’t seen it.) It’s an emotionally wrenching journey through one man’s decision about fatherhood. English poet Hilary Wainwright is told that he left behind a son in wartime France. The child’s French mother died at the hands of the Nazis—is her child Hilary’s? When Hilary—selfish, unsure if he wants to be a father—attempts to connect with the orphan who is supposedly his son, the reader is drawn into an unbearably tense reckoning. These two souls have now encountered each other—how will each change the other? Will Hilary accept him as his son—and will the boy accept Hilary? And if he is not Hilary’s son, will Hilary abandon the boy? This is a book to be read in one sitting. In 2001, Nicholas Lezard wrote a re-appraisal of Little Boy Lost for The Guardian: “If you like a novel that expertly puts you through the wringer, this is the one.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Eight books to make you glad you’re not at the beach

Preety Sidhu, an intern at Electric Literature, tagged eight books that will make you glad you’re not at the beach, including:
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

30-year-old Margot works as a desk clerk at a Jamaican beach resort frequented by wealthy white tourists. Pimped out by her abusive mother at a young age, she now has sex on the side with white men who visit the island looking for poor women to exploit. While she does this to pay her younger sister’s tuition at a private school, her romantic inclinations tend toward a wealthy local lesbian who has been branded a witch by their village.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 3, 2020

Ten novels that use momentous events as a catalyst

Suzanne Rindell received her Ph.D. in English literature from Rice University in spring 2018. She is the author of the forthcoming historical mystery, The Two Mrs. Carlyles.

At CrimeReds, Rindell tagged ten novels that use large-scale events as a catalyst, including:
Fever by Mary Beth Keane

Catalyst: Infectious Disease

Typhoid…another infectious disease that wreaked havoc with each outbreak. And I suppose history has solved the “mystery” that is Mary Mallon—”Typhoid Mary,” the asymptomatic carrier who infected 53 people in the New York area. The book is driven in part by this famous historical outbreak (or series of outbreaks, really), and how difficult it can be to comprehend the reality of being an “asymptomatic carrier.” Mary Beth Keane seeks to restore humanity to a much-maligned historical figure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Fever.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Six top books about the allure of crowds and community

John Drury is professor of social psychology at the University of Sussex; his research interests focus on collective behaviour in mass emergencies, riots and other crowd events.

At the Guardian he tagged six of the best books about the allure of crowds and community, including:
New bonds of community are often created by disaster, as Rebecca Solnit charts in A Paradise Built in Hell. The shanty town built by survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the self-organised evacuations New Yorkers arranged with strangers after 9/11, show how people facing a common fate can see themselves as belonging to a single group. Like the Covid-19 mutual aid groups we see today, these altruistic communities provide glimpses of an alternative world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Seven obsession thrillers

Seraphina Nova Glass is an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Playwright-In-Residence at the University of Texas, Arlington where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting.

She holds an MFA degree in Dramatic Writing from Smith College, and a second MFA in Directing from the University of Idaho. She’s also a screenwriter and award-winning playwright.

Her new novel is Someone's Listening.

At CrimeReads Glass tagged seven crime and suspense novels that explore the causes and consequences of infatuation, including:
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Lo Blacklock’s obsession, in The Woman in Cabin 10, is neither love nor revenge, it’s in uncovering the truth about a murder and these are my favorite kind of stories. As a Ruth Ware fanatic, I cannot say enough good things about her Agatha Christie-esque style of weaving a mystery. When Lo takes a journalism assignment on a posh cruise ship, she’s excited for the opportunity, but it quickly turns nightmarish when she’s certain she sees a woman being thrown overboard. When all the passengers are present and accounted for, nobody takes her claims seriously. Lo knows what she saw and is determined to find the truth, but someone wants to shut her up. This twisty, run-for-your life story ticks all the boxes for what a thriller should be. And if you like to listen to your thrillers, Imogen Church’s narration is award-worthy in my book.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Eight books to take you back to the 1980s

Amanda Brainerd is a New York City real estate broker, wife and mother of three. She graduated from Harvard College and earned a Master of Architecture from Columbia University after being expelled from Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school in the 10th grade. Age of Consent is her first novel.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight books to take you back to the Eighties, including:
Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This is a tale of the bond between two teenage girls from the projects, and the story of how friendship can tether us to home and comfort even if we travel far away.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Swing Time is among Robert Haller's six top novels that reference pop music.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ten top books by Charles Dickens

A.N. Wilson was born in 1950 and educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is an award-winning biographer and a celebrated novelist, winning prizes for much of his work. He lives in North London.

Wilson's new book is The Mystery of Charles Dickens.

At the Guardian he tagged Dickens's top ten books, including:
David Copperfield

His own personal favourite among the novels. A book that can make me – and millions of others – weep and laugh out loud, often on the same page. A sort of autobiography, but one in which all his family have been expunged. David’s father is dead before the book begins, his mother dies when he is still very young. And unlike Dickens, David has no siblings. The awful woes and cruelties for which in real life he blamed his parents are the fault of the wicked stepfather Mr Murdstone. This book has some of Dickens’s finest characters – Mr Dick, Mr Micawber, Betsey Trotwood – and, in the storm that engulfs the Suffolk coast, one of his most powerful descriptions of nature.
Read about the other entries on the list.

David Copperfield is among Kathryn Harrison's six  best epic novels, Nigella Lawson's ten best books, ShortList's forty greatest villains in literature. Siri Hustvedt's six favorite books, Janet Davey’s top ten schoolchildren in fiction, Frank Rich's top ten books, John Boyne's top ten child narrators, Lynn Shepherd's top ten fictional drownings and Elizabeth Gilbert's six favorite books. It appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best seductions in literature, ten of the best trips to Canterbury in literature and ten of the best valets in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Eight top novels featuring odd couples and unexpected partnerships

Alice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent fifteen years with BBC News where she worked as a reporter, news editor, arts and entertainment producer, and One O'Clock news producer. Feeney has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband and dog. His & Hers is her third novel, after Sometimes I Lie and I Know Who You Are.

At CrimeReads Feeney tagged eight of her "favorite novels that have odd couples and unexpected partnerships at the heart of their stories," including:
Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough

Meet single mom Louise and Adele, the perfect housewife. Opposites definitely attract in this brilliant book. Told from both points of view, this clever and original story will keep you on your toes and keep you guessing. I find I can often predict the endings of thrillers, but not this time. This book absolutely deserved the #WTFending reputation it earned, in a good way. One of my favorite twists ever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Behind Her Eyes is among Leah Konen's seven dark thrillers about friendships gone wrong and Camilla Bruce's eight novels to make you question reality.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Ten great mysteries set in Maine

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Girl, Pretty Baby, Don't You Cry, Every Last Lie, and When the Lights Go Out.

A former high school history teacher, Kubica holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature.

Her newest novel is The Other Mrs..

At The Strand Magazine, Kubica tagged ten favorite mysteries set in Maine, including:
EMMA IN THE NIGHT by Wendy Walker

Wendy Walker gives readers a terrifying, intimate look at true narcissism and a totally dysfunctional family in this twisted psychological thriller set partially on a rugged, nearly-vacant island off the coast of Maine. Two sisters disappear but when, three years later, only one comes back, a forensic psychologist must get to the bottom of this mystery and decipher the truth from the lies.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 27, 2020

Eight books about cross-generational friendships

Diane Zinna's new novel is The All-Night Sun.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight books about connections that transcend age. One title on the list:
The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle

In this 2020 debut novel, Lucy is recovering from breast cancer when she becomes friends with two older women who gather and preserve octopuses that swamp the Tasmanian coast. While saving an octopus that is pulling itself across a road dividing the ocean, Lucy is hit by a car, and her injuries force her to come to terms with her body all the more. As she heals, Lucy has a tangle of octopuses tattooed across her scarred chest, and her relationship with Flo becomes a shared respite from loneliness and loss. With emotional and rhythmic sections written from the perspective of octopuses and seals, this novel shows us all searching for connection while unknowingly being carried along by the ever-present current of it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Seven top books to inspire hope for the planet

Ann Pettifor is director of Prime: Policy Research in Macroeconomics and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation. She is the author of The Case for the Green New Deal.

At the Guardian she tagged seven books that offer hope for the future and the Green New Deal, including:
JA Baker’s 1967 memoir The Peregrine, is another vision – of the ecstatic joy brought on by a deep connectedness to nature. Baker documents his daily and increasingly close connection to the austere Essex landscape that was his home, and to what Gerard Manley Hopkins called “the brute beauty and valour” of an extraordinary bird. For greater understanding of how connected all living things are, Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Network of Nature is less intense, but startling and delightful. Each chapter is a self-contained exploration of some link in nature: “How Earthworms Control Wild Boar”; “Fairy Tales, Myths and Species Diversity”. Or try Lev Parikian’s witty Into the Tangled Bank. He starts with the wildlife found in your kitchen sink, and gradually deepens connections to nature within and outside your own four walls.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Nine books about being homesick for a place that doesn’t exist anymore

Stephanie Soileau's new collection of short stories is Last One Out Shut Off the Lights. Her work has also appeared in Glimmer Train, Oxford American, Ecotone, Tin House, New Stories from the South, and other journals and anthologies, and has been supported by fellowships from the Wallace Stegner Fellowship Program at Stanford University, the Camargo Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has taught creative writing at the Art Institute of Chicago, Stanford University, and the University of Southern Maine. Originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, Soileau now lives in Chicago and teaches at the University of Chicago.

At Electric Lit she tagged nine favorite literary expressions of homesickness "for a place that does not exist anymore—and maybe never did exist as you imagined it." One title on the list:
Inheritors by Asako Serizawa

The interwoven stories in this new collection by Asako Serizawa follow a Japanese family through 150 years of history. In a kaleidoscope of places and points of view, Serizawa explores the lives of characters whose sense of home and history is disrupted by war, imperialism and migration.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 24, 2020

Eight crime novels about the American home front during WWII

Paul D. Marks's books include the Shamus Award-Winning mystery-thriller White Heat.

His latest novel, The Blues Don’t Care, is set on the Los Angeles home front during World War II.

At CrimeReads Marks tagged eight "mysteries that explore the simmering tensions and contradictions of the war at home," including:
Miss Dimple Suspects (2013) by Mignon F. Ballard

On the cozy side of things, Mignon Ballard sets her Miss Dimple mystery series in a rural small town in Georgia during the war. Miss Dimple Kilpatrick is a first-grade school teacher at Elderberry Grammar School. And, although the books are filled with the things you’d expect in a cozy mystery: a quaint village, loveable characters, Georgia peaches, cats and Southern charm, it also deals with war-time unpleasantness such as economic hardships, rationing and anti-Japanese sentiments.

Miss Dimple Suspects is the third in the series and begins with the search for a missing child. Miss Dimple finds the child, aided by an elderly artist and her young Japanese companion. When the artist is later found dead, the town suspects the Japanese girl. And of course Miss Dimple uses her amateur sleuthing skills to find the truth.

Unlike the big cities, rural communities experienced the war in a different way. With many farm workers in Georgia either moving to the cities to work in defense factories or enlisting in the military. These rural communities struggled and many women had to take over traditionally male jobs. The American home front depicted in these books is one of courage and patriotism, but is also provincial, ignorant and fearful. However, at the same time, hopeful.

Ballard provides us with a nostalgic and heartwarming look at a place and time that was a turning point in history.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Miss Dimple Suspects.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Ten top books about adventures

Philip Marsden is the award-winning author of a number of works of travel, fiction and non-fiction, including The Bronski House, The Spirit-Wrestlers, The Levelling Sea and, most recently, The Summer Isles. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and his work has been translated into fifteen languages. After years of traveling, he now lives on the tidal upper reaches of the River Fal in Cornwall with his wife, children and various boats.

At the Guardian, Marsden tagged ten top books about adventures: "a seeking out, a spirited or even reckless exposure to the unfamiliar in order to reveal something usually unstated, to say: 'I came within a whisker of life'.” One title on the list:
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

Autobiography with a surfboard. Finnegan charts with disarming candour his footloose years of travelling, reading, travelling, writing – and always searching for waves. He was the first to find many breaks in the Pacific, and he writes as he surfs – with flair, energy and courage.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Five titles in which magic comes at a price

Isabelle Steiger was born in the city and grew up in the woods. She received her first notebook when she was eight, and she’s been filling them up ever since. When not writing, she enjoys playing RPGs, getting excited over obscure facts, and never knowing enough about movies to sound cool when she talks about them. She is only fluent in one language but can speak three others terribly, and is possibly the only person who hates sand as much as Anakin Skywalker. After a childhood filled with haunted mansions, lightning-induced power outages, and insects rude enough to sabotage a perfectly honorable swordfight, she was relieved to finally return to New York, where she currently lives.

Steiger's new novel is The Rightful Queen (Paths of Lantistyne, Volume 2).

At Tor.com she tagged "five books (or the first book in a series, when the whole series is applicable) in which the price of magic is particularly ingenious." One title on the list:
Manifestation of a weakness: The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

In this first book of the excellent Engelsfors trilogy, six teenage girls who previously knew nothing about magic’s existence must contend with sudden powers they can’t control. Each character’s magic develops differently—and, for most of the girls, in the direction they least would have wished for. Confident, outgoing Vanessa finds herself ignored and isolated whenever her invisibility flares up, while shy Rebecka’s flashy pyro- and telekinesis push her toward a leadership role. Mean girl Ida, who has relentlessly bullied others for anything “weird,” is appalled by the dramatic horror-movie shenanigans that are part of being a spirit medium, and Linnéa, an outcast who does her best to wall herself off from everyone around her, is literally forced to empathize with others when she can’t get their thoughts out of her head. In order not to be left at the mercy of their own powers, the girls have to navigate the kinds of situations they’ve always tried to avoid before, and question how they’d truly like to live.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Nine essential books to learn about our broken American political system

David Pepper is the author of The People’s House, The Wingman, and the newly released The Voter File, all which feature Jack Sharpe. Pepper earned his B.A. from Yale University and his J.D. from Yale Law School. He has clerked for a judge on the United States Court of Appeals, served in local elected office in Ohio, worked for major law firms, and taught election and voting rights law. Prior to law school, he worked in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Pepper serves as Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, after being elected in December 2014 and reelected to a second term in 2018.

[Q&A with David Pepper.]

At CrimeReads, Pepper tagged nine "fiction and non-fiction titles that most effectively portray the real-world drama of American politics—the good, the bad and the ugly." One book on the list:
Dark Money, Jane Mayer

A must read to understand today’s political challenges. It’s essentially the story of the Koch Brothers—the best book out there detailing the overwhelming influence of huge amounts of money on today’s politics, and the countless ways that that money seeps into every corner of our political system.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 20, 2020

Seven books in which very little happens

Aaron Robertson is an editor at Literary Hub. He has written for The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere. His translation of Igiaba Scego's novel Beyond Babylon (Two Lines Press, 2019) was shortlisted for the PEN Translation Prize and Best Translated Book Award.

At Lit Hub he tagged seven "books in which ... very little happens." One title on the list:
The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker (1988)

Startled by an unlikely occurrence—both shoelaces breaking at the same time—a young office worker is accosted with random thoughts. He struggles to decide whether he is more adult than child as he ascends an escalator to get to work—and, um, higher knowledge of himself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Mezzanine is among Alex Clark's eight best books set over twenty-hours.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Five Young Adult SFF/H novels about women reclaiming their identities

Estelle Laure's new young adult novel is Mayhem.

At Tor.com she tagged five top young adult fantasy and horror stories that are "part feminist revenge fantasy, part catharsis, [and give] the reader a chance to delineate important boundaries and cheer along with their protagonists when they firmly draw the line." One title on the list:
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Alex’s sister was murdered and now she’s the girl with the sister found in parts throughout the woods. But what Alex’s new friends don’t know is that she has turned violent herself, and that her determination to exact vengeance on anyone who might harm a girl the way her sister was harmed has made Alex the most terrifying of all. As Alex begins to explore her very first attempt at a real relationship as well as a normal teen relationship, she hopes to leave her violent side behind. Unfortunately, the world is built to tug at her compulsions. She can’t allow date rape to stand, or molestation, or even the casual jokes many girls have learned to accept as part of being female. The question becomes whether Alex has the capacity to be “normal” at all. Creepy, disturbing, and highly cathartic, this story will force you to face the violation and aggression girls are filtering daily. Through Alex’s gaze, what’s considered acceptable is magnified, judged, and punished accordingly. This story is gritty, brutal, reeks of truth, and will haunt you long after you turn the last page. It has made me a hardcore fan of everything Mindy McGinnis has to offer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Eleven novels starring essential workers

Preety Sidhu, an intern at Electric Literature, tagged eleven novels featuring essential workers, including:
The Warehouse by Rob Hart

In this dystopian thriller, the totalitarian regime controlling people’s lives is an Amazon-esque mega-corporation called Cloud, which dominates both the retail and labor markets. After a series of mass murders have shut down all other stores, everyone either works for or is a customer of Cloud. Paxton reluctantly works as a Cloud security guard after his own business was bankrupted by their monopolistic practices while Zinnia works on the warehouse floor, though she is actually a secret operative on a corporate espionage assignment. Their story is interspersed with broadcasts to employees from Cloud’s billionaire founder, who is dying of pancreatic cancer. The book is dedicated to Maria Fernandes, who accidentally suffocated on gas fumes sleeping in her car while working three part time jobs.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 17, 2020

Eight lousy dads from brilliant mysteries & riveting thrillers

A native of Seattle, Glen Erik Hamilton grew up aboard a sailboat, and spent his youth finding trouble around the marinas and commercial docks and islands of the Pacific Northwest. He now lives in Burbank, California, with his family, punctuated by frequent visits to his hometown to soak up the rain.

His latest crime thriller in the Van Shaw series is A Dangerous Breed.

At CrimeReads, Hamilton tagged "a few very bad dads indeed from brilliant mysteries, riveting thrillers, and one spooky story," including:
Dad in Fight Like a Girl by Sheena Kamal

Sometimes even when the cause is gone, the threat remains: Trish avoids her violent father whenever he gets around to visiting Toronto, escaping the house to train in a Muay Thai gym. In the ring, at least, any bruises she receives are repaid in kind. And the acceptance Trish finds as a Trinidadian-Indian young woman among other students from a wide variety of heritages is a balm. When Dad is accidentally struck and killed by a car—with Trish behind the wheel—there’s a chance for some peace for the angry young woman. But her mom soon repeats the cycle of abuse with a bullying new boyfriend. A fast-paced YA novel with a vibrant voice and a touch of magical realism.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue