Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Five adrenaline pumping YA SFF survival books

Meg Long was born and raised in Louisiana and originally wanted to be a spy. Instead she somehow found herself teaching overseas in China and Malaysia before ending up in Colorado, where it snows entirely too much. She taught middle and high school for eight years before jumping to the tech industry as a content writer. When not reading or writing, she’s kicking things at her Muay Thai gym with her boyfriend, playing video games, or obsessing over Sailor Moon fanart. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is her debut novel.

At Tor.com Long tagged five favorite YA SFF books that will get your heart racing, including:
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

One of the older books on this list, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s first installment in their Starbound Trilogy is a gripping story about two very different teens. Socialite Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy while Tarver is a young war hero who came from nothing. But when the spaceliner they’re both on crashes on a deserted planet, they’re the only survivors and no one seems to be coming to save them. Not only will Lilac and Tarver have to figure out a way to survive the empty planet, but also the strange whispers and ghosts haunting their every step. This thrilling and devastatingly romantic story takes the deserted island trope to new extremes that are both heart-racing and heart-wrenching every step of the way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Six titles that explore the blurry boundaries of sibling intimacy

Sara Freeman is a Montreal-born writer currently based out of Boston. She graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in Fiction in 2013.

Freeman's new novel is Tides.

At Lit Hub she tagged six "novels that explore the blurry psychic boundaries of sibling intimacy" including:
Ian McEwan, The Cement Garden

This is the darkest, most claustrophobic of the novels on this list. Four siblings, ranging from ages six to seventeen, go to great lengths to cover up the fact of their mother’s death in order to stay together in their childhood home. Our narrator, Jack, is fifteen and nearly superstitious about his filth. He nurses a fascination for his beautiful older sister, Julie, and masturbates nearly constantly. Time bloats in the stagnant, increasingly malodorous house, and the kitchen, in particular, becomes ‘a place of stench and clouds of flies’. The four children, in their private pact against the outside world, play-act, fight, laugh, and slowly regress to a primitive, feral state. Encouraged by his older sisters, the youngest child, Tom, takes to acting like an infant girl, sleeping in an old cot attached to the eldest sister’s bed. Their eerie idyll is threatened when Derek, Julie’s snooker champion boyfriend enters the frame. This increasingly disquieting story culminates in a fantastically shocking final perversion, which is permanently seared in this reader’s mind. Not for the faint of heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Cement Garden is among Jeff Somers's ten literary kids with extremely difficult childhoods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 24, 2022

Ten novels inspired by true crimes

Steph Mullin is a creative director and Nicole Mabry works in the photography department for a television network. They met as co-workers in New York City in 2012, discovering a shared passion for writing and true crime. After Mullin relocated to Charlotte, NC in 2018, they continued to collaborate. Separated by five states, they spend hours scheming via FaceTime and editing in real time on Google Docs. The Family Tree is the duo’s first crime novel.

[ The Page 69 Test: The Family TreeMy Book, The Movie: The Family Tree]

At The Strand Magazine Mullin and Mabry tagged ten novels inspired by true crimes, including:
Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

Nell Flynn is an FBI agent who returns home to Long Island to scatter her homicide detective father’s ashes. Upon her return, she is thrust into the investigation of the horrific murders of two Latina women. As Nell dives deeper into the case, she begins to suspect the killer may be her own father. And could he have killed her mother years ago? Girls Like Us is inspired by the real-life Gilgo Beach Murders (also known as The Long Island Serial Killer), the still unsolved case of 10-16 bodies that were dismembered and scattered along the South Shore of Long Island. In drawing inspiration from this case, Alger has created a suspenseful and realistic tale, dark and full of twists and turns. (Inspired by The Gilgo Beach Murders, 1996-2010)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Eight mysteries with southern swampy settings

Stacy Willingham, worked as a copywriter and brand strategist for various marketing agencies before deciding to write fiction full time. She earned her BA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in Writing from the Savannah College of Art & Design.

Her new novel is A Flicker in the Dark.

At CrimeReads Willingham tagged eight mysteries that feature Southern settings, including:
Down River by John Hart

Down River begins with Adam Chase returning to his hometown of Rowan County, North Carolina. Five years prior, he was narrowly acquitted of a murder charge after the body of a boy was found bludgeoned to death on the banks of a river owned by Adam’s family. Now he’s back for reasons he won’t reveal, and when more bodies start turning up around town and the police begin to narrow in on Adam again, history threatens to repeat itself. Down River features three of my favorite things all wrapped up into one: gorgeously atmospheric writing, a Southern sense of place and complicated familial relationships that make the plot feel both intricate and emotional. You won’t be able to put this one down.
Read about the other mysteries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Nine haunting postapocalyptic novels

Jessie Greengrass spent her childhood in London and Devon. She studied philosophy in Cambridge and now lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, with her partner and children. Her collection of short stories, An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It, won the Edge Hill Prize and Somerset Maugham Award. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Sight, was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The High House is her most recent novel.

At Publishers Weekly Greengrass tagged nine haunting postapocalyptic novels, including:
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Butler’s novel is set in 2024, and this date’s proximity to ours does nothing to ameliorate the sense that it’s becoming more relevant as time passes. In a failed state version of America, water is scarce and safety the preserve of the rich; for the overwhelming majority, survival is a matter of choosing between wage slavery, scavenging, and, for the very poorest, cannibalism. Despite this it’s a profoundly hopeful book, centred on the transformative power of care. Travelling north from California in search of relative safety its young narrator, Lauren Olamina, grasps her way towards a new philosophy, and, as she does so, gathers around her a small band of followers who find solace in their companionship.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Parable of the Sower is among Liz Harmer's five works involving weird, unsettling isolation.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 21, 2022

Twelve of the best thrillers in a vacation setting

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. She and her family now live in Hampshire, England

She is the author of The Perfect Girlfriend , The Last Wife, and the newly released The Ex-Husband.

At CrimeReads Hamilton tagged twelve thrillers in "the proud literary tradition of horrible deaths occurring on vacation." One title on the list:
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

They All Fall Down is set on a private island off the coast of Mexico where all is not as it seems. Once again, paradise is hiding something darker, which is a favourite theme in the thrillers I love to read. Amidst the green seas and lush forest, secrets unfold amongst the group of strangers. The sense of foreboding and trying to survive makes this another truly frightening set up in what should be an idyllic location.
Read about the other entries on the list.

They All Fall Down is among Sandie Jones's six mysteries featuring large casts of characters, Andrea Bartz's seven thrillers about vacations gone wrong, Amy Suiter Clarke's seven great thrillers that play with form, Catriona McPherson's five top mystery novels set on islands, CrimeReads' ten best crime novels of 2019, Kristen Lepionka's seven favorite unlikable female characters.

The Page 69 Test: They All Fall Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Top 10 books about US presidents

Claude A. Clegg III is the Lyle V. Jones Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of An Original Man: The Life and Times of Elijah Muhammad and Troubled Ground: A Tale of Murder, Lynching, and Reckoning in the New South.

Clegg's newest book is The Black President: Hope and Fury in the Age of Obama.

At the Guardian he tagged "a mix of biographies, memoirs and reportage which, taken together, represent some of the best writings by and about the small group of powerful people who have occupied the White House." One title on the list:
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (2008)

This history of overlapping, intertwined families vivifies the world around Thomas Jefferson, the third US president, while skilfully making more legible the travails and aspirations of the enslaved people on his storied estate at Monticello. The decades-long relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings, one of the Black women he owned and who bore several of his children, occupies the core of the book, but Gordon-Reed manages to craft a complicated and often contradictory history that extends far beyond the tangle of race, gender, and status that marked the Jeffersons and the Hemingses’ commingled journey through US history.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Seven titles about navigating a post-pandemic world

Sequoia Nagamatsu is the author of the novels How High We Go in the Dark and Girl Zero, and the story collection, Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone.

At Electric Lit he tagged seven novels which
deal with a world changing event (a viral pandemic or something just as significant), but for all the background nods to cataclysm, these wildly inventive and deeply affecting stories ultimately focus on what it means to be human, what it means to be part of a community and the world at large.
One title on the list:
A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

Set in a world six years after a devastating pandemic, the novel starts with three characters in a recovering San Francisco: a widowed father raising a daughter, a famous musician whose fame is kept under wraps, and a wedding planner. In this world, trauma and anxiety (Post Apocalyptic Stress Disorder) take center stage where people are not ready or willing to seek out new connections and form families to the degree that a Family Stability Board is created to protect a precious resource: children. When this Board threatens to take Sunny (the daughter) away from Rob (her father), hard truths about the past are revealed which leads Sunny to run away. The following journey of the book’s primary characters in search of Sunny provides a post-apocalyptic canvas for interrogating each character’s past and how they are moving through trauma through their newfound connections.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Beginning at the End is among Publishers Weekly's thirteen essential pandemic novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Seven books featuring young spies

Charles Cumming is a British writer of spy fiction. He was educated at Eton College (1985-1989) and the University of Edinburgh (1990-1994), where he graduated with First Class Honours in English Literature. The Observer has described him as “the best of the new generation of British spy writers who are taking over where John le CarrĂ© and Len Deighton left off”.

His new novel is BOX 88.

At CrimeReads Cumming tagged seven books featuring young spies, including:
The Shanghai Factor by Charles McCarry

Trust is at the heart of Charles McCarry’s terrific late novel, set in modern China. Can our unnamed protagonist – a 29-year-old deep cover American spy – trust the beautiful woman who one day crashes her bicycle into him on the streets of Shanghai? Though he suspects that the delectable Mei is an agent of Guoanbu, the Chinese intelligence service, our hero nevertheless embarks on a steamy love affair. No less a judge than Lee Child thinks that McCarry was a better writer of spy novels than John le CarrĂ©. I wouldn’t go that far, but he could certainly turn a sentence and his books benefit from the authenticity one would expect of a man who was himself a CIA officer before turning to the pen.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 17, 2022

Five top books to know the sea

Adm. James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) is a retired four-star officer who led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander with responsibility for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, counter piracy, and cyber security. He served as Commander of U.S. Southern Command, with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America from 2006-9. Admiral Stavridis earned a PhD in international relations and is Dean Emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Stavridis's newest book is The Sailor's Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea.

At Shepherd he tagged five of the best books to know the sea, including:
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

A novel about a rusty old destroyer minesweeper, a supremely difficult captain, a mixed bag officers in a dysfunctional wardroom, a horrific typhoon, and a nail-biting court-martial. The seagoing and combat portions of the novel are very realistic, reflecting Wouk’s time in uniform on a similar class of ship in the Pacific during WWII. In my hand as I write this is a battered 1951 first edition of the novel, with a slightly tattered cover, which I treasure above almost any book in the five thousand volumes in my personal library. Over the years of my career, I’ve returned again and again to The Caine Mutiny, and the fundamental lesson of this sea novel is what both leaders and followers owe each other, especially in the demanding crucible of the sea.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Caine Mutiny is among Anthony Horowitz's six favorite books for teens and Richard Snow's five best books on World War II.

"Each time I revisit [The Caine Mutiny] I’m more awed than the last," writes Dawn Shamp. "The manner in which he develops the character of Willie Keith is nothing short of brilliant. Wouk’s style is spare yet complex. Every word counts."

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Eight of the best female friendships in books

Alafair Burke is a New York Times bestselling author whose most recent novels include The Better Sister, The Wife, optioned for a feature film by Amazon, and The Ex, which was nominated for the Edgar Award for best novel. She is also the co-author of the bestselling Under Suspicion series with Mary Higgins Clark. She currently serves as the President of Mystery Writers of America and is the first woman of color to be elected to that position. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal law and lives in Manhattan and East Hampton.

Burke's new novel is Find Me [UK title: The Girl She Was].

[Q&A with Alafair Burke]

At CrimeReads Burke tagged eight of her favorite female friendships in books, including:
Perhaps no crime writer resides as comfortably at the intersection between female friendship and competition as Megan Abbott. In Give Me Your Hand, Kit and Diane were best friends—until they weren’t. Now years later, the two ambitious women are at the top of their profession, and the secrets that tore them apart refuse to remain hidden.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Give Me Your Hand is among Lisa Levy's eight top thrillers about women in the workplace, Layne Fargo's eight top thrillers featuring ambitious women, Allison Dickson's ten thrillers featuring a dance of girlfriends and deception and Carl Vonderau's nine notable moral compromises in crime fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Eleven disturbing cliques in literature

Erin Mayer is a freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared on Bustle, The Today Show, Man Repeller, Literary Hub, and others.

A lifelong New Yorker, she now resides in Maine with her husband and her enamel pin collection.

Fan Club is her first novel.

At The Strand Magazine Mayer tagged eleven favorite enigmatic cliques in literature, including:
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

If you’ve read and loved The Secret History, this is just about the closest read-alike I’ve ever found. Yes, it revolves around a group of students who are drawn to a charismatic professor, but the real highlight is our narrator Blue, whose distinctive voice guides us through the story as mysteries unfold.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics is among Kiley Reid’s five top novels with incredible child caregivers and Brian Boone's fifty essential high school stories.

The Page 69 Test: Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

--Marshal Zeringue