Sunday, May 28, 2023

Five top thrillers about women getting revenge

Victoria Helen Stone, author of the runaway best seller Jane Doe, writes critically acclaimed novels of dark intrigue and emotional suspense. Aside from At The Quiet Edge, The Last One Home, Problem Child, Half Past, and the chart-topping False Step and Evelyn, After, she also published twenty-nine books as USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl and won the prestigious American Library Association Reading List award for best genre fiction.

Her new novel is The Hook.

At CrimeReads Stone tagged five favorite thrillers about women getting revenge, including:
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

This audiobook (narrated by Catherine Ho) was an absolute delight. A young college graduate moves back to Malaysia with her family, and three generations live together: daughter, mother, and grandmother. Except this grandma is a ghost. At first, the haunting feels almost cozy, but grandma isn’t back for a visit. She wants revenge… and she’s brought along a friend who wants a little payback for herself too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Eight titles centered around fractured families & relationships

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged eight books centered around fractured families and relationships, including:
All Adults Here by Emma Straub

A multigenerational story of the things we carry with us into adulthood, All Adults Here is a warm and witty tale filled with the ups and downs of one family’s reflections. After witnessing a tragedy, the matriarch reassesses her parenting and how it affected her now-adult children. Celebrating the messiness of those we hold dear, Emma Straub’s novel touches on family dynamics and forgiveness with the keen observations and charm she is known for.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 26, 2023

Eight books set in Hawai’i by local authors

Lisa Zhuang is an intern at Electric Literature. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Emory University and currently resides in mid-Missouri.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight novels, short stories and poetry collections set in Hawaii and written by local authors, including:
Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare by Megan Kamalei Kakimoto

In Megan Kamalei Kakimoto’s debut short story collection, superstitions come alive and turn into truths. Night Marchers wander the lands. Pele’s wrath is not to be trifled with. Characters refuse to whistle at night and do not sleep with their toes pointed towards the door. Though the ghosts of colonialism haunt the land, the cast of women in Kakimoto’s stories survive and thrive on generations of shared wisdom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Top 10 cops in fiction

Alan Parks worked in the music industry for over twenty years before turning to crime writing. His debut novel Bloody January was shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, February’s Son was nominated for an Edgar Award, Bobby March Will Live Forever was picked as a Times Best Book of the Year, won a Prix Mystère de la Critique Award and won an Edgar Award. The April Dead was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and May God Forgive won the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2022. He lives and works in Glasgow.

To Die In June is the sixth Harry McCoy thriller.

At the Guardian Parks tagged his top ten cops in fiction, including:
John Rebus

Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh-based detective has aged in real time as the series goes on. Now he’s not in the best of health and retired. But he’s still sticking his nose in where it’s not wanted and long may he do so. Rankin manages to keep Rebus involved in the changing city, keeps him in the here and now, still vital.
Read about the other entries on the list.

John Rebus is among Euan Ferguson's ten best fictional sleuths.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Five titles that go beyond London’s WWII “Blitz Spirit”

Jo Baker was born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford University and Queen’s University Belfast. She is the author of the best-selling novel Longbourn, as well as The Body Lies; A Country Road, A Tree; The Undertow; The Telling; The Mermaid’s Child; and Offcomer.

Baker's new novel is The Midnight News.

At Lit Hub she tagged five top novels that "depict the [London] Blitz, and that whole era, without seeking to simplify or mythologize." One title on the list:
The Ministry of Fear, Graham Greene

There’s something at once seedy and epic about this novel—as one might expect from Graham Greene. Its protagonist is a damaged, morally compromised man, who stumbles into an intrigue and rises to its exigencies; it’s almost Hitchcockian in the ratcheting up of tension and unease (though the film was directed by Fritz Lang.) This is a cratered and carious London, where nothing is as it seems, and no-one can be trusted. The depiction of a bomb-blast—the impact, disorientation and devastation felt on a very immediate, physical level—is brilliant.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Six top novels about extra marital affairs

Jessica Hamilton was born in Australia but grew up in Canada. She has lived and worked in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, India and Japan. She studied writing at the Humber School for Writers as well as George Brown College. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, son, and daughter. Her debut novel is titled What You Never Knew.

Hamilton's new thriller is Don't You Dare.

[The Page 69 Test: Don't You Dare]

At CrimeReads she tagged six top novels about illicit marital affairs, including:
Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Even when a novel doesn’t centre solely around an affair, they make great subtexts, adding an extra layer of tension and emotion, revealing things about the characters who are being unfaithful and further complicating what may already be a very complicated situation. This is the case with this novel. At the heart of the story is a child who’s been missing for over a year. His already grieving mother is served a second painful blow when she finds out that her husband is having an affair. Now she’s fighting to find her child and save her marriage. Both story lines of Little Secrets keep the reader fully engaged and dying to find out how it will all end up—who will be saved and who will be sacrificed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Secrets is among Lisa Regan's ten riveting reads filled with shocking secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 22, 2023

Seven top books featuring very complicated friendships

Ore Agbaje-Williams is a British Nigerian writer and book editor from London.

The Three of Us is her first novel.

At LitHub she shared a reading list of "books featuring very, very complicated friendships to make you and your friends feel like the normal, stable people you undoubtedly are." One title on the list:
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

This is cheating—a little—because this book is technically about a couple, but when I read it, I felt their connection more through their friendship than their romance. They grow apart in the most beautiful and natural way, realizing that their desires have become different but allowing them to change and not break their relationship to each other entirely. It’s a melancholy—in the best way—reminder of what happens to our friendships as we deal with the ebbs and flows of life, and how much they can change us.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Exit West is among Gian Sardar's eight of the best novels about war-torn love, C Pam Zhang's top ten novels about moving and Helen Phillips's six notable novels involving alternate realities.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Nine top novels about infatuations that are all consuming

Hanna Halperin is the author of two novels, Something Wild and I Could Live Here Forever. Something Wild won the 2021 Edward Lewis Wallant Award and was a finalist for the 2021 National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction. Her stories have been published in The Kenyon Review, n+1, New Ohio Review, and Joyland. She has taught fiction workshops at GrubStreet in Boston and worked as a domestic violence counselor.

At Electric Lit Halperin tagged nine novels about characters looking to be transformed by sex or love, including:
Another Marvelous Thing by Laurie Colwin

In Another Marvelous Thing, Frank and Billie fall into an affair, while they’re both married to other people. Their love story is chronicled through eight interlinking stories, each told through a different point of view. Even though Frank and Billie are unfaithful, their current marriages aren’t loveless. But the relationship they find with each other—Frank is much older and more traditional than Billie—is tender, undeniable, and unusual. Frank says about Billy: “She is an absolute fact of my life…I conduct a mental life with her when we are apart. Thinking about her is like entering a secret room to which only I have access.” Laurie Colwin, who died in 1992, writes beautifully about people falling in love. One thing I love about this story is how gently it ends. Not all obsession leads to a crash. Sometimes people are just finding their way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Ten novels about the drama of working for the family business

Olivia Wolfgang-Smith is a Brooklyn-based author of fiction and creative nonfiction. Her debut novel is Glassworks.

Wolfgang-Smith’s writing has appeared in Salamander, Ninth Letter, The Common, and elsewhere. Her work has been longlisted for Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers and DIAGRAM’s Innovative Fiction Contest, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology. She earned her MFA at Florida State University, and originally hails from Rhode Island.

At Electric Lit Wolfgang-Smith tagged ten of the best novels about the drama of working for the family business, including:
True Biz by Sara Nović

Among much else, this novel set at the River Valley School for the Deaf is about what happens when the boundaries collapse between work (or activism) and family. February, the headmistress at River Valley, lives on campus with her wife—an arrangement under threat on multiple fronts, both professional and domestic. The chronic simmer of their work/life tension lends dignity to the parallel dormitory dramas of their adolescent charges. Then there are the dynamics of Austin’s family—legends at River Valley, with Austin fifth-generation Deaf on his mother’s side. Austin’s hearing father works as an ASL interpreter, slipping between practiced neutrality in his role as a professional communicator, and full-blown participation in the emotional conflicts of their family life—particularly now that Austin’s newborn baby sister has just sent shockwaves through the house by passing her first hearing test.
Read about the other entries on the list.

True Biz is among Alexandra Robbins's seven books with positive portrayals of educators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 19, 2023

Fifteen top books on the Vietnam war

George Black is the author of The Long Reckoning: A Story of War, Peace, and Redemption in Vietnam.

At LitHub he tagged six "foundational books" on the “Vietnam War,” then tagged a few more that "had an especially profound impact on my thinking as I wrote The Long Reckoning. One title on the list:
Vietnam-Perkasie: A Combat Marine Memoir by W.D. Ehrhart

There are many great memoirs of Vietnam by combat veterans, especially by Marines who had the misfortune to serve in I Corps, where much of my own book is set. But Erhart’s unsparing confessional of one Marine’s descent into hell is unique in the intensity of the moral questions it raises about what war does to young men. It shows how an ordinary 18-year-old from a small town in Pennsylvania could be transformed into someone who could gun down an unarmed old woman simply because she is wearing black pajamas and running away, or yuk it up with his buddies as they destroy an abandoned Buddhist temple just for the hell of it, or take his place in a line of Marines waiting for their turn with a starving woman trading her body for a can of C-rations. An unforgettable book by a man who went on to become the unrivaled poet of the war.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Top 10 strangest alien invasion novels

Nina Allan is a novelist and critic. Her novels have previously won the British Science Fiction Award, the Kitschies Red Tentacle and the Grand Prix de L'imaginaire. She has also been nominated as a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Hugo Award. Born in London, Nina now lives and works in Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute.

Allan's newest novel is Conquest.

At the Guardian she tagged she tagged ten favorite alien invasion novels "in which the divide between human and alien is not always clear cut." One title on the list:
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy charts the exploration of alien incursions in a remote, segregated area of wilderness that keeps expanding. The scientists who venture into Area X find it impossible to communicate the reality of their experiences there, a failure of language that makes the encounter all the more traumatic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Annihilation is among Martin MacInnes's top ten visionary books about scientists, John Searles's five novels set in abandoned places, Rin Chupeco's five top stories where nature does its best to kill you, and Nicholas Royle's ten top lighthouses in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Three dangerous affairs in literature

Zhanna Slor was born in Ukraine and moved to the Midwest in the early 1990s. Her debut novel, At the End of the World, Turn Left, was called "elegant and authentic" by NPR and named by Booklist as one of the "Top Ten Crime Debuts" of 2021. Her second novel, Breakfall, a domestic thriller surrounding a mysterious death at a close-knit Jiu Jitsu gym, came out last month.

At CrimeReads Slor tagged three novels "that explore the why’s and how’s of infidelity," including:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The literary gamut is filled with shamed women from across the ages; but Russian was my first language, so I can’t have a list about literary affairs without one of the most famous literary affairs—Tolstoy’s poor doomed heroine, Anna Karenina, who is so tormented by public humiliation she famously throws herself in front of a train. Set in late 19th-century Imperial Russia, Anna was rather doomed from the start, as it was not an easy time to be alive regardless of who she was bedding. (The same can be said for her French counterpart Madame Bovary, who poisons herself to death.) Here, too, Anna’s Count Alexei, who is at least equally responsible for the fallout of their relationship, manages to turn out just fine. One has to wonder why, across the centuries, only women are scorned for getting involved with the wrong guy. If it’s an issue of morality, then the man should get thrown under the bus too; and yet, generally, they’re not. Like Nietzsche once said, “fear is the mother of morality.” People fear what they don’t know or what they might not understand, and one of those things has always been female sexuality. Perhaps that’s why so many of the greatest novels featuring risqué behavior these days are written by women!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Anna Karenina also appears on Anna Orhanen's list of eleven of the very best literary evocations of winter, Cathy Rentzenbrink's top ten list of bookworms in fiction, Amanda Craig's list of ten of the best-dressed characters in fiction, Ceri Radford's list often of the finest literary romances ever told, Tessa Hadley's list of six favorite examinations of art in fiction, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite epic novels, Jane Corry's list of five of literature's more fearsome families, Neel Mukherjee's six favorite books list, Viv Groskop's top ten list of life lessons from Russian literature, Elizabeth Day's top ten list of parties in fiction, Grant Ginder's top ten list of the more loathsome people in literature, Louis De Berniéres's six best books list, Martin Seay's ten best long books list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten list of books about justice and redemption, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue