Monday, February 6, 2023

Five top Australian thrillers & mysteries

Jane Harper is the New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature, The Lost Man, and The Survivors.

Exiles is her fifth novel.

Harper previously worked as a print journalist in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her husband, daughter, and son.

At the Waterstones blog she tagged five favorite mysteries that make the most of the sheer danger and diversity of Australia. One title on her list:
The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

If you haven’t discovered Sally Hepworth’s deliciously fun and twisty reads, take this as your sign to pick one up and devour it immediately. Set in an affluent bayside suburb of Melbourne, two sisters try to unpick truth from lie when their father marries a woman much closer to their age than his. It’s a complete page-turner in the purest sense and Sally expertly leads us on a dance that just doesn’t let go. Daily life with a dark edge, it’s no surprise that Sally’s style has made her a firm favourite among Australian readers. I also highly recommend pre-ordering her latest novel, The Soulmate, which hits shelves in the UK in April and sees a family swept up with big secrets when they buy a cliff-top house near a notorious suicide spot. Unputdownable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Younger Wife is among Kimberly Belle's four top thrillers with maximum escapism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Seven stories about goblins & tricksters

Nzinga Temu is a writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Howard University. During her undergraduate studies she has written for Zenger News and Picture This Post.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven top stories about goblins and tricksters, including:
Goblin Market by Diane Zahler

Christina Georgina Rossetti’s 1862 poem by the same name, Goblin Market was a caution to young ladies against pretty and mysterious men who bear gifts. Zahler’s modern retelling follows a similar vein, with two sisters, Lizzie and Minka, caught in a shapeshifting goblin’s snare. Minka is outgoing and cheerful, while Lizzie is quiet and pensive. Minka returns from the market savoring a plum she received from a handsome boy, and announcing she is in love. Lizzie is immediately suspicious, plums are not in season. Lizzie is too shy to go to the market herself to investigate, so she keeps her peace. But Minka soon falls ill from eating another of this mysterious boy’s fruit—a pomegranate. Lizzie is forced out of her shell to save her sister, and must keeps her wits sharp so she doesn’t fall into the goblin’s snare herself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Five books with first-rate worldbuilding

Jean Louise grew up with her mother and two sisters in an old Victorian house on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. Although she always loved making up stories, the idea of becoming a YA fantasy author wasn’t anything she’d ever considered until she was in her twenties. Her first short story was a romance novel parody that ended up being a hit among her friends. After that success, she started writing seriously, which led to her earning an MFA in Writing for Children at The New School.

Currently, she lives in Long Island, New York, with her cat Martha. When she’s not working at her day job or writing her next novel, Louise can be found with her nose buried in a graphic novel or taking down bad guys in her favorite video games.

Her new novel is Waking Fire.

[The Page 69 Test: Waking Fire]

At Shepherd Louise tagged five of the best books that transport you to another time and place, including:
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

When I first read Fingersmith, I was so impressed that a contemporary author had written a book so rooted in the aesthetics of the Victorian time period that I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Waters had been transported from Victorian England to the present via a time machine. Everything about the book feels authentic, from the language and writing style that seems to be ripped straight from the pages of a book published in the 1800s, to the characters themselves who come across as darker, more mature versions of characters from Dickens’ novels. Fingersmith is worldbuilding at its finest and a must for anyone interested in historical fiction, Victoriana, scheming, devious, sly, and cunning characters, and the most shocking plot twist of the 19th and 21st centuries.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fingersmith is among Jenni Murray's six best books about history’s forgotten women, Santa Montefiore's six best books, Stuart Jeffries's five sexiest scenes in literature, and Kirsty Logan's ten best LGBT sex scenes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 3, 2023

Top 10 imaginary journeys in literature

Christy Edwall was born in South Africa in 1985. She has a doctorate in English Literature from Oxford, and her writing has appeared in, Stinging Fly, the Southern Review, and the Times Literary Supplement. She lives in Brighton.

Edwall's new novel is History Keeps Me Awake at Night.

At the Guardian she tagged ten top imaginary journeys in literature, including:
A Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf

For Rachel Vinrace, the protagonist of Woolf’s first novel, the reality of South America is deadly. Having accompanied her aunt and uncle on the Euphrosyne to an unnamed South American country – with a cameo by Clarissa Dalloway en route – Rachel’s voyage is metaphorical as much as it is existential. When the English travellers arrive at their destination, the landscape of this South American country is generically tropical – hot afternoons, burning suns, lurking fevers – the sort of landscape you might cobble together from books. The subject is empire: Woolf imagines the “Elizabethan barques” which had anchored where the “Euphrosyne now floated”. The interior is full of “Indians with subtle poisons” and the coasts with “vengeful Spaniards and rapacious Portuguese”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Seven novels about Black characters in the 1800s

Kai Thomas is a writer, carpenter, and land steward. He is Afro-Canadian, born and raised in Ottawa, descended from Trinidad and the British Isles.

In the Upper Country is his first novel.

At Electric Lit he tagged "seven other novels about Black folks in the 1800s, and a few words about the unique and astounding ways the authors bring their stories to life." One title on the list:
Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Atakora offers a fascinating closeup on the worlds of midwifery and conjure before and after Emancipation. Conjure Women is set in a remote and isolated Southern plantation that brims with a dark, gothic mood.

Infectious illness is a central theme of the book, and this deepens the haunting atmosphere. I had a double-take when I saw it was written pre-2020; it has a prophetic quality in that respect. Reading Conjure Women from the era of Covid, one feels a profound bond with the characters as they contend with the emotional effects of social isolation and the ways that illness can infect not only individuals’ bodies but whole communities. Atakora writes with luscious prose and calm pacing, oscillating back and forth in time to deliver an ethereal, vivid tale.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Five YA SFF titles featuring crews you’ll want to join

Shannon Dittemore is an author, speaker, and contributor to the blog Go Teen Writers, which was one of Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. When she's not at her desk, she can be found in the wilds of Northern California, adventuring with her husband, their two children, and a husky named Leonidas.

Dittemore's new book is Rebel, Brave and Brutal.

At she tagged five YA SFF books featuring crews you’ll want to join, including:
Heist Society by Ally Carter

This book is a delight from the first word. Heist Society is Oceans 11 for the YA crowd, but that description doesn’t begin to do it justice. Not only does Ally Carter know how to set up a heist (and does she!), she also excels at those interpersonal dynamics that make crews so much fun to watch. And she does it with heart.

The leader of this crew is Katarina Bishop, the daughter of a thief currently wanted for the burglary of a mobster’s art collection. When her best friend, W.W. Hale the Fifth–blossoming thief, heir to a fortune, and all around dreamy guy–springs her from boarding school, she knows she has to steal the collection back, if only to clear her father’s name.

Luckily for Kat, her family has no shortage of criminals willing to help. Together with Hale and a pickpocket named Nick, Kat and her cousins–the Bagshaw brothers who are masters of disguise, and annoyingly beautiful Gabrielle possessing a gift for distraction–put all their skills to work, and it’s just a blast to read. And also a little high class, made me feel like I should steal some fancy artwork for my walls. If I had the skills, I’d steal the crown jewels to join this crew. Only, Kat’s uncle Eddie has already done that, so…
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Ten top books for teens by indigenous authors

Angeline Boulley, an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a storyteller who writes about her Ojibwe community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She is a former Director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Boulley lives in southwest Michigan, but her home will always be on Sugar Island. Firekeeper's Daughter is her debut novel.

Boulley's second novel, Warrior Girl Unearthed, is due in May.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten "must-read books that set the bar for representing Indigenous characters authentically." One title on the list:
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

When her boyfriend makes disparaging remarks about Native Americans, Muscogee teen Lou dumps his insensitive ass. The budding journalist regroups quickly and focuses on her high school newspaper. When a group of parents form Parents Against Revisionist Theater to protest the racially diverse casting decisions in the school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, Lou and fellow staffer Joey cover the big story. Sparks ensue. Leitich Smith’s story about first loves, missteps, and lessons learned is a delight.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 30, 2023

Eight titles with happy endings to brighten dark January days

Eva Carter is the author of How to Save a Life. Carter is a pseudonym for internationally bestselling nonfiction and rom-com writer Kate Harrison, who worked as a BBC reporter before becoming an author. She lives in Brighton on the English coast and loves Grey’s Anatomy and walking her own scruffy terrier, who regularly volunteers as a therapy dog at the local hospital.

Carter's new novel is Owner of a Lonely Heart.

At Lit Hub she tagged eight books with happy endings to brighten up dark January days. One title on the list:
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Talking of nostalgia, your childhood favorite must feature somewhere on the January shelf. This is mine. If you like Brit Lit, and haven’t discovered Noel Streatfeild, dive into the irresistible story of Pauline, Petrova and Posy, the talented young Fossil sisters…
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ballet Shoes is among Joanna Quinn's six top books set in & around the theatrical world.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Seven acts of betrayal in literature

Gabrielle Bates is the author of Judas Goat (2023), named by Vulture and the Chicago Review of Books as a "must-read" book of 2023. A Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship finalist, her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Ploughshares, and American Poetry Review, among other journals and anthologies.

At Electric Lit Bates tagged seven "titles [that] contend with the ugly facts of betrayal as a way to investigate, ultimately, what it means to be human, and what it means to love." One entry on the list:
The Sellout by Paul Beatty

In the frame story of this Booker Prize–winning novel, an African American man named Bonbon is standing trial for his attempt to restore slavery and segregation to the fictional town of Dickens, California, and the rest of the novel recounts how he got in this bizarre situation. Thought-provoking, darkly comic, and compulsively readable, the betrayals in this book are many and multilayered: the betrayal of a son by his father in the name of sociological experimentation and the betrayal of Black people by the United States, historically and today, just to name two.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Sellout is among Stephanie Soileau's nine books about homesickness for a place that doesn’t exist anymore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Five mysteries & thrillers about returning to your hometown

Kate Alice Marshall is the author of multiple novels for younger readers. She lives outside of Seattle with her husband, a dog named Vonnegut, and her two kids.

What Lies in the Woods is her thriller debut.

At CrimeReads Marshall tagged five top mysteries and thrillers about returning to your hometown, including:
The Shadows – Alex North

Paul Adams hasn’t been back to his hometown in many years—after all, it was there that two of his friends murdered another in a bizarre, ritualistic killing they claimed was in service of an entity called Red Hands that dwells in dreams. One of the boys responsible was arrested, but the other, Charlie Crabtree, vanished without a trace. Now, with his mother in hospice, Paul returns only to discover that another pair of boys have committed a nearly identical murder. Faced with the prospect that Charlie somehow escaped to inspire a new generation, Paul begins to dig into the past to discover where Charlie went that after bloody day.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 27, 2023

Ten top works in American Indian history

Ned Blackhawk (Western Shoshone) is the Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University, where he is the faculty coordinator for the Yale Group for the Study of Native America. He is the author of Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West.

Blackhawk's forthcoming book is The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History.

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten essential works in American Indian history, including:
Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's War by Lisa Brooks

Brook's account challenges the most storied (and studied) of all English colonies: Puritan New England. Tracing the lives of Indigenous leaders—most notably Weetamoo (Wampanaog) and James Printer (Nipmuc)—throughout the 17th century, Brooks uncovers an astonishing degree of cultural continuity in Northeastern Native kinship systems, gender relations, and land-use patterns. Deploying a rich archive and understanding of Algonquian placenames, she re-writes the familiar teleology of Puritan expansion and Indigenous decline, revealing how even after the cataclysmic revolution brought by King Philip’s War, Indigenous diplomacy, confederations, and survival characterized the Native Northeast.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Top 10 novels about office jobs

Caroline Corcoran’s first novel, Through The Wall, came out in October 2019. It was a Sunday Times top 20 bestseller and translated into numerous foreign languages. Her second book, The Baby Group, published in September 2020.

As well as writing books, Corcoran is a freelance lifestyle and popular culture journalist who has written and edited for most of the top magazines, newspapers and websites in the UK.

Her newest novel is What Happened on Floor 34?.

At the Guardian Corcoran tagged ten books that put "the workplace front and central to the action." One title on the list:
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

Offices are places where great comedy can be found. Booker-shortlisted Joshua Ferris pins this humour down in this character-driven novel with a huge cast of eccentric characters; it is in equal turn tender and tragic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Then We Came to the End is on Jonathan Lee's list of the ten best office dramas and Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on unemployment.

--Marshal Zeringue