Friday, July 28, 2017

Five books about extreme worlds

Michael Johnston's new novel is Soleri.

One of the author's five favorite books about extreme worlds, as shared at
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

To grasp the significance of J.G. Ballard’s novel it’s important to remember that it was written in 1962 because it sounds like a novel that was written in the last few years. In fact, more than one book has been written in the last few years with a similar premise. The Drowned World was the first book I read in what I’ll call the “scientific expedition into an unknown world” genre. A kind of global warming has devastated the world. The polar ice caps are melted, flooding the northern hemisphere, transforming the land into something that resembles the Triassic period (now that’s extreme). But what’s truly great about The Drowned World is the way in which this transformation shapes and affects the characters. Our protagonist literally finds himself regressing into an earlier state, feeling more primitive and impulsive, devolved like his world. It’s a perfect of example of the interplay of character and environment and a keen commentary on the fragility of our society.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Drowned World is among Annalee Newitz's twelve 1960s science fiction novels everyone should read.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Seven YA books that reimagine existing cities

At the BN Teen blog Sarah Hannah Gómez tagged seven books that reimagine existing cities, including:

Remember how we learned in The True Meaning of Smekday that the reason Disney World is so clean is because there are two, and they flip over every night so that the other one can be cleaned? Imagine an upside down London, named UnLondon, that is twisty and…off. China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun takes its characters on an adventure that Alice would find quite familiar, and London denizens or visitors will identify reversed versions of the things they know. Want to stay in England a bit longer? V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series jumps between a bunch of parallel Londons.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten female detectives in fiction

Kristen Lepionka's new novel is The Last Place You Look.

One of her ten top female detectives in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Carlotta Carlyle
(Lie Down With the Devil, A Trouble of Fools and 10 other novels by Linda Barnes)

The tall, red-headed, half-Irish, half-Jewish, ex-cop, ex-cabbie Carlyle opens each mystery with a Yiddish proverb (courtesy of her bubbe) but make no mistake – there’s nothing cosy about this series. With a distinctive voice and a world fleshed out with a vivid supporting cast that includes a mafioso lover, an eccentric tenant-slash-assistant and an “adopted” Little Sister from the Big Sisters Association, this is one of my favourite mystery series.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sam Kean's 6 favorite surprising books

Sam Kean's books The Disappearing Spoon and The Violinist’s Thumb were national bestsellers, and both were named an Amazon “Top 5” science books of the year. The Disappearing Spoon was nominated by the Royal Society for one of the top science books of 2010, while both The Violinist’s Thumb and The Dueling Neurosurgeons were nominated for PEN’s literary science writing award.

Kean's new book is Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us.

One of the author's six favorite surprising books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary by Caspar Henderson

Imagine a medieval bestiary of whimsical creatures, but with a twist — the animals here really exist. The book moves alphabetically from axolotl to zebra fish, with a new delight on every page. It's a perfect reminder of what biologist J.B.S. Haldane once said: that the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Eight fictional beach reads for foodies

At B&N Reads Madina Papadopoulos tagged "eight works of fiction that are an escapist trip for both the heart and the stomach," including:
The Belly of Paris, by Emile Zola

Those who like hefty beach reads should reach for The Belly of Paris, which tells the tale of a wrongfully imprisoned Parisian man, Florent Quenu, who escapes his sentence and returns to Paris. But, as it is an ever changing city, the Paris he finds is not the Paris he left. He finds work in Les Halles, the city’s famous 19th-century food market, making the title both figurative and literal. As the tale unfolds, the protagonist gives detailed descriptions of food—lards, sausages, fish—and offers unforgettable descriptions in which he likens characters to cheese, such as a sick nobleman who resembles a piece of Roquefort.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 24, 2017

Eleven creepy books set in summer

At Bustle Emma Oulton tagged eleven "scorchingly scary novels set in the summer heat," including:
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

Helena was born in captivity, in the cabin where her teenage mother was held for years against her will by Helena's father, a man she loved and feared in equal parts throughout her childhood. Years later, Helena is free and living under a false name — until her father escapes from prison, drawing Helena into a scavenger hunt that only she can solve.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Six books about losing treasured stuffed animals

At the BN Kids Blog Erin Jones tagged six of the best books about losing treasured stuffed animals, including:
I Lost My Bear, by Jules Feiffer

Drama ensues when a little girl loses her bear. She cries, she whines, and she has no sympathy from her parents. Big sister encourages her to throw another stuffed animal to see where it lands and a slew of lost items are discovered. She gladly plays with these toys until bedtime, when she suddenly remembers that her beloved Bearsy is still missing. She scorns her mother for not helping her, continues howling, and when she gets into bed discovers her bear tucked between her sheets. This story will ring all too true for many parents out there!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven stone-cold classics about cycling

Bella Bathurst is a writer and photojournalist. Her books include The Lighthouse Stevensons, which won the 1999 Somerset Maugham Award, The Wreckers, which became a BBC Timewatch documentary, and The Bicycle Book, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011.

For the Guardian she tagged seven of the best books about cycling, including:
Dervla Murphy: Wheels Within Wheels

Less about cycling, more about puncture repair. Back in the 1950s, Murphy took her old steel-framed tourer and rode away from an almost unendurable situation at home. She went from Ireland to India, and in doing so wheeled herself back to life and to sanity.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Six YA novels with rich and real urban settings

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged six YA novels "that make particularly evocative use of their rich—and very real—urban settings," including:
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Although Thomas’s outstanding debut isn’t set in a named city, it deserves to be on this list, because it feels so viscerally real in its representation of neighborhoods and cities across the country. It could be New York, LA, Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta. The place where Starr grew up is crafted in great depth and detail, down to street names, stores, local eccentrics, rival gangs, while the upscale locations and exclusive school she attends are similarly detailed and specific. By avoiding any one specific place, Thomas gives us a city that could easily be (and probably is) the one we live in, which helps make this a true American city in a true American novel. Her powerful and grounded storytelling puts us right in the middle of the action, however (necessarily) uncomfortable it might make us feel. The most crucial of all YA city stories, right here.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 21, 2017

Five SFF books written collaboratively

Andrew Neil Gray and J. S. Herbison are partners in life as well as in writing. The Ghost Line is their first fiction collaboration. One of their five best SFF books written collaboratively, as shared at
The Difference Engine by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson

What happens when two masters of the cyberpunk genre put their heads together? Surprisingly, not more cyberpunk. Instead, what emerged was this unusual novel that posited an alternate version of Victorian England. Here, experiments by Charles Babbage resulted in a successful early mechanical computer and a very different industrial revolution. Starring airships, spies, courtesans and even Ada Lovelace, the dense and complex story revolves around the search for a set of powerful computer punch cards.

Sound familiar? Not surprising: this collaboration helped bring the relatively obscure steampunk genre to wider popular notice and launched a thousand steam-powered airships and clockwork monsters.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six robots too smart for their own good

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged six robots too smart for their own good, including:
Murderbot (All Systems Red, by Martha Wells)

Despite its chosen appellation, Murderbot is not actually a mass-murdering mechanical psychopath. No, it’s a security bot with a binge-watching addiction and a wit as dry as the Sahara. Who among us, after deftly hacking our governor modules, wouldn’t use our newfound freedom to endlessly stream soap operas? That’s the biggest evidence of sentience there is. That Murderbot holds humans at arm’s length—and would frankly prefer to be left alone—doesn’t stop it from protecting the humans in its charge when a threat strikes their scientific research outpost. It just makes their interactions awkward and complex in ways no episode of Sanctuary Moon could quite capture.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Top ten opening scenes in books

Catherine Lacey's most recent novel is The Answers.

One of her ten top opening scenes in books, as shared at The Guardian:
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

“We are on our way to Budapest. Bastard and Chipo and Godknows and Sbho and Stina and me. We are going even though we are not allowed to cross Mizilikazi Road, even though Bastard is supposed to be watching his sister Fraction, even though Mother would kill me dead if she found out; we are just going.”

All I thought when I read this was, I’m going too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue