Saturday, October 31, 2015

Five books containing traces of witches

At Angela Slatter, author of dark fantasy and horror, tagged five books containing well-crafted witches, including:
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (2012, Allen & Unwin)

Australia’s Margo Lanagan is no stranger to weaving spells (although she’ll claim they’re only ‘words’) and her Misskaella Prout in Sea Hearts is a witch of a very particular stripe. Stout and strange-featured, it seems she’s got some selkie blood in her veins and this gives her power over the women of the sea, those who live in the bodies of seals. She’s not well-treated, our Misskaella, and when the men of Rollrock Island come to her looking for wives who are more obedient and biddable, she finds a way to get her own back, though it’s a long and terrible game she plays.

After she draws the selkie-wives from the waters, they live on the land as spouses and mothers, docile and unhappy, wanting only to return to the oceans. The human women flee the island, leaving the men, their magical wives, and sons brought up on the milk of their mothers’ misery. Misskaella has had her own tragedies, her own agonies, and it’s made her not a little spiteful, which we can perhaps understand, but the consequences of her actions are more far-reaching and destructive than she could have foreseen … or perhaps not.

Told from six points of view, the much-awarded Sea Hearts is a powerful examination of relationships between men and women, men and men, women and women, and parents and children, viewed through the lenses of sorcery, selkies and the sea. It’s Lanagan at her incisive, wicked, witchy best.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 30, 2015

Top ten haunted houses in fiction

Claire Barker is the author of Knitbone Pepper: Ghost Dog. One of her top ten haunted houses in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Helton Hall in Dial-a-Ghost by Eva Ibbotson

What if you are a home-loving spirit, but you have lost the house you were supposed to haunt? A family of five, the Wilkinsons die after a second world war bomb falls on their house. Now of no fixed abode, these ghosts meet two elderly sisters who run a charity for displaced ghosts. Before long the kindly Wilkinsons are relocated to Helton Hall…but there’s been something of a mix-up. A witty, ghoulish comedy of errors.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: The seven best haunted house books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten scariest gothic romances

At LitReactor Meredith Borders tagged ten of the scariest gothic romances. One title on the list:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)

Brontë’s novel follows plain Jane, orphaned and unloved, as she accepts a governess position for the mysterious Mr. Rochester of Thornfield Hall. As Jane and Rochester grow close despite their disparate stations, mysterious acts of violence begin to afflict the household, and Jane hears screams of annihilating hatred every night.

What’s so scary about it?

Brontë made the most of the mad woman in the attic, a frenzied lunatic who will stop at nothing to ruin Rochester and Jane’s happiness. (Because she's Rochester's real wife, but let's gloss over that part, shall we?)

The most gothic line:

This was a demoniac laugh—low, suppressed, and deep—uttered, as it seemed, at the very keyhole of my chamber door. The head of my bed was near the door, and I thought at first the goblin-laugher stood at my bedside—or rather, crouched by my pillow: but I rose, looked round, and could see nothing; while, as I still gazed, the unnatural sound was reiterated: and I knew it came from behind the panels. My first impulse was to rise and fasten the bolt; my next, again to cry out, “Who is there?”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Top ten memorable meals in literature

Diana Secker Tesdell is the editor of the Everyman’s Pocket Classic anthology Stories from the Kitchen. One of her ten most memorable meals in literature, as shared at the Guardian:
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
If I had it to do over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma. But Betty said bring a key lime pie, so I did.
This bitingly funny novel about the breakup of a marriage is narrated by Rachel, who writes cookbooks for a living. For my anthology, I selected a section in which Rachel muses about the relationship between potatoes and love. But for an account of a memorable meal, I would instead direct the reader to an indelible scene late in the novel, when Rachel finally gets up the nerve to confront her philandering husband – in the middle of a dinner party. Her revenge is satisfyingly accompanied by her recipe for key lime pie.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Heartburn is among Anna Murphy's top ten lesser-known literary heroines.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ten wickedly great books about witches

One title on Entertainment Weekly's list of ten wickedly great books about witches:
The Magicians, Lev Grossman

Magic can do a lot of things. It can summon beasts, cast illusions, and make objects vanish. But it can’t cure the malaise of young adulthood, as Grossman’s wizards and witches-in-training discover here.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Magicians is among Jason Diamond's top fifty books that define the past five years in literature and Joel Cunningham's eight great books for fans of Donna Tartt's The Secret History.

The Page 69 Test: The Magicians.

Also see: nine of the best witches in literature and seven of the best bad witches in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Five books about awful, awful people

Richard Kadrey is the author of many stories and novels, including the Sandman Slim series. At he tagged five books about awful, awful people, including:
Judge Holden in Blood Meridian

I’ve saved the biggest, most awful character for last. If there’s a truer monster than Holden in modern American literature, I don’t know who it is. The judge isn’t the protagonist of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, but he is unquestionably the central character. And while not technically fantasy, this surreal tale of mid-nineteenth century marauders and scalp hunters along the Mexican border takes place in as complex and richly self-contained world as anything conjured up by, for instance, Tolkien. You could describe Blood Meridian as a western, but by its language and imagery it’s a western written by a mad and vengeful Old Testament God. Over the course of the book, the judge murders, rapes, leads hideous raids on bands of Indians and towns, and collects scalps as trophies. Judge Holden is up there with Ahab in terms of obsession, but instead of a white whale, what the judge is seeking is horror itself. He is the personification of endless, mad violence. It’s hinted that the judge might not even be quite human. His strength is phenomenal. His appetites and knowledge are boundless. Near the end of the book we see him dancing in a saloon, “He dances in light and shadow and he is a great favorite. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.”
Read about the other books on the list.

Blood Meridian is one authority's pick for the Great Texas novel; it is among Jason Sizemore's top five books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, Robert Allison's top ten novels of desert war, Alexandra Silverman's top fourteen wrathful stories, James Franco's six favorite books, Philipp Meyer's five best books that explain America, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, David Vann's six favorite books, Robert Olmstead's six favorite books, Michael Crummey's top ten literary feuds, Philip Connors's top ten wilderness books, six books that made a difference to Kazuo Ishiguro, Clive Sinclair's top 10 westerns, Maile Meloy's six best books, and David Foster Wallace's five direly underappreciated post-1960 U.S. novels. It appears on the New York Times list of the best American fiction of the last 25 years and among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 26, 2015

Adrian Tomine's six favorite graphic short story collections

Cartoonist Adrian Tomine has just published Killing and Dying, a new collection of graphic short stories. One of his six favorite graphic short story collections, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Girl From H.O.P.P.E.R.S. by Jaime Hernandez

These beautifully drawn stories feature some of the most believable, diverse, and indelible characters in the history of comics. "The Return of Ray D." and "Spring 1982" changed my life, and are still among my favorite short stories in any medium.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top heart-pounding YA hostage stories

Rachel Paxton-Gillilan is a freelance writer and semi-professional nerd.

At the B & N Teen Blog she tagged six "of the most suspenseful and chilling young adult hostage books around," including:
This Is Not a Drill, by Beck McDowell

This Is Not a Drill perfectly captures the terror, confusion, and tension of two high school seniors who find themselves involved in a hostage situation. Emery and Jake are tutoring a class of first-graders when a gunman with PTSD bursts in, demanding custody of his son. Somehow the teens, who used to date, must calm the children and try to get help. Told through the two leads’ alternating perspectives, the story examines the subject of mental illness and gun violence in a balanced way. It’s a scary premise, and, unfortunately, a story ripped from the headlines.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Five of the best Southern gothic books

At B & N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five of the best Southern gothic books, including:
Provinces of Night, by William Gay

William Gay was a brilliant writer from Tennessee who served in Vietnam, worked as a carpenter, house painter, and drywall hanger, and didn’t publish any of his fiction until he was 58 years old, even though he’d been working on his craft since he was a teenager. In Provinces of Night, it’s 1952 and Boyd Bloodworth’s wife runs off to Detroit with a salesman, leaving him and his teenage son to fend for themselves in a ramshackle house in the Tennessee countryside. Colorful characters, occult curses, and crazy family escapades ensue. James Franco has announced he’ll direct and produce a film version of Gay’s The Long Home, hopefully winning more readers for the terrific writer, who died in 2012.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Three of the best books about Somalia

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Somalia. One title on the list:
The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed

On the eve of the civil war in the late 1980s, two women and a girl in Hargeisa, north-western Somalia, find themselves caught up in the turbulence as their lives intersect.

In this story of conflict and survival, events unfold through the eyes of Deqo, a nine-year-old orphan born and raised in a refugee camp, who ran away and is now cared for by prostitutes; Kawsar, an elderly, grieving widow bedridden after being beaten at a police station; and Filsan, a zealous young soldier from Mogadishu, here to help suppress the growing rebellion against the dictatorship. All three are wrestling with memories of lost loved ones.

In a chapter on each revealing their past, Mohamed sensitively builds her cast of strong, self-empowered female characters.

As the revolt grows and the army moves "not just to black out the city but to silence it", the civil war's first "orgy of violence [is] enacted". But amid the harrowing events taking place, the author inserts a ray of hope.

Mohamed succeeds in achieving her stated goal of "[elucidating] Somali history for a wider audience". The author, born in Hargeisa (now in Somaliland), came to Britain with her family aged five – a temporary move made permanent by the civil war.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten transgender books

Juliet Jacques is a freelance writer who covers gender, sexuality, literature, film and football. One of her top ten transgender books, as shared at the Guardian:
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock (2014)

After coming out as transsexual in an article for Marie Claire, journalist Janet Mock became a passionate advocate for trans people, particularly those of colour. In Redefining Realness – named after Jennie Livingston’s documentary Paris is Burning – Mock hooks plenty of information about trans healthcare, communities and culture onto a personal narrative. This explains how her gender identity was policed and how she did sex work to fund surgery – and why she felt compelled to tell her story in the way she did.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 23, 2015

Top ten books about adoption

The UK-based Coram children’s charity collected ten top books about adoption, all suggested and reviewed by adopted children and teens, including:
Charlie and Lola: I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

Classic picture book about siblings Charlie and Lola which has also been made into a popular animated TV series.

“I read this from when I was about three and a half to five. I could see myself and my brother being the characters. It was funny with interesting concepts, Charlie convinces his sister in an interesting and imaginative way. ALL kids should read this.” - Gemma, 19
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Seven top YA reads that explore love from the wrong side of the tracks

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. For the B & N Teen Blog she tagged seven top YA books that explore love from the wrong side of the tracks, including:
Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles

Brittany Ellis is perfect: blonde, beautiful, rich, and popular, she seems to have it all. But it’s a façade—she’s hiding a dark, painful secret about her family, one she can’t share with anyone. Alex Fuentes is Fairfield High’s resident badass. A gang member whose dad was murdered, he’s trying his best for his family, but his pals and ex Carmen don’t make it easy. When Brittany and Alex are paired up as lab partners in chemistry class, the whole thing should implode. Instead, they find themselves exploring an undeniable attraction. Race, class, culture, and politics all come into play in this cross-cultural romance, the first in a bestselling trilogy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The eight most influential literary spouses

At B & N Reads Monique Alice tagged the eight most influential literary spouses, including:
Sofia Tolstoy

When Sofia Behrs wed the 34-year-old Leo Tolstoy, she was just 18 years old. The couple would weather 48 years together, and they weren’t always the happiest. In Sofia’s later published diaries, she talks often of her husband’s lack of emotion toward her, as well as his willingness to leave the household and childrearing grunt work in her hands. In addition to her more mundane tasks, Sofia endlessly transcribed Tolstoy’s writing—and consistently said she was awestruck by her husband’s brilliance. Despite her grievances about his shortfalls as a husband and father, the wife of the man who wrote Anna Karenina remained truly dedicated to Tolstoy’s work until nearly a decade after his passing in 1910.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ten top YA reads that tackle the trials & tribulations of fame

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of ten YA reads that tackle the trials and tribulations of fame that he tagged at the B&N Teen blog:
This is What Happy Looks Like, by Jennifer E. Smith

It’s funny, how a simple mistake can lead to something wonderful. Such is the case with Smith’s This Is What Happy Looks Like, in which teen movie star Graham accidentally emails small-town girl Ellie, and they end up talking about everything. Well, everything but who they actually are. When fate tosses them another surprise, that Graham’s next film shoot is in Ellie’s town, the two decide to meet. But can this actually work out? And what have they been hiding from one another that they haven’t dished out in their long emails?
Read about the other entries on the list.

This is What Happy Looks Like is one of Riki Cleveland's top six novels featuring teens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 19, 2015

Geraldine Brooks' six favorite works of historical fiction

Geraldine Brooks's latest work of historical fiction is The Secret Chord, the story of the Bible's King David retold by his closest adviser. One of the author's six favorite works of historical fiction as shared at The Week magazine:
Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Naslund builds Moby-Dick's scant references to Captain Ahab's young, unnamed bride into a textured story of a woman remarkable enough to have attracted such a man. Una, intellectual, brave, and ardent, is drawn into the roiling movements of antebellum America — transcendentalism, abolitionism, feminism. Her story is formidable enough to stand near Melville's classic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Seven YAs that look at life through a camera lens

At the B&N Teen Blog Natalie Zutter tagged seven Young Adult books that look at life through a camera lens, including:
The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen, by Katherine Howe

A camera is part of the meet-cute in Howe’s novel, jumping between a modern-day ghost story and the 1800s-set mystery that created said ghost. Aspiring filmmaker Wes, in a summer program at NYU, meets the ethereal Annie while filming a séance in the East Village. At first he only sees her through his camera; it’s when he meets her again, in real life, that a mystery told on dual timelines starts to emerge. Complicating matters is Maddie, the equally alluring, flesh-and-blood girl Wes also meets at the séance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen is among Melissa Albert's top twenty scary stories for teens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The ten best science fiction books

Ann Leckie is the author of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Award winning novel Ancillary Justice and the novels that followed, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy. One title from her list of the ten best science fiction books she tagged for Publishers Weekly:
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The "science" in "science fiction" isn't just physics and engineering. It can also be linguistics, anthropology, and psychology. This is the story of Genly Ai, a man sent to talk the inhabitants of the planet Gethen into joining the interstellar civilization he represents. The genderless nature of the Gethenians is probably the most famous aspect of this book, but it is hardly the only notable thing about it. The cultures are carefully drawn, and there's a reason everyone who reads it remembers Genly and Estraven's desperate flight across the ice.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Left Hand of Darkness is among Esther Inglis-Arkell's ten most unfilmable books, Jeff Somers's top five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways, Joel Cunningham's top twelve books with the most irresistible titles, Damien Walter's top five science fiction novels for people who hate sci-fi and Ian Marchant's top 10 books of the night. Charlie Jane Anders included it on her list of ten science fiction novels that will never be movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 16, 2015

Top ten books that explore pioneer life

Lucy Inglis is a historian and novelist. One of her ten favorite books that explore pioneer life, as shared at the Guardian:
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Or to give its full title: The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pyrates. Crusoe is the original pioneer story, and is as much about what the wilderness teaches us about ourselves as it is about survival. A classic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Robinson Crusoe is among Alan Gurganus's six favorite books with sympathetic characters in dangerous settings, ten great books about hurricanes, and Bear Grylls's top ten stories of survival and bravery.

The Page 99 Test: Robinson Crusoe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Top ten books about Zimbabwe

Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer with law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University and the University of Zimbabwe. Her books include the story collection An Elegy for Easterly and the novel The Book of Memory. One of her top ten books about Zimbabwe, as shared at the Guardian:
Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera (1998)

Set in the Bulawayo township of Makokoba in the 1940s, this is the story of the doomed May-December love affair between Fumbatha, a construction worker, and the much younger Phephelaphi who dreams of being a nurse. A brutal event separates the couple. Vera’s prose can be elliptical – the horrors that befall the couple are described with such lyrical beauty that they are not always fully felt by the reader – but no other writer has so powerfully captured the many faces of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second-largest, and loveliest, city.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten Russian novels to read before you die

Andrew D. Kaufman is Russian literature scholar at the University of Virginia and the author of Give War and Peace a Chance: Tolstoyan Wisdom for Troubled Times. One title on his list of ten Russian novels to read before you die, as shared at The Daily Beast:
The Funeral Party (2002) by Lyudmila Ulitskaya

This English-language debut of one of contemporary Russia’s most important novelists describes the bizarre and touching interactions among a colorful cast of Russian émigrés living in New York who attend the deathbed of Alik, a failed, but well-liked painter. At once quirky and trenchant, The Funeral Party explores two of the biggest “accursed questions” of Russian literature—How to live? How to die?—as they play out in a tiny, muggy Manhattan apartment in the early ’90s.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Five top YA pirate novels

At the B & N Teen Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged five top YA pirate novels, including:
The Assassin’s Curse, by Cassandra Rose Clarke

There’s a romantic pirate in all of us. Ananna runs away after being engaged to a member of another pirate gang, and her would-be groom’s family sends an assassin after her. But a magical mishap ends up binding Ananna and her assassin, Naji, together, and now the two must work to break the curse. Unsurprisingly, luuuuurve ensues
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Top ten pirate books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Twenty of the best sci-fi romance novels

Corrina Lawson tagged twenty top books that offer a perfect blend of sci-fi and romance at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, including:
Captive, by K.M. Fawcett

This book is like a gender-flipped John Carter, with Addy Dawson being transported to a far away world where aliens use humans for sport and entertainment, and she must escape with the help of a longtime slave gladiator across a hostile world. SF more than romance, a great adventure story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 12, 2015

Five top marriage thrillers

At B & N Reads Ellen Wehle tagged five top marriage thrillers, including:
You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz

As a therapist with a thriving practice and a superstar doctor husband, Grace would seem to have it all. Certainly she thinks so: she’s just written a self-help book that tells women in bad marriages they have only themselves to blame. Lousy husbands leave plenty of clues, she scolds, so why weren’t you paying attention? But poor smug Grace is riding for a fall. Jonathan, the superstar doctor, often works all night, too busy helping sick kids to come home. Then Grace runs into one of his colleagues from the hospital, and with a single cheery question—“Hey, what’s Jonathan been up to?”—she realizes her husband has secrets of his own…
Read about the other entries on the list.

You Should Have Known is among Siân Ranscombe's top six domestic chillers for fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and Ellen Wehle's top seven reads for the seven deadly sins.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Six compelling YA examinations of faith

One title on Dahlia Adler's list of six compelling YA examinations of faith, as shared on the B & N Teen Blog:
Conviction, by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Braden Raynor has had two constants in his life: baseball and his father, a Christian radio show host who’s just been arrested for the vehicular manslaughter of a police officer. With the latter awaiting trial, Braden is put in the custody of his estranged older brother, Trey, who would just as soon see their father fry. But Braden’s feelings are nowhere near as clear-cut, and as the facts of both their lives and the night of the officer’s death unfold, leading up to Braden’s testimony, his head, heart, loyalty, faith, and future are all put to the test. Incredibly thoughtful, compelling, honest, and complex, this is hands-down one of the best debuts I’ve read this year.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The ten best LGBT sex scenes in literature

Kirsty Logan is a writer of fiction and journalism. Her books are The Gracekeepers and The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales. One of her ten best LGBT sex scenes in literature, as shared at the Guardian:
Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith

You can’t go wrong with Ali Smith. This genderfluid novel is a retelling of Ovid’s myth of Iphis, a biological girl raised male. The beautiful Ianthe later falls in love with Iphis, who is transformed by the gods into a man so that they can marry. Smith’s version tells the love story of Robin and Anthea, and there are many wonderful love scenes in the book, which sets out its themes right from the first line: “Let me tell you about when I was a girl, our grandfather says…”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sophie Ward's six best books

Sophie Ward is an English actress best known for Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), Wuthering Heights (1992) and Jane Eyre (2011). One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

These are beautifully written interlinked short stories set in a small rural community in Maine, USA. Olive is a cantankerous but charismatic retired teacher and it’s lovely to meet a character who is interesting but not easy to love.
Read about the other books on the list.

Olive Kitteridge is one of Laura Barnett's top nine unconventional love stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top sci-fi books about climate change

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and We Are Not Good People from Pocket/Gallery. He has published over thirty short stories as well. One of Somers's top six science fiction books about our climate changed future, as shared at the B & N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Loosed Upon the World, by John Joseph Adams

Think of this collection as a Climate Fiction (Cli-Fi) primer, containing a broad selection of stories by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Seanan McGuire (among many others). Each offers a new vision of the world After the Fall, with each author imagining a different way the ecological disaster could happen, and the different ways the world might react. Running the gamut from bleak and horrifying to optimistic and hopeful, this anthology reminds us that while we’re certain things are changing, no one really knows how, or how it will all play out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: ten top climate change fiction books for young readers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Christian Rudder's six favorite books

Christian Rudder is a co-founder of the dating site OkCupid and the company's former president. His recent book is Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race, and Identity--What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves. For The Week magazine Rudder named his six favorite books, including:
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

I never went to grad school, and Amis' novel about an underachieving medieval history lecturer at a second-rate English university confirmed me in that decision. Jim Dixon also helped me discover the magic satisfaction of imagining pushing peas up people's noses.
Read about the other books on the list.

Lucky Jim also appears on Jess Dukes's top ten list of brain-expanding books for the college-bound teen, Andy Borowitz's list of five top comic novels, Sean O'Hagan's list of the ten best fictional hangovers, Roger Rosenblatt's list of the five best satires of academic life, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best lectures in literature, ten of the best professors in literature, and ten of the best beards in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Seven awesome YAs based on lesser-known fairytales

At the B & N Teen Blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged seven of the best YAs based on lesser-known fairytales, including:
Goose Chase by Patrice Kindl

[G]et ready for a hilarious take on the “Goose Girl” fairy tale that will totally win you over. Alexandria Aurora Fortunato is just a poor goose girl, but when a completely unhelpful mysterious old woman gifts her hair that sheds gold dust and tears that turn to diamonds, she’s suddenly the most sought-after maiden in the land. Locked up by two suitors until she chooses between them, Alexandria escapes with the help of her geese, only to find herself stranded in problem after problem. Never have twelve geese been more annoying, more beloved—or more comedic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Patrice Kindl and Dante.

My Book, The Movie: Patrice Kindl's Keeping the Castle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

M.C. Beaton's six best novels

M. C. Beaton's latest novel is Agatha Raisin: Dishing The Dirt. One of the author's six best books, as told to the Daily Express:
LIGHT OF DAY by Eric Ambler

I like anti-heroes and there’s a ghastly one in this. He’s a nasty little crook yet you desperately want him to win through. He gets caught up in a far bigger robbery than he has anticipated and ends up working for the Turkish secret police. It’s very funny.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 5, 2015

Eight great books that got slammed by critics

At LitReactor Ed Sikov tagged eight "demonstrably great books – books that have stood the tests of time and taste but weren’t exactly greeted with universal kindness when they were first published," including:
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

This tale of a grasping and unhappy wife virtually defines the word classic; it’s surely one of the world’s finest works of literature. But the critic from Le Figaro wasn’t impressed. “Monsieur Flaubert is not a writer,” the reviewer scoffed. News to me. One can only wonder what this critic would have made of Salammbô, with its first chapter’s colorful descriptions of flaming monkey meat dropping off of trees.
Read about the other books on the list.

Madame Bovary is on Culture's list of the three of the worst mothers in literature, Alex Preston's top ten list of sex scenes from film, TV and literature, Rachel Holmes's top ten list of books on the struggle against gender-based inequality, Jill Boyd's list of six memorable marriage proposals in literature, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Jennifer Gilmore's list of the ten worst mothers in books, Amy Sohn's list of six favorite books, Sue Townsend's 6 best books list, Helena Frith Powell's list of ten of the best sexy French books, the Christian Science Monitor's list of six novels about grand passions, John Mullan's lists of ten landmark coach rides in literature, ten of the best cathedrals in literature, ten of the best balls in literature, ten of the best bad lawyers in literature, ten of the best lotharios in literature, and ten of the best bad doctors in fiction, Valerie Martin's list of six novels about doomed marriages, and Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers. It tops Peter Carey's list of the top ten works of literature and was second on a top ten works of literature list selected by leading writers from Britain, America and Australia in 2007. It is one of John Bowe's six favorite books on love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jenny Eclair's six best books

Jenny Eclair is a comedian and novelist who was the first female solo winner of the Edinburgh Festival’s Perrier Comedy Award.

She named her six best books for the Daily Express. One title on her list:

This is about flawed people, marriage and suburban disappointment. I quite like alcoholics in stories, women who go off the rails, sadness and things going wrong. Reading about other people’s misfortune is safer than experiencing your own and Yates is a brilliant storyteller.
Read about the other books on Eclair's list.

Revolutionary Road also appears on the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books for Mad Men fans, Hanna McGrath's list of five fictional characters who tell it like it is, John Mullan's list of ten of the best Aprils in literature, Selma Dabbagh's top ten list of stories of reluctant revolutionaries, Laura Dave's list of books that improve on re-reading, Tad Friend's seven best fiction books about WASPs, and James P. Othmer's list of six great novels on work.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about characters who turn disability into superpowers

Cammie McGovern is the author of A Step Toward Falling, Say What You Will as well as the adult novels Neighborhood Watch, Eye Contact, and The Art of Seeing. At she tagged five books about characters who turn disability into superpowers, including:
Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

Technically, Forrest’s “superabilities” are never explained beyond the idea that he’s too cognitively disabled to realize he shouldn’t be able to do any of the countless feats he stumbles into and succeeds at: long distance running, football championships, war heroism, business success. By never accepting his limitations, he seemingly has none, a reminder to us all of how crippling self-doubt really is.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ten ultra-weird science fiction novels that became required reading

At io9 MaryKate Jasper and Charlie Jane Anders tagged ten ultra-weird science fiction novels that became required reading, including:
The Four-Gated City by Doris Lessing

Why It’s Weird: Lessing’s sprawling Children of Violence series starts out as realistic quasi-memoir about growing up in Africa, only to turn weird and experimental in the final couple of volumes. There is voluntary sleep deprivation, weird sexual experiments where nobody touches each other, and more. After spending the entire series building the character of Martha Quest, Lessing kills her off on a contaminated island off the coast of Scotland during World War Three. Lessing’s World War Three takes place during the ‘60s and ‘70s, with most of Britain wiped out via bubonic plague, nerve gases, nuclear explosions, etc. by 1978. The ideas behind the novel, as elucidated on Lessing’s own website: “[It] takes on the medical profession, which she believes is destroying (recently through imprisonment, currently through the use of drugs) that part of humanity which is in fact most sensitive to evolution, those people we label as mentally sick or unbalanced: and, criticising the scientists who have created and perpetuate a climate in which “rationalism” has become a new God, she claims that everyone has “extra-sensory perception”, in varying degrees, but has been brainwashed into suppressing it, and that schizophrenia is the name of our blindest contemporary prejudice.”

Why It’s Required: Lessing won the 2007 Nobel Prize and wrote The Golden Notebook, which frequently appears on college syllabi — but the Children of Violence trilogy is the series on which she spent arguably the most time, and in many ways the cornerstone of her work. Earlier parts of the Children of Violence series appear on college syllabi pretty often.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 2, 2015

Five top books with invented languages

David J. Peterson created the Dothraki language for HBO's Game of Thrones. His latest book is The Art of Language Invention.

One of Peterson's five best books with invented languages, as shared at
Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Though Nabokov didn’t create a full language for Pale Fire, he created an interesting sketch of what we today would call an a posteriori language—a language based on real world sources. In Pale Fire, Nabokov follows the exiled former ruler of an imaginary country called Zembla, but even within the fictional context of the story, it’s not quite certain how “real” Zembla is supposed to be. One gets the same slightly unsettling sense from the Zemblan language, which at turns looks plausibly Indo-European, or completely ridiculous. Though used sparingly, the conlang material enhances the overall effect of the work, adding another level of mystery to the already curious text.
Read about the other books on the list.

Pale Fire's John Shade is among John Mullan's ten best fictional poets. The novel appears among Jane Harris's five best psychological mysteries and Edward Docx's top ten deranged characters. It is one of Tracy Kidder's six best books as well as the novel Charles Storch would save for last. It is one of "Six Memorable Books About Writers Writing" yet it disappointed Ha Jin upon rereading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Top ten books about forgetting

Alastair Bruce is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Wall of Days and Boy on the Wire. One of his top ten books about forgetting, as shared at the Guardian:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

In a post-apocalyptic setting, a father’s memories of the landscape help guide him and his son south towards warmer climes, but at the same time he has to unlearn past behaviours to keep himself and his child safe. The boy, relying on his father’s memories for survival, with no memory of pre-apocalypse times himself, turns out to be the more empathic of the two characters, the one able to “carry the flame” into the future. McCarthy’s novel is bleak, beautiful and utterly astonishing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Road appears on Jeff Somers's list of eight good, bad, and weird dad/child pairs in science fiction and fantasy, Amelia Gray's ten best dark books list, Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

Also see Sam Taylor's top 10 books about forgetting.

--Marshal Zeringue