Sunday, July 31, 2016

Five top books with unlikely heroes

Brian Hastings is the creator of the video game Song of the Deep and the tie-in novel of the same title. One of his five books, for readers of most ages, with unlikely heroes, as shared at
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Norton Juster’s creative and playful use of language makes this a great one to read out loud. The subtle layers of meaning and clever puns (yes, there are such things!) throughout the journey make this a fun book to read over and over. Its hero, Milo, is bored with school and pretty much everything else as well. His journey into the strange world known as The Kingdom of Wisdom is, unbeknownst to him, actually the story of him learning to love learning. He discovers that math and language and logic can be fascinating, funny, mysterious things. And Juster’s writing is so multi-layered and entertaining that it’s just as enjoyable to read for an adult as a child.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Phantom Tollbooth is a book Cristina García hopes parents will read to their kids, and among Whitney Collins's eight best books for elementary schoolers, and Rebecca Stead's favorite classic American novels for children that may be overlooked outside of the US.

Also see SF Said's top ten unlikely heroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Five of the least supervised children in literature

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five of the least supervised children in literature, including:
Esch Batiste and her brothers (Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward)

In Jesmyn Ward’s magnificent, National Book Award–winning novel, narrator Esch is a 14-year-old girl who’d be completely adrift except for the strong bonds of brotherly love her family provides as she grows up in the fictional Mississippi Gulf Coast town of Bois Sauvage. Esch’s mother died giving birth to her youngest brother, Junior, now 7 years old, while her father is an alcoholic, broken after the loss of his wife. He keeps warning the kids about the storm approaching, that will become Hurricane Katrina. They pay him little mind, as they’ve learned not to rely on him for their daily needs, but instead focus on their own preoccupations—Esch ruminates on her unrequited love for a boy who has gotten her pregnant, while her brother Skeetah cares for his beloved pit bull, who has just had puppies, and her brother Randal tries to score a basketball scholarship. This novel will shred your heart with its power and beauty as it surges toward its climax.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 29, 2016

Five top fantasies rooted in folklore

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged five top fantasies rooted in folklore, including:
Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman

Few labor so effectively in the fields of myth and legend as Gaiman, whose American Gods plunked a party pack of deities into the modern American landscape, and who will soon delve further into Norse mythology with a “non-fiction novel.” Anansi Boys shines, however, because Gaiman devotes his full attention to a single source: the titular West African trickster god. When “Mr. Nancy” dies in an appropriately mischievous incident at a karaoke bar, his son, Fat Charlie, begins to unravel his father’s true divine identity—and meets his long-lost brother Spider, who inherited dear old dad’s powers and naughty streak.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Five fantastic fictional cities

Willow Palecek's new novella is City of Wolves. One of five fantastic cities she tagged at
New Crobuzon — Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Perhaps the most fantastic city ever imagined, New Crobuzon is a vast city in a Victorian fantasy world, a corrupt industrial capitalist city, filled with citizens who are truly alien, rather than the traditional fantasy cultural depictions. New Crobuzon is truly cosmopolitan, with bug-headed and mute Khepri, the froglike Vodyanoi, with the power to shape water, and the proud and bird-like
Garuda. In New Crobuzon, technology and magic exist side by side, and often combine with unexpected results. It is a dirty city, of mistrust and intrigue and revolution, of fantastic machinery, both political and mechanical, slowly falling apart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven books to clarify what’s going on in national politics now

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 seven recommended books to help understand what’s going on in national politics now, as shared at B&N Reads:
It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism, by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

Mann and Ornstein offer a clear-eyed assessment of the harm stratified partisan politics are doing to the country, because our system of government was never designed to be partisan. They make the argument that as both political parties coalesce into parliamentary-style groups with rigid agendas and purity tests, the system of separated powers baked into the American system becomes less and less effective. In short, they say, the Constitution was designed for representatives more interested in running the country than political ideology. They then go on to offer solutions that would fix an often paralyzed system, leaving it to the reader to wonder whether any of their proposals would have a chance of being enacted in the modern world. Anyone who shakes their head in mystification every time the government shuts down or fails to pass what look like common-sense laws will find this book incredibly enlightening.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Top ten books about the Australian bush

Cal Flyn, a a freelance writer and reporter from the Highlands of Scotland, is the author of Thicker Than Water. One of her ten top books about the Australian bush, as shared at the Guardian:
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

Stella “Miles” Franklin wrote My Brilliant Career (1901) when she was only a teenager, and it was an immediate hit, printed with a foreword from Henry Lawson. Franklin was “born of the bush”, he said, and her story of a bookish, headstrong farmgirl was full of “startlingly, painfully real” descriptions of rural life and land (although “the girlishly emotional parts”, he added, were “for girl readers to judge”). Free-spirited Sybella struggles against society’s limiting expectations of women, and dreams of a life of art, literature and theatre as sandstorms whip the walls of her family’s lonely homestead. Closely autobiographical – so much so that some neighbours sued Franklin after its publication – this coming-of-age classic is also a proto-feminist text.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books that’ll make you scared to go back in the water

At the B&N Reads blog Kat Rosenfield tagged eight books that will scare you out of the water and on to the beach, including:
Jaws, by Peter Benchley

Before Jaws was a classic beachgoer’s horror starring Richard Dreyfuss and a host of hi-tech animatronic sharks, it was a beach read that would (and still will!) keep you quivering on the shore until winter. You know how the story goes, but if anything, the shark attacks are even more ghastly and gruesome in print than they were onscreen.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jaws is among Rebecca Jane Stokes's seven books not to bring to the beach, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books set at the beach, and six hugely popular books that accidentally screwed the world.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Five books that get survival right

Alexandra Oliva has a BA in history from Yale University and an MFA in creative writing from The New School. Her new novel is The Last One. One of five novels she discovered that get important aspects of survival right, as shared at
Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

A hunter goes missing in the woods. A ranger sets out to find her. Reading this novel, I had an inner monologue going that was essentially, “Yes… yes… wow, really? Yes!” The realities of emergency wilderness situations are bluntly portrayed—how quickly a situation can go south when poor decision-making is involved—and the portrayal of search and rescue procedure is fascinating. I don’t have experience in search and rescue, but I believe the author, and for days after finishing this novel I bit back an urge to join local search and rescue outfits just to learn more.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 25, 2016

Five of the sexiest scenes in literature

Stuart Jeffries is a feature writer and columnist for the Guardian. One of his five sexiest scenes in literature:
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

“I had touched her before, to wash and dress her, but never like this,” narrates Sue, a lady’s maid. “So smooth she was! So warm! It was like I was calling the heat and shape of her out of the darkness – as if the darkness was turning solid and growing quick, under my hand.” What gives this passage such erotic power is how both Sue and Maud, her mistress, are blindsided by desire. At the start of the book, Sue has been lured to work as a lady’s maid by a swindler called Gentleman who aims to marry and ruin the heiress Maud, before dumping her in an asylum and making her fortune his own. Like you do. Sue will get a cut of the fortune if the plot is successful. In the above scene, Sue is ostensibly coaching naive Maud in what she must do on her wedding night after, as planned, marrying Gentleman. Instead, Sue forgets her role in the plot as she explores Maud’s body. She brings Maud to orgasm and then, against her scheming, falls sweetly for the woman she planned to help destroy:

“She began to shake. I supposed she was still afraid. Then I began to shake, too. I forgot to think of Gentleman, after that. I thought only of her. When her face grew wet with tears, I kissed them away.

“You pearl,” I said. So white she was! “You pearl, you pearl, you pearl.”

Well, it worked for me.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fingersmith is among Kirsty Logan's ten best LGBT sex scenes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Six top YA books for "Mr. Robot" fans

At the BN Teen blog Michael Waters tagged six must-read YA books for Mr. Robot fans, including:
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

Another in the “HOLY CRAP WHAT JUST HAPPENED IS THIS REAL” genre, We Were Liars made a splash when it was released two years ago because of its thrilling, unreliable narrative. Like Mr. Robot it’s one of those stories where the less that is said, the better—but it involves a large rich family whose lives aren’t as perfect as they present them, and who, every summer, vacation together on a remote island. Tragedy strikes, but nothing is as it seems. Propelled by Lockhart’s atmospheric, often unsettling prose, We Were Liars is perfect for anyone who wants to puzzle through a complicated plot while waiting for the full story behind Mr. Robot and Elliot to be revealed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We Were Liars is among Lindsey Lewis Smithson's top seven sob-inducing books that deserve to be made into movies, Ruth Ware's top ten psychological thrillers, and Meredith Moore's five favorite YA thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best stories about prison life

Erwin James is a Guardian columnist. He served 20 years of a life sentence in prison before his release in August 2004. His books include two collections of essays, A Life Inside: A Prisoner's Notebook and The Home Stretch: From Prison to Parole, and Redeemable: A Memoir of Darkness and Hope.

One of James's five best stories about prison life, as shared at the Guardian:
In the Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau

Rideau served almost 44 years in prison before he was released in 2005. Rideau was originally convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1961 when he was 19. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when the death sentence was temporarily abolished in Louisiana in 1972. Rideau spent the majority of his sentence in Angola State Penitentiary (also known as the Farm), where he started writing a column about prison life called The Jungle. Rideau went on to become editor of the Angolite, the prison’s award-winning magazine. In 1998 he helped to produce an Oscar-nominated documentary about Angola State, titled The Farm. The story of his life in this deftly written book is an example of what can be achieved in the direst circumstances with just a positive attitude and a pen.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Six YA mysteries for "Broadchurch" fans

At the BN Teen blog Samantha Randolph tagged six YA mysteries for fans of the British television series Broadchurch, including:
The Darkest Lie, by Pintip Dunn

Broadchurch tackles many tough questions, including the chilling, “What happens when I don’t know someone like I thought I did?” From Danny’s unexpected death to the sordid backgrounds of the various suspects, Broadchurch reminds you that even living with someone isn’t a guarantee that you know everything they’re hiding. Dunn’s protagonist, CeCe Brooks, asks this question about her mother, who allegedly committed suicide six months ago after rumors went rampant about her having sex with a student. CeCe never imagined her mother doing either of those things, and when she’s forced to volunteer at the crisis hotline her mother worked at, she finds clues that suggest everything isn’t as it seems.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten books that capture the 50s of Chicago

At The Culture Trip Karla Sullivan tagged ten books that capture the 1950s of Chicago, including:
Letting Go

Philip Roth’s first book, Goodbye, Columbus, won the 1960 US National Book Award for Fiction, but his subsequent books are equally important. Set in the 1950s in Chicago, New York and Iowa City, Letting Go concerns the lives of three characters that struggle as they deal with the social restraints of the decade. One spent time in the Korean War, and a couple suffers from society’s ignorant views of their Jewish-Christian mixed marriage. Characters are confronted with other issues that include abortion, divorce and adoption.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lisa Jewell's six best books

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of at least twelve novels. One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

One of her shorter books though I adore her big fat ones as well. It’s about a woman left in sole charge of her great-aunt after an old people’s home is shut down. Addictive, delicate and satisfying.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five urban fantasy series about policing the supernatural

Melissa F. Olson is the author of six Old World novels for 47North as well as the upcoming novella Nightshades. One entry on her list of "five urban fantasy series where partners in an actual government agency have to deal with otherworldly threats," as shared at
The Jaz Parks Novels by Jennifer Rardin

I recently wrote a blog post praising Rardin, who was one of the bigger names in urban fantasy as it was exploding during the mid-‘00s. Her series is about two CIA assassins, a butt-kicking, mouthy female narrator and her centuries-old vampire partner. There’s some great worldbuilding here, and the espionage/CIA angle provides a fresh twist to a popular format.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: the Jaz Parks Series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Top ten books about gardens

Vivian Swift is a travel writer. Sort of. Her first book was a travel story, sort of; it was all about staying put: When Wanderers Cease to Roam. Her latest book is Gardens of Awe and Folly: A Traveler's Journal on the Meaning of Life and Gardening.

One of Swift's ten top books about gardens, as shared at the Guardian:
Rambunctious Garden by Emma Marris

This book will set your hair on fire if you are the least bit sentimental about the sanctity of capital-n Nature. Marris, a science journalist and metaphorical flame-thrower (from Seattle), has taken the gutsy stance that the environmental purity imagined by John Muir and his ilk vanished about 6,000 years ago with the planting of the first gardens in Mesopotamia, and can’t be restored. Happily, she offers a new, improved nature with her stories of radical rewilding, human-assisted migration of flora and fauna, and – gasp – the ecological godsend of invasive and exotic species. Oh yes, she goes there.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best whodunits

John Verdon's newest mystery-thriller featuring retired NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney is Wolf Lake. One of the author's ten best whodunits, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

This is the book Thomas Harris wrote before he wrote The Silence of the Lambs. I found it remarkable for its inventive serial-killer plot, for its vivid and believable portrayal of the psychopath at the heart of it, and for Harris’s ability to paint pictures you’re not likely to forget. It’s also the book in which Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the iconic Harris monster, first appears.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Red Dragon appears on Laura McHugh's list of ten favorite books about serial killers, Kimberly Turner's list of the ten most disturbing sociopaths in literature, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best dragons in literature and ten of the best tattoos in literature, and the (U.K.) Telegraph 110 best books; Andre Gross says "it should be taught as [a text] in Thriller 101."

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Seven top YA books set in Los Angeles

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged seven can’t-miss YA books set in Los Angeles, including:
Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood, by Abigail McDonald

Sense and Sensibility gets the contemporary YA treatment in this retelling about sisters forced to move from San Francisco to a relative’s home in Beverly Hills after their father dies and leaves everything to their stepmother. As the girls balance new lives and new loves—and all they left behind with their old ones—they find there’s a lot of beauty in the unexpected, and a lot of heart if you know where to look.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the best books set in Los Angeles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Six YA novels for mythology lovers

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged six top Young Adult novels for mythology lovers, including:
Orpheus: A Song for Ella Grey, by David Almond

Ella and Claire are best friends. Then Ella falls in love with Orpheus, and it’s like Claire has lost her. Their love is overwhelming and immediate, and it’s all Claire can do to stand by and watch as her best friend leaves her behind. And then Claire actually loses Ella, and Orpheus is set to go to hell and back (literally) to save her. A Song for Ella Grey is a poetic retelling of the original myth, so be warned: do not expect a happy ending.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 18, 2016

Six top books on girl power

Jessica Winter's first novel is Break in Case of Emergency. For The Week magazine she tagged six favorite novels on girl power, including:
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Diabolical, irresistible Cordelia is one of Atwood's most indelible creations — the original (and worst) Mean Girl, who in the protagonist's flashbacks torments her to a near-lethal breaking point. No one else has ever conjured with such fury and precision the head games played among prepubescent girls, nor shown so well why these games' bewitched losers keep returning for more.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Five alt-world takes on familiar empires

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Kelly Anderson tagged alt-world takes on five familiar empires, including:
The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu

I wrote last year about all the things I liked about the first book in Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty series, but they’re more than worth reiterating. Liu’s empire is modeled on Ancient China at its height, a civilization that thinks itself secure in its power, which is crushing its people’s spirits and robbing them blind in taxes, thinking no no power can hope to hold it accountable. Two vastly different men begin rebellions to prove that assumption to be very wrong, revealing just how fragile the edifice of empire always is—and just how complicated it can be to tear it down and build anew. This is a story that takes a few steps back to look at the cycles of power—using it, misusing it, handing it over, and changing its structures—and how that broadly affects the lives of the people who initiate change, and those of the people who merely have to live through it all. The next volume, The Wall of Storms, is due out this fall, so if you dive in now, you won’t have long to wait to see what happens next.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Twelve books to help understand Brexit

The Guardian asked a dozen contributors to share a book that might help readers understand Brexit, Great Britain's vote to leave the European Union. David Runciman's pick:
Rubicon by Tom Holland

The week before the Brexit vote I decided to start rereading Tom Holland’s Rubicon (Abacus), his excellent popular history of the dying years of the Roman republic. I thought it would be bracing to spend some time in a world where the twists and turns of popular politics really could spell carnage. The mess we are now in has faint echoes of the death throes of the republic: personal vendettas that spill over into political chaos; populists who pander to the crowd and then don’t know how to silence it; foolhardy gambles and buyer’s remorse. But in truth, our politics is very different: the stakes are so much lower. We reach for Roman analogies – “Et tu, Gove?” – but we don’t really mean them. Civil wars in ancient Rome resulted in slaughter followed by famine. Politicians who fell out of favour could find their tongues nailed to the door of the senate. I suppose we should count our blessings.

If there is comfort to be had in reading about a time when bad political choices meant death and ruin, there is also a serious warning in Rubicon. Some commentators who fear the worst of contemporary democracy talk about the risk of a descent into fascism. This seems...[read on]
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Katie Fforde's six best books

Katie Fforde's newest novel is A Summer at Sea.

One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
RIVALS by Jilly Cooper

Cooper gave me the courage to put realistic people in books even if they were eccentric. Taggie is a lovely character and this is my favourite of her sweeping bonkbusters.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 15, 2016

Five top wilderness survival books

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five wilderness survival books to take along on your camping trip, including:
How To Stay Alive in the Woods, by Bradford Angier

This classic book was originally published in 1956, but although technology has evolved in the past sixty years, the hazards one might face in the wilderness have remained basically the same. Angier divided this guide into four handy sections: Sustenance, Warmth, Orientation, and Safety, covering most problems you might encounter in the woods.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about the Iraq war

Derek Miller is the author of the award-winning Norwegian by Night and the forthcoming The Girl in Green. One of his ten top books about the Iraq war, as shared at the Guardian:
The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon (2010)

According to Muslim tradition, the corpse washer prepares the bodies of the dead for burial. The Shias and Sunnis both do it, and the differences in practice are minor. This is a novel, originally written in Arabic, by a New York-based Iraqi writer who left the country in 1991. He translated it himself. No other book I’ve read takes us closer to the lives of the people there, breathing a much-needed human dimension to understanding life in Iraq.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Seven books to help you get through your divorce

At B&N Reads Jen Harper tagged seven "books about divorce and struggling through difficult times—fiction, memoir, and some self-help," including:
Yes Please, by Amy Poehler

Sometimes an unfortunate situation leaves you with only two choices—to laugh or to cry. And inevitably when going through a divorce, you’ll find the need to do both at some point. When you’re ready to laugh, pick up comic genius Amy Poehler’s first book Yes Please, a collection of personal stories, lists, and even a haiku that’ll definitely put a smile on your face. Poehler doesn’t dedicate a lot of space to her own divorce from Will Arnett, calling it “too sad and too personal,” but the insight on splitting up she does offer will have you nodding right along with her as she writes, “getting a divorce really sucks.”
Read about the other books on the list.

Also see ten top books to comfort & console during a divorce.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Nine top honeymoon novels by location

Two of nine top books whose locations, often honeymoon destinations, play a vital role in the story, as shared at Martha Stewart Weddings:
The Destination: Paris
Murder on the Quai by Cara Black

We wouldn't blame you if after your heart-tugging proposal and fairy-tale wedding you found yourself just a tiny bit bored of the lovey-dovey stuff … even as you embark on your honeymoon in the world's most romantic city. That's when you turn to tried and true vacation reading: a mystery! This one casts the City of Lights in a film noir role, as the location for gamine detective Aimee Leduc's very first case. A prequel to the bestselling series, all set in Paris, this refreshing change of pace might also be the beginning of (another) long-term relationship.

The Destination: Greece
Santorini Sunsets by Anita Hughes

If you're looking for a novel that will give you a crash course in Greek history, pick up Louis de Bernieres's Corelli's Mandolin. But if you want to read a frothy little paperback about an island wedding that may be going horribly wrong (to unwind from all the effort of making sure your own nuptials went magically right), look no further than this love triangle about a Manhattan socialite torn between her writer ex-husband and her actor about-to-be-husband in the days leading up to her destination wedding. The drama unfolds against the whitewashed villas and cobalt seas of Greece's honeymoon mecca.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Five books that find beauty in the apocalypse

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at One of his five "books that give us hope that our apocalyptic future will, at least, be beautiful," as shared at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
The Last Policeman, by Ben H. Winters

While not as on-the-surface beautiful as the other entries on this list, The Last Policeman slowly settles into a linguistic rhythm that creates its own kind of poetry. As the asteroid Maia hurtles closer and closer to a collision with Earth, Hank Palace plugs away at civilization’s last, futile murder investigation. It might not be pretty, but his internal monologue, and the way he looks at the world, finds the wonder in a planet very quickly going mad as its destruction hurtles ever closer. There’s a desolate beauty to Hank Palace’s New England, a place called “Hangertown” by the locals, where even the belongings of a dead murder suspect can take on a certain cadence and light. Winters makes you feel every bit of it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Last Policeman is among Joel Cunningham's eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction and Melissa Albert's five best recent detective fiction classics.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Policeman.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Policeman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ramona Ausubel's six favorite books

Ramona Ausubel's new novel is Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Florida by Christine Schutt

Alice Fivey's father died when she was 5, and she is 10 when her mother loses custody rights and enters a mental institution. Alice, shuttled from home to home, is left to build herself a story. Schutt's prose is blindingly beautiful — complicated, precise — a reminder that language itself is a refuge.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Five romantic second-chance love stories

At B&N Reads Christina Merrill tagged five romantic second-chance love stories, including:
As Good as New, by Jennifer Dawson

This modern-day story features a heroine who is kicking some serious booty in the world of business. Penelope Watkins has a great career, a solid boss, and good friends. Still, she never could get Evan Donovan out of her mind. Not only were they intimate as teenagers (and never told anyone about it), but she’s seen the former professional football player quite a bit over the years thanks to the friends they have in common. (In fact, she’s so well-liked by everyone that even his own family is more concerned about her not getting hurt.) Dawson does a terrific job of really setting up their relationship and putting it into context. It’s easy to see why these two get under each other’s skin, and it makes you truly wonder if they’ll be able to put the past behind them and move forward.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Twelve novel adaptations that should get a do-over reboot

At io9 Andrew Liptak tagged twelve novels that deserve better adaptations than Hollywood produced, including:

Horns was an interesting movie. It was one of the first major roles for Daniel Radcliffe when he finished Harry Potter, playing Ig, a man accused of killing his girlfriend. When he grows a pair of horns, people start telling him their darkest secrets.

The book does follow the story closely, but takes on more of a whodunit narrative, the result of which didn’t quite work. We thought that the film lacked the depth of the novel and was ultimately too light for its own good.

It would be hard to do this film over, because they got a lot of the atmosphere right, while the acting was pretty decent. Maybe a film with a stronger script that matched the intensity of the novel would overtake this one.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top Jazz Age romances

Corrina Lawson tagged five top Jazz Age romances at the B&N Reads blog, including:
An American Duchess, by Sharon Page

A classic marriage of convenience, done 1920s style, with an American heiress who cannot access her fortune unless she marries and, of course, there’s a lord of the English realm who needs to shore up his crumbling manor with that fortune. The plan is, of course, for them to get divorced with money in both their pockets. But things don’t always go according to plan…
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 8, 2016

Nadiya Hussain's six best books

Nadiya Hussain is a British-Bangladeshi baker, columnist and author, who won the sixth series of BBC's The Great British Bake Off (airing in the US as The Great British Baking Show). One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

Keene was a pseudonym for male and female writers of this series which surprised me because I thought a fierce young woman was writing them. I wanted to be just like Nancy who is a teenage detective.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top novels about deranged killers

Chet Williamson has written horror, science fiction, and suspense since 1981. Among his novels are Second Chance, Hunters, Defenders of the Faith, Ash Wednesday, Reign, Dreamthorp, and the recently released Psycho Sanitarium, an authorized sequel to Robert Bloch's classic Psycho.

One of Williamson's top ten novels about deranged killers, as shared at the Guardian:
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985)

Though Anton Chigurh of No Country for Old Men is generally considered to be McCarthy’s supreme bogeyman, the huge, hairless and horrifying Judge Holden, who leads a band of renegade scalp hunters, is equally unpredictable and dangerous. Not so much a man as a force of nature, he haunts “the kid”, the book’s protagonist, over a period of the early years of the American west, with “War is god” as his motto.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Blood Meridian is one authority's pick for the Great Texas novel; it is among Callan Wink's ten best books set in the American West, Simon Sebag Montefiore's six favorite books, Richard Kadrey's five books about awful, awful people, 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

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Six books that will inspire you to take a hike

At the B&N Reads blog Monique Alice tagged six books that will inspire you to lace up your hiking boots, including:
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed had already had a series of hard knocks in her 22 years on Earth when she decided to set out on one of the most daunting hikes in the United States: the Pacific Crest Trail. The West’s answer to the Appalachian, the Pacific Crest is decidedly more desolate, rockier, and has a considerably denser population of snakes. Having just weathered tragedy after tragedy in her personal life and armed with very little hiking experience, Strayed starts out with a massively overfilled pack and an even heavier heart. By the time her journey ends, she has lightened both loads considerably.
Read about the other books on the list.

Wild is among Jeff Somers's five top books with Mother Nature as antagonist.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Five weird science stories in which nothing could possibly go wrong

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged five top stories in which "big science failed to see the flaws in its glorious inventions, until it was far, far too late," including:
Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton

Crichton’s best-known Sam Neill vehicle is the Grand Poobah of poorly thought-out scientific dabbling. Hopefully, we learned a few lessons from this dinosaur-fueled horror show: 1) If you’re going to begin tinkering with recreating an extinct species, start small with, like, a harmless dodo; 2) Hodgepodge genetic engineering is ill-advised; and 3) Guesstimating with DNA is especially foolhardy when you are dealing with raptors—in the kitchen, Phil.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jurassic Park is among Kat Rosenfield's ten worst traitors in fiction, Chuck Wendig's five books that prove mankind shouldn’t play with technology, Jeff Somers's top seven books that explore what might happen when technology betrays us, Damian Dibben's top ten time travel books, and Becky Ferreira's eleven best books about dinosaurs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Five science fiction novels about sheep

Robert Kroese's new novel is The Big Sheep.

For the author tagged five science fiction novels about sheep, including:
The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

John Brunner’s dystopic novel strives to be the environmentalist equivalent of Brave New World or 1984, and while it doesn’t quite attain that level of prophecy or poignancy, it remains a fascinating look at a future that might have been—and in some ways resembles what has actually come to pass.

In Brunner’s future, air pollution is so bad that everyone wears gas masks. The infant mortality rate is soaring, and birth defects, new diseases, and physical ailments of all kinds abound. The water is undrinkable—unless you’re poor and have no choice. Large corporations fighting over profits from gas masks, drinking water, and clean food tower over an ineffectual, corrupt government.

Admittedly, the sheep in this book are metaphorical, but there’s something to be said for metaphorical sheep. They don’t eat as much, for example, and are less likely to get caught in a fence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 4, 2016

Five top steamy New York–set summer stories

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged five top Young Adult novels for readers who love love stories, summer adventures, and New York City, including:
Dreamland Social Club, by Tara Altebrando

Jane’s mother died years ago, but her little family is still reeling. After years spent traveling, Jane, her father, and her brother finally settle down in an inherited house on Coney Island, where things start to feel like home…even though they’re leaving in a year. While her father focuses on remodeling the boardwalk, Jane explores her mother’s old home. With the help of a tattooed boy named Leo, she starts discovering her mother’s past and uncovering the secrets of Coney Island. It turns out Jane might not want to leave when the year’s up, and she definitely doesn’t want her dad bulldozing her mother’s childhood memories.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Five top short stories

Danny Heitman, a columnist for The Baton Rouge Advocate, is the author of A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House. One of his five favorite short stories, as shared at the Christian Science Monitor:
Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.”

A Yukon traveler foolishly decides to travel through the frozen waste alone, then finds himself in a race against time as he tries to build a fire before hypothermia sets in. I first read this story as a child on a sweltering Louisiana day; even so, it chilled me to the bone.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Tessa Hadley's top ten short stories, Rosamund Bartlett's five top books on Russian short stories, Chris Priestley's top ten scary short stories, Jane Ciabattari's five must-read short-story collections, and Alison MacLeod's top ten short stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seventeen books to read during wedding season

One of seventeen books to read during wedding season, as recommended by TheReadDown:
Great Expectations

The morning of her wedding day, Miss Havisham receives a letter from her husband-to-be that he wasn’t who he turned out to be. She spends the rest of her days in her wedding dress!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Great Expectations appears on Phoebe Walker's list of eight of the best feasts quotes in literature, Rachel Cooke's top ten list of single women, Robert Williams's top ten list of loners in fiction, Chrissie Gruebel's top ten list of books set in London, Melissa Albert's list of five interesting fictional characters who would make undesirable roommates, Janice Clark's list of seven top novels about the horrors of adolescence, Amy Wilkinson's list of five books Kate Middleton should have read while waiting to give birth, Kate Clanchy's top ten list of novels that reflect the real qualities of adolescence, Joseph Olshan's list of six favorite books, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best clocks in literature, ten of the best appropriate deaths in literature, ten of the best castles in literature, ten of the best Hamlets, ten of the best card games in literature, and ten best list of fights in fiction. It also made Tony Parsons' list of the top ten troubled males in fiction, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and numbers among Kurt Anderson's five most essential books. The novel is #1 on Melissa Katsoulis' list of "twenty-five films that made it from the book shelf to the box office with credibility intact."

Read an 1861 review of Great Expectations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Five books inspired by sensational chapters in history

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 five most surprising books that turn out to be based on things that actually happened, as shared at B&N Reads:
In the Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume
Historical Inspiration: The Umbrella of Death

Blume’s first adult novel in years takes inspiration from events she personally witnessed as a child: an uncanny trio of plane crashes that hit the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the space of two months in the early 1950s. This grim and remarkable series of disasters was caused by the configuration of runways at Newark Airport, which was referred to as the Umbrella of Death in the wake of the tragedies. The airport was closed until a new runway was completed that directed air traffic away from Elizabeth. Blume’s story centers on residents of the city dealing with both the immediate disasters of the crashes and their long aftermath.
Read about the other entries on the list .

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books in which superpowers have unfortunate side effects

Sarah Fine is a clinical psychologist and the author of the Servants of Fate and Guards of the Shadowlands series. Her latest novel is Reliquary.

At Fine tagged five books in which special powers have unfortunate side effects, including:
The Green Mile by Stephen King

John Coffey is locked up in Cold Mountain State Penitentiary for raping and murdering two little girls, but as guard Paul Edgecombe gets to know him, he realizes John has some pretty unusual gifts. Sensitive and empathic, John somehow has the power to heal others, and it turns out his attempt to use that ability to try to help others led to his imprisonment. This story is a perfect yet brutal example of how a wonderful, positive power can get a good person into serious and tragic hot water. I highly recommend the read—just have a box of tissues at your side.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Green Mile is among Joseph H. Cooper's four top books to assign to inmate-students.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 1, 2016

Top ten great foxes in children’s books

Ali Sparkes is a British children's author.

One of her top ten foxy fables, as shared at the Guardian:
Little Foxes by Michael Morpurgo

I met Michael Morpurgo a while back and told him he always makes me cry. This story is no exception as lonely foundling Billy Bunch finds love in the wilderness by adopting some orphan foxes. Very beautifully told and never sentimental. Yeah, I cried again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue