Friday, September 30, 2016

Five of the best vampires in romance novels

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged her five favorite romance novel vampires, including:
Zhadist (Lover Awakened, Black Dagger Brotherhood #3 by J.R. Ward)

If I could pick every single book in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I would, but #3 is my favorite of them all because Zhadist is the darkest, most tortured, most wonderful hero of all time. After a century as a slave, Zhadist has embraced his freedom and identity as a savage force of vengeance. The cruelest of his brothers, Zhadist wants nothing more than to exact vengeance against those who hurt him…until he meets Bella—and then he wants nothing more than her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Lauren Owen's top ten vampire books, the ten best vampire novels ever, the top ten vampires in fiction and popular culture, ten vampire stories more romantic than "Twilight", Kevin Jackson's top 10 vampire novels, and Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of top vampire books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five sci-fi books that make use of music

Christopher Priest’s most recent novel is The Gradual.

One of his five top science-fiction books that make use of music, as shared at
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)

The novel has a complex structure, consisting of six partially connected stories set in different historical periods. One of the longest stories, close to the centre, describes a distant future world which is based on a slave society of “fabricants”, humans who are drugged into submission. The remarkable quality of this novel is that it was essentially inspired by, and based on, music—in particular, two pieces written by husbands of the artist Yoko Ono: Toshi Ichiyanagi and John Lennon. One of the strongest and most entertaining sequences in the novel is loosely based on the story of Eric Fenby, a young musician who went to work as amanuensis to the dying composer Frederick Delius. A challenging but rewarding novel, highly ambitious and achieved, full of layers and suggestions and haunting images.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cloud Atlas is among Patrick Hemstreet's five top books for the psychonaut and the six books that changed Maile Meloy's idea of what’s possible in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ten top stories of hubris

Tommy Wieringa is an award-winning Dutch writer. One of his top ten stories of hubris, as shared at the Guardian:
The Possibility of An Island by Michel Houellebecq

Houellebecq embroiders further upon his infectious train of thought. The reader follows two incarnations of Daniel, a French comedian. The first, on whom all newer and better clones are based, suffers from every single bane of existence, while the 24th incarnation of Daniel lives in gentle, everlasting light. Inside him, however, there lives on an echo of the avidity that has led mankind to its downfall. It is more or less impossible to think about the total lack of desire and pleasure without feeling slightly nauseous. We are enamoured of our misery and addicted to our fate. Human shortcomings are the only thing that make our species vaguely interesting. Without vices, the life of a man is about as interesting as that of a roundworm.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

Read Ray Taras's review of Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Six irresistible tales from Old Hollywood

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At B&N Reads she tagged six top novels about Old Hollywood, including:
What You See in the Dark, by Manuel Muñoz

110 miles north of L.A., a dusty inland city currently known for its poor air quality and 108-degree summers, Bakersfield was a very different place in the 1950s, beautifully rendered by Muñoz in his unforgettable 2011 debut novel. An unassuming, lovely young Mexican American singer dates the most coveted white man in town, but their apparently dream-like romance ends in horror. As their star-crossed relationship plays out, Alfred Hitchcock arrives in town (complete with his film crew and leading lady, Janet Leigh), to film his seminal masterpiece, Psycho. Differing perspectives from out-of-towners and locals makes for a rich tapestry. “There is what you see and what you make of it, what you know for sure and what you have to experience, what others tell you and what gets confirmed.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Six top novels about freaky cults

Brian Evenson's latest book is The Warren.

One of his six favorite "weird cult novels—which is to say, cult novels that don’t follow the typical tropes that cult novels do," as shared at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
The Shelter Cycle, by Peter Rock

Peter Rock’s The Shelter Cycle is about the Church Universal and Triumphant, an actual cult based in the American West that in the 1980s believed the world was going to be destroyed by nuclear war and began building survival shelters. What makes Rock’s book weird is the degree to which it’s less the cult that is unsettling, but someone who has survived it—someone who, having lost his rudder, might be capable of anything. We like to think that when we leave a cult we enter safety, but Rock’s book is partly about how cults continue to live inside us, evolving and changing, spawning other sorts of things, even long after we leave.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Shelter Cycle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 26, 2016

Neil deGrasse Tyson's 6 favorite books

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the author of ten books, including StarTalk, a new companion volume to his podcast and cable show of the same name. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins

Dawkins is a longtime friend, and a tireless defender of the real story of how we all got here. This 1986 book is a reminder that the laws of evolution and natural selection, given billions of years, have no trouble generating stupefying complexity among life-forms on Earth.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Blind Watchmaker is one of Steven Pinker's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Six romances that break the mold

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

At the B&N Reads blog she tagged six romances with unexpected twists on the genre, including:
Sinner’s Creed, by Kim Jones
Twist: Non-traditional Plot

The first in the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club series, this book will take you for a real emotional ride. I can’t tell you what makes this book so different from most books without revealing major spoilers, but it breaks the mold so hard, that many have argued it’s not a romance at all. Real life includes love and tragedy, and this book has both in spades. It follows Dirk, a troubleshooter for his MC, and Saylor Samson, who has always been drawn to the mysterious Dirk. Fate brings them together over and over again, but now fate has a new test for them, and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching. You’ll fall in love right along with this couple as they face the types of challenges you never expect to see in a romance. A book that deals with similar real-world issues, albeit in a fantasy setting, is J.R. Ward’s The Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood #13).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Five top books where insanity is normalized

Brian Evenson's latest book is The Warren.

One of his five favorite books where insane characters come to be taken for or treated as normal,as shared at
Emmanuel Carrere, The Mustache

A simple plot. A man who has always worn a mustache shaves it off, planning to surprise his wife. But when he reveals his shaved face, she isn’t surprised at all. She says, “But you never had a mustache.” At first, he thinks she’s joking, but slowly it becomes clear to him that he’s the only one to remember he had a mustache. Her non-response to what he sees as a dramatic change in his appearance ends up threatening his own sanity…
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five books that are set during one school year

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads blog he tagged five books that are more or less set during one school year, including:
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier

Cormier’s classic story of rebellion and bullying is set over the course of Jerry Renault’s first year at an all-boy’s Catholic school. The fundraiser involving chocolate bars is something every kid and parent has some experience with, and serves as the catalyst for a book that remains controversial more than forty years after its initial publication, as the overbearing Brother Leon seeks to make his mark as school administrator by setting records for the year’s chocolate sales. The plan is threatened by Jerry’s refusal to participate, which leads to a series of increasingly crazy events involving the school’s secret society. Anyone who has ever dealt with peer pressure, bullies, or adults who have lost their way will feel this book in their bones.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Top ten books on corruption

John Sweeney is a writer and broadcaster, currently working for BBC Newsnight. His latest book is Cold.

One of Sweeney's ten top books on corruption, as shared at the Guardian:
Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

In this satire on the fantasy land of the intelligence agencies, specifically MI6 (for whom Greene worked), the urge to make a bit of money on the side in a corrupt and seedy pre-Castro Cuba entraps the hero. He ends up constructing a web of deceit that envelops him and others to their cost. It’s the under-told story that too many James Bonds are on the take.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Our Man in Havana also made Francesca Kay's top ten list of books about the Cold War, Jesse Armstrong's top ten list of comic war novels, Allegra Frazier's top five list of books to remind you of warmer climes, Pico Iyer's list of four essential novels by Graham Greene and Alan Furst's five best list of spy books; it is one of Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Five great reads featuring creepy ass water

Kendare Blake's newest novel is Three Dark Crowns. One of his favorite reads that somehow star creepy water, as shared at
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

This book won the Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature and it is 100% deserved. There’s creepy water in it, islands surrounded by the stuff, people lost to it and what have you. It is seven connected stories exploring the theme of sacrifice, and you should just read it, okay? Do you like The Wicker Man?

No, not that one. Don’t be ridiculous.

If you like The Wicker Man, you should check out Midwinterblood.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Five of the best opening scenes in YA fiction

At the BN Teen blog Kayla Whaley tagged five of the best opening scenes in YA lit, including:
Best Not-Actually-a-Scene

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

In a letter addressed to the Headmaster and Board of Directors of her elite prep school, Frankie Landau-Banks confesses to masterminding a string of, as she calls them, mal-doings committed by the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, a storied secret society at Alabaster Prep. What follows is the delightful tale of how exactly Frankie came to admit in a written missive to “behavior [that] disrupted the smooth running of your patriarchal establishment.” The story would technically work without the opening letter, but why would you want it to?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is among Sona Charaipotra's five top YA books to read when you're burnt out on love and Sabrina Rojas Weiss's ten favorite boarding school novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 19, 2016

The ten funniest books

Adam Ehrlich Sachs, who studied atmospheric science at Harvard, is the author of Inherited Disorders. One of ten funny books he tagged at Publishers Weekly:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Spark’s elliptical tale of a fascistic teacher (Mussolini, she informs her young students, has “performed feats of magnitude”) and her mostly devoted brood is never funnier than when it’s killing off the stupidest student, Mary MacGregor, in one of its hilariously abrupt, brutal glimpses into the distant future: “ ‘Sandy won’t talk to me,’ said Mary, who later, in that hotel fire, ran hither and thither till she died.”
Read about the other books on the list.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is among Sebastian Faulks's six favorite books, Stuart Husband's top ten fictional teachers, Rachel Cooke's top ten spinsters, Karin Altenberg's top ten books about betrayal, Megan Abbott's five most dangerous mentors in fiction, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five top books on teaching and learning and Ian Rankin's six best books. Miss Jean Brodie is one of John Mullan's ten best teachers in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Seven YA characters having a rough back to school season

Eric Smith is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating and Inked. One of seven "recent YA reads with teens having a way worse start to the school year than you are" he tagged at the BN Teen blog:
Goodbye Days, by Jeff Zentner

It feels kinda wrong to tease this book, seeing as it doesn’t come out until March of next year, but I’m here to encourage your pre-orders. Because. This. Book. I can’t imagine starting off school the way poor Carver Briggs does in Zentner’s sophomore novel.

Because he has killed his best friends.

Well, not really. He sends a text message to one of them, and when that friend tries to respond, he crashes the car he’s driving, killing all the passengers on board. Carver is left rolling in crippling guilt, as lawsuits and media descend upon him. Between battling the sinking feeling in his chest that never seems to go away and trying to navigate a complicated, maybe-blossoming relationship with his deceased friend’s girlfriend, it’s a beautifully complex novel about learning how to grieve and forgive yourself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven new mysteries for Agatha Christie fans

At the BookBub blog, Chanel Cleeton tagged eleven new page-turners for Agatha Christie fans, including:
Death Sits Down to Dinner by Tessa Arlen

Filled with deceptions both real and imagined, Death Sits Down to Dinner is a delightful Edwardian mystery set in London.

Lady Montfort is thrilled to receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by her close friend Hermione Kingsley, the patroness of England’s largest charity. Hermione has pulled together a select gathering to celebrate Winston Churchill’s 39th birthday. Some of the oldest families in the country have gathered to toast the dangerously ambitious and utterly charming First Lord of the Admiralty. But when the dinner ends, one of the gentlemen remains seated at the table, head down among the walnut shells littering the cloth and a knife between his ribs.

Summoned from Iyntwood, Mrs. Jackson helps her mistress trace the steps of suspects both upstairs and downstairs as Hermione’s household prepares to host a highly anticipated charity event. Determined to get to the bottom of things, Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson unravel the web of secrecy surrounding the bright whirlwind of London society, investigating the rich, well-connected and seeming do-gooders in a race against time to stop the murderer from striking again.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Death Sits Down to Dinner.

My Book, The Movie: Death Sits Down to Dinner.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Six top locked-room mysteries

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads blog he tagged six of the more unputdownable locked-room mysteries ever written, including:
The King is Dead, by Ellery Queen

Ellery Queen was for a time the most famous fictional detective (and literary pseudonym) in the world, and this classic novel is a prime example of him at his best. A man makes a public threat that he will shoot his father at midnight; his father retreats to a secure room alone with his wife, while Queen, hired on, sits in another location with the son, who has an unloaded weapon. At midnight the son raises the empty gun and pulls the trigger—and the father is shot dead, seemingly impossibly. Queen eventually gets to the bottom of it, and the novels were always presented as a fair-play “challenge to the reader,” stating that all the clues necessary to solve the mystery were in the story, and if you paused before reading the explanation you would have a fair chance of figuring it out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 16, 2016

Louis De Berniéres's six best books

Louis De Berniéres is the author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin and other books. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry

A phenomenal epic about driving stolen cattle hundreds of miles across America. I worked on a ranch in South America for a year so know what it’s like to round up cattle on horseback: the smell of your horse, the dust kicked up and the sound of hooves. My copy is utterly mangled because I read it in the bath.
Read about the other books on the list.

Lonesome Dove may just be The Great Texas Novel. It is among Ann Brashares' six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top books for shy readers

At the Guardian Katy Guest tagged six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, including:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Austen’s Mr Darcy embodies a particular sort of shy person: one so stricken by social anxiety that he ends up coming across as arrogant. He snubs Elizabeth at the Meryton ball, because dancing embarrasses him. His first marriage proposal is excruciating: “In vain have I struggled. It will not do …” A contemporary equivalent is Douglas Peterson in David Nicholls’ Us: a good man whose stuttering inability to say the right thing makes him slightly unbearable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Garry Trudeau's six favorite books list, Tara Sonin's list of seven sweet and swoony romances for wedding season, Ross Johnson's list of seven of the greatest rivalries in fiction, Helen Dunmore's six best books list, Jenny Kawecki's list of eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, Peter James's top ten list of works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The seven most disastrous parties in fiction

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads blog he tagged seven parties in books among the worst ever thrown, including:
Every Single Party in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Not only are the expensive and decadent soirées thrown by Gatsby (in an attempt at attractive Daisy to his opulent home) sad and somewhat horrifying in their empty spectacle, a great deal of the tragedy of the book’s final pages is set in motion early on when Tom brings Nick to a small party with his mistress Myrtle in an apartment in the Valley of Ashes that appears to have been built out of sin and regret. Parties are supposed to be fun, but despite Gatsby’s money, none of the parties in this brilliant novel are events you want to attend—you either must attend, or you stay home and appreciate the simplicity of your life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Great Gatsby appears among four books that changed Jodi Picoult, Joseph Connolly's top ten novels about style, Nick Lake’s ten favorite fictional tricksters and tellers of untruths in books, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of five of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books, Elizabeth Wilhide's nine illustrious houses in fiction, Suzette Field's top ten literary party hosts, Robert McCrums's ten best closing lines in literature, Molly Driscoll's ten best literary lessons about love, Jim Lehrer's six favorite 20th century novels, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best clocks in literature and ten of the best misdirected messages, Tad Friend's seven best novels about WASPs, Kate Atkinson's top ten novels, Garrett Peck's best books about Prohibition, Robert McCrum's top ten books for Obama officials, Jackie Collins' six best books, and John Krasinski's six best books, and is on the American Book Review's list of the 100 best last lines from novels. Gatsby's Jordan Baker is Josh Sorokach's biggest fictional literary crush.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Top ten books about "bad" mothers

Peggy Frew’s debut novel, House of Sticks, won the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. Her new novel is Hope Farm.

One of Frew's top ten books featuring the "messy intersection of the mother’s actual self with her role in the lives of her children," as shared at the Guardian:
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

Pearl Tull is the matriarch of this family drama, a marvellous character – full of pride and disappointment, tragically lonely yet so abrasive she’s hard to like. When abandoned by her husband she tells their children that he’s away on business, extending the deadline as months, then years, pass. She congratulates herself on successfully fooling everyone, but, as we later learn, she didn’t do at all. This folding back of the story from different angles – as she gives each child a voice – shines light on the missed connections of one family, at the centre of which Pearl remains slightly inscrutable, as a mother so often is to her children.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six YA reads that get high school right

At the BN Teen blog Michael Waters tagged six excellent realistic YA contemporary novels for back to school season, including:
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Sam is dead. Well, not really. Though on the night of February 12 she dies in a car accident, she wakes up the next morning to relive the day again. And again. And again. Think Groundhog Day, except starring a popular high school student who, on the surface, may easily be written off as a typical mean girl. But the magic of Before I Fall is Sam’s evolution: as she continually relieves the day of February 12, she starts to question her own ethics. Like Falling Into Place, Before I Fall feels so real because it dismantles the trope of a popular mean girl—Sam is written with such empathy, and it rings true to the reality of high school, where it so often seems that, deep down, everyone is equally confused and lonely and insecure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Five alluring literary love triangles

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged five favorite literary love triangles, including:
The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Possibly the ultimate fantasy love triangle in the ultimate fantasy novel: the story of Arthur’s rise to the throne of Camelot, told by the women surrounding him from his priestess half-sister Morgaine to his Queen Gwenhwyfar, who had a forbidden love for Lancelet, one of his knights. This novel is controversial and deals with issues such as religious extremism and incest, but at its heart are complex, dramatic relationships as the women navigate love and happiness, which often do not go hand in hand.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Ewan Morrison's top ten literary ménages à trois.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 12, 2016

Eight books for people who may move to Canada

At BN Reads Ross Johnson tagged eight books for people who may move to Canada, including:
How to Be a Canadian, by Will Ferguson and Ian Ferguson

If you’re going to move to Canada, you’re going to need a sense of humor (unless you’re going to Montreal, in which case you’re going to want to learn French). Canadian travel writer and humorist Will Ferguson, along with his brother Ian, has some handy tips on living, eating, having sex, and sticking your tongue to a frozen chainlink fence like a true northerner. The brothers aren’t afraid to poke a little fun at their land (Ferguson’s previous book was Why I Hate Canadians), but there’s a fair bit of truth stuck in among the gags. Canadians, generally, aren’t afraid to have a little fun at their own expense. Which doesn’t mean that you should do it, but it’ll help to get a feel for a brand of comedy that’s a bit more self-effacing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Four top 9/11 novels for young readers

At the Christian Science Monitor Jenny Sawyer tagged four powerful novels to help young readers come to terms with 9/11, including:
All We Have Left by Wendy Mills (Ages 14+)

Wendy Mills steps bravely into the Twin Towers with this young adult novel that spans two time periods – 2001 and 2016 – and interweaves the stories of two strong female protagonists who have more in common than they know.

Jesse’s brother died in the September 11th attacks, and her life has been shaped by the fallout from his death, which is still convulsing her family. Back in 2001, Alia finds it infinitely more bearable to be a Muslim than to be a 16-year-old. Both narratives take off when these resilient young heroines find themselves in desperate circumstances: Jesse searching for clues as to why her brother was in the World Trade Center in the first place, and Alia fighting for her life as a chance errand takes her deep inside the towers at the time of the attack.

It’s rare that a book manages to be deeply thoughtful and still offer up a compelling read, but “All We Have Left” seems to do so effortlessly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Five top 9/11 novels

At The Daily Beast, Jimmy So named five novels that deal with 9/11 in significant if oblique ways, including:
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill

Netherland is a gaunt novel that begins with a Dutch banker, named Hans van den Broek, who fled his Tribeca loft and lived with his family in the Chelsea Hotel after the World Trade Center fell. O’Neill’s prose is precise and whisperingly rich throughout, and offers perhaps the best sensory report on New York in the days after 9/11: “Around the clock, ambulances sped eastward on West Twenty-third Street with a sobbing escort of police motorcycles,” Hans observes. “Sometimes I confused the cries of the sirens with my son’s nighttime cries.” The attacks puts him in a kind of paralysis, and his wife leaves him for London, freeing him to turn to a game that, although you wouldn’t likely think of it that way, O’Neill somehow makes into a symbol of the American dream: cricket. The book is lovingly careful with its symbolism, so when Hans experiences his rebirth from sluggishness and embraces the vibrant sport, which has a healthy subculture among West Indian immigrants in the city’s ungroomed public parks, the emotional sonority fits, taking us on Hans’s redemptive arc without being overwrought.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Netherland is among Richard Tomlinson's top ten cricket scenes in fiction and Brooke Hauser's six favorite books about immigrants.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five sci-fi novels that satirize society as we know it

Luke Rhinehart's new book is Invasion. One of his five favorite sci-fi satires, as shared at
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

Much of Vonnegut’s work, both sci-fi and other, is a satirical attack on man’s tendency to take everything seriously, a theme of my work also. But the novel that makes the most clear and focused satirical attack on the established society or its tendencies as projected into the future is Player Piano. It makes an almost Luddite criticism of the way capitalism and technology seem to be developing. In the novel, Vonnegut imagines a world dominated by a supercomputer and run by a “one-percent” of engineers who live a life of isolated luxury, in contrast to the sad powerless lives of the masses. Machines have eliminated all but a few technical jobs, and the dominant class does nothing to alleviate the misery of the majority. Vonnegut even foresees that electing an unintelligent president is irrelevant since the real power lies with the rich engineering elite. The book seems more pertinent today than ever, since the unemployment, inequalities, and vast chasm between the super-rich and most others that Vonnegut anticipated are now becoming even more rampant.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 9, 2016

Five top feel-good short story collections

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five short story collections that will leave you with a smile on your face, including:
Nine Inches, by Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta’s stories qualify as feel-good tales because their scenarios will be familiar to anyone who has lived, worked, or raised children in a suburb or small town, and their denouements often serve as wish fulfillment for the reader. Ever been annoyed by a fellow parent at a Little League game? Well, the characters in “The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face” lose their cool so you don’t have to. Many stories have funny scenarios that sound like they could have happened down the street, yesterday—like “Nine Inches,” in which teachers serving as chaperones at a junior high dance must keep their charges that far apart because the last dance devolved into a “a drunken brawl/gropefest,” forever immortalized on YouTube.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Top ten dodgy lawyers in literature

Alex Wade is a writer, freelance journalist, media lawyer and lecturer. His newest book is Flack's Last Shift. One of the author's ten top dodgy lawyers in literature, as shared at the Guardian:
Sandor Himmelstein in Herzog by Saul Bellow

Here’s another tricky customer. Sandor Himmelstein is the lawyer to Moses E Herzog, Bellow’s eponymous protagonist. Herzog is going through a divorce, but staying with Himmelstein doesn’t do him any favours. He’s bullied by the lawyer, who despises Herzog’s emotional response to the world and merrily declares of his profession: “We’re all whores.” There are various morals in Herzog; one might be to never, ever stay with your lawyer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Herzog also appears on Zachary Leader's list of Bellow's five must-read novels, Eli Gottlieb's list of the top 10 literary scenes from the battle of the sexes, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best taxis in literature and ten of the best bad lawyers in literature, and Rebecca Goldstein's list of the five best novels of ideas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Ten of the strangest novels set in Florida

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads blog he tagged the ten strangest novels set in Florida, including:
Razor Girl, by Carl Hiaasen

Hiaasen is the Jester King of Florida novels. He has unleashed a demented string of stories as hilarious as their characters are downright strange. Razor Girl is one of the most anticipated novels of the year for good reason: namely, its characters. The rogues gallery is impressive, from Razor Girl herself, who subsists off of automobile crash scams; to con artist Trebeaux, continuously moving sand from one eroded beach to another; to the Wisconsin accordion player pretending to be a Florida redneck for a reality TV show; and an attorney addicted to—and being disfigured by—an erectile dysfunction medicine he’s litigating against. And that isn’t even the half of it, as once again, Hiaasen effortlessly captures the weirdness of the most magical place on Earth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Five YA novels featuring fantastic liars

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged five YA novels featuring seven of his favorite liars, including:
Cady: We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

This is a tough one to talk about. Spoilers, you see. All I’ll say about this is that Cady’s recovering from a head injury and suffers from terrible migraines and memory loss, so her recollections of what really happened two summers ago is not completely reliable. But when you read this book, you’ll understand why—in some ways—Cady might just be the Katie Ledecky in the 800m freestyle of lying. This is a fantastically twisty, page-turn-y thriller. Go read it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We Were Liars is among Michael Waters's six must-read YA books for Mr. Robot fans, 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.

Also see: Nick Lake's top ten liars in fiction and Dan Ariely's six top books about, or by, liars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 5, 2016

Graham Moore's six favorite books about technology

Graham Moore's new novel is The Last Days of Night. One of his six favorite books about technology, as shared at The Week magazine:
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

In his 2003 masterpiece, Gibson directed his microscopically precise prose at the present day. He describes the everyday experiences of this moment — jet lag, email, online chat rooms, global branding campaigns — as if they were from the far future, revealing the unique strangeness of the era we live in.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pattern Recognition is among Damien Walter's five science fiction novels for people who hate SF and David Ulin's five essential 9/11 books.

Learn about why Gibson decided to set Pattern Recognition in the present, unlike his previous novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Ten of the best sci-fi & fantasy schools

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged ten top fictional educational institutions from SFF books, including:
The University (The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss)

A school so old and important it doesn’t even need a name, the University, located just across the Omethi River near Imre, is truly the place to go if you want to master sympathetic magic. Hiding a multitude of secrets in its exclusive archives (whatever you do, don’t try to bring a lantern into the stacks), and with a staff of nine professors, each with their own quirks, its a great place to learn, provided you have the talents (and the marks) to swing the tuition. Kvothe’s trials and tribulations at the University comprise a hefty chunk of Patrick Rothfuss’ addictive (and still maddeningly incomplete) fantasy trilogy—perhaps it should have been called the University of Hard Knocks.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles Series #1) is among Arwen Elys Dayton's five top books about false identities.

My Book, The Movie: The Name of the Wind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Six of the best books about university life

Michelle Dean is a critic and journalist based in New York. One of her six best books about university life, as shared at the Guardian:
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

When the first excerpt from this novel ran in the New Yorker in 2010, it was the sort of thing that every bookish person in New York went around asking each other: “Did you read this yet?” Come for Eugenides’s deconstruction of the traditional romantic plot that ends with a wedding; stay for the way Madeleine and her suitor talk about their mutual obsession with the theories of Roland Barthes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 2, 2016

Seven top works of Afrofuturism

Ardi Alspach is a writer, editor, designer, and teacher. One of her seven top works of Afrofuturism, as shared at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead

The Intuitionist is a unique novel about integration and racial progress in a world of elevators and their inspectors. The inspectors are divided between Empiricist and Intuitionists. Protagonist Lila Mae Watson becomes the second black inspector—and the first black female black—in the Elevator Guild. When she finds herself in trouble with the powers that be, she uses her wit and research skills to untangle herself, in the process stumbling upon lost technology that could deliver her society into a new future. While this novel skews more toward the literary than the genre elements of Afrofuturism, it remains an important work that comments on racism and societal reform in a science fictional universe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top unrequited loves in literary history

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads blog he tagged the top six unrequited loves in literary history, including:
Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy

No one can prove that Jane Austen was hopelessly in love with Tom Lefroy, or that Lefroy was the inspiration for Mr. Darcy, or anything beyond the documented facts that Austen and Lefroy flirted a bit and had some sort of go-nowhere relationship. The circumstantial evidence is powerful, however: Austen wrote three novels in a furiously passionate period immediately following her time with Lefroy, hinting at some sort of powerful emotional event—like, say, the man you’d fallen in love with leaving you to pursue (an admittedly brilliant) legal career.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see John Mullan's ten best examples of unrequited love in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Top ten books featuring parks

Travis Elborough's most recent book is A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People’s Institution. One of his ten best books featuring parks, as shared at the Guardian:
Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen (1814)

Jane Austen lived in the period when wealthy landowners were smitten by schemes to remodel their great country estates along the quasi-pastoral lines promoted by such giants of landscape architecture as Lancelot “Capability” Brown and Humphry Repton. Repton’s name appears no less than five times in Mansfield Park. The hows, whys, wherefores and difficulties of “improving” estate parkland crop up in several of Austen’s novels – Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice is, for example, commended for the understated nature of its new garden work – but perhaps receives their most thorough dissection in the exchanges between Fanny Price and Mr Rushworth in chapter six of this book. Elsewhere in the novel, Price wisely maintains that “to sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Maria Bertram in Mansfield Park is among Melissa Albert's five fictional characters who deserved better than they got.

--Marshal Zeringue