Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Top ten books about postwar Britain

Orange Prize winning and Booker Prize shortlisted author Linda Grant's new novel is The Dark Circle. One of Grant's ten top books about postwar Britain, as shared at the Guardian:
The Virgin in the Garden by AS Byatt

The optimism about the new Elizabethan age – anticipated after the Queen was crowned in 1953 – is reflected in Byatt’s novel about a group of young people in Yorkshire putting on a pageant to commemorate the coming coronation. In another part of the landscape a new university is planned, part of the concrete and plate-glass expansion of higher education that would arrive in the 60s. Byatt would follow her characters through to late middle age in subsequent novels.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Five sci-fi & fantasy books that treat mental illness with compassion

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ardi Alspach tagged five works of speculative fiction that address mental illness with compassion, including:
Planetfall, Emma Newman

Emma Newman is known for her Split Worlds urban fantasy series, the first of which was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Society’s Best Novel and Best Newcomer awards. She also hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast “Tea and Jeopardy.” Planetfall is her first science-fiction novel, and is absolutely stunning. Newman has been open about her own struggle with anxiety, and it clearly informed the direction of this novel, which follows a new colony of humans inhabiting a seemingly empty alien world. The setting is littered with the remnants of ancient alien architecture that prove key to solving the mystery surrounding the death of the colony’s founder and visionary, but the most fascinating element of the narrative is that we experience everything through the eyes of the deeply troubled Ren, who is coping successfully and not-so-successfully with isolationism, loss, and the burden of carrying secrets in a small, hermetically sealed society. When an impossible stranger enters their midst, the careful balance Ren has struck between herself and the other colonists is threatened. I hesitate to reveal more about the plot, as the shattering beauty of the book hinges so much on the journey of discovery for both the narrator and the reader. I’m very much looking forward to the companion volume, After Atlas, in November.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven underappreciated literary masterpieces

Kim Church's short stories and poetry have appeared in Shenandoah, Mississippi Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prime Number Magazine, the Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward, and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has received fiction fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Millay Colony for the Arts, and Vermont Studio Center.

Born and raised in Lexington, North Carolina, Church earned her B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her J.D. degree from UNC School of Law. She has taught writing workshops in a variety of settings, from college classrooms to death row. She lives with her husband, artist Anthony Ulinski, in Raleigh, where she divides her time between writing and law.

Church's first novel, Byrd, won the Crook’s Corner Book Prize and the Independent Publisher Book Award Bronze Medal for Literary Fiction; was a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize and the Balcones Fiction Prize; and was longlisted for the SIBA Book Award and the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction.

One title on the author's list of eleven underappreciated literary masterpieces, as shared at the Huffington Post:
The Brothers K by David James Duncan (1992)

A quintessentially American, gather-you-in-its-arms and-hold-you-close-to-its-big-beating-heart novel about the Chance family of Camas, Washington—a mill-working father trying to stage a return to minor league baseball, a mother distracted by religion, twin sisters conducting peculiar science experiments, and brothers divided by the Vietnam war. Everyone will love this book. Everyone will want to adopt this family.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 28, 2016

Marina Abramovic's six favorite books

Marina Abramovic's new memoir is Walk Through Walls. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Castle by Franz Kafka

Kafka's unfinished novel features so many lives and so many different moments from the development of our society. Its lessons can be applied to the cultural and political moment we live in right now.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Castle is among Gabe Habash's top twelve books that end mid-sentence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Five real disasters that writers have used to generate fantastical stories

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at One of five alternate histories featuring actual natural disasters that he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
The Black Plague, The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

Years of Rice and Salt is an alternate history that explores what would happen if the Black Plague really did wipe out most of Europe, instead of just laying waste to large swaths of the population. Without the European migration and progress, the Middle East and China emerge as the major superpowers in the world, with their philosophy and culture informing progress for years to come. Eventually, of course, this also erupts into massive war, as fewer world superpowers in no way mean fewer wars. Robinson keeps most of his fiction well within the plausible, though the novel does speculate on the afterlives of some of the characters, and takes minor liberties with tech advancement.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Twelve books that totally get female friendship

At Cosmopolitan Julie Buntin tagged twelve books that totally get female friendship, including:
Megan Abbott's Dare Me is the magnetic story of what happens to Addy and Beth's friendship when the cheerleading squad they're used to running gets a new coach. Abbott understands girls — she gets their sweetness, their complexity, and their ability to be completely vicious.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Dare Me is among L.S. Hilton's top ten female-fronted thrillers, Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Anna Fitzpatrick's four top horror stories set in the real universe of girlhood and Adam Sternbergh's six notable crime novels that double as great literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 25, 2016

Seven books that celebrate the joys of being alone

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged seven books that celebrate the joys of solitude, including:
The Turquoise Ledge by Leslie Marmon Silko

In The Turquoise Ledge, Silko writes with love about her desert home near Tucson, where she lives in perfect solitude except for her pets and the desert creatures who visit her. She respects rattlesnakes, freeing them when they are trapped in her house. This book is a meandering narrative, part naturalist’s journal, part memoir. Silko writes about her Laguna Pueblo, Cherokee, Mexican, and European heritage, and about an annoying neighbor she calls “machine man,” who uses construction vehicles to dislodge boulders from their desert surroundings in public land so he can use them on his private property. But much of the book details Silko’s joyous walks in nature, where she might spot a beautiful cloud and declare, “Ah what a beauty you are. Just look at you!”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Ten books by indigenous authors

At LitHub, Emily Temple tagged ten top books by indigenous authors, including:
Louise Erdrich, The Round House

Erdrich has become a literary mainstay, though she’s probably still most famous for her debut novel Love Medicine. However, 2012’s The Round House—which won the National Book Award that year—is my favorite. It follows a teenage boy on a reservation in North Dakota who seeks revenge for the rape of his mother by a white man—a crime that seems will slip through the cracks of the complex Federal and tribal laws. Seriously unputdownable.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about women in the British empire

Stephen Taylor is a writer of biography, history and travel. He has an enduring connection with Africa, where he was born and which provided the setting for his first four book, but in recent years he has turned to people and events from the Georgian age. These themes come together in his latest book, the first comprehensive life of Lady Anne Barnard.

One of Taylor's ten top books about women in the British empire, as shared at the Guardian:
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

An Australian novel, born in the outback to a writer who was a teenager when she set down her dream of escaping Possum Gully for a more refined world. So she did, while retaining the independence an upbringing in the bush inspired: “To me,” she wrote (in 1895), “the Prince of Wales will be no more than a shearer, unless when I meet him he displays some personality apart from his princeship – otherwise he can go hang.”
Read about the other books on the list.

My Brilliant Career is among Cal Flyn's ten top books about the Australian bush.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Seven trippy works of metaphysical science fiction

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at One of seven surreal works of metaphysical science fiction that he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Vicious, by V.E. Schwab

Vicious might seem like an outlier on a list full of bizarre, new-wave concepts, but Schwab’s novel of superheroes and villains is a strangely beautiful and yet horrifyingly brutal deconstruction of the mythological struggle between the forces of good and evil. In this world, two scientists, Victor and Eli, discover that a near-death experience will grant people superpowers. Ten years after an experiment gone wrong destroys their friendship and lands Victor in prison, he escapes to exact revenge on his former friend and research partner, even as Eli puts his own ambitious plans into action. While the novel certainly carries the signifiers of a classic tale of good and evil, Schwab adds a staggering complexity to her heroes and villains, while at the same time flipping the classic iconography of “light is good, dark is evil.” The result is a fascinating and heady noir where two flawed people try to out-gambit one another in the hopes of resolving their inner pain.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Nine radical books about motherhood

Elisa Albert is the author of After Birth (2015), The Book of Dahlia (2008), How This Night is Different (2006), and the editor of the anthology Freud’s Blind Spot (2010). At The Huffington Post she tagged nine radical books about motherhood, including:
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I first read Steinbeck in Mr. Bellon’s 11th grade AP English class. It was a joy unlike anything else I’d experienced (though that’s not saying much circa 11th grade). It awoke in me a new understanding of literature, history, nature, the scope of human experience. I felt, for the first time, plugged into something bigger than my sad-ass adolescent problems. When I think of Steinbeck I imagine sunlight, and see my seventeen-year-old self as a waterlogged plant. Rose of Sharon is pregnant with the only real hope in the novel, and when she gives birth at the end, it’s to a dead baby. I choke on the sorrow of it even still. And when they come upon the starving man, she offers him her full breasts, and he drinks, and is saved. I am now crying in a coffee shop.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Grapes of Wrath also appears on Susan Shillinglaw's list of the thirteen best John Steinbeck books, Jill Boyd's list of five of the worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving, a list of three of Ali Khamenei's favorite novels, Segun Afolabi's top 10 list of "on the move" books, Mark O'Connell's list of the ten best songs based on books, John Kerry's list of five books on progressivism, Stephen King's five best list of books on globalization, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pieces of fruit in literature, and Honor Blackman's six best books list. It is one of Frederic Raphael's top ten talkative novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Eight stories of technology run amok

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 eight accounts of technology run amok, including:
Player Piano, by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is a master at presenting horrific, dystopian, and disturbing premises with so much cranky humor, you almost forget how awful his imagined worlds were. In Player Piano, automation has made human labor in almost any form obsolete. While that sounds pretty good on a Monday morning when the alarm goes off, what it means in practice is billions of people all over the world living on welfare and bored out of their minds. In a world where self-driving trucks are delivering our beer, we’d all best start making plans for how to fill our spare time when all we have is spare time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Player Piano is among Luke Rhinehart's five favorite sci-fi satires.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 21, 2016

Six books for fans of "Orange Is The New Black"

One title on Melissa Albert's list of six YA reads for fans of Orange Is The New Black, as shared at the BN Teen blog:
Something Like Hope, by Shawn Goodman

One of OITNB’s more eye-opening subplots is the release and almost immediate reincarceration of Taystee. In the changed world outside prison, she has nowhere to go, nobody to count on, and no help from the system in making a reentry plan—so it’s no surprise when she finds herself locked in a vicious cycle of recidivism. Something Like Hope‘s Shavonne, daughter of a junkie mom, has been locked up since junior high, and the approach of her 18th birthday and freedom fills her with fear. A new therapist opens her up to self-knowledge, empathy, and even hope, in a world where caring too much can be used to destroy you—but she still has to survive the vengeful inmates and sadistic guards standing between her and a life outside.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Seven books for fans of Orange Is The New Black.

--Marshal Zeringue

Amor Towles's six favorite books

Amor Towles' newest novel is A Gentleman in Moscow. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

"It rained for four years, eleven months, and two days." Thus García Márquez matter-of-factly begins a chapter of One Hundred Years of Solitude, throwing open the shutters of our imagination. This simple sentence alerts us that we are in a world we know and yet don't know.
Read about the other entries on the list.

One Hundred Years of Solitude made Samantha Mabry's list of five books that carry curses, Sameer Rahim's list of five essential works by Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende's list of six favorite books, Sara Jonsson's list of five books to read when you can't go to sleep, Juan Gabriel Vásquez's five best list of novels about South America, Pushpinder Khaneka's list of three of the best books on Colombia, Michael Jacobs's list of the top ten Colombian stories, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families and Rebecca Stott's five best list of historical novels. It is one of Lynda Bellingham's six best books, Walter Mosley's five favorite books, Eric Kraft's five most important books, and James Patterson's five most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Ten best coming-of-age books you've probably never read

Camille DeAngelis is the author of Immaculate Heart, Bones & All, Petty Magic: Being the Memoirs and Confessions of Miss Evelyn Harbinger, Temptress and Troublemaker, and Mary Modern, as well as a first-edition guidebook, Moon Ireland. She is a graduate of New York University (B.A. in Fine Arts, minor in Irish Studies, 2002) and the National University of Ireland, Galway (M.A. in Writing, 2005).

When her novel Bones & All was released, DeAngelis shared her ten "favorite coming-of-age novels that you probably haven't read" with Publishers Weekly. One title on the list:
The Dark by John McGahern

Like much of the best Irish literature, this novel is beautifully bleak. A young man is desperate to study his way out of his dead-end rural upbringing, and while his widower father (whom the son thinks of not as “Dad,” but by their surname, Mahoney) seems to support the boy's ambitions, his manipulations leave the protagonist entirely confused as to whether he wants to leave forever or stay forever. While some critics have taken McGahern's point to be that there is no escaping one's upbringing or culture, I take this novel as a cautionary tale: if we cling to what is safe and familiar, we will wither into the sort of people we used to loathe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Bones & All.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Twelve hopeful YA books to brighten your day

At the BN Teen blog Samantha Randolph tagged 12 hopeful YA books to brighten your day. Two titles on the list:
Girl Against the Universe, by Paula Stokes

Paula Stokes perfectly articulates the low point of life’s battles in the title of her latest: Girl Against the Universe. Much like protagonist Maguire, anyone experiencing anxiety, PTSD, or other mental illness can feel like the universe is waging a war on them. The beauty of this contemporary YA is that Maguire learns what it means to work within her own universe, without having to control everything around her.

The Page 69 Test: Girl Against the Universe.

When Reason Breaks, by Cindy L. Rodriguez

Creating nuanced portrayals of depression is crucial, as every person experiences it differently. Maintaining a sense of hope while authentically expressing the low depths of depression is a two-part feat, and Cindy L. Rodriguez nails it in her contemporary story of two girls, Elizabeth Davis and Emily Delgado, who both have depression but experience it in unique ways. While working together on an English project about Emily Dickinson, they find out they have much more in common than previously thought, and must manage the demons that haunt them.

The Page 69 Test: When Reason Breaks.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five top novels with criminals covering their tracks

Jamie Kornegay lives in the Mississippi Delta, where he moved in 2006 to establish an independent bookstore, TurnRow Book Co. Before that he was a bookseller, events coordinator, and radio show producer at the famous Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. He studied creative fiction under Barry Hannah at the University of Mississippi.

Kornegay's 2015 novel is Soil.

One of his five favorite novels with criminals covering their tracks, as shared at The Daily Beast:
The Firm by John Grisham

Grisham lived 20 minutes away from me in high school, so naturally I read all of his books. I particularly loved the way his lawyer hero, Mitch McDeere, obsessively covered his tracks and used the maze of rules and procedure to stay one step ahead of his unscrupulous co-workers, whose conspiracies he was cannily exposing. This meticulous loophole-ducking is memorably employed in Guy Lawson’s recent Octopus, the wild and frequently hilarious true story of a hedge-fund manager who hides his bad financial gambles by doubling down again and again, as various and strange forces conspire against him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Firm is among Alafair Burke's seven top books that show the real lives of lawyers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Six top YA books with villains in the lead

At the BN Teen blog Sona Charaipotra tagged six top YA novels with villains as the hero of the story, including:
Tease, by Amanda Maciel

What happens when bullying goes too far? Sara Wharton, the main character in Maciel’s searing debut, isn’t the bullied one—she’s the bully. And now her victim is dead, having committed suicide. Does Sara accept the blame? Hell, no. But she and four classmates have been charged with bullying and harassment, and as she faces the trial, she recounts the circumstances that led to the tragedy, one that has irrevocably shifted the course of her life, making her guilty until proven otherwise.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about the hostile ocean

Cynan Jones's latest book is Cove. One of his ten top books about the hostile ocean, as shared at the Guardian:
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

When warm air from a low-pressure system collides with a flow of cool, dry air generated by high pressure, and this coincides with tropical moisture provided by a hurricane, the situation is ripe for a “perfect storm”. Such a storm is at the centre of this true account of the disaster that beset the Andrea Gail and its crew, out of Gloucester, Massachusetts, on a late-season fishing expedition in 1991.

Rarely has a book battered me with so many astounding facts and figures – how much power a lightning strike delivers, how long trawl lines can be, the numbers behind waves … I read this book a long time ago, but it remains vivid in my mind.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Six sci-fi utopias where we’d all be better off

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at One of six sci-fi utopias where we’d rather be living that he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Little Belairs, Engine Summer, by John Crowley

In the not too distant future of Engine Summer, humans have more or less settled into a post-technological society. It may be large, maze-like, and ignorant of much of human history, but its people are happy, and the oral tradition keeps the ideas of angels (the precursors who uplifted humanity) and the saints (people whose examples and parables live on) alive. Also rare for science fiction and fantasy: a sprawling, fantastical city that isn’t dystopian, nor full of unknown dangers. The outside world may be kind of a bizarre mess, but Little Belairs and its enclaves are wondrous, magical, and significantly safer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Five top books with giant monsters

Shawn Pryor is a writer and the creator of the all-ages graphic novel series Cash & Carrie. One of his five favorite books with giant monsters, as shared at
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Try to Play God, And You’ll Get Eaten by A Pack of Procompsognathus…

If you were disappointed with the massive Indominus Rex and the all the issues with the film Jurassic World, get a copy of the book that started the dinosaur phenomenon.

I first read Crichton’s Jurassic Park a few years ago, after a decade-plus of telling myself that I would finally read the source material so I could see the differences between the book and film. And as much as I enjoyed the first film, I enjoy this book even more because it has a solid explanation of how the dinosaurs could properly breed, and the fates of certain character are surprising as well as the fate of the island. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a monstrous, gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex attacking guests on the tour!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jurassic Park is among Nicole Hill's five weird science stories in which nothing could possibly go wrong, 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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Seven hilarious books by funny women

At the B&N Reads blog Molly Schoemann-McCann tagged seven hilarious books by funny women, including:
I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting, by Karen Alpert

If you’re a parent who knows the sting of an epic Pinterest fail, this is the book for you. Alpert strikes back at the legion of online sanctimommies and daddies who swear they’ve mastered the formula for perfect parenting (spoiler: it involves lots of quinoa and organic, GMO-free cotton) with an ode to those of us who end the day with a nice pat on the back as long as we’ve managed to get through it with our children alive and accounted for. If you’ve ever worried about being bad at that lifelong job we call “nurturing the next generation,” this book will assure you that sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with being a “mediocre” parent, and at the end of the day, your kids will settle for just being loved (and maybe an extra cookie).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable books about family

Nicholas Sparks's newest novel is Two by Two. One of his six favorite books about family:
A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein

A doctor in turmoil anxiously watches his college-dropout son start a relationship with a woman who years earlier was acquitted of a horrifying crime. Grodstein's novel about a family in crisis is so riveting, you'll find yourself devouring each page.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Friend of the Family.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Ten of the best books by Kurt Vonnegut

Marc Leeds is the author of The Vonnegut Encyclopedia, co-founder and founding president of the Kurt Vonnegut Society, and a founding board member of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in Indianapolis.

One of ten essential Vonnegut books he tagged at Publishers Weekly:
The Sirens of Titan

The premise of the novel is that all of human history has been one big Rube Goldberg invention by the Tralfamadorians for the single purpose of getting a spare part to their stranded but intrepid intergalactic messenger, Salo. It takes nearly all of human history to do so.

Beyond that grossly inadequate summary, Sirens is the birthplace for key Vonnegutian concepts that reappear in later novels. It is here we first learn of Tralfamadore, as well as the chrono-synclastic infundibulum (where otherwise contradictory viewpoints are all truthful), and the untoward influences of organized religion that has too often been wielded with vengeance. It is also a continuation of Vonnegut’s literary and personal struggle with identity and the capriciousness of wealth and desire.
Learn about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Seven thrilling, disturbing mysteries written by women

At the A.V. Club Karin Slaughter recommended seven thrilling, disturbing mysteries written by women. One title she promoted:
Garnethill by Denise Mina

KS: Denise Mina is so fantastic about writing about what’s really close to what actually happens with most crimes, which is that people just make stupid mistakes. And they keep making them and keep making them, and suddenly they can’t dig themselves out. The main character in this book is an addict—she’s an alcoholic—and she gets blackout drunk, and she wakes up and her boyfriend has been brutally murdered, and she’s not sure whether or not she did it. It’s really just a fantastic opening. The boyfriend is also her therapist. She has a psychiatric history that’s really dark and just the suspense of who she is—did she do this horrible thing? Is she capable of doing this? The not-knowing is just a fantastic trick that...[read on]
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about important US presidential elections

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 ten books about significant presidential elections, including:
1948: Harry Truman’s Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America, by David Pietrusza

Everyone has seen the hilarious photo of a victorious President Truman holding up the “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” headline, but what makes the election of 1948 so important today is the reason behind that photo: the disastrously bad polling that had Dewey pegged as a shoe-in for victory. Understanding not just the failure of early polling techniques, but the way a long-shot candidate like Truman pulled together the support necessary for victory, is crucial to understanding every election held since.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 11, 2016

Nine novels with shocking endings

One title on Kirkus's list of nine novels whose endings will shock you:

"Somewhere, Donald E. Westlake, John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard are smiling down on this nasty, funny piece of work."
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Marauders.

The Page 69 Test: The Marauders.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five YA novels in which art saves lives

S. Jae-Jones is the author of Wintersong, forthcoming from Thomas Dunne Books in Winter 2017. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five YA "novels in which art saves lives, both literally and figuratively," including:
Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow

Charlotte Davis, called Charlie, has had a harrowing life. She has been homeless, neglected, and abused, and she’s all of 17 years old. Charlie carries the scars of her past—both physical and emotional—and struggles to surface from the turmoil of her pain. She’s in therapy, but Girl in Pieces doesn’t follow the simple, neat narrative of recovery. Recovery doesn’t start at rock bottom and steadily climb to the top. Recovery is an up-and-down process, where one is always course-correcting after setbacks. Charlie is an artist, but art is not the only piece she needs to make herself whole. Medication, therapy, and finding a community are also pieces she needs to fit together and arrange in her life, and one of the ways she is able to make sense of her circumstances is through drawing. Art is not a magic cure-all, but one of many ways to find healing.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Five secret shared universes in literature

Whitney Collins is the author of The Hamster Won't Die: A Treasury of Feral Humor, creator of the website The Zen of Gen X. At B&N Reads she tagged five top shared universes--"the idea of re-using characters from one story in another, or creating a fictional universe in which to set different stories"--in literature, including:
Every Single Stephen King Novel

It’s no secret that Stephen King has been slowly weaving every single novel he’s ever written into a comprehensive multiverse, but the slow pace of his undertaking has kept it hidden from some readers. An argument can be made that King kicked off his efforts in earnest with 1994’s Insomnia, which makes the multiverse explicit and introduces the idea that all the stories King has told are repetitions of a struggle between good and evil that ripples throughout time and space. What makes King’s multiverse exceptional is that he clearly wrote most of his early works without the concept in place, making his ability to weave them into a cohesive whole impressive indeed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about the Himalayas

Robert Twigger's books include White Mountain: Real and Imagined Journeys in the Himalayas. One of his top ten books about the Himalayas, as shared at the Guardian:
Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah

Shah, of Afghan descent, was born in Simla in the Himalayas and travelled extensively in Afghan, Pakistan and Indian mountain regions, collecting tales and stories, most notably the jokes of Mulla Nasrudin. His purpose was not only folkloric or academic; Shah sought to extract the living truths often encapsulated in traditional tales, and Tales of the Dervishes provides a good selection of such stories about Himalayan people.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Eight books for fans of HBO’s "Westworld"

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ceridwen Christensen tagged eight books for fans of HBO’s Westworld. One title on the list:
Our Lady of The Ice, by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The feral androids of Our Lady of the Ice were themselves once theme park automata, left to rust and run down after the pleasure dome of Hope City in Antarctica was retooled to be a power station for the mainland. The andies have no legal standing— occasionally people make raids into the park to capture them for parts—but they also hold down jobs and interact with humans on more equitable footing. One of the subplots concerns the android Sofia, working towards reprogramming herself, cutting out the code that makes her snap into the dance routines that she was created to perform. Sophia is not interested in becoming human, as so many fictional androids are, but more with achieving self-determination. Given the behavior of the humans on Westworld, I would suspect that may ultimately be the hosts’ goal as well.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Our Lady of The Ice is among Ceridwen Christensen's eleven books about domed cities.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Twelve moving novels of the Second World War

At Off the Shelf Caitlin Kleinschmidt tagged twelve moving novels of the Second World War, including:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

During a snowstorm in 1910, a baby is born. She dies before she can draw her first breath. During a snowstorm in 1910, the same baby is born and lives. What if there were an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you be able to save the world from its own destiny? What power can one woman exert over the fate of civilization as she lives through the turbulent events of the twentieth century again and again?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Life After Life is among Jenny Shank's top five innovative novels that mess with chronology, Dell Villa's top twelve books from 2013 to give your mom, and Judith Mackrell's five best young fictional heroines in coming-of-age novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top literary antiheroines

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged her six literary antiheroines you’ll love to hate (and maybe love, too), including:
Scarlett O’Hara (Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell)

If you’ve seen the classic film adaptation of this novel, you already have an idea of what makes Scarlett an anti-heroine: she’s brash, pursues her dreams and desires in direct opposition to society’s rules, and definitely makes enemies along the way. Desperately in love with Ashley Wilkes at the start of the Civil War, Scarlett is devastated when Ashley marries a kind and simple girl, Melanie, instead. What ensues is a years-long journey that Scarlett believes will eventually lead her back to Ashley, but instead leads her to tragic ends.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone With the Wind is among four books that changed Jodi Picoult, five books that changed Kimberley Freeman, Becky Ferreira's seven best comeuppances in literature, Emily Temple's ten greatest kisses in literature and Suzi Quatro's six best books, and was a book that made a difference to Pat Conroy. It is on the Christian Science Monitor's list of the ten best novels of the U.S. Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 7, 2016

Yan Lianke's six favorite books

Yan Lianke's latest book is The Explosion Chronicles. One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Call to Arms by Lu Xun

Though Lu is less well known to the rest of the world, he is considered one of Asia's greatest authors. Some of the stories in this 1922 collection provided literature with a unique form of satire grounded in blood and agony. They functioned, at the same time, as swan songs for that distinctive satirical form.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Call to Arms is among Rana Mitter's five top books on modern China.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Five books featuring unreliable narrators

Avery Hastings is the author of Feuds and Torn. One of her five favorite books featuring unreliable narrators, as shared at
Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is one of the most beautifully-written and authentic stories I’ve read about female friendship in years. Verity is arrested by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France when her British spy plane crashes…with her best friend in the pilot seat. The book reads as a confession as well as a recounting of the girls’ relationship and what led to the crash. The narrators are at once unreliable and sympathetic; and even as the “betrayal” of one leads to the death of another, both emerge as tragic heroines.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Code Name Verity also appears on Ryan Graudin's top five list of historical YAs, all set during World War II, Kelly Anderson's list of seven awesome books that celebrate female friendship, Natalie Zutter's top seven list of YA books where friendship trumps romance, Arwen Elys Dayton's top five list od books about false identities, Melissa Albert's top five list of YA books that might make one cry, Sara Brady's list of six of the best spies in romance, Lenore Appelhans's top ten list of teen books featuring flashbacks and Lydia Syson's list of ten of the best historical novels for young readers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five inspiring books about novel writers

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged five top novels about inspiring writers, including:
Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins

Isla has been in love with Josh for what feels like forever. And now—miracle of miracles—it seems like he likes her, too. But as their relationship gets more serious, Josh’s problems become Isla’s problems, including the way his singular devotion to writing and inking his graphic memoir distracts him from everything else (like, for instance, graduating high school). Then Isla reads his first draft, and she can’t help but feel insecure about the things that are in it. For a healthy dose of a adorable and a glimpse of what it’s like to be a writer’s other half, read Isla and the Happily Ever After.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Seven classic science fiction space odysseys

At the BookBub Blog Elisabeth Delp tagged seven classic science fiction space odysseys, including:
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut — young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Perfect for: Anyone who has ever loved playing the games Stratego, Battleship, or Risk. Don’t be fooled by the youth of the titular character; this book has a depth and intricacy people of all ages can enjoy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ender's Game is among Andrew Liptak's twelve novels that deserve better adaptations than Hollywood produced and top eleven sci-fi reads that might tempt video gamers to put down the controller and try reading, Chris Kluwe's six favorite books, and Jennifer Griffith Delgado's 11 most mind-blowing surprise endings in science fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 4, 2016

Jeff Kinney's six best books

Jeff Kinney is the author of the bestselling Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan

A wordless graphic novel about being an immigrant. A man arrives in a place where he can’t understand the language or the culture but he ultimately masters that world. The book takes a while to decode but it is a masterpiece.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about exile

Nada Awar Jarrar's latest novel is An Unsafe Haven. One of her ten favorite books about exile, as shared at the Guardian:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The possibility that one can feel doubly exiled is at the centre of this novel. Ifemelu is an educated young woman who moves from her native Nigeria to the US, where she discovers that race continues to influence social status and compromise one’s rights as a citizen. Not news to most of us, perhaps, but while Adichie’s message is undoubtedly political, it is her focus on Ifemelu’s day-to-day life in exile that makes this novel so compelling. At a dinner party in New York, Ifemelu tells a group of liberal intellectuals that her race had never been an issue in Nigeria, concluding: “I only became black when I came to this country.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Five top thrillers that resist easy fixes

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 thrillers that resist easy fixes, including:
One Shot, by Lee Child

In his ninth Jack Reacher novel, Lee Child offers a pure mystery for his hulking, drifting hero to solve: an expert sniper is accused of murdering several people in a public place, but Reacher uses a combination of his natural detective abilities and a deep knowledge of sniping and weapons to figure out what’s really going on, before it’s too late. Child manages to make pages of detail regarding the science and art of the sniper fascinating, and makes Reacher’s logical leap in solving the mystery 100 percent sound.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Three of the best books on Argentina

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three top books on Argentina. One title on the list:
My Father’s Ghost is Climbing in the Rain by Patricio Pron

Patricio Pron’s genre-defying novel of a struggle between memory and forgetting focuses on the “dirty war” in the 1970s.

The narrator returns to Argentina in 2008 from self-imposed exile in Berlin to be with his dying father. In his parents’ house, he finds a cache of documents relating to a recent missing-person case, that of 60-year-old Alberto José Burdisso. But the key is material relating to the disappearance of Alberto’s sister, Alicia, decades earlier, under the murderous military dictatorship. Through it, the son is able to piece together his father’s past.

He learns that his parents were part of an underground leftwing Peronist group that opposed the military junta – and that some members paid with their lives.

The quirky, fragmented telling of the story is challenging in parts, but perseverance pays dividends as the haunting novel excavates the family’s – and Argentina’s – tortured recent history.

“Your father isn’t sad that he fought the war,” the narrator’s mother says, “he’s only sad that we didn’t win.”

In this largely autobiographical tale, Pron pays tribute to those in his parents’ generation who defied the military dictatorship.

Pron was born in Argentina in 1975, the year before the dirty war began. He now lives in Spain.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top historical YA novels set during World War II

Ryan Graudin's new novel is Blood for Blood. One of her five favorite historical fiction YAs, all set during World War II, as shared at the BN Teen Blog:
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

You’ve probably already read this book. You’ve probably stained its pages with your tears. You’ve probably imagined what Death the narrator looks like. But just in case you haven’t, know that you should.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Book Thief also appears among Sarah Skilton's six most unusual YA narrators, Tracy-Ann Oberman's six best books, Kathryn Williams's top eleven Young Adult books for readers of all ages, Nicole Hill's top seven books with Death as a character, Lenore Appelhans's top ten teen books featuring flashbacks, and Kathryn Erskine's top 10 first person narratives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Top ten train stories

Kenneth Oppel is the author of many award-winning books, including The Boundless. One of his ten favorite train stories, as shared at the Guardian:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

I can’t imagine a better way of starting the school year than taking a magical steam train, especially one with a food cart that offered such a wide array of amazing chocolates and candies. I love those European style compartments with the sliding door that allows for a bit of cozy privacy: an oasis before the tumult of school, for friendships to be forged or rekindled.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Harry Potter books made Anna Bradley's list of the ten best literary quotes in a crisis, Nicole Hill's list of seven of the best literary wedding themes, Tina Connolly's top five list of books where the girl saves the boy, Ginni Chen's list of the eight grinchiest characters in literature, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of mothers in children's books, Nicole Hill's list of five of the best fictional bookstores, Sara Jonsson's list of the six most memorable pets in fiction, Melissa Albert's list of more than eight top fictional misfits, Cressida Cowell's list of ten notable mythical creatures, and Alison Flood's list of the top 10 most frequently stolen books.

Professor Snape is among Sophie Cleverly's ten top terrifying teachers in children’s books.

Hermione Granger is among Brooke Johnson top five geeky heroes in literature, Nicole Hill's nine best witches in literature, and Melissa Albert's top six distractible book lovers in pop culture.

Neville Longbottom is one of Ellie Irving's top ten quiet heroes and heroines.

Mr. Weasley is one of Melissa Albert's five weirdest fictional crushes.

Hedwig (Harry's owl) is among Django Wexler's top ten animal companions in children's fiction.

Scabbers the rat is among Ross Welford's ten favorite rodents in children's fiction.

Butterbeer is among Leah Hyslop's six best fictional drinks.

Albus Dumbledore is one of Rachel Thompson's ten greatest deaths in fiction.

Lucius Malfoy is among Jeff Somers's five best evil lieutenants (or "dragons") in SF/F.

Dolores Umbridge is among Melissa Albert's six more notorious teachers in fiction, Emerald Fennell's top ten villainesses in literature, and Derek Landy's top 10 villains in children's books. The Burrow is one of Elizabeth Wilhide's nine most memorable manors in literature.

Remus Lupin is among Aimée Carter's top ten shapeshifters in fiction.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appears on Amanda Yesilbas and Katharine Trendacosta's list ot twenty great insults from science fiction & fantasy and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest prison breaks in science fiction and fantasy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone also appears on Jeff Somers's top five list of books written in very unlikely places, Phoebe Walker's list of eight mouthwatering quotes from the greatest literary feasts, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best owls in literature, ten of the best scars in fiction and ten of the best motorbikes in literature, and Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, Charlie Higson's top 10 list of fantasy books for children, Justin Scroggie's top ten list of books with secret signs as well as Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that publishers didn't want to touch. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire made Chrissie Gruebel's list of six top fictional holiday parties and John Mullan's list of ten best graveyard scenes in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue