Friday, July 21, 2017

Five SFF books written collaboratively

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Six robots too smart for their own good

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Top ten opening scenes in books

Catherine Lacey's most recent novel is The Answers.

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fifty of the funniest books ever written

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 fifty of the funniest books ever written:
Under the Frog, by Tibor Fischer

An audacious and daring black comedy that was the first debut novel ever to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Under the Frog tells the dark but surprisingly funny story of two Hungarian basketball players, Pataki and Gyuri, between the end of World War II and the anti-Soviet uprising of 1956. Determined to flee their pointless factory work, the two athletes travel to every corner of Hungary, oftentimes in the nude, on an epic search for food, women, and meaning.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Five books that resemble science fiction

Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies. She has published four novels and three story collections with university and small presses, and a recent collection was chosen for Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2013 list. She has received an O. Henry award, been shortlisted for a Pushcart prize, for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, and twice for the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction. Her new novella, In Search of Lost Time, is about a woman who can steal time.

One of Heuler's five favorite books that "stand at the doorway between realistic and speculative," as shared at
The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen

Ostensibly a story about a doctor who went off to the Boer War and wrote back to his family describing what he saw, it amounts to a fantastic journey to a land where the Platonic ideals of things exist, and where if you destroy the original spoon, then spoons themselves cease to have any meaning. In fact, the journey is about enlightenment and death. The stories that are important to me are, indeed, all about journeys, whether interior or exterior, and the best ones unite these aspects. The Platonic spoon, the ability to destroy the idea of an object, has stayed with me a long time. We understand things only on the basis of the ideas we have about them. Give me something out of context and what will I do with it? Take away context, that’s what interests me. There’s a one- or two-page scene in this book where someone opens up the spigot of darkness, and can’t turn it off. Journeys in fantastic fiction turn the obstacles into metaphors, and in many cases, the goal as well.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 17, 2017

Six top books with remote settings

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer, her journal in two volumes (ed. Rob Neufeld). She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Godwin's new novel is Grief Cottage.

One of the author's six favorite books with remote settings, as shared at The Week magazine:
Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

A compressed, intensified masterpiece about living in extreme poverty on a London houseboat. When the novel won 1979's Booker Prize, the literary establishment was livid.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Grief Cottage.

The Page 69 Test: Grief Cottage.

Writers Read: Gail Godwin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Five (damn-near) perfect (dark) novels

Karen Runge is an author and visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of the short story collection Seven Sins and the novel Seeing Double. One of her five (damn-near) perfect (dark) novels:

“And suddenly solitude fell across his heart like a dusty reflection. He closed his eyes. The dark doors within him opened and he entered. The next performance in the theater of Grenouille’s soul was beginning.”

This is a story about a serial killer such as it has never been told before. What’s so magic about it is that the protagonist is utterly despicable, but… we like him? Despite his sad beginnings, he has exactly zero redeeming features—and yet… and yet… we admire him? Alright, we don’t like him—but we root for him. We don’t understand him—but we feel for him. It’s like falling in love with a narcissist. He makes us furious and desperate and sometimes downright disgusted, but we follow him around like a tortured puppy anyway.

I still cannot figure how Süskind got that right.

Grenouille is a hideous little creature with an extraordinarily refined sense of smell. There is no beauty in his world except for that gifted by fragrance, which he pursues heartlessly, almost in direct contrast to the beauty of the scents themselves. There is nothing admirable in him, except for his keen intelligence (he’s no fool) and this remarkable gift of his. When he discovers a way to capture the scent of human, feminine beauty, he goes from sociopath to psychopath, and there are no limits to what he’ll do to achieve his goal: create the greatest perfume the world has ever known.

I won’t embarrass myself by trying to pick this apart any further. It’s just too layered, too intense, too intricate. This novel stands alone, and has to be experienced first-hand by the reader.

Kudos to the translator. It can’t have been easy, working with words as full and dense as this.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Perfume is among Lara Feigel's top ten smelly books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Eight books about the horrors of adolescence

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at One of eight books about the horrors of adolescence he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Boy’s Life, by Robert McCammon

The best novel by that other ’80s horror headliner, Boy’s Life is as much an exercise in mourning the end of that nostalgic period of sun-drenched boyhood as it is a supernatural thriller about murder and monsters in a tiny Alabama town. In 1964, during a steamy summer feeling the heat of simmering racial tension and the awakening Civil Rights Movement, Cory Mackenson is living the life of a regular 12-year-old boy…until the lonely morning he and his father witness a car careening into a lake, their attempt to rescue the driver from drowning foiled by the fact that he’s already dead, and handcuffed to the steering wheel. That terrible incident marks the start to what turns out to be a quite literally magical summer for Cory—magic both wonderful and terrible, from unquiet ghosts, to bayou sorcery, to the possible appearance of a dinosaur at the local fair. It’s a book that speaks to that part of childhood that is willing to see the strange magic in the everyday—a part of us that rarely survives to adulthood, save in the minds of fantastic storytellers who strive to recapture it and put it down on paper.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 14, 2017

Five books with ambitious birds

Nancy Kress’s SF has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Award. Her most recent book is Tomorrow's Kin, an expansion of the Nebula-winning novella “Yesterday’s Kin,” which takes the story forward several generations.

One of Kress's five favorite "birds that are more than warm-blooded bipeds—birds with ambition," as shared at
Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick

Here birds not only know more than us, they are us. Or, at least, our replacements as the dominant and most intelligent species on a far-, far-future Earth. A time travel novel that scrupulously, and ingeniously, accounts for all the paradoxes of bouncing around through huge numbers of millennia, Bones of the Earth creates sentient bird-descendants that live in nests (and messy ones at that), have irritable personalities, and don’t think much of us, who didn’t use our regency over the Earth to much good effect. Birds as scolding Oxford dons.
Read about the other books on the list.

Follow Nancy Kress on Twitter and Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

The fifty best works of historical fiction

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged the fifty best works of historical fiction, including:
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry

This classic children’s novel won the coveted Newbery award for telling the story of two girls of different faiths during World War I who form an unbreakable bond and risk everything to save one another from the costs of war.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Lois Lowry & Alfie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Top ten secrets in fiction

Eli Goldstone's debut novel is Strange Heart Beating. One of her ten top secrets in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

A masterclass in spare horror. Claustrophobic and beautifully funny, it is a book to stay up all night with. Constance and Merricat are doyennes of the American gothic for good reason – agoraphobic, paranoid and homicidal. The villagers suspect Constance of murder, but there is more to these strange sisters than meets the eye. Jackson herself was a mysterious and solitary figure, accused of being a communist witch by her neighbours and apparently revelling like Merricat in a truly filthy house. Inspirational.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is among Stephanie Feldman's ten best creepy books, Lauren Passell's five top Gothic novels, and Will Eaves's top ten siblings' stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Eight top fantasy books about the end of magic

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged eight books that "assert that magic was real, but has faded or been destroyed," including:
The Magic Goes Away, by Larry Niven

The stories in this collection pivot on a simple but effective idea, straight out of a role playing video game: magic is fueled by a very real and very finite resource, known as mana. As magical spells are cast, mana is consumed—and as mana runs out, magic dwindles. As the energy crises in the real world made headlines, Niven returned to this concept and made the parallels more explicit, but the stories set in this universe all center on the basic problem: managing a limited resource on which the entire world depends for its normal functioning—an idea Piers Anthony, er, borrowed for his Apprentice Adept universe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Five examples of creative faster than light (FTL) travel

Jason M. Hough is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dire Earth Cycle and the near-future spy thriller Zero World, which Publishers Weekly said is "a thrilling action rampage that confirms Hough as an important new voice in genre fiction.”

One of Hough's favorite examples of creative faster than light (FTL) travel in fiction, as shared at
Skip Drive

Scalzi, too, gives us a solution-with-limits in Old Man’s War. While the Skip Drive can get you across space in the blink of an eye, the range is limited and, what’s more, you can’t be near a significant source of gravity to use it. This means ships can appear anywhere around a star provided they’re far enough out, and once arriving they still must travel in-system at conventional speeds. It also means a ship can’t just skip away at the first sign of trouble. Best of both worlds!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 10, 2017

Six books that predicted the future of politics

Edward Luce is the author of The Retreat of Western Liberalism. One of his six favorite books that predicted the future of politics, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

This minor gem was the first to diagnose the falling rate of productivity growth in the U.S. and the West in general. Cowen skillfully laid out how the "low-hanging fruits" of growth are receding. Today's populist moment was ultimately sparked by fears about the future of work. Cowen's book provides an essential backdrop to our economic anxieties.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fifteen classic novels under 200 pages

At Bustle, Kerri Jarema tagged fifteen classic novels with a page count mercifully below 200 pages, including:
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf

In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf imagines that Shakespeare had a sister—a sister equal to Shakespeare in talent, and equal in genius, but whose legacy is radically different. This imaginary woman never writes a word and dies by her own hand, her genius unexpressed. If only she had found the means to create, argues Woolf, she would have reached the same heights as her immortal sibling. In this classic essay, her message is a simple one: women must have a fixed income and a room of their own in order to have the freedom to create.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Room of One’s Own is among Mary Beard's six best books and Gish Jen's five notable lectures on writing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Five of the quirkiest characters in literature

At Read It Forward, Gail Honeyman tagged five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, including:
Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Quirky characters needn’t be exclusively light or comedic (although there are elements of sly humor throughout this book). Jane is, from the outset, a free spirit (“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will”) and her unusual take on the world, her lack of interest in “fitting in”, is one of the things that first captivates the jaded Mr. Rochester (and quickly captivates the reader too).
Read about the other entries on the list.

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

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 7, 2017

Karin Slaughter's six best books

Karin Slaughter is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of numerous thrillers, including the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and Pretty Girls.

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

A sci-fi story where an older person’s consciousness can be put into a young person’s body. My local librarian said to try it and it opened up a whole new area of the library and started me thinking about stories in a different way. It made me appreciate Neil Gaiman, a fantastic sci-fi writer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five great mystery novels that are “Howdunnits”

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged five great mystery novels in which the authors "tell you exactly who did it up front, and precisely why—and spend the rest of the book explaining how," including:
The Crossing, by Michael Connelly

Connelly doesn’t come right out and say the two cops Harry Bosch finds himself at odds with are crooked, and the culprits behind the murder of Lexi Parks, but he makes it very clear. Bosch, at this point in the series forced into an unhappy retirement and reluctantly working as an investigator, knows every trick a dirty cop can use to hide errors, plat evidence, and generally gin up a case where none exists, and he can tell from his first glance at the Parks case file that nothing in it is right. The true fun of the novel is following Bosch’s dogged efforts to figure out what really happened.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Top ten books about swimming

Gillian Best is a writer, swimmer, and seaside enthusiast. Her newly released debut novel is The Last Wave. One of her ten top books about swimming, as shared at the Guardian:
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband about their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in his books. Then she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving everything, including her family, behind. Here the water issues a siren call that she is unable to resist.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fourteen books about the Arctic and Antarctica

At Read It Forward, Abbe Wright tagged fourteen top books about the Arctic and Antarctica, including:
Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

Harper Scott's name earns her immediate respect in Antarctic circles--after all, she's related to the famed explorer Robert Falcon Scott. But it's ballet, rather than Antarctica, that consumes the teenager's life. But when things don't go according to plan, Harper decides she needs some time away from the world and worms her way into a spot at McMurdo Station. It's an unlikely premise, to be sure, but Longo makes it work with her emotional prose and vivid descriptions of Antarctic life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Up to This Pointe.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ten of literature’s more loathsome people

Grant Ginder's new novel is The People We Hate at the Wedding.

One of his top ten book characters we love to hate, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

She means well—honestly, she does. It’s just that, to Mrs. Bennet, meaning well translates to pawning her daughters off to the richest suitors who come knocking. There’s also that pesky hypochondria thing—those classic, 18th century “nerves,” which flare up whenever things don’t go her way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Katy Guest's list of six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, 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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Fifty crucial feminist YA books

At the BN Teen blog Kayla Whaley tagged "50 of the most challenging, encouraging, and empowering feminist books YA has to offer," including:
The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, by Margarita Engle

Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, known as Tula, was a real-life poet, abolitionist, and feminist in nineteenth-century Cuba. This historical novel in verse chronicles Tula’s young life growing up in a then-Spanish colony, rejecting an arranged marriage, and becoming a lifelong fighter of injustice. Engle’s simultaneously tender and powerful verse is the perfect vehicle to introduce readers to this incredible woman.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Lightning Dreamer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Five of the best books about psi powers

Daryl Gregory's new novel is Spoonbenders.

One of his five favorite books about psi powers—telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, and other parapsychological activity—as shared at
It’s a Family Thing: Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler

This 1977 novel, the second book in the Patternist series, was the first Octavia Butler novel I read, and it was thrilling. The story is about Mary, a latent telepath who is part of a breeding program orchestrated by a 4,000-year-old immortal, Doro, whose mind hops from body to body. Mary becomes the most powerful psionic in the world (there are flying telekinetics, too) by linking with first six, then over a thousand telepaths in what she calls a Pattern.

But typical for Butler, Mary doesn’t want to rule the world; she wants to protect her family, and this community of Patternists. When Doro, feeling threatened, attacks Mary, the group kills him. Butler demonstrates that power for the sake of power is a hollow goal.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Sixteen essential pirate fantasy novels

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ceridwen Christensen tagged 16 essential pirate fantasy novels. One title on the list:
Magic of Blood and Sea, by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Magic of Blood and Sea collects the duology of The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish, which follow the irascible pirate’s daughter Ananna of the Tanarau. She bugs out of her arranged marriage with a rival pirate clan, who then send the assassin Naji after her. She and the assassin inadvertently trigger an impossible curse, one that binds them in an uneasy and inescapable intimacy. Ananna and Naji must sail across the seas and into the most dangerous waters to break their curse. Ananna is a proud, single-minded creature, a product of her life on the water with her pirate parents, and her matriculation has as much to do with the strength of her convictions as it does her ability to trust and let go. A lovely coming of age tale, with pirates!

* * *

Steel, by Carrie Vaughn

Jill is super bummed when she blows an important fencing match. As she sulks on vacation with her parents on a Caribbean island, she finds the tip of an old rapier. This artifact transports her back to the deck of an honest-to-goodness 18th Century pirate ship. While in many ways Jill is an expert with a sword, she learns quickly that there’s a difference between the heat of the moment and the sanitized matches she’s been trained for. Like some other books on this list, Vaughn includes such historical pirates as Black Beard, with new characters like the female pirate Captain Cooper mixed in. Historical pirates were a lot less hung up on things like race, class, and gender, and it’s cool to imagine how a pirate captain who is a woman would act.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 30, 2017

Sandra Howard's six best books

Sandra Howard (nee Paul) was one of the leading fashion models of the 1960s, appearing on the cover of American Vogue two months running. She worked as a freelance journalist alongside modelling, before turning to novel writing. Howard's sixth and latest novel is The Consequence of Love. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

This is a wartime story about a German boy who turns out to be a genius with radio and a blind French girl. Their lives run in parallel as children and eventually coincide. I liked the approach, how the boy was swept up in the Hitler Youth but was never comfortable with it and how the girl viewed things differently.
Read about the other books on the list.

All the Light We Cannot See is among Caitlin Kleinschmidt's twelve moving novels of the Second World War and Maureen Corrigan's 12 favorite books of 2014.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight bizarre literary serial killers

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged eight bizarre literary serial killers, including:
The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl

Serial killers basing their murders on classic poetry? Yes, please. Pearl tells a story set in Boston in 1865, where a group of Dante scholars find themselves chasing a serial killer who is replicating the tortures found in Dante’s Inferno. That means the murders are gruesomely beautiful, in a way, and the story twists itself into a knot before Pearl cleverly begins to unwind it in ways both unexpected and entertaining.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Top ten Shakespearean stories in modern fiction

Edward Docx's new novel, Let Go My Hand, owes a debt to King Lear. One of the author's ten top Shakespearean stories in modern fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis

This book is almost unknown in Europe and yet it has a claim to be the great masterpiece of Brazilian literature. Machado de Assis was a translator of Shakespeare and the novel is thronged with references – to Much Ado, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. But this is a sad story of an insanely jealous husband – so yes, we’re in Othello territory. Bear in mind the protagonist’s name is Bento Santiago.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ten classic (and perhaps not so classic) road trip books

Steph Post is the author of A Tree Born Crooked (2014) and Lightwood (2017) as well as a short story writer, reader, teacher and dog lover (among many other things...). At LitReactor she tagged ten classic (and perhaps not so classic) road trip books, including:
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Perhaps better known as Carol, the title used for the film version of the novel, Highsmith's account of two women falling in love and then taking to the road for a chance at freedom is both prosaic and page-turning. The second half of the novel is filled with twisting highways, seedy motels and roadside diners, perfectly combining romance, crime fiction and the allure of the road trip.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Price of Salt is among B&N Reads' twenty top book-to-film adaptations of 2015 and Carmela Ciuraru's top ten great books written by pseudonymous authors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Eleven novels set in Old Hollywood

At Bustle, Kerri Jarema tagged eleven top novels set in Old Hollywood, including:
Design for Dying by Renee Patrick

Los Angeles, 1937. Lillian Frost has traded dreams of stardom for security as a department store salesgirl... until she discovers she’s a suspect in the murder of her former roommate, Ruby Carroll. Party girl Ruby died wearing a gown she stole from the wardrobe department at Paramount Pictures, domain of Edith Head. Edith has yet to win the first of her eight Academy Awards; right now she’s barely hanging on to her job, and a scandal is the last thing she needs. To clear Lillian’s name and save Edith’s career, the two women join forces. All they have going for them are dogged determination, assists from the likes of Bob Hope and Barbara Stanwyck, and a killer sense of style. In show business, that just might be enough.
The Page 69 Test: Design for Dying.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 26, 2017

Alain Mabanckou's 6 favorite books

Alain Mabanckou, a professor at UCLA, may be the world's most celebrated Francophone African writer. His latest comic novel to be translated into English is Black Moses. One of the author's six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

This 1952 novel, which draws from the Yoruba tradition of oral storytelling, is about the multiplicity of the African voice, with its beliefs, fables, and enchanting qualities. The storyteller is obviously so drunk that the reader can't help feeling a little intoxicated as well. Tutuola, who died in 1997, remains one of Africa's greatest writers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Eleven top novels about female artists

At Electric Lit Carrie V Mullins tagged eleven top novels about female artists, including:
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith’s novel is an engaging mix of art heist and art history. In 1957, a painting is stolen from the de Groot family’s home in New York City. The artwork was painted by Sara de Vos, who Smith based on one of the real, though rare, female members of a 17th century Dutch masters guild. Jumping between Holland, New York, and Sydney, this novel intertwines the life of two passionate women painters who have much in common, despite living three hundred years apart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Eight books in which the gods are having a very bad day

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged "eight books [that] deal with deities in the midst of a bad day, week, or eon, as the case may be," including:
The Prey of Gods, by Nicky Drayden

Drayden’s debut novel features one of the most diverse ensemble casts in recent fictional memory. Among the alternating points of view are a couple of disenfranchised demigoddesses, one just budding into an accidental murder machine and another hell-bent on regaining enough power to cause such mayhem. The stage is set for Nomvula, a young Zulu girl with unexpected and devastating abilities, to challenge Sydney, a down-on-her-luck megalomaniac, for the fate of South Africa, and the world. Along the way, there’s also some hallucinogenics, rogue AI, mind control, and crab-on-dolphin sex, as is custom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 23, 2017

Five top books inspired by Norse sagas

Scott Oden's new novel is A Gathering of Ravens.

One of five books inspired by Norse sagas he shared at
Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

Though perhaps best known as the author of the wildly popular techno-thriller Jurassic Park, in 1976 Michael Crichton explored the Northern thing with Eaters of the Dead: The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in AD 922. Utilizing as his starting point the actual 10th-century manuscript of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan—who was an emissary from the Caliph of Baghdad to the king of the Volga Bulgars—Crichton skillfully builds a unique tale that mirrors the epic Beowulf. The tale veers from the historical when Ibn Fadlan is taken North against his will by a band of Vikings, led by the mighty Buliwyf, to combat a creeping terror that slaughters their people in the night. Along the way, the reluctant hero bears witness to the curious customs of the Northlands, from ship burials and human sacrifice to single combat and the fatalistic philosophy of the Viking.
Read about the other books on the list.

Eaters of the Dead is among Jeff Somers's top ten SFF books that take on Norse mythology.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Top ten books about lies

Miranda Doyle's new memoir is A Book of Untruths. One of her ten top books about lies, as shared at the Guardian:
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson (1995)

“Just Ruby” is the kind of narrator that you want to dive back to whenever you can. Her all-knowing, tongue-in-cheek accounts of her ancestors’ sad ends is deeply unreliable. Her brain has robbed her of one terrible early memory. Mysteriously lost for weeks at Auntie Babs’s, she returns home to find everyone changed. Even her big sister (not long for this world) is being nice. A big sister who has lied to save herself.
Read about the other books on the list.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum is among Jenny Eclair's six best books and Ester Bloom's top fifteen books everyone should read before having kids.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Five books celebrating geek culture

Rachel Stuhler and Melissa Blue, along with Cathy Yardley and Cecilia Tan, are the writers of Geek Actually. One of their five top books celebrating geek culture, as shared at
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

On the other end of the spectrum is the granddaddy of geek, Hitchhiker’s Guide. It isn’t just a touchstone of the culture, it’s also a celebration of it. Arthur Dent has a best friend named Ford Prefect and that doesn’t strike him as bizarre. Sure, he’s dismayed when he discovers the world is about to end, but he catches up to the whole “Don’t Panic” philosophy pretty quick. Trillian gives up an average life to rocket through the stars with an alien moron, and bad poetry is used as a form of torture for the Vogons. And who among us wouldn’t like to build luxury planets in our spare time? Adams created a cast of nerd-tacular characters who wouldn’t seem at all out of place at a con.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy appears on Fredrik Backman's six favorite books list, Jon Walter's top ten list of heroes of refugee fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of the six most memorable robots in literature, Charlie Jane Anders's lists of the ten most unbelievable alien races in science fiction, eleven books that every aspiring television writer should read and ten satirical novels that could teach you to survive the future, Saci Lloyd's top ten list of political books for teenagers, Rob Reid's list of 6 favorite books, Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of ten of the best bars in science fiction, Don Calame's top ten list of funny teen boy books, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best instances of invisibility in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven great YA books about reproductive choice

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged seven great YA books about reproductive choice, including:
Ask Me How I Got Here, by Christine Heppermann

Probably my favorite YA novel in verse, this book may only take an hour or two to read, but Hepperman definitely knows how to make the story stick with you. Everything in Addie’s life is pretty smooth sailing, from her running career to her relationship with her boyfriend, until the night they’re not so careful. When she makes the decision to terminate, she has full support, but life after the procedure has Addie feeling different, even as she completely stands by her choice. Suddenly none of the things that used to fulfill her do, and the only thing that keeps her going is hanging out with Juliana, a former teammate who has returned to town and is dealing with her own issues.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Six top books set in California

Emma Cline is the author of the acclaimed best-seller The Girls. One of her six favorite books set in California, as shared at The Week magazine:
Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte

I loved this novel, a very funny book that perfectly nails the subcultures of the Bay Area, and the ways Silicon Valley intersects with the counterculture to produce a strange ecosystem of self-righteous capitalism. Tulathimutte's writing crackles with manic intelligence.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 19, 2017

Nine books for fans of "Wonder Woman"

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ross Johnson tagged nine books "with positive, powerful, and patriarchy-busting female heroes," including:
Fallout, by Gwenda Bond

It takes guts, drive, and verve to stand up to the strongest man on Earth, and if there’s anyone in the DC universe who can do it, it’s Wonder Woman—but in line right behind her? Lois Lane. No, she doesn’t have superpowers, but she is super smart, and savvy, and resourceful, and in this YA-targeted series launch, she’s a new transplant in Metropolis, ready to take the city—and high school—by storm. Her first task is fighting back against a group of bullies harassing another girl at school, targeting her via the immersive video game they all play. Using all of her skills, and her new status as the school paper’s hotshot reporter, Lois will save the day. We always knew she was better at her job than that doofus Clark Kent.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thomas Dolby's six best books

Thomas Dolby is an English musician and producer. His hit singles include "She Blinded Me with Science." Dolby is the author of The Speed of Sound: Breaking the Barriers Between Music and Technology: A Memoir. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff

This is set during the siege of Leningrad and is about a pair of Russian youths arrested by their own troops. Instead of being shot, they are given the task of getting eggs for the colonel’s daughter’s wedding cake. The only way is by sneaking behind German lines.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Twelve books to read if you loved "The Handmaid's Tale"

At Entertainment Weekly, Isabella Biedenharn and Nivea Serrao tagged twelve books to read if you loved The Handmaid's Tale, including:
The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

Children are forced to defend their puritanical village from soul-eating monsters that devour adults — but one young girl feels a strange and magnetic kinship with the darkness outside the village, and the monsters that lurk there.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Writers Read: Peternelle van Arsdale (March 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 16, 2017

Eight romances for foodies

At B&N Reads Amanda Diehl tagged eight romances for foodies, including:
Hot in Here, by Sophie Renwick

For anyone who has had a crush on bad boy chef Gordon Ramsay, meet Bryce Ryder. A celebrity chef who loves the limelight, Bryce is dealing with a recent bout of bad publicity, and there’s only one person who can fix it: Jenna McCabe. Jenna’s been Bryce’s best friend for years. She also happens to be a public relations whiz. However, she’s never thought about mixing business with pleasure before.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue