Sunday, December 31, 2017

Seven books for a new you in the new year

At BN Reads Ross Johnson tagged seven "books that will help you achieve a happier, healthier 2018," including:
The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People, by Meik Wiking

Inspired by the happiness habits of his homeland of Denmark, Wiking set out to discover not just what makes Danes so generally happy, but what secrets could be found in other parts of the world. Focusing on six factors—togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness—Wiking looks at what makes people content and satisfied all over the world, whether it’s by savoring a meal or dancing a tango. It’s full of tips based on Wiking’s journeys and research into what makes people happy, and how we can apply those lessons to our own lives.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that changed Meg Gardiner's writing life

Edgar-winning novelist Meg Gardiner writes thrillers. Fast-paced and full of twists, her books have been called “Hitchcockian” (USA Today) and “nailbiting and moving” (Guardian). They have been bestsellers in the U.S. and internationally and have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Gardiner's latest novel is UNSUB, the first book in a series featuring homicide investigator Caitlin Hendrix.

One of five books that changed Gardiner's writing life, as shared with Crimespree Magazine:
Glitz, Elmore Leonard.

This was the first crime novel that truly gripped me. Until then I’d only read puzzle-piece mysteries. Compared to those, Glitz seemed electrically charged—it was tense, it was right to the gut, and oh, boy, was it cool. After reading this book I never picked up another Agatha Christie. And I was freed from the idea that mystery novelists had to write straight whodunits.
Read about the other books on the list.

Visit Meg Gardiner's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: UNSUB.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Rula Lenska's six favorite books

Rula Lenska is an English actor who had roles in such iconic shows as Coronation Street, EastEnders, Doctor Who, One Foot In The Grave and Footballers' Wives. In the US she is better known for a hair products advertising campaign which spawned a running joke in Johnny Carson's monologue on The Tonight Show and a Saturday Night Live sketch where she was played by Jane Curtin. One of Lenska's six favorite books, as shared at the Daily Express:
WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel

I’ve always loved “faction” stories about history.

She is an extraordinary writer who makes you feel in the moment: she describes the light, the dark, the dirt, the romance, the threats.

Coming to the end, I allowed myself 10 pages a day because I didn’t want it to finish.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Wolf Hall made Deborah Cadbury's top ten list of books about royal families, Peter Stanford's top ten list of Protestants in fiction, Melissa Harrsion's ten top depictions of British rain, the Telegraph's list of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels, BBC Culture's list of the 21st century’s twelve greatest novels, Ester Bloom's ten list of books for fans of the television series House of Cards, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Kathryn Williams's reading list on pride, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of books on baby-watching in Great Britain, Julie Buntin's top ten list of literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Hermione Norris's 6 best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best cardinals in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on dangerous minds and Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009, and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 29, 2017

Seven girl-power books for young readers

At the BN Kids Blog Maria Burel tagged seven books for young readers featuring strong females, including:
Frida Kahlo, by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Gee Fan Eng

While she may have grown into an influential and world-renowned artist, that wasn’t Frida Kahlo’s original plan. As a child, she wanted to practice medicine, but a childhood accident destroyed that dream. Despite being just one of many obstacles placed in her path, Kahlo refuses to accept the curveballs thrown her way as defeat. Instead, from her bedside, she paints, and paints, and paints, ultimately producing over 140 works and making a name for herself all over the world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ten top wilderness reads

At the Waterstones blog Martha Greengrass tagged ten top wilderness books, including:
The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees
Robert Penn

An exuberant tale of craftsmanship for nature lovers and rugged outdoor types everywhere.

Robert Penn cut down an ash tree to see how many things could be made from it. After all, ash is the tree we have made the greatest and most varied use of over the course of human history.

Journeying from Wales across Europe and Ireland to the USA, Robert finds that the ancient skills and knowledge of the properties of ash, developed over millennia making wheels and arrows, furniture and baseball bats, are far from dead. The book chronicles how the urge to understand and appreciate trees still runs through us all like grain through wood.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten fictional feasts for Christmas

Kate Young is the author of The Little Library Cookbook. At the Guardian she tagged ten fictional feasts for Christmas, including:
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

The Christmas scenes in Little Women are some of my favourite parts of the book. The Christmas dinner (turkey, plum puddings and jellies) that takes place when Mr March surprises everyone by arriving home from hospital is beautiful. I particularly love the moment when the March sisters, after taking their glorious breakfast buckwheats to the Hummels, arrive home to French bonbons and pink and white ice-cream, a gift from Mr Lawrence next door.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Women also appears among Mary Sebag-Montefiore's ten classics every child should read before they are 10, Jeff Somers's five books that are arguably the first in their respective genres, Kate Kellaway's ten best Christmases in literature, Bea Davenport's top ten books about hair, nine notable unsung literary heroines, Sophie McKenzie's top ten mothers in children's books, John Dugdale's ten notable fictional works on winter sports, Melissa Albert's five favorite YA books that might make one cry, Anjelica Huston's seven favorite coming-of-age books, Bidisha's ten top books about women, Katherine Rundell's top ten descriptions of food in fiction, Gwyneth Rees's ten top books about siblings, Maya Angelou's 6 favorite books, Tim Lewis's ten best Christmas lunches in literature, and on the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Erin Blakemore's list of five gutsy heroines to channel on an off day, Kate Saunders' critic's chart of mothers and daughters in literature, and Zoë Heller's list of five memorable portraits of sisters. It is a book that disappointed Geraldine Brooks on re-reading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top ten experimental thrillers

Tony White is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel Foxy-T (2003) and a new novel The Fountain in the Forest. One of his ten top experimental thrillers, as shared at the Guardian:
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster

In City of Glass, part one of Auster’s trilogy, detective novelist Daniel Quinn receives several late-night phone calls, wrong numbers, from somebody seeking a private investigator named Paul Auster. He decides to play along and soon finds that he has been hired to protect a Kaspar Hauser-like child abuse survivor from his criminally insane father. For all of Auster’s games, this remains a glorious detective thriller with all the feints, reversals and sheer page-turning velocity that you’d find in a classic Ellery Queen mystery.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven of the vilest villains in horror fiction

J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison is the author of the humorous fantasy adventure Fish Wielder and, more recently, Demon Freaks. One of his eleven top vile villains in fiction, as shared at the the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog:
Dark from Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

While we’re on the subject of seductive, evil tempters, I should probably mention the mysterious Mr. Dark. Who he is exactly is never explained, but his job is clear. He is the ringmaster of the Pandemonium Shadow Show, a travelling carnival that arrives in the dead of night to entice the unhappy and dissatisfied with the promise of their hearts’ desires.

Part of his power is that the hypnotically animating tattoos on his body seem to show the stories of those he encounters, enabling him to understand and exploit their weaknesses and dreams. He offers to fulfill their dearest wishes, but his true goal is to steal the life force of his victims, feed the furnace that powers his carnival with their souls, and enslave their bodies forever as freaks in his travelling show.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is among Sam Reader's eight top books about the horrors of adolescence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tim Peake's five top books to take to space

Tim Peake is a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut of British nationality. He finished his 186-day Principia mission working on the International Space Station for Expedition 46/47 when he landed back on Earth 18 June 2016. Peake has a background as a test pilot and a British Army Air Corps officer.

One of the author-astronaut's five favorite "books to pass the time amidst the stars and the vacuum of space," as shared at Waterstone's blog:
The Martian by Andy Weir

Brilliantly funny and at the same time one of the most scientifically plausible fiction books I have read about space exploration. I see a lot of Mark Watney's character in the astronauts and cosmonauts of today - Andy Weir hit the nail on the head in capturing the essence of what will be the 'right stuff' needed on a mission to Mars.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Martian is among Jeffrey Kluger's five favorite books that make epic drama out of space-faring history, Elisabeth Delp's seven classic science fiction space odysseys, Alexandra Oliva's five novels that get important aspects of survival right, Jeff Somers's seven works of speculative fiction that don’t feel all that speculative and  five top sci-fi novels with plausible futuristic technology, Ernest Cline’s ten favorite SF novels, and James Mustich's five top books on visiting Mars.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 25, 2017

Seven middle grade books for fans of magical realism

At the BN Kids Blog Maria Burel tagged seven favorite middle grade reads for fans of magical realism, including:
Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Echo is part fairytale, part historical fiction, sprinkled with magic, and cleverly woven into a powerful tale. In its pages, we meet Friedrich, a young German boy desperate to save his father after the Nazi party moves in. From there, we travel to Pennsylvania and meet Mike, an orphan determined to provide the best life possible for his brother, even at the cost of his own happiness. And then there’s Ivy, whose California family finally has a chance to build their own life, on their own land. But fear and prejudice may destroy that dream. Three lives, three paths, three stories, all joined together by one harmonica.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Eight books that move disability from the margins to the center

Kenny Fries received the prestigious Creative Capital literature grant for In the Province of the Gods. He is the author of Body, Remember: A Memoir and The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory, winner of the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. He is the editor of Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out and the author of the libretto for The Memory Stone, an opera commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera. His books of poems include Anesthesia, Desert Walking, and In the Gardens of Japan. At LitHub he tagged eight books that "move disability from the margins to the center, where they provide a critical lens to look at how we—disabled and nondisabled alike—live, or might live, our lives," including:
The Still Point of the Turning World, Emily Rapp (2013)

In her best-selling memoir, Rapp turns the story of losing a son to Tay-Sachs disease into a thoughtful and philosophical look at parenting. The no-holds barred depiction of what it is like to have a child with a disability is distinguished not only by Rapp’s literary intelligence but also by her own disability experience, which she previously wrote about in Poster Child (2007). By employing the writings of C. S. Lewis, Sylvia Plath, and Hegel and drawing on works such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Rapp opens up what otherwise could be a claustrophobic and deservedly myopic story of her son Ronan’s life.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Six top holiday romances

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and semi-professional nerd. At the B&N Reads blog she tagged six favorite holiday romances, including:
Lighting the Flames, by Sarah Wendell

If you’re looking for more than just Christmas stories this holiday season, check out Lighting the Flames, which takes place at a Jewish summer (or in this case, Winter) camp. Gen and Jeremy have been going to Camp Meira since they were seven, first as campers, then as staff. But their friendship turned frosty when Jeremy left camp early with no explanation, and now they’re back for a special Winter Camp during Hanukkah. This is a sweet story, with plenty of love and light.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 22, 2017

David McKee's six best books

David McKee grew up in Devon, England. Later, while a student at Plymouth Art College, he began selling his cartoon drawings to newspapers. Since 1964 he has published a number of successful books for children, including the King Rollo stories, which he helped animate for British television. His first book for Lothrop was Snow Woman, of which Publishers Weekly said, "It is McKee's superb humor--conveyed almost solely in the illustrations...that wins the day." Of his second Lothrop book, Who's a Clever Baby, Publishers Weekly had this to say: "Grandma's alliterative frenzies are fascinating and readers will find Baby's manipulative stubbornness vastly amusing."

In the UK McKee may be best known as the author and illustrator who created the Mr Benn TV series and wrote the Elmer The Elephant books. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens

A master storyteller. You can feel the setting beautifully, such as the idea of warming yourself over a candle. His stories cover big issues of justice and poverty but they were such good reads.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Christmas Carol is on Matt Haig's top ten list of Christmas books, Richard Hirst's top ten list of winters in literature, Melissa Albert's list of four of the most memorable holiday gifts in fiction, Chrissie Gruebel's list of six top fictional holiday parties, and Tom Lamont's list of ten of the best time travelers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven charming books for animal lovers of all ages

At the BN Kids blog Charlotte Taylor tagged seven charming books for animal lovers of all ages, including:
The Last Panther, by Todd Mitchell

Books for young environmentalists are often a bit heavy handed; not this one, which uses a futuristic setting for a gripping story that doesn’t preach at readers. 11-year-old Kiri lives in a future ravaged by global warming, where most animals are “once-were” creatures. Her father, an ecologist, left the walled city to come to the edge of the ocean. The multiethnic people living there, hunting and fishing, distrust him; for them, killing animals is what you need to do if you want your kids to live. When Kiri meets a panther that her father wants to trap to send to the city, and which the locals want to hunt, the conflict intensifies. The panther is killed, but leaves behind three cubs whose fate hangs in the balance. Kiri is desperate to return them to the wild, but she needs to get her father and the local people working together for this to happen. Kiri’s love for the wild creatures will resonate with young readers, who may well be moved towards activism themselves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Six books that shaped sci-fi author Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer is one of only eight writers in history — and the only Canadian — to win all three of the world's top Science Fiction awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

One of six books that have influenced him over the course of his career, as shared with the CBC:
Gateway by Frederik Pohl

I've been lucky enough to win the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, the two top prizes in the science-fiction field, but I did it with two different novels (Hominids and The Terminal Experiment, respectively). Eighteen authors, though, have won both awards for the same title, and of that select list, Frederik Pohl's Gateway is my favourite; indeed, I think it's the finest science-fiction novel ever written. When I first read it, at age 18, it taught me two things. First, the best science fiction is not just about the grandly cosmic but also about the intimately human. And, second, despite all the writing advice out there to the contrary, it's not necessary that your protagonist by likable or even sympathetic, but rather that he or she simply be truthfully drawn, warts and all, with believable underlying psychology. Pohl, one of the giants of SF, was a high-school dropout, but late in his life I wrote to several U.S. universities in hopes of getting an honorary doctorate bestowed upon him; one of my great regrets is that I failed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gateway is on Charles Choi's list of the ten coolest fictional asteroids of all time.

Visit Robert J. Sawyer's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: WWW: Wake.

The Page 69 Test: WWW: Watch.

The Page 69 Test:: WWW: Wonder.

The Page 69 Test: Triggers.

The Page 69 Test: Red Planet Blues.

The Page 69 Test: Quantum Night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about the unconscious

John Bargh is a social psychologist and one of the world’s leading experts on the unconscious mind. His research has appeared in over 170 publications, as well as in Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. In 2014, he received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association. He is currently the James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology at Yale University and director of the ACME (Automaticity in Cognition, Motivation, and Evaluation) laboratory. Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do is his first book.

One of Bargh's top ten books on the variety of unconscious influences in everyday life, as shared at the Guardian:
Face Value by Alexander Todorov (2017)

The power of a person’s face over our impressions of their personality is a case in point. We feel so sure that we know someone’s personality from just their face, but we are wrong. We mistake the features of their resting face for a temporary emotional expression instead. Take Grumpy Cat, for instance, who isn’t really grumpy – it’s just the way her face was made. In Todorov’s most dramatic demonstrations, ratings of the trustworthiness and competence of political candidates based on their photographs alone predicted the outcome of elections in the US with better than 70% accuracy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Five hoax memoirs still worth reading

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged five fake memoirs still worth reading, including:
Go Ask Alice, by Beatrice Sparks

Go Ask Alice is still officially listed as being an anonymous memoir of a teenage girl who descends into a hell of drug abuse, prostitution, and homelessness. Written during a time of moral panic among suburban parents who feared the 1960s sex-and-drugs culture was going to seduce their kids, the book raised eyebrows with its depiction of the narrator’s rapid descent into full-blown drug addiction, even if the way she hits every branch on the misery tree on her way down to the bottom is a bit on the nose for what is ultimately an anti-drug fable. Sparks, who wrote countless other fictional diaries, does succeed in capturing the lazy way disaffected youth can get into trouble through simple boredom and peer pressure, and the story is much more layered and brutal than you might imagine. That’s likely why it’s still in print more than 40 years later, and long after it’s veracity as a memoir was debunked.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ten best books about Ireland

One of Marjorie Kehe's ten best books about Ireland, as shared at the Christian Science Monitor:
The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy.

There are those who find Binchy's books too sentimental, but it's hard not to like this coming-of-age tale anchored in the small Irish country town of Lough Glass.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Alan Barra's top twelve postwar Irish novels, Brian McGilloway's top ten modern Irish crime novels, Foyles's top 10 list of contemporary Irish novels, and Frank Delaney's top 10 Irish novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight juicy, heartbreaking, fascinating Hollywood memoirs

At Flavorwire Alison Nastasi tagged eight juicy Hollywood memoirs, including:
Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star

Pop idol and Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter details his struggles through a manufactured career during a time when the word “gay” wasn’t something people mentioned openly. The book was eventually adapted into a 2015 movie, which you can learn about on
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 18, 2017

Eleven books with beautifully strange love stories

At Entertainment Weekly Sarah Weldon tagged eleven beautifully strange romance books to read if you loved the awards season frontrunning film The Shape of Water. One title on the list:
Issac Marion, Warm Bodies

Told from the perspective of R, a zombie in the middle of a "no-life" crisis, this love story between a human-eating zombie and a human girl causes a ripple in their world. The novel, which became a 2013 film starring Nicholas Hoult, is quirky, haunting, and deeply romantic in equal measure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Warm Bodies is among Ceridwen Christensen's seven top books with thinking zombies, Jeff Somers's eight best speculative works with dead narrators, Sarah Skilton's six most unusual YA narrators, Rachel Paxton-Gillilan's five funniest YA zombie novels, Nick Harkaway's six favorite holiday books, and Nicole Hill's seven favorite literary oddballs.

The Page 69 Test: Warm Bodies.

My Book, The Movie: Warm Bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Nine memoirs that reveal the dark side of Hollywood

At Bustle, Sadie Trombetta tagged nine memoirs that reveal the dark side of Hollywood, including:
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Though it is rife with humor and wit, Carrie Fisher's bestselling memoir reveals darkness behind the laughter that so often serves as a mask in Hollywood. In Wishful Drinking, the Star Wars megastar uses her personal experience growing up as Hollywood royalty and becoming a famous actress herself to explore the rampant sexism, substance abuse, and scandal in Tinseltown. Sharp and unapologetic, this celebrity memoir is unlike any other, and a must read for fans who want to know what it was really like in the limelight for the dearly departed star.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six great books with a Cincinnati-area connection

At Cincinnati Magazine Justin Williams tagged six great books with local or regional connection to Cincinnati. One entry on the list:
Tornado Weather by Deborah E. Kennedy

Fikus Ward is a salt-of-the-earth bus driver from Colliersville, Indiana, who makes the grave mistake of letting a 5-year-old girl travel home alone as a storm draws near. Her subsequent disappearance forces the small town to reconcile its differences and listen to its neglected voices.
My Book, The Movie: Tornado Weather.

The Page 69 Test: Tornado Weather.

Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Five delicious food memoirs to drool over

At B&N Reads Madina Papadopoulos tagged five delicious food memoirs, including:
Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace, by Ella Brennan and Ti Martin

New Orleans is one of those cities that instantly conjures up images of food and fine dining. Just the mention of “The Big Easy” sends déjà vu taste buds and smells swirling through the mind. And couple that with the surname, “Brennan,” well; brunch is pretty much served. The Brennan family of New Orleans has a long history as restaurateurs, among the most eminent is the inimitable Ella Brennan, leader of Commander’s Palace, first established in 1893. The book, whose colors recall the restaurant with its vibrant blue and white, follows the story of Brennan’s life and career. Brennan co-wrote it with one of her daughters (and restaurant partners), Ti Adelaide Martin.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ten essential neo-noir authors

In 2013 Richard Thomas tagged ten top neo-noir authors at Flavorwire. One entry on the list:
Holly Goddard Jones

There are few stories or collections that have left me weeping, but Holly Goddard Jones’s Girl Trouble is one of them. A mixture of Flannery O’Connor and Denis Johnson, with a sprinkle of John Cheever, what Jones does so well is create tension and fear while at the same time whispering in our ear that everything is going to be all right. But it isn’t going to be all right, that’s the problem — it will never be the same again. Her story “Proof of God,” from this very collection, went on to be selected for the Best American Mystery Stories anthology. Jones can take a scene as innocent and common as watching a daughter dive into a pool, taking a little bit too long to come up for air, and make it pulsate with foreshadowing and danger. Her latest novel, The Next Time You See Me, builds on that history, creating a layered tapestry, torn and stained at the edges.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a canine: Holly Goddard Jones & Bishop.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six hilarious middle grade novels

At the BN Kids Blog Rachel Paxton tagged six hilarious middle grade novels, including:
Well, That Was Awkward, by Rachel Vail

Middle school relationships can be complicated—a fact middle grade readers know very well. But that awkwardness and weirdness can make for some funny moments, which is exactly what this grin-inducing book is about. It follows Gracie as she tries to woo AJ for her best friend Sienna by crafting Sienna’s texts. Unfortunately, Gracie also likes AJ. It’s a modern Cyrano story told through the lens of text messages and middle schoolers that is as awkward as it is hilarious.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Eight books to read during Hanukkah

At Bustle, Melissa Ragsdale tagged eight books that "go right along with the spirit of [Hanukkah]," including:
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

If you're looking for a Jewish adventure story, Michael Chabon's your guy. This brilliant novel takes place in Sitka, an independent Jewish colony in Alaska that, after sixty years, is about to become part of Alaska again. We follow the slightly off-the-rails homicide detective Meyer Landsman, as he works to solve a murder that may just be tied in closely with the fate of Sitka.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union is among Jeff Somers's five best oddball detective novels, J.D. Taylor's ten top counter-factual novels, and Molly Driscoll's top six alternate-history novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Top ten books about growing old

Christopher Matthews is the author of The Old Man and the Knee: How to Be a Golden Oldie. One of his ten top books about growing old, as shared at the Guardian:
Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

Reading this book is like going on a long walk with a friend who is as erudite and serious as he is entertaining. Barnes is at his most contemplative as he takes us through his family and childhood and into arguments about the existence of God (“I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him”) and startling exchanges with his philosopher brother. But what preoccupies him most is death and the fear of death – his, mainly. What will it be like when it comes? A good one, or one filled with pain and regret?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top retellings of "Alice in Wonderland"

At Natalie Zutter tagged seven of the best retellings of Alice in Wonderland, including:
Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot

The greatest shipbuilding port in the world during Lewis Carroll’s time and a supposed inspiration for his Alice books (it literally rhymes with “Wonderland”), Sunderland possesses a rich history. In his 300-page, nonlinear graphic novel, writer-illustrator Bryan Talbot delves into Carroll’s famous visits and the legacy of the area itself in relation to art and imagination. To do so, Talbot must draw himself into the narrative; true to the book’s subtitle—An Entertainment—he takes on the roles of both Traveler and Storyteller for what Teen Reads describes as “theatrical performance with academic lecture.” Fitting with Alice’s journey, it’s the kind of topsy-turvy tour that readers should just give themselves over to, and all the nonsense will give way to sense.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Three of the best books on Ethiopia

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka tagged three top books on Ethiopia. One title on the list:
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste

Mengiste’s novel of the early years of Ethiopia’s revolution begins in 1974 as student demonstrations and famine lead to the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie by the military. She creates an intimate portrait of an extended family, and it is through their eyes that we see the revolution unfolding – and descending into chaos and brutality.

Hailu, a respected surgeon in Addis Ababa, and his elder son Yonas, a university professor, prefer to keep their distance from Ethiopia’s violent and dangerous politics. But the younger son, Dawit, is determined to be politically active. Initially, he is a student protestor against the emperor and supports the Marxist junta. Later, when the military begins to crush dissent and sow terror, he becomes a brave and dogged opponent of the regime. Dawit recalls his mother telling him that “hope can never come from doing nothing”.

When the military forces Hailu to treat a young woman who has been horrifically tortured, a decision he makes causes him and his family to be swept up in the political storm.

This compassionate, tightly woven tale immediately draws the reader into its unfurling domestic and political drama. It’s an impressive literary debut.

Mengiste’s family left Ethiopia when she was a child; she now lives in the US.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Smithsonian" magazine's ten best history books of 2017

One of Smithsonian magazine's ten best history books of 2017:
Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig.

Much has been written about the many dimensions of Muhammad Ali’s life, namely his boxing prowess. In this tome, Jonathan Eig sets out to write the definitive biography of “The Greatest,” complete with information from more than 500 contemporary interviews, hours of interviews from the 1960s, and thousands of pages from newly released Department of Justice and FBI files. He follows the arc of the man’s life, from his humble beginnings in Louisville to his larger-than-life success as a boxer. Ali isn’t a saint-like figure, though; interviews with those close to him suggest that the man was a bundle of contradiction, both fighting for racial justice and hurting those who loved him.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Ali: A Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 11, 2017

Six notable books about self-deception

Emily Fridlund is the author of the story collection Catapult and History of Wolves, a debut novel that was a finalist for the Man Booker Award. One of her six favorite books about self-deception, as shared at The Week magazine:
Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam

This is one of the most unflinching and seductive novels I know about a man's drive to deceive himself. David Lamb kidnaps an 11-year-old girl and takes her on a road trip out West, all the while telling himself, and her, the sweepingly romantic story that he is rescuing her from her lonely suburban life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seventeen books for "Jane Eyre" lovers

At Bustle, Kristian Wilson tagged seventeen books for Jane Eyre lovers, including:
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye's eponymous heroine murdered the schoolmasters who made her life miserable. Then she disappeared. Now her late aunt's second husband, Mr. Thornfield, needs a governess, and the job might be just the thing to help her create a life off the run.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Seven top middle grade mysteries

At the BN Kids Blog Maria Burel tagged "seven middle grade mysteries to cozy up with on dreary days," including:
Absolutely Truly, by Heather Vogel Frederick

Truly Lovejoy is accustomed to change. Her father’s military career means they move often. But the kind of change that comes when her father loses an arm in Afghanistan and decides to move the family to middle-of-nowhere Pumpkin Falls to take over the family bookstore is a little more than Truly can handle. During the middle of a bitter cold New Hampshire winter, Truly finds a mysterious letter tucked into the pages of a rare book. The letter starts her on a journey that will not only lead her into mysteries of the past, but also draw her closer to the current residents of her new hometown.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Jesse Blackadder

Jesse Blackadder is an author and screenwriter. She has published seven books for adults and children. Her latest novel, Sixty Seconds, is about a family's journey to forgiveness after their toddler son drowns. One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE WOMEN'S ROOM - Marilyn French

I read this novel at 15 and felt the electrifying sensation that an author had somehow understood my unarticulated feelings and written them on the page. I felt a powerful sense of recognition and identification with the main character Mira, even though I was growing up 10 years later than the 1950s setting in which Mira was coming of age. My deeply felt feminism was given form and voice by reading The Women's Room.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Five top food history books

At B&N Reads Madina Papadopoulos tagged five top food books for history buffs, including:
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson

When foodies discuss their favorite dishes and chefs, they tend to forget the silent guest at every meal: the eating utensil. But food writer Bee Wilson is here to remind us in beautifully detailed descriptions and history just how important forks are. Looking at how humans first began to use utensils, how those tools evolved, and in turn, how they affected food, Wilson takes an in-depth look at metal forks, wooden spoons, chopsticks, and their friends. After reading Consider the Fork, eaters might find a newfound appreciation when loading the dishwasher.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ten essential books of the American West

Alex Higley's new novel is Old Open.

One of the author's ten favorite books about the American West, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Works of Love by Wright Morris

I’m not sure if it was the accretion of mentions of Wright Morris by Michael Silverblatt on Bookworm over the years that caused me to seek Morris’s work out, or if it was that I stumbled across his photography while deep in a Robert Adams image search. Probably one of those two scenarios, or both, is the truth. When I finally did read Morris, The Works of Love, the experience was haunted. His interests and humor and his eye, all felt modern and deeply familiar to me. It was one of those instances where I felt reading the book, “I know this writer.” Here’s the opening: “In the dry places, men begin to dream. Where the rivers run sand, there is something in man that begins to flow. West of the 98th Meridian–where it sometimes rains and it sometimes doesn’t–towns, like weeds, spring up when it rains, dry up when it stops.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of the unlikeliest SFF love stories ever told

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten times sci-fi & fantasy went looking for love outside our species, including:
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers

There are several interspecies romances in Chambers’ delightful debut novel, including one between the nominal main character Rosemary and the reptile-like alien Sissix—who overcomes his distaste for the way humans smell—and a one-sided love affair between a technician and the AI that runs their ship. Chambers assumes that if you cram numerous sentient biological—and, er, non-biological—entities onto a ship together and send them on an extended trip across the stars, eventually, love will find a way. We have to agree.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Five books for getting a feel for the South Carolina Lowcountry

At MapQuest Travel Rebecca Robertson tagged five top books for getting a feel for the South Carolina Lowcountry, including:
Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

Set in the "arrogantly shabby" setting of Pawleys Island in Georgetown County, this book with the same name follows Rebecca Simms after the dissolution of her marriage. Rebecca comes to the island to make a fresh start, but a cast of island characters changes her life once she's invited into their circle of friendship.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Top ten novels about God

Neil Griffiths is the author of Betrayal in Naples, winner of Authors' Club Best First Novel, and Saving Caravaggio, shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel of the Year. His new novel is As a God Might Be. One of the author's ten top novels about God, as shared at the Guardian:
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

The first “God is dead” narrative, and Ivan Karamazov is its storyteller. In the chapter Mutiny, he explains to Aloysha, his younger brother and novice monk, why he is returning his ticket to be present at the end of time when all those who have suffered are finally redeemed. Focusing on reports of the torture and murder of children with a kind of ecstatic glee, he asks Aloysha whether he himself would make a world that ends with universal love at the cost of a single child’s suffering. It is the question all believers must ask themselves and then live with the answer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Brothers Karamazov made Becky Ferreira's list of the eight best siblings in literature, Alexandra Silverman's list of four famous writers who spent time in jail, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked priests in fiction, James Runcie's top ten list of books about brothers, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten biggest bootlickers from literature and history

Deborah Parker is Professor of Italian at the University of Virginia. Mark Parker is Professor of English at James Madison University. They are coauthors of Inferno Revealed: From Dante to Dan Brown and Sucking Up: A Brief Consideration of Sycophancy.

One of their ten biggest bootlickers from literature and history, as shared at Electric Lit:
While the bargain struck by the sycophant — fleeting moments of vain gratification — often seems a losing proposition, the arrangement can at times have some advantage. In The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst presents a virtuoso suck- up in Nick Guest, a well-educated hanger-on in a rising conservative MP’s home. Hollinghurst brilliantly links Nick’s aesthetic sensibility to his abilities as a flatterer. Early in the novel Nick accompanies the family of a friend as they drive to a country estate. But while the family can be bored as they contemplate the visit, Nick is essentially on duty as resident sycophant. From the outside, one would be uncertain of Nick’s intentions. But upon arrival, Nick revels in the pleasures of an intense connoisseurship, tracing the beautiful surfaces of the estate, noting the details of its elegance and its rich evocation of architectural traditions. Nick is a flunkey but this seems the price of the ticket to the world of the rich and powerful. He savors the view, but he also relishes his intense response to it: Nick understands and enjoys what the family owns better than they do.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Line of Beauty is among Kwasi Kwarteng's top ten books about Thatcherism.

The Page 99 Test: Sucking Up.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ursula K. Le Guin's six favorite timeless novels

Ursula K. Le Guin is America's reigning queen of literary science fiction. Her new essay collection is No Time to Spare. One of the author's six favorite timeless novels, as shared at The Week magazine:
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

Gaskell's first novel, the tale of a working-class girl in Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, probably isn't her best, but I've not yet got through it without tears. It's so alive with indignation, sympathy, and compassion.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 4, 2017

Five of the best "Snow White" retellings

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five of the best Snow White retellings, including:
The Sleeper and the Spindle, by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

I’m not a huge Gaiman fan, but I’m obsessed with his retelling of Snow White, which is illustrated by Chris Riddell. A mash-up of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, it follows a young queen who sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment on her wedding night. The drawings are gorgeous and plot twists of this illustrated short story will keep you at the edge of your seat.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Five top works of SF with weird bug behavior

Spencer Ellsworth’s newest novel in the Starfire Trilogy is Shadow Sun Seven. At he tagged five top works of SF that turn weird bug behavior into great fiction, including:
Children of Time and Slaver Ants, & Pretty Much Anything Arachnic

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time is a mindblowingly weird and forward-looking science fiction novel, with a dozen different ways to explain the premise, but for brevity’s sake: there was an uplift/terraforming project. It was supposed to uplift monkeys. Instead, we got spiders.
From there, things get interesting.

(Beware: if you’re an extreme arachnophobe, this novel will either convince you that you were wrong, or make you scream and throw your Kindle/paperback out the window.)
Tchaikovsky is an arachnophile and bug-o-phile in general. So his sentient spiders learn to chemically manipulate ants to use them for purposes from fighting to mining, to working as a living computer, all through pheromones and smell signals.

It’s reminiscent of the slaver ants, though not nearly as cruel. Slaver ants move into another species’ nest, kill the adult ants, and enslave the next generation of the pupae. They do this by using the Dufour’s gland, which secrets the chemicals and pheromones so the adult ants they’re wiping out become confused and turn on one another. Basically, they pump out a steady stream of ANGER like little ant Palpatines in a nest full of Anakins.

However, the slaves don’t quite go willingly. They’ll raise their own pupae in slavery, but in some cases they’ll tear the actual slaver pupae to pieces. It’s a common enough tendency that scientists speculate that slavery among ants might soon die out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue