Thursday, September 21, 2017

Top ten books about consciousness

Adrian Owen is the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at The Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, Canada, and author of Into the Grey Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death. One of his ten top books about consciousness, as shared at the Guardian:
Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett

Probably the best introduction to the central ideas and concepts that have preoccupied all great consciousness thinkers throughout history. It may be a little challenging for a general audience, but Dennett masterfully combines ancient philosophical concepts with more familiar modern analogies (such as “the brain as a computer”) in a book that continues to influence contemporary thought on the human condition more than a quarter of a century after its publication.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Five books about magic

Brad Abraham's new novel is Magicians Impossible.

One of his five top books about magic, as shared at Tor.com:
The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff

Superstition. Paranoia. Bloodlust. The horrible crimes of Salem Massachusetts in 1692 cast a long shadow over an America that seems to fall victim to false accusations and baseless superstition with alarming reiteration. Stacy Schiff’s densely plotted non-fiction look at the witch trials, and the hysteria surrounding them may not seem like a story one wants to know more about. After all, you can read The Crucible anytime you want. But the devil’s in the details; despite the tales of black magic and witches’ covens, and pacts with Satan the workmanlike way the Puritan community set out to accuse, try, and execute nineteen people is a much more chilling potion than any fiction could concoct. The Salem Witch trials echo through the entirety of the three hundred years that followed it, in every culture, in every country as well-meaning but easily led people give in to their baser instincts because they fear what lurks in the dark, and what may be on the other side of that door.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fifty novels that changed novels

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged fifty novels that changed novels, including:
The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith

How It Changed Novels: Sociopaths have been in stories since stories were first told, and there had even been sociopathic protagonists in novels before. But Highsmith made Ripley the hero of her story despite his chillingly manipulative nature and his many crimes. Ripley opened a dark gate and many of the best novels of the last few decades owe his charmingly evil presence a debt.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, Roz Chast's six favorite books list, Nicholas Searle's top five list of favorite deceivers in fiction, Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2017

Six top books about food

Christopher Kimball is the author of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street: The New Home Cooking. One of his six favorite books about food, as shared at The Week magazine:
Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Memorable for both its gentle sweetness and the writer's portrait of her Egyptian-Jewish grandparents' household in 1930s Cairo. Ahmet the cook prepares a wedding feast with sambusak (small pastries filled with feta), stuffed quail, zalabia (deep-fried dough soaked in honey and orange blossoms), and pistachio-stuffed kunafa (cheese pastry).
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Eight contemporary YAs set amid high-stakes competition

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged eight "contemporary YAs [that] lay it all on the line with intense competitions, life-changing prizes, and vicious rivalries," including:
No Good Deed, by Goldy Moldavsky

In a far more lighthearted version of the high-stakes competition setting, Moldavsky’s sophomore follows wannabe do-gooder Gregor to Camp Save the World, a summer camp for teen activists. There, each camper picks a cause to champion. Naturally, Gregor wants to feed the world’s hungry children; how could anyone pick a cause more worthy than that? While the others range from obviously deserving to utterly strange, competition heightens all around when they learn there’s a major internship at stake. Outgooding each other becomes the name of the game in a satire that gently balances support for and mockery of social justice advocacy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ten creepy psychological thrillers

Jane Robins is the author of White Bodies: An Addictive Psychological Thriller.

One of her ten favorite creepy psychological thrillers, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Queen of Crime excelled in concocting complex mysteries–but this, one of the best-selling books of all time–is a superlative read not just because of Christie’s intricate plotting, but also because of the profound sense of menace on every page. Eight people are invited to a house on a remote island off the Devon coast, and two servants are already present. In each bed room an old rhyme is hanging–Ten Little Indians, or in later editions, Ten Little Soldiers. The rhyme describes ten deaths. Then–one by one–the characters are murdered. Given that there are no hiding places on the island, the murderer is evidently one of the ten characters. A masterpiece.
Read about the other entries on the list.

And Then There Were None is among Molly Schoemann-McCann's nine great books for people who love Downton Abbey, Sjón's top ten island stories, and Pascal Bruckner's five best books on guilt.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 15, 2017

Seven YA books to beat your back to school blues

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged seven YA books to beat your back to school blues, including:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

Frankie is tired of being underestimated by the men in her life, from her father, who still calls her bunny rabbit, to her boyfriend, who won’t let her in on their boarding school’s secret society. So she takes matters into her own hands, faking her way to the top of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Unbeknownst to its all-male members (including her now-ex boyfriend), Frankie sends the society on a series of pranks, hoping they’ll eventually recognize her genius. I will never get tired of recommending this book; its hilarious hijinks and insistent girl-power make it a feminist must-read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is among Jenny Kawecki's five kickass feminist YA books, Kayla Whaley's five best opening scenes in YA lit, Sona Charaipotra's five top YA books to read when you're burnt out on love, and Sabrina Rojas Weiss's ten favorite boarding school novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Top ten contemporary short stories

At the Guardian Jon McGregor tagged his ten favorite contemporary short stories, including:
"Pee on Water" by Rachel B Glaser

This was my personal standout in the already very strong New American Stories, edited by Ben Marcus. I’m increasingly drawn to any story that has a more expansive sense of a story’s possibility than the “snapshot of life” model insisted upon by the Carver/Hemingway school. This story begins at the dawn of time and ends round about now, which is expansive enough for anyone, I feel. It also has beautiful sentences, and there are not enough of those in the world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The 20 best memoirs written by musicians

At Paste magazine Dan Holmes tagged the twenty best memoirs written by musicians, including:
Just Kids by Patti Smith

Lyrical and moving, Just Kids is the account of Smith’s formative friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 1989. Smith maintains a narrow focus that strengthens her narrative, giving us an indelible portrait of two young artists working to divine their futures while surviving in 1970s Manhattan. Lush with a romanticism tempered slightly by time and grief, Smith’s memoir makes a fervent tribute to her old friend and to an iteration of New York that’s fading ever-faster into myth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The ten best books about Bond, James Bond

Matthew Parker's non-fiction books include Monte Cassino: The Hardest-Fought Battle of World War II; the Los Angeles Times bestseller Panama Fever, which was one of the Washington Post’s Best Books of the Year; The Sugar Barons, which was an Economist Book of the Year; and Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born: Ian Fleming in Jamaica.

One of his ten best books about James Bond, as shared at The Daily Beast:
In Churchill’s Shadow: Confronting the Past in Modern Britain, by David Cannadine. (2002)

Professor Sir David Cannadine is one of Britain’s foremost public intellectuals and writers on modern history, particularly empire. This collection of essays includes a brilliant analysis of Fleming’s awkward personality, the result of an upbringing “by turns upstart and establishment, puritan and unrespectable, privileged and deprived.” These contradictions carry over to the portrayal of Britain in the Bond novels, whose decline Fleming—in the person of imperial hero James Bond—treats with a fascinating mixture of regret and denial. There is also a superb essay on Fleming’s fellow arch-imperialist and Jamaican neighbour Noël Coward.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born.

Coffee with a Canine: Matthew Parker & Danny.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 11, 2017

Nine dystopian novels for people who think they’re over dystopian novels

At the BN Teen Blog, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick tagged nine YA dystopian novels with fresh twists, including:
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi

Disastrous environmental conditions have led to an American society that’s barely surviving, where children are forced to strip oil tankers for resources. When one of those children, Nailer, rescues a wealthy girl stranded on one of the ships, he has to face the wrath of his abusive father. In a world in which we’re seeing the advancing effects of global warming, this series hits close to home. Be good to the planet, people!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ship Breaker is among Helen Grant's ten best books with settings that are strikingly brought to life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ten epic page-turning novels

Brendan Mathews's debut novel is The World of Tomorrow. At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten of his favorite epic page-turners, including:
The World According to Garp by John Irving

The first really big novel that I ever read, Garp taught me in high school that a novel was limited only by the author’s audacity and imagination. This one pulls together wrestling, writing, “gradual” students, parenthood, marriage, infidelity, Ellen Jamesians, trans football players, memoir-writing mothers, and more into a novel with a heart that’s even bigger than its 650 pages. It’s Irving at his most Dickensian.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The World According to Garp is among four books that changed Charlie Lovett, Kathy Reichs's six best books, ten books that changed Sean Beaudoin's life before he could drive, and John Niven's ten best writers in novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Six tech-infused YA thrillers set in dark futures

At the BN Teen blog Samantha Randolph tagged six YA titles that "combine the complexities of science and technology with killer (often literally) mysteries." One entry on the list:
Want, by Cindy Pon

In a futuristic Taipei, people survive the broken atmosphere by wearing special suits that protect them from illness and pollution. Unfortunately, only the elite can afford them, leaving much of the population to early deaths. Jason Zhou wants to change this, and his best chance is to infiltrate Jin Corp, the company behind the inaccessible safety suits. But the more Jason delves into this privileged world, the more complicated everything becomes, till he finds the fate of the city is in his hands.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 8, 2017

Seven very good books about very bad real-life ladies

At the BookBub blog Greer Macallister tagged seven great books about badly behaved women, including:
The Wardrobe Mistress by Meghan Masterson

Dangerous woman: Marie Antoinette

The glamorous and doomed Marie Antoinette was known for her oblivious excess, including her extensive, expensive wardrobe. Masterson smartly brings us into her court at Versailles through the eyes of 16-year-old Giselle, hired as an “undertirewoman,” or wardrobe assistant, to the notorious queen. As the revolution approaches, Giselle finds her loyalties torn between her employer, her family, and a handsome revolutionary — and conflict boils over into bloodshed.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Six YA retellings of literary classics

At the BN Teen Blog Elodie tagged six top YA retellings of classic tales, including:
Seeking Mansfield, by Kate Watson

This fresh and funny take on Mansfield Park brings Jane Austen’s telltale witty banter (and penchant for complicated love triangles) into the twenty-first century. Like Fanny Price, sixteen-year-old Finley Price is a quiet girl with a strong moral compass. Unlike her nineteenth-century counterpart, however, Finley wants to join the prestigious world of theatre—with the help and encouragement of her best friend and secret crush, Oliver. But when movie star siblings Harlan and Emma Crawford move in across the street, they cause quite a stir. Particularly when Emma begins to pursue Oliver (who isn’t exactly NOT interested), and Harlan finds himself increasingly attracted to Finley.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Top ten books about teaching

At the Guardian, the author of The Secret Teacher: Dispatches from the Classroom tagged ten top books about teaching, including:
To Sir With Love by ER Braithwaite

A touching and inspiring autobiographical novel about a classically educated West Indian (played with characteristic dignity by Sidney Poitier in the 1967 film) who comes to the East End of London to become a teacher of a class full of unruly, unmotivated “peasants”. Like Dennison, Braithwaite’s radical approach involves treating the kids as human beings and leading them out into the world. The kids overcome the “hateful virus” of their racism and learn to treat their teacher with respect. “Sir” encapsulates how teachers often feel: “O God, forgive me for the hateful thoughts, because I love them, these brutal, disarming bastards, I love them.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

To Sir With Love is among Hanif Kureishi's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top SFF confessional novels

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged five of the best SFF confessional novels, including:
I, Lucifer, by Glen Duncan

Upon suspecting Lucifer might be gearing up for a second assault on Heaven, God offers him an unexpected choice: live as a mortal for a month, as sin-free as possible, and enter Heaven again, letting bygones be bygones. Or, when God finally defeats the forces of Hell, be cast into an endless void for all eternity. Lucifer readily accepts, but because he needs a “holiday,” instead choosing to live it up in a hedonistic manner and write an autobiography to set things straight. The resulting book is told in a cheerful, rambling stream-of-consciousness style by someone who clearly has a lot to say and wants someone to hear all of it. Duncan casts Lucifer not as misunderstood, but in fact proud of his place in myth, allowing him to become a delightfully unapologetic villain in a way that matches his equally unapologetic (and kind of cynical) world view. It’s a fresh take on the original antihero.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Ten of the best historical novels

Alix Christie is the author of the novel Gutenberg's Apprentice. One of her favorite historical novels, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Enigma by Robert Harris

This prolific British historical novelist has covered everything from Pompeii to Nazi Germany to the Dreyfus Affair. His books are swiftly moving, well-plotted scenarios set into rigorously researched and believable worlds. Enigma tells a ripping story of spycraft in the intense secrecy of the British codebreaking operation during World War II. Set at Bletchley Park, the manor transformed into a number-crunching hive, the novel conveys the period's high anxiety and pressure, even if the mathematically challenged still struggle to grasp the workings of the famous "bombes" that cracked the Nazi "Enigma" code.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Enigma is among Charlie Jane Anders's top eighteen fictional versions of Alan Turing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Eight top girl power books for kids

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

At the BN Kids Blog she tagged eight kids’ books filled with girl power to inspire the young women in your life, including:
She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger

This beautiful watercolor picture book from Chelsea Clinton herself details thirteen diverse women who helped change America through their tenacity and drive. The title is a play on the words used to silence Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor, and the book is meant to celebrate those women who found their voices and spoke up, even when others wanted them to stop. The book features stories of women who persisted in doing what was right despite overwhelming odds, including Harriet Tubman, Sonia Sotomayor, Maria Tallchief, and Sally Ride.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top fantasy novels with awe-inspiring settings

Matthew Kressel is a multiple Nebula Award-nominated writer and World Fantasy Award-nominated editor. One of his five favorite "fantasy novels with fantastic, awe-inspiring settings," as shared at Tor.com:
The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

If you haven’t encountered Amos Tutuola’s 1952 novel, go to your local bookstore or library and request it now. It is not like anything you’ve ever read. Growing up in Nigeria, Tutuola was raised by Christian cocoa farmers and went to school for only six years, because he needed support his family financially after his father died. Heavily influenced by the Nigerian Yoruba folktales, The Palm-Wine Drinkard was the first African novel published in English outside Africa. It recounts the story of a man who is addicted to palm wine. When his brewer dies, he becomes desperate for more wine and sets off for the “Dead’s Town” in order to bring the brewer back. He crosses frightening landscapes and meets terrifying supernatural beings along the way—all to get more wine! Some may be put off by the modified Yoruba English that gives his prose a raw quality, but others have said this connects the reader more closely to the Yoruba folktales on which the novel is based. Either way, you’ll never read a book quite like this.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Palm-Wine Drinkard is among Alain Mabanckou's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Five top books about women labeled “difficult”

E. Lockhart's new novel is Genuine Fraud.

At the BN Teen blog she tagged five of her favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” including:
Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie shows a woman furiously inventing herself as an unconventional role model for her students. She exists on a border between self-actualization and lunacy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 1, 2017

Five top fantasy novels set in the Pacific Northwest

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is Call of Fire.

Cato is a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

One of the author's top five fantasy novels set in the Pacific Northwest, as shared at Tor.com:
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Bear mashed together 19th century versions of San Francisco, Vancouver, and (most prominently) Seattle in her setting of Rapid City, home to Karen Memery, a “seamstress” of a high class bordello.

Rapid City is a vivid place, a town enduring growing pains as the Alaskan gold rush spurs change and pushes through transients–via naval vessels and airships–on their way to the far north. This is Weird West steampunk embodied with Pacific Northwestern mustiness and mud. Karen’s distinct voice tells a tale of action, intrigue, and extraordinary inventions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Five top MG books about going back to school

At the BN Kids Blog Rachel Sarah tagged "five realistic contemporary novels, both new and classic stories [that] will help both reluctant and ravenous readers face the unknown and also feel brave enough to take risks," including:
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

I’ll always feel grateful to Judy Blume for being the first author to push the boundaries and really give middle grade readers a glimpse of what it’s like when your body starts to change, or when you wish it would finally would. (“We must, we must, we must increase our busts.”)

I’ve read this classic many times since I first picked it up the summer before I started middle school. I adore Margaret Simon, who wonders out loud if she’ll ever fill out her bra or get her period. Margaret has just moved from New York City to the suburbs, and she’s anxious about starting a new life in the suburbs at a new school.

For parents of kids who are going to start middle school soon, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret might be the perfect conversation starter to open the door to talking about some big worries on their minds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five novels where the hero doesn’t save the day

Curtis Craddock lives in Aurora, Colorado, where he teaches Computer Information Systems classes to offenders at a correctional facility. The newly released An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is his first book.

One of his five favorite books where the hero doesn’t save the day, as shared at Tor.com:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

A book that features burning books as a central trope is in a pretty dark place to begin with. Guy Montag, a Fireman employed to perform this villainous task, has second thoughts about his occupation. The story deeply explores the notion of censorship and the dumbing down of media as a form of pacification, which is more relevant today than ever. It’s a dire warning about the seductiveness of the easy path. With nuclear war being a thing in this future, Montag doesn’t manage to save the day, but then who really can save a world without books?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fahrenheit 451 is among Jeff Somers's six often misunderstood SF/F novels and on Alice-Azania Jarvis' reading list on firefighting.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Top ten books on postwar France

Alex Christofi is a writer and editor living in London. His latest novel, Let Us Be True, is set in 60s Paris. One of his ten top books on postwar France, as shared at the Guardian:
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan (1954)

Sagan was only 18 when her debut novel became a sensation. In the years before the yé-yé girls and sexual liberation of the 60s, it was remarkable for presenting an emancipated young woman – albeit one who has an oddly Oedipal relationship with her father – living the high life on the Riviera. The novel is jammed awkwardly into the form of a Wildean morality tale, but the sins are related with such gusto that no one ever remembers the moral.
Bonjour Tristesse is among Helena Frith Powell's five notable books on glamour.

Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fifty of the most essential high school stories

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged fifty of the most essential high school stories, including:
Dare Me, by Megan Abbott

Here’s a book that’s sympathetic to the cheerleaders and mean girls. Dare Me both humanizes and subverts the typical way cheerleaders are written in teen stories, in which they’re almost always the villains, ruling the school with fear and bullying. That seems to have worked just fine for varsity cheerleaders Addy and Beth in the past, until a new coach divides, conquers, and unites them again, even as the police get involved in some very bad, bad things.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Dare Me is among Julie Buntin's twelve books that totally get female friendship, 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

Four books that changed Rachel Seiffert

Rachel Seiffert's most recent novel is A Boy in Winter.

One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
WASHINGTON SQUARE
Henry James

A father and daughter disagree over a suitor in 19th-century polite New York society. I read this out of desperation on a rainy family holiday as a 16-year-old, having taken too few books along. My mum had just finished it, and she passed it on to me to stop me complaining of boredom. "Nothing's happened yet," I kept reporting back to her every few pages. But I was hooked! It marks the point where I became a grown-up as a reader: plot isn't everything – not when you have characters with such rich interior lives to explore.
Read about the other books on the list.

Washington Square is among four books that changed Ian McGuire, five books that changed Carol Wall, and Will Eaves's top ten siblings' stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 28, 2017

Five books to help middle schoolers make and find real friends

At the BN Kids Blog Rachel Sarah tagged five "witty, honest novels about friendship with lots of humor along the way," including:
The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy Swanson is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Everyone says her friend’s death was an accident, but she can’t believe that sometimes things “just happen.” In her grief, Suzy retreats into a silent world in which she plans to prove her theory, even if it means traveling the globe solo.

I loved all the fascinating scientific facts about jellyfish in this story (and even swimmer Diana Nyad!) and Benjamin has said that she actually started writing this book as nonfiction, when something else took over, and she found herself writing about guilt, regret, middle school, and friendships.

This is such a beautiful, gut-wrenching novel that it made me cry. Bonus: The Thing About Jellyfish was recently optioned to be a movie, with a script to be written by Molly Smith Metzler from Orange Is The New Black.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Thing about Jellyfish.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable books inspired by literary classics

Kamila Shamsie's new novel is Home Fire.

One of her six favorite books inspired by literary classics, as shared at The Week magazine:
House of Names by Colm Tóibín

Tóibín is one of the finest writers at work today, well up to the challenge of making the blood-drenched story of The Oresteia his own. Anyone thinking, "But I already know this story!" will be wrenched out of that thought upon reading Tóibín's account of Agamemnon's sacrifice of his daughter to appease the gods, as told from the perspective of the girl's mother, Clytemnestra.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Five SFF stories in which translators are the heroes

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 five sci-fi and fantasy stories "in which a translator gets to save the day—at least in part because they’re the only ones who can figure out what’s going on." One title on the list:
Bellis Coldwine in The Scar, by China Miéville

Fleeing New Crobuzon after the events of Perdido Street Station, Bellis Coldwine is a brilliant linguist who is soon captured by pirates and forcibly made a citizen of the floating city Armada. There she is put in charge of the library and spends her time resentfully missing her home even as the Lovers, the leaders of Armada, involve her in their plot to raise the sea monster known as the Avanc. When information on an ancient book explaining how to summon the Avanc is found, Bellis destroys it and puts herself into danger in order to warn her home city—which cast her out—of impending danger, making her the best kind of hero: the unappreciated kind.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Six notable novels with a strong evocation of atmosphere

Kate Hamer is the author of The Girl in the Red Coat and The Doll Funeral. "When settings are really successful in a novel," she argues, "they mean we can experience it as a complete world." One of her six favorite stories that pull it off, as shared at LitHub:
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

I was obsessed with the beginning of Treasure Island when I was a child. (I always abandoned the book part-way through.) It’s a classic coming of age story where adventure comes knocking for the young hero Jim Hawkins. The Admiral Benbow Inn is Jim’s family home on a remote stretch on the west coast of England. The atmosphere of the place is both sinister and wild, the sea roars up the cliffs during storms and the cove is rocky yet the bay is sheltered enough for it to be an ideal location for pirates. This, and the isolation of the Inn is the reason it’s chosen by a menacing figure, later revealed to be the pirate captain Billy Bones. The lonely untamed atmosphere of the inn and the pirate cove reaches a pitch of terrible menace when an evil vicious beggar called Blind Pew arrives, the sound of his stick echoing through the fog, to deliver to Billy Bones the black spot—a mark of imminent death among pirate crews. Stevenson escalates the atmosphere of the landscape with his brilliant use of sound, the tapping of the stick, the waves crashing, so the opening of the book is like a wrap around cinematic experience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Treasure Island also appears on David Robb's six best books list, Gillian Philip’s top ten list of islands in children's fiction, Robert Gore-Langton's top twelve list of the greatest children's books of all time, Emily St. John Mandel's list of the six books that influenced her most as a writer, David McCallum's six best books list, Bear Grylls's top ten list of adventure stories, Eoin Colfer's top 10 list of villains in fiction, Charlie Fletcher's top ten list of swashbuckling tales of derring-do, Robert McCrum's list of the ten best first lines in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best pirates in fiction, and among Mal Peet's top ten books to read aloud, Philip Pullman's six best books, and Eoin Colfer's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven YA books to read after a breakup

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 seven YA books to read after a breakup, including:
How It Ends, by Catherine Lo

Sometimes the worst breakups aren’t the romantic kind at all, because there’s nothing like the devastation of losing your best friend. That’s what happens in Lo’s debut. Shy Jessie’s always hidden in the shadows cast by her larger than life BFF, Annie. And Annie has relied on Jessie’s stability to keep her grounded. Their differences are what brought them together, but they might just be what tears them apart, too.
Learn about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 25, 2017

Five books about strange cities

Adam Christopher's newest novel is Killing Is My Business (Ray Electromatic Mysteries, Volume 2). At Tor.com he tagged "five books where the setting—in this case, strange cities—is key," including:
The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is famous for his 2016 novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Underground Railroad, but his 2000 debut The Intuitionist is a fascinating slice of noir weird. Set in not-quite-New York, in the not-quite-20th-century, Lila Mae Watson is the city’s first black female elevator inspector. More than that, she is a member of the Intuitionists, the faction within the Department of Elevator Inspectors who investigate elevator faults with, no kidding, psychic powers (in contrast—and conflict—with the scientific principles of their rivals, the Empiricists). Following a dramatic elevator accident—in an Elevator Guild election year, no less—Lia Mae’s investigation turns into a journey of self-discovery, set against the backdrop of this very strange and enigmatic world, where the elevator-obsessed society is on the quest for the mythical Second Elevation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Intuitionist is among Ardi Alspach's seven top works of Afrofuturism.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ten books that cast forests as dangerous, dark, and deep

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged ten "books that cast forests in their proper light: dangerous, dark, and deep," including:
Little Heaven by Nick Cutter

Taking its cues from a wide array of ’70s and ’80s horror, Little Heaven follows a trio of mercenaries on the trail of a missing person into the mountainous forest compound of a Christian cult where the people slowly lose their sense of empathy, the woods are filled with horrifying mix-and-match creatures, the undead do their best to drive their former friends and families insane with fear, and a massive obsidian pillar seems to radiate corruption over the surrounding area. While Cutter’s work is a shining tribute to the lurid gore, creatures, and excess of horror’s most prolific, twisted periods, Little Heaven concerns itself more with the three mercenaries at its center, and the Faustian bargain that ties them to the Little Heaven compound and the sinister thing presiding over the madness within.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Top ten books about tyrants

Christopher Wilson is the author of several novels, including - Gallimauf's Gospel, Baa, Blueglass, Mischief, Fou, The Wurd, The Ballad of Lee Cotton, Nookie, and The Zoo. One of his ten top books about tyrants, as shared at the Guardian:
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Written in 1920, but never published in the Soviet Union, this dystopian novel of a totalitarian future, anticipates the biological controls of Brave New World and the Big Brotherish language of 1984. Governed by the Benefactor, Reason and One State, citizens are numbers in a transparent world of glass, with every waking moment governed by the (time) Table. Freedom is an “unorganised primitive state” incompatible with happiness. Sex is licensed. But outside the containing Green Wall there’s another world – of anarchy, freedom and furry people. With his writings suppressed, Zamyatin wrote to Stalin describing himself as a writer in waiting, until “it becomes possible in our country to serve great ideas without cringing before little men”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We is among Weston Williams's fifteen classic science fiction books and Lawrence Norfolk's five most memorable dystopias in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifty irresistible beta heroes in romance

At B&N Reads Amanda Diehl tagged fifty irresistible beta heroes--"sweet and supportive, good guys who are patient with their affections"--in romance, including:
Eli Landon (Whiskey Beach, by Nora Roberts)

Whiskey Beach has become a solace for Eli Landon after a dark scandal rocked his world. Guilty in the public eye of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife, he’s been interrogated by police and press alike. Now, all he wants is some peace and quiet to rebuild his life and maybe even write a book. Abra Walsh does anything and everything. She cleans houses, teaches yoga, and even makes jewelry. Abra becomes a friend to Eli and he’s grateful for her company, until the murder investigation finds its way to the small town of Whiskey Beach.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Five top novels that explore anarchist society, philosophy, or struggle

Margaret Killjoy's new book is The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, the first installment in the Danielle Cain series.

At Tor.com she tagged five "amazing novels that explore anarchist society, philosophy, or struggle," including:
The Steel Tsar by Michael Moorcock

Not all anarchist fiction is so serious. Some of it is just downright fun. No one does classic pulp adventure with an anti-authoritarian edge like Michael Moorcock. The Steel Tsar is the last in Moorcock’s Nomad In the Time Stream trilogy, which for the record is the earliest completely-and-utterly-steampunk work I’ve ever been able to find. I could kind of ramble on about Moorcock and all of the unacknowledged influences he’s had on this world (tabletop RPGs owe Moorcock at least as much credit as they owe Tolkien, plus he invented the chaos star, plus… steampunk…), but instead I’ll just tell you that The Steel Tsar has airships, nuclear weapons, a robotic Stalin, and the Ukranian anarchist Nestor Makhno. Which is to say, in the hands of a practiced master like Moorcock, you really can’t go wrong.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 21, 2017

Six delicious high-concept YA novels

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 six "delicious 'why didn’t I think of that' high-concept stories," including:
Windfall, by Jennifer E. Smith

What would you do if you won a million bucks? That’s the question at the heart of Smith’s Windfall. Unlucky in life, love, and pretty much everything else, orphaned Alice has always found comfort in her pal Teddy, whom she’s secretly loved for years. Soon after her 18th birthday, she buys him a lottery ticket—and he wins $140 million. As they grapple with the fallout of this astonishing windfall, they’ll question everything they know about themselves, their relationship, and the world around them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ten unputdownable suspense novels, thrillers, & other creepy books

Kathleen Barber's debut novel Are You Sleeping is about "inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter."One of the author's top ten "suspense novels, thrillers, and other creepy books...when it comes to all-night reading binges," as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

I am a huge Ruth Ware fangirl—I loved In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10—and so I was excited to get my hands on her latest. The book follows a group of former boarding school classmates who, summoned by an ominous text message sent by one of their own, gather to address a terrible incident from their shared past. It’s an intense page-turner that hit all the right notes for me with its rendition of an intense, exclusive teenage friendship, its spooky setting of a decaying mill surrounded by water, and plenty of secrets and lies.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue