Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Six of the best fictional dogs

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged six of the most memorable dogs from books, including:
Roger (Big Trouble, by Dave Barry)

What could be a cloyingly cute literary device straight out of a creative writing class is made funny, effective, and compelling with the agile comic gifts of Dave Barry. Barry’s first foray into full-length fiction is the ridiculously funny Miami-set crime story Big Trouble. The point of view shifts among a number of characters involved some way in a crime gone wrong—including a dog. Breaking up the unfolding, intertwined action are palate cleansers about a dog named Roger—the “result of generations of hasty, unplanned dog sex,” (he’s a mutt). He’s got his own story to live and his own battle to fight: trying to stop a rogue toad that steals food out of his bowl every morning. You really feel for Roger; this kind of dopey, regular dog. One wishes they could reach into the book, shoo the toad away, and let Roger have a full meal for once.
Learn about the other dogs on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 30, 2017

Six of the best books about political unrest and conflict

Elliot Ackerman is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Dark at the Crossing and Green on Blue. He is based out of Istanbul, where he has covered the Syrian Civil War since 2013. His writings have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Repub­lic and The New York Times Magazine, among other pub­lications, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories. He is both a former White House Fellow and a Marine, and has served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Purple Heart.

One of Ackerman's six favorite books on war and rebellion, as shared at The Week magazine:
Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuściński

A fever dream of a book — probably the best title on this list — about the fall of Iran's last shah. Nobody writes quite like Kapuscinski, whose style reads like an improbable blend of magic realism and journalism.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Shah of Shahs is among Kamin Mohammadi's top ten Iranian books.

The Page 69 Test: Green on Blue.

My Book, The Movie: Green on Blue.

My Book, The Movie: Dark at the Crossing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fiona Shaw's six best books

Fiona Shaw is best known for playing Aunt Petunia in the Harry Potter films. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
WAVE by Sonali Deraniyagala

Astonishing memoir of the tsunami in 2004 when Sonali lost her husband, parents and children. She held on to a branch and lived. Thereafter it’s an amazing description of their happy life in London and Sri Lanka before they died. I was blown away by it.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five YA novels for politically aware teens

At the BN Teen Blog Elodie tagged five YA must-reads for politically aware teens, including:
Wide Awake, by David Levithan

You should read this book only if you like 1) wonderfully relatable characters and 2) speculative fiction about history in the making. Seventeen-year-old Duncan has spent the last few months campaigning with his boyfriend, Jimmy. Now, it looks like their efforts are paying off: America has finally elected its first gay, Jewish president. But when a recount is demanded in Kansas and voters are being disenfranchised left, right, and center, things take a turn for the worse. Duncan sets off at once to join the thousands-strong crowd currently flocking to Kansas to show their support. But between Duncan’s now-rocky relationship with Jimmy and the ongoing protest movement from the opposition party, drama abounds in what is ultimately a tale of life, love, and hope in the face of political turmoil.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Five books that make living & working in space seem ordinary

Carrie Vaughn is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels and over eighty short stories. She's best known for the Kitty Norville urban fantasy series about a werewolf who hosts a talk radio advice show for supernatural beings -- the series includes fourteen novels and a collection of short stories -- and the superhero novels in the Golden Age saga.

Vaughn's new novel is Martians Abroad.

At Tor.com she tagged five books that make living and working in space seem ordinary, including:
Finity’s End by C.J. Cherryh

Recently named Grand Master Cherryh’s entire Merchanter series is the ultimate expression of stories about living and working in space, from the realities of cargo ships trying to turn a profit between the stars, to visceral details like condensation dripping off the ceiling of a docking corridor in a crowded space station. Finity’s End isn’t the best known of the Merchanter books, but it’s the first one I read and it particularly focuses on ship-board life through the eyes of a character who didn’t grow up on one of the family-dynasty space-faring ships that give the series its name. It’s a world that’s both strange and familiar: the concerns of time-dilated aging, next to the all-too real drag of working a shift in the kitchen.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Writers Read: Carrie Vaughn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 27, 2017

Twelve SFF books for the post-truth era

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged twelve science fiction & fantasy books for the post-truth era, including:
Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell

The undisputed masterpiece of dystopian fiction, George Orwell’s soul-shaking contribution to our collective nightmares was first published in 1949, in the wake of World War II, as humanity tried to come to grips with what it had just allowed to happen—and, hopefully, figure out how to prevent it from ever happening again. As such, it’s not a subtle work in the least, but that’s part of its genius. In envisioning life is a fascistic near-future world in which government surveillance is omnipresent, loyalty to the state is prized above all else, and citizens are encouraged inform on anyone harboring as much as a subversive thought, Orwell put to paper a scenario so terrifying, so beyond the pale, that it’s impossible not to see it echoed in every small step we take toward that possible future. And what’s most critical to keeping Big Brother in power, you ask? The total control of information and an impressive ability to obfuscate it from the average good citizen—to mold history and stuff inconvenient information down the memory hole (of course, in the internet era, you hardly need absolute power to muddy the facts; a Facebook page will do). “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation,” Orwell tells us. “These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.” Making someone doubt the truth in front of their eyes is the first step to convincing them the truth doesn’t matter. Only power matters.
Read about the other books on the list.

Nineteen Eighty-four is on Stephen W. Potts's top five list of useful books about surviving surveillance, Linda Grant's top ten list of books about postwar Britain, Ella Cosmo's list of five fictional books-within-a-book too dangerous to read, the list of four books that changed Peter Twohig, the Guardian's list of the five worst book covers ever, the Independent's list of the fifteen best opening lines in literature, W.B. Gooderham's top ten list of books given in books, Katharine Trendacosta and Amanda Yesilbas's list of ten paranoid science fiction stories that could help you survive, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Gabe Habash's list of ten songs inspired by books and a list of the 100 best last lines from novels. The book made Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten science fiction novels we pretend to have read, Juan E. Méndez's list of five books on torture, P. J. O’Rourke's list of the five best political satires, Daniel Johnson's five best list of books about Cold War culture, Robert Collins' top ten list of dystopian novels, Gemma Malley's top 10 list of dystopian novels for teenagers, is one of Norman Tebbit's six best books and one of the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King. It made a difference to Isla Fisher, and appears on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best Aprils in literature, ten of the best rats in literature, and ten of the best horrid children in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Top ten books about voyeurs

Peter Swanson is the author of three novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, a LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; and his most recent, Her Every Fear.

For the Guardian, he tagged ten books about voyeurs, including:
The Executioners by John D MacDonald (1957)

The voyeur of this novel is Max Cady, a psychotic ex-convict, out to get revenge on Sam Bowden, the family man who helped put him away for rape. What is so menacing about MacDonald’s story – filmed twice under the title of Cape Fear – is the way in which Cady just hangs around, keeping an eye on Bowden, his wife and three children, among them a 14-year-old daughter just beginning to become a woman. Before he strikes, he simply (and legally) watches. MacDonald, an underrated thriller writer, shows the helplessness and terror inherent in such a situation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Visit Peter Swanson's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: The Kind Worth Killing.

The Page 69 Test: The Kind Worth Killing.

Writers Read: Peter Swanson (February 2015).

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Top ten quests in children’s books

David Cadji Newby is the author of The Little Boy Who Lost His Name and The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name. One of his ten top quests in children’s books, as shared at the Guardian:
The Little Black Fish by Samad Behrangi

What happens when you swim against the current? That’s the question at the heart of this book, which follows the Little Black Fish on a journey from his stream to the sea. It’s made more poignant by the fact that it was written in the 1960s by an Iranian author, as an allegory for daring to hold different political views – and whose early death was laid at the door of the regime. The book doesn’t shy away from mortality, and given its background, that should be embraced.
Read about the other entries on his list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Five top nonfiction books about espionage

Charles Stross has won two Hugo Awards and been nominated twelve times. He has also won the Locus Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best Novella, and has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke and Nebula Awards. His latest book is Empire Games. One of the author's five recommended nonfiction books about espionage, as shared at Tor.com:
The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA by John Ranelagh

Ranelagh has become the unofficial historian of the CIA and The Agency, published at the height of the Cold War, was his first, monumental history of the rise of the organization: from its roots in the wartime OSS, through its ascendancy in the 1950s, its transformation into a government bureaucracy and intelligence analysis operation, the shift towards electronic intelligence gathering in the 1960s, the U2 program and Vietnam, and on to the post-Watergate enquiry into CIA black operations by the Church Commission in the mid to late 1970s.

There are more recent books on the subject (including the author’s own CIA: A History), but this was the first to break the myth of the Company’s slick public presentation and reveal it as another bumbling Washington bureaucracy … but one that had toppled governments, repeatedly tried to assassinate Fidel Castro (with everything from exploding cigars to poisoned boot polish), and dosed an elephant with LSD (because every government bureaucracy needs elephants on acid).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 23, 2017

Twelve graphic novels for a new political reality

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ross Johnson tagged twelve top graphic novels in which the personal is political, including:
Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery, by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece

Race and politics have been inseparable in America from the earliest days: the settling of the country, through the central debates over slavery during the Revolutionary era and beyond. Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece tell the story of Zane Pinchback, a light-skinned black 1930s-era reporter who goes undercover as a white person in order to investigate lynchings in the deep south. The story has roots in history: Walter White, head of the NAACP during the period, did the same thing, and African American writer Johnson has discussed his childhood fantasies about passing in order to infiltrate a white world. Pinchback’s already dangerous circumstances are made more so when his brother is accused of having raped a white woman, forcing Pinchback deeper into danger and into the racial politics of that era and our own.

See also: Black Panther, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze. It’s a wildly different book, but Coates has as much to say about modern racial politics in his take on African superhero T’Challa.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ottessa Moshfegh's six favorite books

Ottessa Moshfegh's books are Eileen, a novel that won 2016's PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, and the newly released story collection, Homesick for Another World.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Deep Ellum by Brandon Hobson

Restrained, dark, and strangely silent, this almost unbearably compelling novel reminds me how blood ties can cut as deeply and painfully as broken glass through the foot. If you've ever had a homecoming laced with sadness and longing, you'll relate to it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Six awesome diverse YA thrillers

At the BN Teen Blog Eric Smith tagged six top diverse YA thrillers to read right now, including:
A Fierce and Subtle Poison, by Samantha Mabry

In this beautiful debut blending magical realism with a light retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Rappaccini’s Daughter, a teenager named Lucas grows up hearing legends of a cursed girl, her body full of poison and gifted with magic. These rumors? Turns out they are all too true. After Lucas’s girlfriend is found dead on the beach with other locals, Isabel appears, sending him letters and drawing him into her world of magic and legend. This is a lyrical, heartbreaking book that’s incredibly sad and gorgeously imagined. Magic is mashed together with thrills and mystery, as Lucas tries to unravel the murders and the secrets of the poisoned girl.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Fierce and Subtle Poison.

Writers Read: Samantha Mabry (May 2016).

--Marshal Zeringue

Five recommended books for Donald Trump

At the Guardian books blog Danuta Kean recommended a few books for Donald Trump, including:
One Billion Customers by James McGregor.

The man who built up the Dow Jones’s operation in China can offer the former star of The Apprentice useful tips on how to deal with the world’s biggest markets. No dry textbook, McGregor’s book provides insights into China that are witty, informed and might just prevent the new leader sparking a catastrophic trade war.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 20, 2017

Five top big, engrossing books

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five "big, engrossing books to get buried under when it’s cold and blustery outside," including:
Look At Me, by Jennifer Egan

Egan is probably best known for her sharp, spare 2011 novel-in-stories A Visit From the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle award. But if a three-day blizzard is heading your way, you’re going to need more pages to turn, so check out her 500-pager Look At Me. It’s the involving and circuitous tale of a model whose face is damaged in a car accident then reconstructed, leaving her still beautiful but unrecognizable to those who knew her. Egan interweaves the stories of a wayward professor, a yearning teenage girl, and a mysterious chameleon-like man in a tale that remains eerily relevant.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Look At Me is one of Julie Christie's seven favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Top ten megacities in fiction

Chibundu Onuzo is the author of Welcome to Lagos. One of her top 10 megacities in fiction, as shared at the Guardian:
Saturday by Ian McEwan

One day in the life of central London, including diverted traffic, brain surgery and armed robbery. If you wonder how 24 hours in one man’s life could be so eventful, you must live in the suburbs. Henry Perowne, neurosurgeon, is an intelligent mind wandering through the British capital, and there is little he doesn’t pause to ponder on: from the BT Tower, to squash, to the war in Iraq. One of my favourite state-of-the-nation novels.
Read about the other books on the list.

Saturday also appears among Jimmy So's five best 9/11 novels, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best good doctors in literature and ten of the best prime ministers in fiction.

Also see: nine of the greatest (worst) megacities in sci-fi.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Five great novels that will probably never be made into movies

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged five great novels that will probably never be made into movies, including:
The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger

It’s arguably the most famous 20th century American novel, probably because it’s almost a rite of passage to read it during or after adolescence. The mystique of The Catcher in the Rye has only grown over the decades due to the reclusiveness and few other novels of its author, J.D. Salinger. Had it been written by someone a bit more willing to play with others, The Catcher in the Rye could’ve been a 1950s classic of American cinema, a searing black-and-white masterpiece of rage on par with On the Waterfront. (It probably would’ve even been remade a couple of times by now.) But alas, this one never went anywhere beyond a 17-year-old’s bookshelf. In the early ’50s, Jerry Lewis asked to adapt it but was turned down. So were all-time greats in their pursuits: Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, and Billy Wilder. More recently, Leonardo DiCaprio allegedly tried and failed to secure the rights. So did Steven Spielberg.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Catcher In The Rye appears on Natalie Zutter's list of nine classic YA books ripe for some creative genderbending of the main characters, Lance Rubin's top ten list of books with a funny first-person narrator, Andy Griffiths's list of five books that changed him, Chris Pavone's list of five books that changed him, Gabe Habash's list of the 10 most notorious parts of famous books, Robert McCrum's list of the 10 best books with teenage narrators, Antoine Wilson's list of the 10 best narrators in literature, A.E. Hotchner's list of five favorite coming-of-age tales, Jay McInerney's list of five essential New York novels, Woody Allen's top five books list, Patrick Ness's top 10 list of "unsuitable" books for teenagers, David Ulin's six favorite books list, Nicholas Royle's list of the top ten writers on the telephone, TIME magazine's list of the top ten books you were forced to read in school, Tony Parsons' list of the top ten troubled males in fiction, Dan Rhodes' top ten list of short books, and Sarah Ebner's top 25 list of boarding school books; it is one of Sophie Thompson's six best books. Upon rereading, the novel disappointed Khaled Hosseini, Mary Gordon, and Laura Lippman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Eleven heartwarming books for dog-lovers

At Bustle, Sadie L. Trombetta tagged 11 heartwarming books for dog-lovers, including:
Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved My Life by Julie Barton

Our pets have saved us all in the metaphorical way, but in author Julie Barton's case, her dog literally saved her life. Dog Medicine tells the story of how one dog had the power to help Barton survive her own depression, and teaches us all that the power of love and companionship knows no bounds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Julie Barton & Jackson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty sci-fi & fantasy books with a message of social justice

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged "20 novels that incorporate themes of social justice into stories that still deliver the goods—compelling plots, characters you’ll fall in love with, ideas that will expand your mind." One title on the list:
Iron Council, by China Miéville

Miéville is a member of the International Socialist Organization and wrote his doctoral thesis on Marxism, so it’s no surprise that his sci-fi and fantasy novels, in addition to being deeply weird and incredibly imaginative, tackle questions of economic and social inequality and speaking truth to power. This is most evident is his celebrated Bas Lag trilogy, particularly Iron Council, about a group of revolutionaries who seek to overthrow the corrupt powers that control and oppress the citizens of the twisted city of New Crobuzon. Though his work has been lambasted by some for being too overtly political, its narrative drive and potent imagery make it as unforgettable as literature as it is provoking as argument.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 16, 2017

Four books that changed Rosalie Ham

Rosalie Ham's books include the bestselling novel The Dressmaker, which became a 2015 film starring Kate Winslet, and Summer at Mount Hope.

One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald

Sebald conveys the Kindertransport by linking buildings, photos and past images with Austerlitz's thoughts, his human experience, thus making events vivid. Rather than witness horror, we see how ideas are shaped, how memory is formed, and we learn the truth. There are no chapters, and the narrator's "ramblings" are a trope, therefore connected to other events in the story, and thus the style distracts from what happened and we aren't repelled from the story. Fiction makes events real.
Read about the other books on the list.

Austerlitz is among Charles Fernyhough's top ten books on memory, Susheila Nasta's top ten cultural journeys, and the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Six top 1980s (and 80s-inspired) novels

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged "awesome fantasy/mystery novels from—or almost from, or inspired by, or spiritually connected to—the [19]80s," including:
The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

It’s theoretically possible that 80s fantasy movies get more classic than this one, but in reality…nah. Basically, you love this movie, and you’ll love the novel, too. It’s a little darker, and of course it has more time to flesh out some of those characters and relationships (like the Fezzik–Inigo Montoya bromance). Where the movie uses Columbo and the kid from The Wonder Years as a framing device to the fairy tale, the book has Goldman annotating and commenting on an older novel he’s supposedly discovered. But both have that magical love story that gets us all. So add a few extra marshmallows to your ho-cho and dive in.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Princess Bride is among Nicole Hill's five best novels written as genre parodies that stand on their own and eight notable royal figures in fiction, Jeff Somers's five best grandfathers in literary history, Sebastien de Castell's five duelists you should never challenge, the Guardian's five worst book covers ever, Rosie Perez's six favorite books, Stephanie Perkins' top ten most romantic books, Matthew Berry's six favorite books, and Jamie Thomson's top seven funny books.

--Marshal Zeringue

David Haig's six best books

David Haig is an English actor perhaps best known to US audiences for Two Weeks Notice (2002), My Boy Jack (2007), and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
A SUITABLE BOY by Vikram Seth

A family, political, religious and class saga set during the conflict between India and Pakistan.

As a hippy in my teens, I always wanted to go to India and I love Indian literature. I enjoyed the analysis of family dynamics and the flawed characters in this.

To live with them was extraordinary.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Seven novels with chronologies that will break you

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged seven "books that mess with the fundamentals of time and space so thoroughly...[that it] can be an exhilarating experience." One title on the list:
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas is structured as nested stories sharing reincarnated characters, either repeating the fate of their previous selves or rebelling against them. The characters’ souls undergo various transformations as the timeline advances—but that advancement is difficult to follow, as each story is interrupted at a key moment, at which point, the next story begins—until we get to the sixth, central story. From that point on, each of the first five stories is continued, finishing each narrative. The connections between the stories go far beyond the characters, making this one of the densest and most complicated narratives of all time, a structure the movie version couldn’t even begin to replicate.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cloud Atlas is among Christopher Priest’s top five science-fiction books that make use of music, Patrick Hemstreet's five top books for the psychonaut and the six books that changed Maile Meloy's idea of what’s possible in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five essential books on media and government

Derek B. Miller's new novel is The Girl in Green. One of his five recommended books on media and government, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Just the Facts: How "Objectivity" Came to Define American Journalism by David T.Z. Mindich (Revised edition, 2000)

This is a very approachable but authoritative biography of "objectivity" that explains how and why we value that notion and, by extension, why we feel so betrayed when objectivity is lost. Knowing this helps us see the arch and return to the topics that really matter, while fending off false claims we hear every day. Not bad for one book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Derek B. Miller's ten top books about the Iraq War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about surviving surveillance

At Tor.com, Stephen W. Potts tagged five useful books about surviving surveillance, including:
Shockwave Rider by John Brunner (1975)

Brunner anticipates cyberpunk in his portrayal of a character who can weave his way through an increasingly computerized society. Trained as a genius to serve the technocracy, the protagonist hides from, and indeed within, the system by periodically changing identities through his reprogramming of the database. Brunner mingles utopian possibilities with dystopian ones, showing how committed individuals­­ can use the power of technology to thwart abuses of same.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Seven books that weigh the pros and cons of immortality

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at strangelibrary.com. One of seven books that weigh the pros and cons of immortality that he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Ashlan Ley’s Curse, Viscera by Gabriel Squailia

Whatever happened to Ashlan Ley before the events of Viscera, it wasn’t pretty. By the novel start, she has been alive for centuries, unable to age or be killed, eking out a living as an apothecary using her alchemist training. She’s unsure why she’s been alive this long, or indeed what it is that makes her completely unkillable, but it’s so dire that when the first dubious offer to make it stop comes along, she jumps at it. Still, being completely immortal is a benefit at least some of the time, right?

Pros: When we say “completely immortal” what we mean is “more immortal than anyone else on this list.” Ley grows back organs, is able to keep going when impaled, and takes damage throughout the book that begins at mortal wounds and disembowelment. While she might not be able to get up right away, she will get up eventually. Plus, she never ages, which is something that’s always a boon when it comes to immortality. You can’t really get a much better combination than that.
Cons: Again, imagine having to be awake while your lungs reform. Or feeling your guts grow back. Also, being able to shake off any traumatic injury doesn’t mean you don’t still feel the pain from those traumatic injuries, so while swan-diving off of Niagara Falls may seem like a fun thing to do with your unkillable body, it’ll still be incredibly painful. Complicating matters, there is a reason Ley is unkillable, and while the resolution of her story arc (no spoilers) is a relief, the cost really isn’t worth the perks.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Top ten books about wild women

Danielle Dutton is the author of the novel, Margaret the First. One of her ten top books about wild women, as shared at the Guardian:
The Letters of Mina Harker by Dodie Bellamy

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mina is the perfect, passive Victorian wife. Here she’s horny and undead in 1980s San Francisco, having possessed Bellamy’s body. Epistolary, like Stoker’s original, the novel follows Mina/Dodie’s adventures through a city ravaged by Aids. It’s all wildly alive, full of gossip and sex. As Eileen Myles put it: “If there’s anything better than literature this is it.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven great morally complex YA novels

One title on Melissa Albert's list of seven top morally complex YA novels, as shared at the BN Teen blog:
The Lost Girl, by Sangu Mandanna

To a point this YA novel echoes the central premise of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, about a subclass of clones built for the purpose of providing fresh parts for their originals. But Mandanna focuses her lens on a single clone, Eva, created not as an organ donor but as a full-on replacement in the case of her original’s death. She’s only a teen when her original, Amarra, dies in a car crash, and her attempt to take over the dead girl’s life is choppy and disorienting for both her and her new family. Despite her training, Eva had no choice but to live life as her own person, developing memories and preferences and affections she couldn’t share with Amarra. In a world that believes her life to be less than, Eva must summon the courage to strike out on her own.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Five dystopian societies that might actually function

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged five dystopian societies that might actually function. One title on the list:
The World State (Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley)

Huxley is one of the few creators of a dystopia to have addressed the wide-ranging difficulties faced in running a large-scale society predicated on complete control. Whereas many dystopias amount to a single concept that supposedly rules everyone’s lives, back in 1932 Huxley figured out that it would take constant effort to reshape the way people think and behave. His society uses medical, pharmaceutical, and educational techniques to ensure compliance, and the detailed examination is convincing in its thoroughness—possibly because even eight decades later you can still see the seeds of that society in our own.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brave New World is among Annalee Newitz's seven utopias that changed the future and Matt Haig's top ten novels influenced by Shakespeare.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books with unforgettable animal sidekicks

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

Bickle's new novel is Nine of Stars.

Among the author's five favorite books with unforgettable animal sidekicks, as shared at Tor.com:
LYING CAT, THE WILL’S SIDEKICK in Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Lying Cat is a tiger-sized, hairless blue feline who travels with an alien bounty hunter known as The Will. Lying Cat gets one line: “Lying.” She’s a living polygraph test, and calls The Will out on his fuzzy truths as much as she divines the motives of his opponents. Drawn by Staples with the perfect expression of cat disdain, she is easily one of my most favorite characters in the series.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 9, 2017

Five sci-fi novels that should be considered literary classics

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Jeff Somers tagged five science fiction novels that really should be considered literary classics. One title on the list:
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Bleak and dense, The Road (like much of McCarthy’s writing) resembles a long form poem more than a genre novel. And yet it’s undeniably science fiction, set in an apocalyptic world where most of mankind has died out—along with almost everything else—and the survivors scrabble for food and bare survival in the hollowed out shell of civilization. Some have abandoned all vestiges of their humanity. Others keep carrying the fire. In other words, it’s a post-apocalyptic story that won the Pulitzer Prize. Science fiction can’t get much more literary than that.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Road appears on Claire Fuller's top five list of extreme survival stories, Justin Cronin's top ten list of world-ending novels, Rose Tremain's six best books list, Ian McGuire's ten top list of adventure novels, Alastair Bruce's top ten list of books about forgetting, Jeff Somers's list of eight good, bad, and weird dad/child pairs in science fiction and fantasy, Amelia Gray's ten best dark books list, Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Siri Hustvedt's 6 favorite books

Siri Hustvedt is a critic, poet, and author. Her new book is A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, a collection of 21 recent essays on art, psychology, literature, and feminism. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I read this complex, brilliant, terrifying novel for the first time at 14. I have read it three times since then, and each time I have been awed by both its diabolical structure and its emotional force.
Read about the other books on the list.

Wuthering Heights appears on Tom Easton's top ten list of fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," Melissa Harrison's list of the ten top depictions of British rain, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Ed Sikov's list of eight top books that got slammed by critics, Amelia Schonbek's top five list of approachable must-read classics, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the worst wingmen in literature, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Jimmy So's list of fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six picture books that take you under the sea

At the BN Kids blog Bianca Turetsky tagged six picture books that take you under the sea, including:
I Spy Under the Sea, by Edward Gibbs

This fun picture book uses a cut out spy hole to camouflage the sea creatures on the next page. From seven colorful clown fish to six sea horses to one scary shark (who spies you right back!), curious young readers will be able to have fun guessing what sea animal is next, while enforcing counting skills along the way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Three of the best books on Thailand

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka tagged three top books on Thailand. One title on the list:
Four Reigns by Kukrit Pramoj

Kukrit’s epic novel follows one woman’s life spanning the reigns of four kings – Rama V to Rama VIII – from the 1890s to the second world war.

At the age of 10, Phloi goes to live in the royal palace in Bangkok with her mother, who serves as a minor courtier. Phloi’s eventful life inside and outside the palace – as daughter, sister, wife and mother – reflects the enormous changes taking place in the country. Traditional Siam is buffeted by historic events at home and abroad – a palace revolution, two world wars, Japanese occupation, allied bombing – as it evolves into modern Thailand.

After the absolute monarchs are forced to become constitutional rulers, “the air is thick with politics”. That, along with increasing western influence and the turbulence of the second world war, causes fissures in society that intrude into Phloi’s family.

This leisurely paced novel is both intriguing and entertaining. And despite being bathed in conservative nostalgia, offers a fascinating insight into the country.

Four Reigns is regarded as a classic in Thailand and has often been staged and serialised on TV.

Kukrit was something of a renaissance man – Thai prime minister, journalist and newspaper proprietor, Hollywood film actor and classical dancer. He died in 1995.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

21 brilliant books you’ve never heard of

The editors of GQ asked some notable writers about the most criminally underappreciated books. One entry from the list:
John Jeremiah Sullivan suggests American Purgatorio by John Haskell (2005)

I’m surprising myself by naming something so recent. I keep trying to kick it off the top of the list and replace it with something older, weirder, and longer out of print, but it sits there. A novel that meets the problem of the inherent gimmickiness of fiction by diving into the gimmick so deep it emerges out the other side, like the best noir, but not noir, something closer to spiritualism. I remember finishing it and just feeling shattered. Best not to know anything about it plotwise, just to start reading it. Is it an unsung masterpiece? I haven’t lived in New York since 2004, the year before the book was published. People may be arguing about it in coffee shops. But I don’t hear it mentioned, and it is in some ways a small, quiet, modest book, and I am sure that it is a modern classic. I met Haskell once maybe ten years ago at a patio/bar area. I asked him if he had intended his narrator’s passing through Central Kentucky (which the person does at one point) as an homage to Thomas Merton, who lived in a monastery there and wrote the other great American riff on Dante, The Seven Storey Mountain. Haskell said no, coincidence, but I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter. The real writers are not in control of the connections they’re making.
Read about the other entries from the list.

The Page 69 Test: American Purgatorio.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 6, 2017

Seven inappropriate books for tweens

At B&N Reads Ester Bloom tagged seven of the most inappropriate books she read as a tween, including:
Still Life With Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins

After discovering this cheerfully profane, antic, anarchic novel about a princess who falls in love with an outlaw, I went on to read every Robbins book I could find. At least one of them, Jitterbug Perfume, I recognized as a more epic and “significant” work. As they say, though, you never forget your first. Woodpecker is brash, entertaining, and colorful, full of ideas and memorable turns of phrase, and, yes, sex, lots of sex, and even more joy. There are many plot twists I cannot remember, but I will never forget the line, “‘There are only two mantras, yum and yuck, mine is yum.'” Robbins mantra is “yum,” too, and, and his creativity is infectious.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Still Life With Woodpecker is among Becky Ferreira's six favorite redheads in literature and Drew Barrymore's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Top ten unreliable narrators

Sarah Pinborough is an award-winning YA and adult thriller, fantasy and horror novelist and screenwriter. One of her ten top unreliable narrators, as shared at the Guardian:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The fabulously unpleasant tale of Amy and Nick’s marital problems breathed new life into the psychological thriller. The twist wasn’t what I loved most about this book – it was the slow reveals in the first section from Nick about himself, that turned him from immediate protagonist to somewhat tarnished hero.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gone Girl made C.A. Higgins's top five list of books with plot twists that flip your perception, Ruth Ware's top ten list of psychological thrillers, Jane Alexander's top ten list of treasure hunts in fiction, Fanny Blake's list of five top books about revenge, Monique Alice's list of six great fictional evil geniuses, Jeff Somers's lists of the top five best worst couples in literature, six books that’ll make you glad you’re single and five books with an outstanding standalone scene that can be read on its own, Lucie Whitehouse's ten top list of psychological suspense novels with marriages at their heart and Kathryn Williams's list of eight of fiction’s craziest unreliable narrators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Seven top YA duos on the run

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the BN Teen blog she tagged seven YA pairs that rival Bonnie & Clyde, including:
Under a Painted Sky, by Stacey Lee

Having killed the man who tried to rape her, aspiring violinist and Chinese American Samantha flees to California with an escaped slave, Annamae. It’s 1849 and the Oregon Trail is particularly unsafe for young women, so Sam and Annamae disguise themselves as boys. Although they discover unexpected allies in a group of cowboys, it’s the girls’ beautiful friendship that forms the heart of the story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Under a Painted Sky is among Eric Smith's top five YA reads for fans of the Wild West, Nicole Hill's five top historical YA novels about adventurous and independent-minded women, John Hansen's ten must-read YA novels you've probably never heard of, Sarah Skilton's top six YA books featuring cross-cultural friendships, and Dahlia Adler's seven top YA novels about best friendship.

My Book, The Movie: Under a Painted Sky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ten overlooked books by women in 2016

At Literary Hub, Bethanne Patrick tagged ten 2016 books by women that deserve more attention, including:
Everfair, Nisi Shawl

Sometimes a book gets overlooked because it’s in a genre that many reviewers overlook. While Nisi Shawl’s Everfair has gotten some attention this year, it deserves a great deal more, because here is a steampunk/science-fiction/alternate-history book for feminists set in Africa and written like a dream. Not only is the writing fantastic, it’s done from multiple perspectives. What would the Congo look like if colonizing Belgians had met up with more tech-savvy indigenous inhabitants? An important read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Writers Read: Nisi Shawl (October 2016).

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten of 2016's best middle grade novels

At the BN Kids blog, Charlotte Taylor tagged ten of her favorite middle grade novels from last year, including:
Mayday, by Karen Harrington

Wayne’s way of coping with the regular awkwardness of middle school, and with the more particular awkwardness of his divorced parents, is to throw interesting facts into any silence; it makes his mom and his sort-of almost-girlfriend smile. But on the way home from his soldier uncle’s burial at National Cemetery, Wayne and his mom’s plane falls from the sky. Wayne’s throat is injured, and he can’t talk. Stuck in silence, and stuck with his Grandfather moving in after the crash (he’s an ex-sergeant who treats Wayne like a rather feeble new recruit), he starts to really think about his family and himself for the first time. It’s a moving story of family, identity, and survival, with plenty to chuckle at along the way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 2, 2017

Twelve of the best books of 2016 by immigrants to the US

At Vice, Matthew Salesses tagged 12 of the best books of 2016 by immigrants to the US, including:
Driving Without a License by Janine Joseph

Winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, Driving Without a License follows an undocumented immigrant speaker through 20 years of life. The book includes text from naturalization forms and newspaper articles about immigration, plays with multiple forms and lays claim to each. While the speaker is hiding in plain sight, the book is a "coming out" that doesn't shy away from its politics.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five times authors included themselves as characters...and it worked

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged "five times authors included themselves as characters and hit it out of the park." One entry on the list:
Bret Easton Ellis in Lunar Park

One of the little-discussed aspects of Ellis’s writing is the fact that over the course of his novels he’s created a very complex and inter-related universe. Characters and events appear in multiple books, meaning all of the horrible things Ellis has written have occurred in one single universe populated by a small number of misanthropes. He wins in Lunar Park because he begins the story based in reality: the early goings of the novel are a more or less accurate (and personal) retelling of Ellis’s actual experiences in the early years of his fame. In fact, if you’re unfamiliar with Ellis, you won’t even know when he begins to edge into fiction—which means, in the end, his whole life is part of the awful, amazing universe he’s created.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Nine top true crime books

At Off the Shelf Caitlin Kleinschmidt tagged nine of the best true crime book, including:
God’ll Cut You Down by John Safran

John Safran, a Jewish Australian documentarian, spent two days in Mississippi with Richard Barrett, a notorious white supremacist, for a film about race. When Barrett was brutally murdered a year later by a young black man, Safran “realized this was [his] Truman Capote moment” and hightailed it from Melbourne back to Mississippi. As he became entwined in the lives of those connected with the murder—white separatist frenemies, oddball neighbors, even the killer himself—the more he discovered how complex the truth about someone’s life—and death—can be. This is a brilliant, haunting, hilarious, unsettling story about race, money, sex, and power in the American South from an outsider’s point of view.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue