Friday, June 30, 2017

Sandra Howard's six best books

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight bizarre literary serial killers

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Top ten Shakespearean stories in modern fiction

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Eleven novels set in Old Hollywood

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 26, 2017

Alain Mabanckou's 6 favorite books

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Eleven top novels about female artists

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 24, 2017

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 23, 2017

Five top books inspired by Norse sagas

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Top ten books about lies

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Five books celebrating geek culture

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven great YA books about reproductive choice

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Six top books set in California

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 19, 2017

Nine books for fans of "Wonder Woman"

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Thomas Dolby's six best books

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 17, 2017

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

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

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

Writers Read: Peternelle van Arsdale (March 2017).

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 16, 2017

Eight romances for foodies

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about futuristic California

Laura Lam's latest novel is Shattered Minds. One of the author's five favorite books about futuristic California, as shared at
Virtual Light by William Gibson

This is my favourite Gibson. The Bay Bridge is where lots of people live in this cyberpunk future, and I crossed that bridge every time I went into the city (unless I took BART). I also love how it’s hinged on a fairly basic plot: everyone wants those cool futuristic sunglasses that could rebuild ruined San Francisco. Chevette is allergic to brands and labels and rips them off her clothes. It’s set in 2006, or the year I graduated high school, so 11 years on, it’s an interesting alternate history of a futuristic world. The middle class is gone and corporations are running amok, as they tend to do in cyberpunk.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Five novels whose main characters are shut-ins

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged "five shut-ins from some terrific books," including:
Ilya Ilyich Oblomov in Oblomov, by Ivan Goncharov

It takes about 50 pages for Ilya Ilyich Oblomov to get out of bed and sit in a chair, exhausted by the effort. A rich landlord in the Russian Empire, Oblomov is intended to satirize the lazy, do-nothing lifestyle prized by many Russian aristocrats, and boy-howdy, does he ever. Coddled and indulged his entire life, Oblomov is so removed from the world, he can barely attend to his own interests, and winds up marrying a woman who allows him to enter a second childhood, wallowing in his bedroom and never dealing with any business he finds disagreeable, until he finally achieves his lifelong dream of eternal sleep…by dying in bed. Oblomov is a frustrating and fascinating character, not least because he never considers true change for the simple reason that he is, in fact, living his best life—he really wants to stay in bed and do nothing. Forever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Oblomov is among Judith Rosen's funniest books, John Sutherland's top ten overlooked novels, Alexandra Silverman's eight top examples of sloth in literature, Francine du Plessix Gray's five favorite fictional portraits of idleness and lassitude and Emrys Westacott's five best books on bad habits.

The Page 69 Test: Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Top ten modern epistolary novels

Jenn Ashworth and Richard V. Hirst are the authors of a horror novella, The Night Visitors. One of their ten top modern epistolary novels, as shared at the Guardian:
The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

Celie begins by addressing herself to God, who does not reply. The epistolary form here comments on the way the violence of racism and misogyny colours the lives of black women in 1930s rural Georgia and isolates them from each other: Celie from her sister, from her children, from her lover. When the characters are finally reunited, the letters stop. JA
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Color Purple is among Sarai Walker's ten top novels about women's political awakening, Hollie McNish's top ten literary works about breasts, Sarah Alderson's top ten feminist icons in children's and teen books, Bruna Lobato's top ten must-read classics by African American authors, Hanna McGrath's top five fictional characters who tell it like it is, Andy McSmith's top ten books of the 1980s, and Sophie Ward's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six recent books on the lives of others

Joyce Carol Oates's new book is DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense. At The Week magazine she tagged "six recent works of fiction that affirm the capacity of great authors to imagine their way into others' lives," including:
Version Control by Dexter Palmer

Version Control is perhaps the strangest fictional work of appropriated voices and subjects. It's set in a surreal near future — or several near futures — as well as in several pasts. Though issues of race play virtually no role in the stories, one character, an African-American physicist, recalls dropping out of a writing course because the professor thought he should be mining his heritage instead of inventing science fiction.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fifty must-read noir detective novels

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged "50 noir books ... that any fan of detective fiction should have on their shelves," including:
Miami Purity, by Vicki Hendricks

Hendricks’ story of low expectations and murderous lovers comes very, very close to going too far, and then nimbly steps back each time. Sherri Parlay has just violently rid herself of an unwanted husband and decided to give up exotic dancing for a Day Job, applying at Miami Purity dry cleaners. There she meets mama’s boy Payne Mahoney and his domineering mother, who doesn’t like Sherri much. Payne likes Sherri a lot, however, and soon Mom is dead—and that’s when the story gets weird and violent.

* * *

Die a Little, by Megan Abbott

Abbott’s modern noir takes a different approach to an old setup: when spinsterish teacher Lora King meets her brother’s new wife, the gorgeous and mysterious Alice, you might expect her to be suspicious and hostile. Instead, she’s falls under Alice’s glamorous spell, too, and only slowly—and somewhat reluctantly—comes to worry about Alice’s missing pieces, ominous friends, and reluctance to answer questions. Abbott captures the hopelessly grim tone of noir without giving into clichés, reinventing as she goes.

* * *

Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan

Science fiction often crossbreeds with other genres, but rarely as perfectly as in this cyberpunk story of a future where sleeving in and out of bodies is common—and complicated. Takashi Kovacs is as pure an antihero as you’ll find, and for all the mind-bending technology and sci-fi concepts, at its heart this is a bloody, moody noir story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 12, 2017

Eight top books for fans of Stephen King's "Misery"

At Entertainment Weekly, Dan Heching tagged eight books for fans of Stephen King's Misery, including:
Give Me Everything You Have by James Lasdun

Based on the writer’s real experiences, Give Me Everything You Have chronicles Lasdun’s dealings with an obsessive former student, who resorts to using everything from hate mail, online postings, and accusations of plagiarism/sexual misconduct to try to take him down. While not exactly as destructive as a mallet or axe, the accusations leveraged against the author online and in public have damning results, bringing to light the value of reputation in the Internet era.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Five books with different takes on the apocalypse

Anne Corlett's debut novel is The Space Between the Stars.

One of her five favorite books with different takes on the apocalypse, as shared at
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

I wasn’t entirely sure whether this one belonged on this list, but I decided to squeeze it in anyway. The book as a whole isn’t an apocalyptical tale, but it does end with the disintegration of society as we know it. Over the course of the book we see the main character, Holly, grow from a teenager in the eighties to an old woman, trying to scrape a living in a world where the power has largely gone off, sinking human civilization into a time of “Endarkenment.” A frightening and realistic portrayal of humanity clinging onto the last fragments of their old way of life, while realising, too late, that this particular end-of-the-world situation was entirely man-made, and quite possibly avoidable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Seven must-read YAs featuring PoC teens in love

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 must-reads that celebrate a PoC teen (or two!) falling in love," including:
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

By all accounts, Starr Carter, the only witness to the headline-grabbing murder of a black teen by a white cop, has a lot going on—not the least of which is her interracial relationship with her very white boyfriend, Chris. As with the rest of the story, Thomas doesn’t hold back here: the couple’s relationship is sweet but fraught, with Starr calling Chris out on his privilege more than once. It’s refreshing to see that explored boldly on the page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 9, 2017

Five books about the making of a dystopia

A.J. Hartley is the bestselling author of a dozen novels including Sekret Machines: Chasing Shadows (co-authored with Tom DeLonge) and the YA fantasy adventure Steeplejack and its sequel Firebrand (available from Tor Teen). As Andrew James Hartley, he is also UNC Charlotte’s Robinson Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare, specializing in performance theory and practice, and is the author of various scholarly books and articles from the world’s best academic publishers including Palgrave and Cambridge University Press. He is an honorary fellow of the University of Central Lancashire, UK.

One of Hartley's five favorite books about the making of a dystopia, as shared at
The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham (1951)

The nightmare premise of this book is that, after a night in which a dazzling meteor shower (which may actually be orbiting weapons) leaves most of the British population blind and therefore at the mercy of the triffids: giant, mobile, venomous and carnivorous plants produced by genetic manipulation. What follows is the chaos of trying to survive not just the triffids, but the humans (individual and governmental) which are attempting to exploit the situation to their own ends.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Steeplejack.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifty incredible literary works destined to become classics

At the B&N Reads blog Saskia Lacey tagged fifty incredible literary works destined to become classics, including:
The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga

A biting satire narrated by Balman Halwai, an entrepreneur and self-styled “man of tomorrow,” The White Tiger is a vision of the modern Indian class system from the perspective of a man who starts at the bottom.
The White Tiger is on Louise Doughty's six best books list, Amy Wilkinson's list of seven top books with "white" in the title, Julia Stuart's list of five of the best stories about domestic servantsStephen Kelman's top ten list of outsiders' stories, and is one of The Freakonomics guys' six best books.

The Page 69 Test: The White Tiger.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz

All Oscar wants is to find love. But being overweight, nerdy, and cursed, his chances don’t look good. Oscar and his Dominican family have been subject to the fukú, a supernatural curse, for as long as anyone can remember. If Oscar is to succeed in love and life, he must battle the unbeatable.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao appears among Samantha Mabry's five books that carry curses, Susan Barker's top ten novels with multiple narratives, BBC Culture's twelve greatest novels of the 21st century, Emily Temple's fifty greatest debut novels since 1950, Niall Williams's top ten bookworms' tales, Chrissie Gruebel's nine best last lines in literature, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, Jami Attenberg's top six books with overweight protagonists, Brooke Hauser's six top books about immigrants, Sara Gruen's six favorite books, Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009), and The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America and is a book that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.

The Page 99 Test: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Top ten books about Westminster politics

Terry Stiastny’s debut novel, Acts of Omission, won the Paddy Power Political Fiction Book of the Year award 2015. It was also longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel prize. Her new novel is Conflicts of Interest. Before becoming an author, Stiastny was a BBC journalist. She worked in Berlin and Brussels, covered politics in Westminster and spent many years reporting for Radio 4 news programmes. Born in Canada, she grew up in Surrey and was educated at Oxford University.

One of her ten top books about Westminster politics, as shared at the Guardian:
House of Cards by Michael Dobbs

It’s hard to remember now, but the book that became two television adaptations was prescient. Dobbs, a Conservative insider, foresaw the infighting that would come after the fall of Thatcher and then exaggerated it. Chief Whip Francis Urquhart’s utter villainy and a leavening of black humour made this story part of the landscape and the political language of our times.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Seven sci-fi & fantasy road trips you definitely don’t want to join

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at One of "seven road trips in SFF that are a lot more fun to read about than they would be to actually take" he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Devil and the Bluebird, by Jennifer Mason-Black

Most of the trips on this list are more figurative Hell than literal Hell. Let’s change that right now: at 17, Blue’s sister made a deal with the devil at the crossroads in Maine. Years later, Blue heads to the crossroads herself to make a similar deal to get her sister back. In exchange for her voice, Blue gets six days to find her sister, or the devil gets her soul as well. Armed with her mother’s guitar, a bag full of memories, and her magical hiking boots, Blue sets out in the vague direction “west” in the hopes of locating her sister at last. Along the way, she has to contend with the devil in a variety of guises, constant rule changes to her deal, and the unusual characters she meets along the way, including a band wrestling with their own Satanic deal, criminals, hitchhikers, and numerous others. Hitchhiking can be sort of dangerous, but even more so when the devil is taking an active interest in your journey.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ten books for fans of CBS's "The Good Fight"

At Paste magazine Swapna Krishna tagged ten books for fans of CBS's The Good Fight, including:
The Ex by Alafair Burke

For fans of: The lawyers’ shifting allegiances on The Good Fight.

Olivia Randall has made a name for herself as a New York City criminal defense lawyer. When she hears that her ex-fiancé, Jack, has been accused of murder, she sees defending him as a chance to rectify an old wrong. Plus, she knows Jack isn’t capable of killing someone…or is he? As the evidence mounts, Olivia begins to wonder if he could be guilty. If he’s not, why is someone so intent on framing Jack for murder?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Ex.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 5, 2017

Five speculative fiction books that blow away the Bechdel Test

The Bechdel Test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Stacey Berg, author of Dissension, tagged five speculative fiction books that obliterate the Bechdel Test, including:
Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice doesn’t so much pass the Bechdel test as leave it behind. The protagonist Breq and the rest of the Radchaii empire don’t care much about gender, and their language does not make distinctions between male and female. The confusion this causes Breq outside Radch space, and Leckie’s brilliant and now famous choice to use the feminine as the default in Breq’s narration, make characters’ biologic gender both a source of intrigue and an afterthought. For me the relationship between Breq/One Esk and Lieutenant Awn was the central romance of the book, and I read both characters as women. More importantly, though, Breq—at least during her time as a ship—has thousands of bodies, all part of one whole. This may make Ancillary Justice the first book in which the narrator passes the Bechdel test all by herselves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ancillary Justice is among Andrew Liptak's six notable novels featuring Artificial Intelligence and Jeff Somers's top five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Patricia Lockwood's 6 favorite books

Patricia Lockwood was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and raised in all the worst cities of the Midwest. She is the author of the poetry collections, Balloon Pop Outlaw Black and Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, and the new memoir, Priestdaddy. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
D.V. by Diana Vreeland

Please, I do not want you to die and go to hell before you read this book, which is 1,000 percent perfect in its way — except for the part where she starts collecting something called blackamoor heads, which you already know is gonna be weird before you look it up.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books on dining, drive-ins, and road trips

One of eight top books on dining, drive-ins, and road trips, as tagged at Kirkus Reviews:

From the Kirkus review:
Without question, this is a book for foodies, but it is also for readers who may be indifferent to the food they consume yet care deeply about regionalism, individual health, and race relations, among other themes.
The director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi recounts the past 60 years of Southern food traditions, their effects on the South's culture, and vice versa.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Four books that changed S.D. Wasley

Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. She lives in the Swan Valley wine region with her two daughters. She writes commercial fiction, crossover new adult/YA mysteries and paranormal. S.D. Wasley’s debut novel, The Seventh, was published in January 2015. Her debut rural romance is Dear Banjo.

One of four books that changed Wasley, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
Miles Franklin

I grew up on a literary sweet-tooth's diet of sentimental historical fiction such as What Katy Did, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables. So you can imagine my astonishment – and enlightenment – when I read a book in which the girl, by her own choice, did NOT end up with the hero. Plus, it was Australian! This book inspired plenty of feverish, late-night scribblings, and took my writing in an entirely new direction.
Read about the other books on the list.

My Brilliant Career is among Stephen Taylor's top ten books about women in the British empire, Cal Flyn's ten top books about the Australian bush, and Janet Manley's six most widely read Australian classics for teens.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five notable books on Spain

In 2011 James Mustich tagged five top books on Spain, including:
The Golden Empire y Hugh Thomas

A chronicle of the founding of Spain’s Latin American empire, this engrossing book finds the nation at its peak of global influence from 1522 to 1566, when Charles V ruled the undisputed powerhouse of Europe and extended its reach to the New World. Highlighted in colorful detail are the sharp ends of Spain’s imperial spears, the men who first ventured across intemperate seas and through sweltering jungles in the name of King and country, including Cortés, Pizarro, and de Soto. Neither condemning nor endorsing colonialism’s assault on indigenous people, Thomas seeks rather to encapsulate a specific time, the dawn of a new Europe.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 2, 2017

Emma Donoghue's six best books

Emma Donoghue is the author of Room and other books. One of her six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

This series is my greatest pleasure. In this the entire plot happens because Jack Reacher sees a woman in a bar and makes a smart guess she has been battered by her husband. I love the way the character is taciturn and macho but with an almost medieval sense of honour.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best SF/F novels about Neanderthals

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ceridwen Christensen tagged five of the best SF/F novels about Neanderthals (that aren’t The Clan of the Cave Bear). One title on the list:
Eaters of the Dead, by Michael Crichton

This Beowulf update is told from the point of view of a 10th century urbane Muslim who ends up in exile with a bunch of barely housebroken Vikings, with editor’s notes overlaid and interspersed like an academic text. The Grendel characters that they do battle with are a remnant population of ferocious, brutish Neanderthals. Eaters of the Dead doesn’t have anything particular to say about Neanderthals, as they are mostly a conflict engine, but it does comment on the perceptions of history through its structure. Don’t let that dissuade you though: the narrator’s horrified complaining about his Viking companions and some high historical silliness make for an entertaining read. The novel was questionably adapted into the film The 13th Warrior with Antonio Banderas, rworrr.
Read about the other entries on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Top ten books about Weimar and Nazi Berlin

Chris Petit's latest novel is The Butchers of Berlin. One of the author's ten top books about Weimar and Nazi Berlin, as shared at the Guardian:
Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov

Nabokov lays his story out in his first paragraph. “Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue