Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ten top sci-fi locked-room mysteries

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten fiendishly clever sci-fi locked room mysteries, including:
Lightless, by C.A. Higgins

On board the ship Ananke, computer scientist Althea has a relationship with the ship’s artificial intelligence—and the AI is evolving into a sentient personality, complicating her work. As are the intruders, including handsome Ivan, who have somehow tricked the ship into letting them on board. One of them escapes into the ship while Ivan is being interrogated, but what worries Althea is how they got onboard in the first place—and what they’ve done to the AI’s code. What ensues is a pressure-cooker story, a locked-room mystery in which the room itself cannot be trusted to play fair.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lightless is among Sam Maggs's five books about awesome women in space.

The Page 69 Test: Lightless.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Krysten Ritter's six favorite mysteries

Krysten Ritter is the star of the Netflix series Jessica Jones. Her debut novel is Bonfire.

One of Ritter's six favorite mystery books, as shared at The Week magazine:
In the Woods by Tana French

Tana French is a master of the mystery genre. This story of a detective with a hidden past was the first of her books I read, and ever since I've been obsessed. In the Woods is mysterious and thrilling while also managing to be a cathartic and heartbreaking character study.
Read about the other entries on the list.

In the Woods is among Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Emma Straub's ten top books that mimic the feeling of a summer vacation, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books from Ireland's newer voices, and Judy Berman's ten fantastic novels with disappointing endings.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Five top YA novels set at boarding school

Alyssa Sheinmel's new novel is R.I.P. Eliza Hart. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five favorite books set at boarding school, including:
Looking for Alaska, by John Green

A new John Green book may have just hit the shelves, but that’s no reason not to go back and read an oldie—and a goodie. In this award winner, Miles “Pudge” Halter starts attending the Culver Creek Boarding School and his life has just become a lot more interesting—because at Culver Creek, Pudge lives down the hall from Alaska Young. Alaska isn’t like anyone Pudge has ever met before: she’s beautiful and funny, smart and sexy—and she has a dangerous self-destructive streak. Pudge’s life goes from dull to thrilling—he survives a hazing, plots his revenge, and has a new group of friends, including Alaska. But one night, after an upsetting phone call, Alaska sneaks off campus. The next morning, the school announces that she was killed in a car accident. Pudge is certain that there’s more to the story—and he’s determined to find out what really happened the night Alaska died.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ten top books about mental hospitals

A.F. Brady is a writer, psychotherapist and mental health counsellor. Her debut novel is The Blind.

One of the author's ten best books about mental hospitals, as shared at the Guardian:
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Vizinni’s beautifully narrated tale of institutionalisation after a suicide attempt is made all the more powerful and relevant in the wake of the author’s suicide. Having grown up in New York City, Vizzini created a semi-autobiographical young adult story of a privileged New York City teenager trudging through the depths of depression, who learns in treatment that he has talents that he can use to aid in his recovery. It’s a hopeful story, highlighting the often overlooked hopeful possibilities of psychiatric treatment.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: It's Kind of A Funny Story.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Terry Waite's 6 best books

Terry Waite was the Church of England hostage negotiator held captive in Beirut by Hezbollah from 1987 to 1991. His books include Taken On Trust and Solitude. One of Waite's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

Judt was a great social historian who was completely immobile in his later years when he wrote this remarkable book, looking back on his life. He was a man of deep feeling and many contradictions. To a lesser extent, I know what it's like to be confined and your mind does go back.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Five great coming-of-age stories

In 2012 David Nicholls tagged five favorite coming-of-age stories at the Telegraph. One title on the list:
Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides (1993) deals with similar ideas in an innovative way; it’s written in the first person plural; the protagonist is not an individual but “we”, every single lovelorn young man idolising the unattainable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Virgin Suicides is among Julia Fierro's thirteen most dysfunctional parents in literature, Rosa Rankin-Gee's ten top novellas about love, Kate Finnigan's top ten fictional fashion icons, Patrick Ness's top ten "unsuitable" books for teenagers, Cathy Cassidy's top ten stories about sisters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five forgotten classics worth revisiting

In 2013 Parul Sehgal tagged (for NPR) five forgotten classics worth revisiting, including:
My Last Sigh: The Autobiography of Luis Bunuel by Luis Bunuel and Abigail Israel

I've long loved this strange, slanted little book for its offhand genius and excellent gossip. But I used it to prop up a wobbly table in Calcutta in 2003 and haven't seen it since. It's been reissued, and I'm happy to find it as remarkable as I recall. Like any surrealist masterpiece, it's playful, subversive and (frequently) baffling.

Devoted to protecting the "essential mystery in all things," Bunuel doesn't excavate the past or take us behind the scenes of Belle de Jour (a pity). It's not information he cares for, or veracity, but wisdom and beauty; not memories but the act of remembering. Scenes come to us highly aestheticized. In one early memory, Bunuel walks with his father in an olive grove. They come across a strong, very sweet odor, and then the bloated body of a dead donkey. Around the carcass, vultures staggered, too full to fly.

He's a confident, discursive writer eager to riff on what he loves ("vast damp forests wreathed in fog," "little tools like pliers," firearms) and loathes (crowds, Borges, newspapers). He recounts meeting Hitchcock, collaborating with Dali, mourning Federico Garcia Lorca, attempting an orgy with Charlie Chaplin. He settles scores and spills his friends' secrets shamelessly. On the topic of Dali's sexual proclivities he tells us that the painter was fond of seducing American heiresses, but being almost entirely asexual, "those seductions usually entailed stripping them naked in his apartment, frying a couple of eggs, putting them on the women's shoulders, and, without a word, showing them to the door."
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 24, 2017

Five books on late-stage capitalism

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is a staff writer for The Millions. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Nation, Slate, Salon, Guernica, Poets & Writers, and The Guardian. Her novel is forthcoming with Simon & Schuster (when she finally finishes it). She teaches fiction at Columbia and shares a hometown with Bob Dylan. One of five books on late-stage capitalism she tagged at The Millions:
Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? (2016) by Katrine Marçal

I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis in economics on “Economic Development and Women’s Labor Force Participation,” and concluded that in developed versus under-developed countries, the end game was the same: women did most of the work, including the never-off labor that does not get counted in traditional economic measures. Additionally, the financial penalties of this unpaid work (family stress, “mommy track” drag on careers, unequal pay due to gender discrimination, etc.), don’t factor into our economic world view because the variables that are “important” in economic models have been mostly decided by men. Marçal does a brilliant job making economics accessible and shows the egregious mistake of excluding women from basic economic market principles, and how this invisibility reinforces inequality.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Four books that changed Tess Evans

Tess Evans is the author of the novels Book of Lost Threads, The Memory Tree, Mercy Street, and The Ballad of Banjo Crossing. One of four books that changed her, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:

Set in a grey mining town, Barry Hines' novel is tough and uncompromising – vastly different from the classic English novels I was reading. Hines' language is spare, depicting lives of misery and brutality, but for young Billy Caspar, a kestrel opens the window to something sublime. This book plunged me into lives I had been too cosy to imagine, widening the scope of both my reading and empathy.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Minette Walters's six best books

Minette Walters is England’s bestselling crime writer. Her new novel is The Last Hours.

One of the author's six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Another children’s story, though I still read it now. It’s about incredible loneliness.

I felt quite lonely because my father was in the Army so we were constantly moving. The secret garden is a place where there’s love and you can make friends.

I’ve read this at least 10 times and would argue that it’s the first psychological crime thriller.

Understanding of the human mind was still in its infancy but she created an extraordinary character in Rebecca who is psychopathic and dominates the story yet she is dead. An astonishing piece of work.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Secret Garden is among Vivian Swift's ten top books about gardens and Mary Sebag-Montefiore's top ten classics every child should read before they are 10.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ten of the most important political texts on black consciousness

At the Guardian, David Olusoga tagged ten key political texts on black consciousness, including:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley (1976)

Co-authored by Alex Haley and based on a series of interviews with Malcolm X, this is one of the greatest biographies of the last century. Through his own life story, and that of the key figures of his troubled years in the underworld of New York, Malcolm bore witness to the racism of 1930s and 40s. It’s impossible to believe he would occupy the cultural position he holds today had the book never been written.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is among Alexei Sayle's top ten books about revolutionaries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Five fantasy armies you don’t want to sign up for

At Adrian Tchaikovsky tagged five fictional armies you definitely don’t want to join, including:
Don’t join the Black Company

(Chronicles of the Black Company – Glen Cook)

At first glance this is a cushy option. You’ve signed up for a mercenary company that has regular employ with the local ruler. Sure, the locals might not like you much, but the main fighting’s already been and gone. You even have a competent healer on the squad, and that’s rarer than you might think.

Only, as time goes on, you’ll start to notice something slightly odd about the fear and loathing you get from the locals – does that not go somewhat beyond what’s normally reserved for a peace-keeping force? Don’t those rebel fighters seem just a bit more committed than you were expecting? And how come none of the veterans is exactly keen to talk about past engagements and the history of the company?

Except the medic, and, believe me, you don’t want to get him started. And as for your employer, well, she’s a sight, to be sure, but some of the things she does, and that’s nothing to what people say she has done, back when there was more fighting. And eventually you’re left with that really awkward question to ask your superiors. You sidle up to your sergeant in the middle of the night watch and you whisper, “Sarge, are we the bad guys?” and he just looks at you, with that hollow, traumatized look you’ve gotten used to, and you have your answer. You’re the villains after all. You work for the Dark Lady. Was that really what you wanted, when you took their coin?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 20, 2017

Six books that will transport you

Louise Erdrich's new novel is Future Home of the Living God. One of the author's six favorite books that will transport you, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

World entered: chess — specifically the suspenseful, treacherous world of high-stakes tournament chess as experienced by a prodigiously talented orphan. Will she conquer the Russians, or will her demons conquer her? The ending always moves me, so I try to forget the ending. That way, I can experience it again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Six of the best ensemble casts in YA fiction

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged six of the best YA ensembles, including:
The Sidekicks, by Will Kostakis

Australian author Kostakis’s first stateside novel is a touching exploration of grief that focuses on Ryan, Harley, and Miles, three teens struggling to come to terms with the death of their friend Isaac. The three are all very different—Ryan is the swimmer, the jock of the group; Harley is the rebellious drug-dealer; Miles is movie-obsessed—but they are all connected by the loss of Isaac. Each of them narrates a section of the book, which lets us see exactly how each one is processing what happened. None of them like each other at first. But as the novel progresses, they come to realize they might have more in common than they know, and having each other’s friendship might just be better than being alone.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Five books that rewrite magic, myths, and ballads

Jane Yolen's latest collection of fantasy short fiction is The Emerald Circus, which has both fantasy short stories and poems about fairy tales, fantasy authors and their works, and back matter about how she wrote the tales. One of her five favorite books that rewrite magic, myths, and ballads, as shared at
Gregory Frost took a huge leap writing Fitcher’s Brides, revisioning of the dark fairy tale “Bluebeard.” He sets the story of that peculiar mass murderer of young women in a utopian community that is part of the 1840s period of America’s “Great Awakening.” Elias Fitcher is a charismatic preacher in the Finger Lakes district of New York State. (The title of the novel comes from the Grimm variant of the fairytale, #46.) Fitcher has his wicked mind set on the Charter sisters. There is blood upon the key! Frost’s version of the tale is, in fact, eventually quite bloody, so take that as a trigger warning. It also has a slow and leisurely buildup to both the murders and the magic, which may put off readers who prefer plot-plot-plot driven books. But I till shiver fondly when I think of the this story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 17, 2017

Five of the best YA love triangles of all time

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged five top YA love triangles, including:
The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater

Speaking of love parallelograms, have you read The Raven Boys yet? Blue Sargent has been told since birth when she kisses her true love, he’ll die. So when she sees the spirit of a local private school boy on Saint Mark’s Eve, it seems likely he’ll be the recipient of her fateful first kiss. That boy turns out to be a the smart, rich, charming Gansey, and Blue can’t help but be curious, especially because Gansey is on a hunt to find and wake the body of a sleeping Welsh king named Glendower. Through Gansey, Blue meets the rest of the Raven Boys: angry Ronan, determined Adam, and quiet Noah. And though Blue is drawn to Gansey, she’s intrigued by Adam, too. It only gets more complicated as the series continues and even more feelings develop, but I promise you’ll love this messy, lovable group of friends and their quirkily paranormal world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to take you on a trip to the medieval Middle East

S. A. Chakraborty's new novel is The City of Brass. At she tagged five books "to take you beyond One Thousand and One Nights and on a trip to the medieval Middle East," including:
Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz

Moving into the modern era, Naguib Mahfouz, the master himself, takes on the aftermath of the Nights in a wickedly sharp, entertaining and poignant short novel. Shahrzad has used her stories to save herself and the women of her city from the blood-letting despot Shahriyar, but the magic of her tales is not quite done with them. Arabian Nights and Days, one of my favorite books, takes the themes and characters of the original story and imbues them with emotional heft, political satire and a reflection on faith that makes this a masterpiece.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eight YA must-reads with awesome inspirations and backstories

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 eight YA must-reads with awesome origin stories, including:
Dear Martin, by Nic Stone

Nic Stone’s debut stunner, Dear Martin, has its roots in social justice. In the slim but powerful novel, the main character, Yale-bound teen Justyce, finds himself in hot water despite doing everything right. The inspiration for the story, she has said, was “a combination of three things: the shooting deaths of unarmed teens (specifically Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Mike Brown), the rise of Black Lives Matter, and the negative responses in the media that often cited MLK as someone who would be against the protests. Something about that last part just felt off to me, so I thought to myself, ‘How would Dr. King’s teachings hold up here in 2016 in light of everything going on?'”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten talking animals in books

Pajtim Statovci is the award-winning author of the debut novel My Cat Yugoslavia. One of his ten top talking animals in books, as shared at the Guardian:
Maf in The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan

Frank Sinatra gave Mafia Honey, a Maltese terrier, to Monroe as a Christmas present in 1960. O’Hagan’s fourth novel follows the final years of the actor from the point of view of this singular pooch. This well-educated and articulate dog will not only give you a unique perspective on Monroe’s life, it will steal your heart away. He’s that charming and spot-on.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ten numbers-obsessed sci-fi & fantasy stories for math geeks

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten SFF stories in "which math isn’t just a spice, it’s the main course," including:
Last Call by Tim Powers

Math is part of the bubbling atmosphere of this book’s universe, which mixes tarot, the Fisher King, and a host of other legends alongside the deeply magical mathematics of poker. That games of chance aren’t games of chance so much as games of complex math shouldn’t surprise anyone, but in this lush story, which begins with Bugsy Siegel building the Flamingo Hotel as part of a ploy to become the literal Fisher King and eventually sits the reader at a poker game played with tarot cards where every aspect of the environment alters the odds—and raise the stakes. You don’t need a degree in math to appreciate this wonderful novel, but a glancing familiarity will definitely deepen the experience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Andy Weir's 6 favorite science fiction books

Andy Weir is the author of The Martian and its follow-up, Artemis, a heist story set in a city on the moon. One of his six favorite science fiction books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

A survival tale set on a remote world. But not another Robinson Crusoe: This is a group of people stranded together. How they work together and keep one another safe is as much a part of the story as the alien planet they're on.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 13, 2017

Fifty top romance novels with magical elements

At B&N Reads Amanda Diehl tagged fifty top magical romance novels, including:
Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is the author to go to if you love beautifully detailed fantasy settings. Sorcha is the youngest of seven children, with six older brothers who are now cursed to take the form of swans. As her father takes a new wife following the death of Sorcha’s mother a decade earlier, things take a turn for the worse as she’s sent away, kidnapped by her family’s enemies. When a man comes to her rescue and takes her under his protection, Sorcha is conflicted between her blossoming feelings of love and her need to break her brothers’ curse.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ten top Cold War noir novels

At Literary Hub, John Lawton tagged ten top Cold War noir novels, including:
Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana (1958)

The tale of Wormold, a man strapped for cash who reluctantly agrees to spy for the British in Cuba, where he runs an electrical goods shop. Greene called many of his books ‘entertainments’ —that doesn’t mean they do not end in darkness. Wormold invents a spy network, and passes off drawings of vacuum cleaner motors as plans for weapons bases. I rather think le Carré has read this. His The Tailor of Panama reads like an homage to Greene. The film? Alec Guinness at his best.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Our Man in Havana also made John Sweeney's top ten list of books on corruption, Francesca Kay's top ten list of books about the Cold War, Jesse Armstrong's top ten list of comic war novels, Allegra Frazier's top five list of books to remind you of warmer climes, Pico Iyer's list of four essential novels by Graham Greene and Alan Furst's five best list of spy books; it is one of Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of YA lit's sleuthing teens

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged seven favorite YA sleuthing teens, including:
Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani

Claire and her brothers have always believed that their father died of a heart attack a decade earlier, but suddenly, everything seems suspect when she comes across a letter that proves that he knew their stepfather. After all, there’s no reason for everyone to have kept that a secret, right? But then she learns her father was a member of the yakuza, and there are a whole lot of reasons to keep quiet when that’s the case. Now, Claire is determined to uncover the truth behind his death and whether her mother has simply brought another member into the family, no matter the danger that solving the mystery may bring.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The ten best non-fiction books about London

At the Guardian, Kathryn Hughes tagged the ten best non-fiction books about London. One title on the list:
London: A History in Maps (2012) by Peter Barber charts the city’s transformation from its Londinium days to the Olympiad of five years ago, by means of maps culled from the British Library’s rich collection. We start with a symbolic view of London from the late middle ages and end with a series of snapshots of where we are now: a census map showing South Asian immigrants living in London in 2001, a pigeon’s eye view of the King’s Cross redevelopment, and a plan showing the extent of the London railway systems in 2012. In addition to the detailed charting of the city’s inner workings, there are extravagant speculations about what London might have been, if only common sense and financial probity hadn’t got in the way of wild imagination.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 10, 2017

Five top books about cooking and eating

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the B&N Reads blog she tagged five top books about the joys of cooking, including:
Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa (translated by Alison Watts)

At the Doraharu shop on Cherry Blossom Street, a young man name Sentaro feels hopeless about the future because of his criminal past. When a widowed 76-year-old women, Tokue, who was quarantined most of her life, repeatedly asks him for a job making dorayaki (a honey pancake with sweet bean paste inside), he eventually relents, and they form a deep friendship that transforms both of their lives. Tokue’s exquisite version of dorayaki, and the tender care with which she makes the treats, astound Sentaro. When she offers to teach him her secrets, he’s able to envision a purpose for his existence. A beautifully rendered tale of outsiders coming together.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ten top books about royal families

Deborah Cadbury's latest book is Queen Victoria's Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages that Shaped Europe. One of the author's top ten books about royal families, as shared at the Guardian:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)

Mantel brings the Tudor court alive with the immediacy of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, its ambiguous “hero” Thomas Cromwell giving us his private view of Henry VIII and his family. In her Reith lectures, Mantel described the process of writing a historical novel as “entering into a dramatic process” in which she hoped to activate the senses and find “the one detail that lights up the page”.
Read about the other books on the list.

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Ten retold tales featuring the figures of classic Victorian horror

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged ten retold tales featuring figures from classic Victorian horror, including:
Strange Practice, by Vivian Shaw

Dr. Greta Helsing (does that name sound familiar?) has followed in her illustrious family’s footsteps, and uses her medical background to care for sick monsters. Her life is quiet—dull even—until she’s swept up into a murder investigation that has left supernatural London paralyzed with fear. It’s a gripping story, dripping with charm, and full to bursting with classic creatures and literary easter eggs (including a reference to Varney the Vampire, one of the first vampires in fiction). The book is a delight, its stark horror leavened with humor to create a modern day urban fantasy that turns old Victorian tropes on their heads to create something new and exciting. It’s reportedly the first in a new series, so now is the time to check it out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Johnny Ball's 6 favorite books

Johnny Ball is an English television personality and a popularizer of mathematics. His books include Wonders Beyond Numbers: A Brief History of All Things Mathematical.

One of Ball's six favorite books, as shared at the Daily Express:
THE ASCENT OF MAN by Jacob Bronowski

This was inspired by Darwin’s The Descent Of Man but Bronowski said it should be The Ascent Of Man because man has done incredible things – in poetry and art, as well as science and technology.

The future for young people is brighter than anyone imagines.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Eight books for fans of "Poldark"

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged eight perfect novels for fans of the historical drama, Poldark. One entry on the list:
Into the Wilderness, by Sara Donati

Another sweeping epic of unexpected romance begins when Elizabeth Middleton departs England for New York in the 18th century. Just as Poldark confronts the injustices set upon the mine workers in Cornwall, Elizabeth must confront slavery and ill-treatment of Native Americans in the new world…and one man who confounds and ignites her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ten of the greatest political founding works

At the Guardian Rohan McWilliam tagged ten of the greatest political founding works, including:
The Prince by Machiavelli (1532)

Machiavelli’s The Prince is still essential reading for all leaders, but it has damaged the author’s reputation. His advice was that leaders should seek to be feared, rather than loved. An effective leader had to be prepared to engage in immoral skulduggery and duplicity in order to stay at the top. Cunning and military force were essential attributes. In the age of conniving Renaissance princes, this was good advice, but it has led to politicians being seen as ruthless and two-faced. If Machiavelli were around today, he would be writing scripts for House of Cards.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Six of YAs most ruthless heroines

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged six of YAs most cutthroat heroines, including:
Adelina from The Young Elites, by Marie Lu

The blood fever has killed so many around Adelina, but she is one of its survivors, marked with a mutation and in possession of powers that render her one of the hunted Young Elites. She isn’t supposed to exist, and neither is her strong, dark magic, but when she finds the others like her, she goes from surviving in near-captivity with her hateful father to thriving. And then she begins thriving a bit too much, and when her goals clash with those of everyone around her, her terrible strength makes her a formidable match to take on them all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten essential music books

Hanif Abdurraqib’s essay collection is They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. One of ten music books that shaped his knowledge of the songs he loves, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Rip It Up: The Black Experience in Rock ‘N’ Roll by Kandia Crazy Horse

I admired this book for years when looking for a language with which to explain the roots of black music. Kandia Crazy Horse traces rock and roll to black music, of course. But then takes a step further into blues, into soul, into gospel. The book leans on black rock musicians like Lenny Kravitz, Venetta Fields, and Slash, and it presents them matter-of-factly. Black people playing the music they were born into.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Five books that offer a brand new take on pre-existing works

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged five “adaptations” or “re-imaginings” of earlier works, including:
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is a remake of Shakespeare’s King Lear

One of big reasons why Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest author, or playwright, of all time, is because his stories and characters continue to resonate through the centuries. The Bard wrote his stuff 400 years ago, and it’s still solid, because his themes are universal and his characters are relatable. Once in a while, an author will use one of Shakespeare’s plays as a jumping-off point—they just need to update the language. And the settings. And the plots. And into prose from dialogue. Perhaps the best example of Shakespeare 2.0 is Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres. Because a king deciding which daughter to bequeath his kingdom to is a little irrelevant to the modern United States, Smiley made it about three daughters up to inherit their aging father’s farm. Smiley won a Pulitzer Prize for the novel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Thousand Acres is among Edward Docx's top ten Shakespearean stories in modern fiction, Emma Donoghue's six best books, Anne Tyler's six favorite books, Sally O'Reilly ten top novels inspired by Shakespeare, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, and John Mullan's top ten twice-told tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 3, 2017

Five books about running away from one’s problems to join a space pirate crew

R.E. Stearns's new novel is Barbary Station. One of her five favorite books about running away from one’s problems to join a space pirate crew, as shared at
Let’s begin with a classic: Jack Crow of Armor by John Steakley (1984), running away from prison and various self-inflicted misfortunes to join a crew planning a research colony heist. I met him as he was plotting to kill somebody who didn’t need to die, and I was worried about the main character at the time, so I was not happy to see him in the book, at first. His alternative courses of action are all terrible, though, and he barely tolerates the legend that humanity has constructed around him. Because he’s an unlikable fellow, it’s fun to watch him suffer through everybody treating him as “Jack Crow, ferocious pirate.” He just wants to have a drink in peace and not be hassled, just once. He’s a fairly good pirate, and an awful person. He also has identifiable qualities. All of us are awful sometimes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven horror stories in which women are more than victims

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Elsa Sjunneson-Henry tagged seven stories in which women fight, win, and survive in horror, including:
Bird Box, by Josh Malerman

When the world isn’t safe even with your eyes open, when you’re pregnant and living with strangers, when you need to get your children to safety—you need strength. You need to be full of mettle. And that’s exactly what our heroine Malorie is made of, fighting to keep those she loves safe in a world in which an unseen horror has driven most everyone mad. A bonus for readers who follow me for my writing on disability, or who appreciate well-handled disability issues in fiction—this is the only horror novel I’ve encountered by a sighted person that deals with blindness in a way that does not make me furious. Malerman manages to make the experience of being blindfolded a “tourist experience” rather than that of an expert. You’ll see what I mean.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The top ten Protestants in fiction

Peter Stanford is the author of Martin Luther: Catholic Dissident. At the Guardian he tagged the top ten Protestants in fiction, including:
Harry Angstrom in John Updike’s quartet of Rabbit novels (1960-90)

While not perhaps a churchgoing Protestant himself – “without a little of it, you’ll sink” is his verdict on religion – “Rabbit” Angstrom is a peerless observer of guilt-ridden, hypocritical Protestant middle America, caught between an instinctive self-righteousness and the appeal of the strip joint in the shopping mall. But his creator, John Updike, was a Protestant to his bones, first a Lutheran, then a Congregationalist and finally an Episcopalian (Anglican). Likening Ronald Reagan to God, Updike once remarked: “You never know how much he knows, everything or nothing.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Updike's Rabbit books figure among Eliza Kennedy's top ten merry adulterers in literature, Sue Townsend's six best books, Julian Barnes's best books to travel with, William Sutcliffe's top ten relationship novels, and Aifric Campbell's top ten list of favorite jobs in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Five top books to make you less stupid about the Civil War

"For the past 50 years, some of this country’s most celebrated historians have taken up the task of making Americans less stupid about the Civil War," writes Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic. One title from that effort:
Battle Cry Of Freedom: Arguably among the greatest single-volume histories in all of American historiography, James McPherson’s synthesis of the Civil War is a stunning achievement. Brisk in pace. A big-ass book that reads like a much slimmer one. The first few hundred pages offer a catalogue of evidence, making it clear not just that the white South went to war for the right to own people, but that it warred for the right to expand the right to own people. Read this book. You will immediately be less stupid than some of the most powerful people in the West Wing.
Read about the other books on the list.

Battle Cry of Freedom is among Jay Winik's six favorite books, Ric Burns' six favorite books, and Malcolm Jones's eleven best books on the Civil War.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-five of the scariest horror books

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged "twenty-five books that might not necessarily be the best horror novels, but are certainly the scariest," including:
Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin

The film adaptation has supplanted the novel in pop culture, but the novel was a huge hit for Levin—and the film actually sticks to the plot and dialog so closely you really do get a feel for the novel from watching it. The story of a young woman who becomes pregnant after a nightmare gets its terror not from the well-known twist of the baby’s parentage (hint: not her husband), but from the increasing isolation Rosemary experiences as her suspicions about everyone around her grow. So many threads tie into the terror, from the emotional and economic uncertainty of a struggling young couple to the simple fear any mother has for their child, all expertly knotted into a story that will keep you awake at night.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Rosemary's Baby is among Christopher Shultz's top ten literary chillers and Kat Rosenfield's top seven scary autumnal stories.

--Marshal Zeringue