Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The best books on sustainable eating

Kristin Kimball is a farmer and a writer living in northern New York. Prior to farming, Kimball worked as a freelance writer, writing teacher, and as an assistant to a literary agent in New York City. A graduate of Harvard University and the author of The Dirty Life and Good Husbandry, she and her husband Mark have run Essex Farm since 2003, where they live with their two daughters.

At the Guardian, Kimball tagged five of the best books on sustainable eating, including:
One thing we should all agree on: we can’t discuss sustainable eating without addressing the climate crisis. Agriculture contributes a hefty 30% to our total greenhouse gases. It’s a huge part of the world’s most pressing existential problem, and yet it holds the potential to be part of the solution. Drawdown by Paul Hawken includes a section on food production, which illuminates the many well-researched and proven agricultural techniques we can use to make it a force for good in the fight for our planet’s survival.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 30, 2019

Five books that deal with nature in a sensual way

Nina MacLaughlin’s latest book is Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung.

At Book Marks she shared five books that deal with nature in a sensual way with Jane Ciabattari:
The Long Dry by Cynan Jones

In Cynan Jones’s slim, luminous novel, a pregnant cow goes missing, a rat bites the leg of a tumored old dog, two children negotiate the wonder and cruelty of Welsh farm-life, and Gareth and his wife Kate are knotted in a marriage beset by deep yearning, rage, and care which ranks as one of the truest portraits of love I’ve come across. The book seethes with the brutal squelch of farming, of breeding and bleeding and death (a scene in which two young brothers kill a rabbit with a rock stays with me), and moments of shuddering human frailty and grace.

JC: And there’s also the drought, with its effects on humans, animals, the land—and the marriage. How do you feel about Gareth’s father’s diary as an element in this mix?

NM: I’m glad you asked this. I read The Long Dry almost three years ago, and the diary aspect hadn’t lodged itself in my mind the way the descriptions of farm life and animal life and weather had, and the fraught, fervent way the marriage is presented. So your question made me revisit to see what I’d missed, which, in part, is a note in the back of the book: “The ‘memories’ that run through the book are taken from Hen Arferion a Hen Gymeriadau, recorded to tape by my grandfather David Llewelyn Williams before his death in 1991.” In the book, Gareth reads over his father’s memories; his wife, not sleeping, overhears him “scrabbling for meanings” there. The memories end as the father leaves his bank job for farming and one of the final entries includes: “And what else is there to life other than following the path that brings pleasure and interest to you, without counting the cost or loss, but delighting in those things that are desirable, and that bring you happiness.” For Gareth, fully embedded in the earthy life-and-death hardship and reality of farm life, I think this must sound naïve, over-optimistic, expressed by someone who had not had to reckon with the discomforts and everyday challenges of work and life so deeply rooted to the earth. I see it now as saying how easy it is to romanticize a rural life, a farm life, and how the reality—though not without its pleasures, satisfactions, and triumphs—is a much muddier, bloodier, messier truth entirely.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Five of fiction's good bad guys

Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

She is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and the forthcoming Kingdom of the Wicked.

At The Strand Magazine, Maniscalco tagged her top five all-time favorite villains, including:
Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo’s debut into her bestselling Grisha-verse series, features one of the ultimate villains in young adult fantasy, The Darkling. He’s especially dangerous because of how charismatic he is. As readers we see the oppression of his people, we see his desire to free them from the hate they face for their Grisha powers, and we can totally get why wiping out the people in charge is appealing. Why wouldn’t the most powerful Grisha want to bite the hand that’s put a leash on him and his people forever? It’s simple. Murder is never cool, kids. But damn his dark power and ruthless determination is so stinkin’ sexy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten SFF must-reads from the 2010s

At Book Marks Leah Schnelbach tagged ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s, including:
The Changeling by Victor Lavalle
(Spiegel & Grau, 2017)

I reviewed Victor LaValle’s The Changeling upon its release, and I said then that it was one of the best books I’d read that year. In the years since, I can say that there are few books that have stuck with me the way that one has. Two scenes in particular are such indelible setpieces—but hang on, let me give you a plot synopsis. Apollo Kagwa and his wife, Emma Valentine, are sharing a storybook romance. She’s a librarian, he’s a rare book dealer—one of two Black men working in that trade in New York City (the other one is his best friend, Patrice). Apollo and Emma have a beautiful baby together—but then everything falls apart. Emma seems to turn into a different person, distant and filled with rage. Apollo is so haunted by his own father’s abandonment that he’s overcome with an almost obsessive love for his son. And when tragedy hits the young family, Apollo finds himself in the sort of dark, blood-drenched fairy tale that Vikings used to tell around the fire.

At heart this book is a classic bildgungsroman, but it’s a bildungsroman set in a starkly modern New York City, and it centers on a Black man who has to spend as much time grappling with his city’s racism as with all the classic tropes of a quest. It’s about parenthood and emotional labor and how social media destroys our identities. But leaving all the critical analysis aside, what makes this book a must-read is that it’s a beautiful love story tangled together with one of the scariest horror novels I’ve ever read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Changeling is among T. Marie Vandelly's top ten suspenseful horror novels featuring domestic terrors and C.J. Tudor's six thrillers featuring missing, mistaken, or "changed" children.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Four top books about feasting

Priya Basil was born in London to a family with Indian roots and grew up in Kenya. In 2002 she moved to Berlin, where she still lives. She has published two novels and a novella, as well as numerous essays for various publications, including the Guardian. Her fiction has been nominated for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Basil is also the cofounder of Authors for Peace, a political platform for writers and artists, established in 2010.

Her newest book is Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community, and the Meaning of Generosity.

At the Guardian Basil tagged four favorite books about feasting, including:
“Telling a recipe takes greater art than telling a joke,” observes Leo Auberg in Herta Müller’s novel The Hunger Angel. When he is deported from his home in Romania to a Soviet labour camp, privation defines Leo’s life, and profligacy rules his imagination. Fantasies of food haunt this story. Inmates talk most about eating when hunger is at its peak. The recipes they exchange each take “three acts, like a play”. These are more than a roll call of ingredients: they contain histories, lost loves and lives, endless longing. They taunt the body but nourish the deep human need to be heard and understood, to share and to survive. It is a story whose richness resides in its stark, spare telling.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 27, 2019

Six books to read with your teen or twentyish daughter

Kelly Simmons is a former journalist and creative advertising director who started writing fiction over fifteen years ago, while studying creative writing and screenwriting at Temple University and University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her critically acclaimed novels (Standing Still, The Bird House, One More Day, The Fifth of July and Where She Went) she has stuff on a few back burners: developing a TV series, writing a memoir, perfecting her dessert game.

She's a visiting teacher for Drexel University's Storylab and is a member of The Liars Club writing mentorship collective, The Tall Poppy Writers, Womens Fiction Writers Association, and Binders Full of Women Writers.

[see My Book, The Movie: Where She Went by Kelly Simmons]

At The Strand Magazine Simmons tagged six books to buddy-read with your teen or twentyish daughter:
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Got a booksmart cynical quipster at home? If you missed this tongue-in-cheek mystery, a wry send up of high school mom culture, read it quick before you see the movie. Or just go to the movie together, who am I to tell you what to do? I’m not your mother.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is among Jeff Somers's top five novels whose main characters are shut-ins and five books that use cultural anthropology to brilliant effect and top five novels featuring runaway parents, Heidi Fiedler's thirty-three books to read with your mother, the Star-Tribune's eight top funny books for dire times, Chrissie Gruebel's seven great books for people who love Modern Family, Charlotte Runcie's ten best bad mothers in literature, Joel Cunningham's seven notable epistolary novels and Chrissie Gruebel's five top books for readers inspired by Nora Ephron.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Ten top books about loneliness

Fay Bound Alberti's newest book is A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion.

At the Guardian, she tagged ten "books for what they have to say individually, as well as what they represent collectively, about the historically changing meanings of loneliness."

One title on the list:
The Lonely City by Olivia Laing (2016)

Laing explores the paradox of loneliness in the city – multitudes of others alongside an “omnipresent, unanswerable feeling that I was in a state of lack”. She also considers the sense of blame attached (which reminds me of the dismissal of lonely people in the UK as “Billy no-mates”, as though they are lonely for a reason). Loneliness can bring creativity, too, Laing reminds us, via a (strikingly male) lineup of artists that includes Edward Hopper, Edward Darger and Andy Warhol.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Five top books about visionary youth

Lars Iyer's new novel is Nietzsche and the Burbs.

At Book Marks he shared five great books about visionary youth with Jane Ciabattari, including:
Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz

Witold Gombrowicz’s mapcap novel Ferdydurke is a celebration of immaturity, mocking convention, propriety, officialdom and high culture. However, this is no straightforward hymn to youth—the protagonist, magically turned from a thirty-year-old writer into a teenage schoolboy—suffers all kinds of humiliations. Still, it’s clear where Gombrowicz’s sympathies lie. Ferdydurke depicts the anarchy of youth—its wildness, its impatience—but it also exposes the anarchism at the base of our schools, our families, and of middle-class life. All authority, Gombrowicz’s novel declares, is usurped. Chaos reigns.

Jane Ciabattari: Why was Ferdydurke banned in Poland for many years after its publication in 1937? What’s so dangerous about its depiction of youth’s anarchy?

Lars Iyer: In a word, ludism. Youth’s queer anarchy, in the rolling riot of Ferdydurke, is the opposite of self-solemnity, of the ponderous weight of adulthood, of the staidness of the old order, of the old monosexualities, just as it laughs at the new order, too: at the new avatars of the Modern, of the Young Girl (a figure later borrowed by the Tiqqun collective) and her right-thinking family. The spirit of youth, of humor, serves no ideological certitude, thumbing its nose at the Nazi-occupiers of Poland and the communists who succeeded them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Fifteen empowering Middle Grade novels about social justice

At the BN Kids blog Melissa Sarno tagged fifteen empowering Middle Grade novels for kids interested in social justice, including:
Front Desk, by Kelly Yang

This big-hearted novel follows Mia, a young immigrant who lives at a motel where her parents are employed. Mia works at the front desk and uses her new-found writing voice to stand up for herself, her family, and the other immigrants and guests at the motel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Top ten books for kids who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Dell Villa tagged ten top books for kids who can’t sleep on Christmas Eve, including:
Star Bright: A Christmas Story, by Alison McGhee

Everyone in Heaven is thrilled that a baby’s about to be born, and they all plan to bring gifts to celebrate. But the littlest angel, with her red hair and aviator goggles, stands apart from her more elegantly dressed and well-mannered peers. What can she possibly offer to this glorious baby? She finally alights on an innovative idea, and it might just be the best offering, for it’s those gifts of absolute wonder that truly embody the magic and sparkle of the season.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 23, 2019

The ten best traditional mysteries of 2019

CrimeReads named their ten best traditional mysteries of 2019. One title on the list:
Marlowe Benn, Relative Fortunes (Lake Union)

In this terribly amusing twist on the 1920s historical, a soon-to-be heiress with a struggling publishing company heads to New York to come into her fortune. On the voyage, she reconnects with an old school friend; when that friend’s suffragette sister is murdered, it’s up to Benn’s feisty flapper to discover what’s up. Relative Fortunes is a love letter to an era of sweeping changes in both women’s roles and in the publishing industry.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Relative Fortunes.

The Page 69 Test: Relative Fortunes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Five great American social crime novels

Steph Cha's new novel is Your House Will Pay.

At Book Marks she shared five American social crime novels with Jane Ciabattari, including:
Southland by Nina Revoyr

In this Los Angeles masterpiece, Revoyr explores the history of the Crenshaw district in the 20th century by delving into a terrible crime committed during the 1965 Watts Rebellion. This was the book that made Your House Will Pay feel possible.

JC: How did Southland influence your new novel?

SC: Southland helped me see how the story of a crime could unlock the history of a neighborhood, and with it, the history of Los Angeles and––I’m being serious here––America. The novel follows two families––one Japanese, one black––from the 1930s to the 1990s, covering everything from the Japanese American internment to the Northridge earthquake, with a particular focus on the Watts Rebellion. Revoyr inhabits the points of view of both a Japanese-American woman and a black man with great depth and empathy, and she writes compellingly about Los Angeles in chaos. I owe a lot to that book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten great crime stories set during the holidays

Meg Gardiner is the author of fourteen novels including UNSUB, which won the 2018 Barry Award for Best Thriller, and China Lake, which won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. A former lawyer and three-time Jeopardy! champion, she lives in Austin. The Dark Corners of the Night, the third novel in the UNSUB series, will be published in February 2020.

At The Strand Magazine Gardiner tagged ten great crime stories set during the holidays, including:
The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy (1984).

We remember this as the crackling debut that introduced Jack Ryan, launched the era of the military techno-thriller, and made propeller cavitation sexy. We forget that it takes place between December third and twentieth. The novel’s both cat-and-mouse submarine hunt and geopolitical game of Risk, and its final chapter is “The Eighteenth Day.” Thermonuclear missiles in a pear tree. It’s not Silent Night, but Silent Running.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hunt for Red October is among John Dugdale's five best Tom Clancy novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Eleven books inspired by "Little Women"

A native New Englander, Elise Hooper spent several years writing for television and online news outlets before getting a MA and teaching high-school literature and history. She now lives in Seattle with her husband and two daughters.

Her novel The Other Alcott is historical fiction about art, ambition, and the real women behind the March sisters in Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic Little Women.

At LitHub Hooper tagged eleven books inspired by the March family, including:
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

At first glance a novel about a zealous Baptist minister taking his family to Africa on a mission could not be more different from Alcott’s milieu, but think again. During Louisa’s childhood, her father Bronson, a Transcendental philosopher, moved his family to an experimental utopian community in rural Harvard, Massachusetts on a mission of sorts. The misery of this experience never left Louisa. Both Nathan Price and Bronson Alcott represent men of uncompromising ideals who were willing to risk everything, including their family’s safety, for the sake of their beliefs, and reading Kingsolver’s 1998 novel offers echoes of how Alcott viewed male hubris and its exploitative impact on women.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Poisonwood Bible appears on a list of four books that changed Alison Lester, Lucy Inglis's top ten list of books that explore pioneer life, Allegra Frazier's top five list of books to remind you of warmer climes, Segun Afolabi's top ten list of "on the move" books, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best snakes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 20, 2019

The ten best noir novels of 2019

One title on the CrimeReads list of the year's best and bleakest hard-boiled reads:
Steph Cha, Your House Will Pay (Ecco)

Cha’s new standalone, about the long shadows of history and the need for reconciliation, is both a reckoning and a space for healing. When a young Korean-American woman living in Los Angeles learns her mother was responsible for a racially motivated and deadly shooting, she decides to make amends with the victim’s family, 25 years later. This one does what the best noirs do, i.e., make you want to cry your heart out over the humanity of it all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Ten top novels about adultery

Douglas Kennedy's new novel is Isabelle in the Afternoon. At the Guardian he tagged his ten favorite "novels on the agonies and ecstasies of the extramarital adventure," including:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Can you adore your spouse but still have multiple affairs? Why should sex outside love (and the vows of marriage) be considered a breach of all sorts of societal norms? To be compulsively attached to the sex act … is this an addiction or a positive existential choice? These complex moral questions, for which there are no definitive answers, are played out in a Czechoslovakia reeling under Soviet domination at the height of the cold war. Kundera’s ever-dazzling novel is finely attuned to the contradictory interplay of the libido and the quasi-stability of long-term love.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is among John Bargh's ten top books about the unconscious, Amor Towles's six favorite books, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's top ten wartime love stories, and Olen Steinhauer's six favorite books. Lee Child called The Unbearable Lightness of Being "his private pick for the 20th–century novel that will live the longest." John Mullan includes it among ten of the best visits to the lavatory in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Seven of the scariest science fiction horror novels ever written

Jeff Somers is the author of Writing Without Rules, the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged seven of the scariest science fiction horror novels ever written, including:
The Luminous Dead, by Caitlin Starling

Once again, you don’t have to literally set the story in space to get chills—just go where space can take you. Gyre Price is desperate. Abandoned and alone on a poverty-stricken mining planet, she wants nothing more than to learn of her mother’s fate. Seeking a big paycheck that will allow her to do just that, she fakes her credentials as a caver, assuming that the work, while dangerous, will be organized and supported by the usual safety measures. Her handler on the expedition, Em, turns out to be unpredictable, cruel, and filled with her own secrets—and Em knows that Gyre lied to get the job, and isn’t afraid to use that knowledge to force her into a dangerous, terrifying journey into the darkness. Underground, Gyre must face not only her own inner demons, but plenty of Em’s as well. By the time she begins to understand that the danger may not all be on the inside, however, it may already be too late. This is nail-biting, cinematic survival horror.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Luminous Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Top ten mysteries set in isolated or small-town Australia

Sara Foster is the author of Come Back to Me, Beneath the Shadows, Shallow Breath, All That Is Lost between Us, The Hidden Hours, and (releasing in the US in March 2020) You Don’t Know Me.

Born and raised in England, Foster moved to Australia in 2004.

At The Strand Magazine she tagged "ten of the best brooding mysteries and thrillers set in isolated or small-town regions of Australia," including:
The Lost Man by Jane Harper

It’s difficult to know which Harper story to pick, as the searing heat of The Dry still resonates with me a few years after reading her debut novel, and Force of Nature is about a group of city-dwellers getting lost in the outback on a team-bonding activity. However, I think her latest, The Lost Man, with a body found huddled on a gravestone in the middle of the desert, and a tense and troubled family living on a remote station in the outback, might just be my favourite of the three.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best novels of psychological suspense of 2019

Lisa Levy is a columnist and contributing editor at LitHub and CrimeReads.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten of the best psychological suspense novels of 2019, including:
Jessica Barry, Freefall (Harper)

The fun of Freefall is in the thriller’s split point-of-view, with each narrator telling a story that gets more nuanced as the book progresses. Allison Carpenter, a young woman raised in Maine and now living in San Diego, is the only survivor of a private plane crash in the Colorado Rockies, which claimed the life of her wealthy pharmaceutical CEO fiancé. Her goal is to find civilization and stay alive. Ally is estranged from her mother, Maggie Carpenter, but as soon as Maggie hears about the plane crash she is determined to find out more about both her daughter’s life and her supposed death. This tightly paced thriller also deftly examines the complexity of the mother-daughter bond.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 16, 2019

Six books recommended by Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín's novels include The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary; and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections, and Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, a look at three nineteenth-century Irish authors. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

At The Week magazine he recommended six of his favorite books, including:
Home by Marilynne Robinson (2008).

This middle novel of a trilogy set in the American Midwest revolves around two elderly clergymen and their families. From this modest material, Robinson creates panorama as well as moments of exquisite intimacy. Glory, at 38, has come home to tend to her elderly father. Robinson handles the intricacies of her mind with real tenderness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Home is among Nick Lake's top ten liars in fiction, Richard Zimler's five best books featuring pariahs, and Diana Quick's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The best books about political awakenings

Romesh Gunesekera is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction including Reef, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Sandglass, winner of the inaugural BBC Asia Award, and The Match, the ground-breaking cricket novel. His debut collection of stories, Monkfish Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book. His 2014 book Noontide Toll captured a vital moment in post-war Sri Lanka.

Gunesekera's new novel is Suncatcher.

At the Guardian he tagged five books to spark new understanding about politics, including:
Another immigrant writer, Kamala Markandaya, was celebrated for her accounts of rural India in the 1950s. The Nowhere Man, a gem recently republished after years of unjust neglect, charts the experience of an Indian family in Britain from 1919 to 1968. It shows a restrained writer’s radicalism and is extraordinarily prescient of our current political plight. The story of elderly Srinivasan facing a confusing, hostile political climate of rising racism and smallmindedness makes us see our surroundings in a new light. Written with elegance, the novel is a devastating indictment of doing nothing when things are going from bad to worse.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Rahaman Ali's 6 best books

No one was closer to Muhammad Ali than Rahaman, his only sibling and best friend. The brothers lived together, trained together and shared pivotal experiences, from Ali's time in the Nation of Islam to the 'Rumble in the Jungle' fight against George Foreman. Rahman became Ali's best sparring partner and part of his inner circle, also acting as a personal bodyguard throughout his brother's career. Rahman retired from competing as a heavyweight himself in 1972, with a record of 14 wins, three losses and one draw. He is the author of My Brother, Muhammad Ali: The Definitive Biography.

One of Ali's six favorite books, as shared at the Daily Express:
LONG WALK TO FREEDOM by Nelson Mandela

I was able to resonate with a lot of what I read here.

This man stood up for his rights, just like Muhammad used his platform, and became vilified.

This book really is touching and reminded me of certain situations that Muhammad and I experienced.

Our own country needed a change for the better. It's a really touching book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Long Walk to Freedom is on Adam Hochschild’s list of five books on Mandela and South Africa, Casey Lee's list of the five best books by Nelson Mandela, Don Mullan's top ten list of books on heroes, and Sammy Perlmutter's five best list of books from Nobel winners who didn't win their medal for literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 13, 2019

The best crime novels of 2019

CrimeReads named their ten best crime novels of 2019. One title on the list:
Rachel Howzell Hall, They All Fall Down (Forge)

Rachel Howzell Hall’s latest thriller (her first standalone) takes a classic scenario straight out of the Agatha Christie playbook and gives it a modern, subversive twist, as seven strangers answer an invitation to a few nights at a private estate on a lush, remote spit of land off the coast of Mexico. The clash of personalities and secrets is immediate, as the guests discover that their weekend getaway isn’t quite so tranquil as they’d hoped. Howzell Hall has spent the last few years establishing herself as one of the most promising voices in detective fiction with her Elouise Norton series. Here she proves that she knows her way around a traditional mystery, too, with a few thriller twists for good measure.
Read about the other entries on the list.

They All Fall Down is among Kristen Lepionka's seven favorite unlikable female characters.

The Page 69 Test: They All Fall Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Ten top dinner parties in fiction

Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.

At the Guardian, they tagged ten top dinner parties in fiction, including:
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set in 1960s Nigeria before and during the Biafran war, hunger and starvation are at the heart of this novel. So too is eating. In the capacious, hospitable house of Olanna and Odenigbo, dinner parties are frequent in the years before conflict erupts. In the first of these, the template for the ones to follow, academics and radicals gather to discuss revolution, secession, colonialism – and they eat the food prepared by their houseboy Ugwu: pepper soup, spicy jollof rice, chicken boiled in herbs. He listens, though only half understands, their excited conversation. This inclusive, generous, culturally diverse hospitality becomes a repeating bright memory of better times as the story travels into betrayal and despair.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Half of a Yellow Sun is among Uzo Aduba’s ten favorite books, Barnaby Phillips's ten top books about Nigeria, Pushpinder Khaneka's three best books on Nigeria, and Lorraine Adams's six best books.

Also see Jeff Somers's five most disastrous dinner parties in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Five mysteries set between the World Wars

Donis Casey is the author of The Wrong Girl, the first episode of a fresh new series starring Bianca LaBelle, star of the silent screen action serial, The Adventures of Bianca Dangereuse. In addition to this coming-of-age tale of a girl in the glamorous 1920s, Casey is also the author of the Alafair Tucker Mysteries, an award-winning series featuring the sleuthing mother of ten children, set in Oklahoma during the booming 1910s.

At CrimeReads, Casey tagged five mysteries set in the 1920s and 1930s, including:
Martin Edwards, Gallows Court

The atmospheric and intricately plotted Gallows Court (2019) is the first in a new series by Martin Edwards. Set in London in 1930, featuring rich, reclusive, mysterious Rachel Savernake, and a callow young reporter for the Clarion named Jacob Flint. When the Clarion’s chief crime reporter is critically injured by a hit and run driver, Jacob takes over the job of investigating a series of horrific deaths that all have a connection to a cryptic secret society. The elusive Rachel keeps turning up with leads for Jacob to follow, but is she really helping him or leading him down the garden path? In fact, is Rachel at all who she seems to be? Is anyone involved with this dark, twisted case what they appear? Edwards has evoked a grim, sooty, inter-war world, shrouded in fog and evil intentions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Top 10 books to help you save the planet

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten top books to help you save the planet, including:
This Is Not A Drill
Extinction Rebellion

An explosive, interactive call to arms from the phenomenally successful climate change protest organisation, This is Not a Drill teaches the reader how to become an informed and determined activist in the front line of the most urgent and important cause of our times.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 9, 2019

Ten top Brontë re-tellings

At Read It Forward Lorraine Berry tagged ten Brontë adaptations you need to read, including:
Becoming Jane Eyre
Sheila Kohler

Those hungry for more information about the remarkable family that produced three literary legends will find plenty to love in Kohler’s reimagining of the events that led to the writing of Jane Eyre. In addition to Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, there were three other siblings. Their mother Maria and Elizabeth, the two eldest sisters, perished from tuberculosis at the ages of eleven and ten respectively. Sole brother Branwell was a painter, but he was also an alcoholic and laudanum addict. His death at age thirty-one disrupted the family once again. The three surviving sisters each turned to words and writing as comfort and a chance to explore the darkness. As Kohler takes readers further into Charlotte’s imagination, the familiar figures of Jane, Rochester, and the kind Mrs. Fairfax emerge.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Elizabeth Berg's 6 books for a 'kinder, gentler world'

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Story of Arthur Truluv, Open House (an Oprah's Book Club selection), Talk Before Sleep, and The Year of Pleasures, as well as the short story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. She adapted The Pull of the Moon into a play that enjoyed sold-out performances in Chicago and Indianapolis. Berg's work has been published in thirty countries, and three of her novels have been turned into television movies.

Her new novel is The Confession Club.

At The Week magazine, Berg tagged six books for a "kinder, gentler world," including:
The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler (2004).

I have never read an Anne Tyler novel that I haven't loved. In this tale of two people who never should have gotten married, Tyler is quirky, her characters are eccentric, and you keep re-­reading her dialogue for the sheer pleasure of it. The world she creates is the world I want to live in.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Five of the best books about interstellar arrivals

Alastair Reynolds was born in Barry, South Wales, in 1966. He studied at Newcastle and St. Andrews Universities and has a Ph.D. in astronomy. He stopped working as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency to become a full-time writer. Revelation Space and Pushing Ice were shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Revelation Space, Absolution Gap, Diamond Dogs, and Century Rain were shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Award, and Chasm City won the British Science Fiction Award.

At the Guardian Reynolds tagged five of the best books about interstellar arrivals, including:
Interstellar visitors need not be as large as Rama to wreak transformation, especially if there is intelligence at work. In Tade Thompson’s Rosewater, which won 2019’s Arthur C Clarke award, an alien construct hits London, then tunnels all the way through to Nigeria, eventually emerging and releasing spores that begin to affect human neurological functioning. Thompson continued the story with Rosewater Insurrection, with the final part of the trilogy, Rosewater Redemption, published this year.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Ten dark stories of kids in peril

Zach Vasquez is a native of Los Angeles, California. He writes fiction and criticism.

At CrimeReads he tagged ten top novels and films "that put children up against the outsized terrors of the adult world," including:
Tideland, by Mitch Cullin (2000)
(Film adaptation, 2006)

The third and best-known entry in Mitch Cullin’s Texas Trilogy, Tideland is a grimy update of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland set in the desolate badlands of the Lone Star state. After both of her junkie parents overdose, young Jeliza-Rose spends a summer living alone at her grandparent’s abandoned farm. Or, not quite alone, as she has the corpse of her father and a collection of sentient doll heads to keep her company. Eventually, she falls in with real—and really dangerous—people in the form of her neighbors, a brother-sister pair with a past connection to her father and some upsetting family secrets of their own. Jeliza-Rose processes her harsh and fearsome circumstances by delving further and further into an elaborate fantasy world, but eventually, the darkness that surrounds her on all sides threatens to overwhelm both realities.

Cullin’s novel was adapted in 2006 by Terry Gilliam, who you would assume would be perfectly suited to the material given his penchant for magic realism and dark phantasmagoria. However, the film ended up being his most divisive to date, the ugliness of the story proving too repulsive for many a queasy viewer. But Tideland also has its champions, including fellow surrealist maestro David Cronenberg, who hailed it as a unique and “poetic” horror film and one of the best movies of its year. It’s a hard watch to be sure, but if you respond to the other works listed here, it might just be your cup of LSD.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 6, 2019

Ten top classics of British science fiction

At the Waterstones blog, Mark Skinner tagged ten top titles from the Golden Age of British Sci-Fi, including:
The War of the Worlds
H. G. Wells

The ultimate alien invasion story, Wells’s electrifying yarn has been oft imitated but never bettered. Expertly combining the minutiae of late- Victorian England with the spectacular arrival of dazzlingly imagined extra-terrestrial beings, The War of the Worlds is a triumph of set piece action and pulsating atmosphere
Read about the other entries on the list.

The War of the Worlds also appears on Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on aliens and John Mullan's list of ten of the best aliens in science fiction; the movie version starring Tom Cruise is one of the Independent's five turkey adaptations.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Ten books for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" fans

Erin Mayer is a writer and editor specializing in personal essays and musings about face creams that probably won’t cure her anxiety (but hey, it’s worth a shot). Her work has appeared on Bustle, Literary Hub, Man Repeller, Book Riot, and more. She spends her free time drafting tweets she never finishes and reading in front of the television.

At Read it Forward she tagged ten books to read if you love The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, including:
Park Avenue Summer
Renée Rosen

This novel features the real-life former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, Helen Gurley Brown, responsible for transforming the magazine to appeal to the modern woman. In Park Avenue Summer, wannabe photographer Alice Weiss lands a coveted position at the publication and moves to New York from her small Midwestern hometown to make her dreams come true.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue