Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Eight great novels where things disappear

Lincoln Michel is the author of Upright Beasts and the co-editor of the forthcoming crime anthology Tiny Crimes.

"The missing person is a classic mystery trope for a good reason," he writes at CrimeReads.
It immediately sets a story in motion while providing for a variety of plot paths. Is the person dead? Kidnapped? Running away? Hiding in plain sight? But people aren’t the only things that disappear in literature. Sometimes it is a vanishing cat or a disappearing novel that gets the story rolling.
One of "eight fantastic and strange novels that each have a unique spin on mysterious disappearances," according to Michel:
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Yoko Ogawa’s dystopian fable is a novel where something disappears, then another thing, then another and another. Indeed, almost everything vanishes on the unnamed island society governed by a group of Orwellian “memory police” that can make objects disappear. Candies, music boxes, ribbons, even birds. Citizens simply wake up one day and the items are erased from both the world and people’s memories. Although the novel was published in Japan in the 1990s, it was translated into English this year (by Stephen Snyder) and feels especially prescient in a world where it’s increasingly hard to know what is real and what is fake.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 30, 2020

Five of the best books about time

Samantha Harvey is the author of four novels, The Wilderness, All Is Song, Dear Thief and The Western Wind, and of a memoir, The Shapeless Unease. She lives in Bath, UK, and is a Reader in creative writing at Bath Spa University.

At the Guardian, Harvey shared her favorite "books that play with present, past and future," including:
One of the many achievements of Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger is a dramatising of the push-pull of time, its vast elasticity. The elasticity, too, of memory, of memories played and plundered over and over, from different points in time and different characters’ points of view. “Chronology irritates me,” says the novel’s protagonist, Claudia. “There is no chronology inside my head.” And so unravels the contents of that head in a startling, fractured personal history.

The moon tiger of the novel’s title is the name given to a mosquito coil which burns through the night – just as Claudia’s life also burns out, is purged, is consumed by the passing of time. What most resists the flames is her sorrow over something that never was. Isn’t this true? That the things we most often regret are not those we did, but those we didn’t do.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Favorite funny books recommended by Irish writers

Declan Hughes's first novel, The Wrong Kind of Blood won the Shamus Award for Best First PI novel and the Le Point magazine prize for best European crime novel. Subsequent novels include The Colour of Blood; The Dying Breed; All The Dead Voices and City of Lost Girls. His books have been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Theakstons, CWA New Blood Dagger and Irish Book awards.

His latest novel is All The Things You Are.

Hughes's favorite funny books, as shared with The Irish Times:
The Information by Martin Amis, about the unhinged rivalry between two novelists, is a novel anyone involved in the literary life might find funny; it consistently makes me cry with laughter. However, like the same author’s Money, or his father’s Ending Up, or early Evelyn Waugh, or all of Edward St Aubyn, there is something a little too dark, too savage, too unsettling about it to work for me in the current unpleasantness; other’s nerves might be stronger.

There’s Nancy Mitford, of course, and Anita Loos and Dorothy Parker and Nora Ephron. The Best of Myles is maybe the funniest single book ever, but everyone knows that. Simon Gray’s diaries, all eight volumes, are ragingly funny, and his plays hold up; indeed, weirdly, they seem to work better now on the page than on the stage. Richmal Crompton’s William Brown stories still make me laugh, as do Michael Bond’s Paddington series and Willans & Searle’s St Custard’s books.

But if I must identify as a grown-up, I’ll plump for The Benchley Roundup. Robert Benchley was a fixture at the Algonquin Round Table and a minor Hollywood star. As a comic essayist – writing in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker – he seems to me to have weathered the years better than Thurber or Perelman, his great contemporaries.

Ask That Man, in which a husband, exasperated by his wife’s insistence that he seek travel directions from strangers, undertakes to do the opposite of what he is told; The Tortures of Weekend Visiting, in which host and guest listen anxiously at respective bedroom doors for one another to rise as morning turns to night; The Sunday Menace, in which the mooted remedy for the Sunday afternoon malaise is to set fire to the house; pastiches of opera synopses and strategies to repel your friends’ holiday anecdotes: it’s gentle, quirky, arch, observational, middlebrow fare and it’s very, very funny. And it’s in print!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Ten top Seattle crime novels

J. Kingston Pierce is a longtime journalist in Seattle, Washington, and editor of The Rap Sheet, which has won the Spinetingler Award and been nominated twice for Anthony Awards. In addition, he writes the book-design blog Killer Covers, serves as the senior editor of January Magazine and as a contributing editor to CrimeReads, and is a columnist for Down & Out: The Magazine.

At CrimeReads Pierce tagged ten titles highlighting "Seattle’s potential as an ideal milieu for crime fiction," including:
Deadline Man by Jon Talton (2010)

Talton spent 37 years on the payrolls of daily newspapers, including The Seattle Times, so it’s no shock that one of his mysteries stars a reporter-detective. Deadline Man is a carefully paced, geopolitical conspiracy novel headlined by “The Columnist,” an otherwise unnamed business writer for the fictional Seattle Free Press. Early on, this journalist is surprised when a local hedge-fund manager he’s interviewing asks, cryptically, what he knows about “eleven-eleven.” Nothing is the answer. But after his source executes a 20-story dive to his death, the reporter begins the “sniff work” necessary to educate himself. He slowly connects puzzle pieces involving a pretty Seattle teen, a shady defense contractor, a private prison complex, a succession of slayings, and…well, let’s just say this is one hell of a complicated, often incredible pursuit of the sort that could land The Columnist in Pulitzer circles, or else a pine box.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 27, 2020

The best books to help us survive a crisis

Joe Moran is professor of English and cultural history at Liverpool John Moores University. His books include Shrinking Violets: The Secret Life of Shyness and Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the Television.

At the Guardian, Moran tagged a few "books on how to keep calm in times of adversity - and take joy where we find it." One title on the list:
Those enduring self-isolation may find it uplifting to read about the heroic efforts of political prisoners to retain their sanity through human connection. The Turkish journalist Ahmet Altan wrote I Will Never See the World Again while serving a life sentence on trumped-charges of treason. This wise and defiant book, composed in a tiny shared cell and smuggled out in notes to his lawyers, celebrates the power of words to dissolve human isolation. “Like all writers, I have magic,” Altan writes. “I can pass through your walls with ease.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fourteen enormous crime books for the long days ahead

Molly Odintz is the Associate Editor for CrimeReads. She grew up in Austin and worked as a bookseller at BookPeople for years before her recent move up to New York City for a life in crime. She likes cats, crime novels, and coffee.

At CrimeReads she tagged fourteen long-ass crime books, including:
Six Four, Hideo Yokoyama
Page Count: 576

In this thoughtful tale of the long shadow of past crimes, an anniversary of an unsolved kidnapping approaches, triggering a newly appointed police press liaison to reopen the investigation. When he discovers some information the police would rather be kept from the victim’s family, things really get interesting…
Read about the other entries on the list.

Six Four is among Junko Takekawa's five essential Japanese crime novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten novels and stories about shame

Christos Tsiolkas is the author of six novels, including Loaded, which was made into the feature film Head-On, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe, which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award, as well as being made into a feature film.

His latest novel is Damascus.

At the Guardian, Tsiolkas tagged ten novels and stories about shame, including:
Ransom by David Malouf

Malouf takes a moment from The Iliad, when Priam goes to Achilles to beg that he be allowed to bury the desecrated body of his son, Hector, and from it crafts an exquisite novel in which we are witnesses to something world shattering – the moment when a king begs for mercy and for peace. Priam’s shame is clear. It is an abomination in the Homeric world for an aristocrat to fall to his knees and it is a scandal to not wish to repay blood with blood. In their argument and then in their accord, Achilles and Priam redefine both shame and honour. I think Malouf’s achievement is staggering. He rips apart the veil between the ancient and the contemporary.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Eight top red herrings in contemporary crime literature

Karen Dietrich is the author of The Girl Factory: A Memoir (2013) and several poetry chapbooks. She also plays drums in the indie rock band Essential Machine. Dietrich received a BA in English from University of Pittsburgh and an MFA in poetry from New England College. She has worked as a college professor and high school English teacher.

Her new psychological thriller is Girl at the Edge.

At CrimeReads, Dietrich tagged eight contemporary "books [that] play with the reader’s mind in wonderfully twisted ways, using red herrings masterfully and keeping the reader guessing. And second-guessing." One title on the list:
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

Caren is caretaker for the grounds of Belle Vie, a former plantation that now provides a setting for high price tag weddings and historical reenactments for school children.

When something (an animal?) digs up a woman’s body, Caren must wonder about the secrets of the place she calls home. Caren’s mother worked at Belle Vie, too, and so Caren grew up on the grounds. She’s familiar with its beauty, but also it’s haunting history. But is there something ugly brewing at Belle Vie? And what about the employee who can’t be accounted for? Locke’s characters are vivid and the pacing pitch perfect. She spins a compelling mystery with plenty of doubts and uncertainty. As Caren is drawn further and further into the dead woman’s story, she begins uncovering things that are perhaps best left buried.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Cutting Season is among T. Marie Vandelly's top ten suspenseful horror novels featuring housebound terrors and Wil Medearis's seven favorite novels that explore real estate swindles.

--Marshal Zeringue

The best books about our future in space

Christopher Wanjek is the author of Bad Medicine and Food at Work. He has written more than 500 articles for the Washington Post, Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, Mercury, and Live Science. From 1998 to 2006, he was a senior writer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, covering the structure and evolution of the universe.

Wanjek's new book is Spacefarers: How Humans Will Settle the Moon, Mars, and Beyond.

At the Guardian he tagged the best books about our space future, including:
It’s no longer a question of whether we’re going to Mars, but when. By the time we reach a second planet – probably in the 2030s – we’ll probably have a base or two on the moon as well. But will people ever live beyond Earth permanently?

Hazards abound on the red planet, a world that is colder and drier than Antarctica and without the luxury of breathable air. Andy Weir provides an excellent picture of the struggle to survive in his novel The Martian. Kim Stanley Robinson takes a deeper dive with his Mars trilogy. The series follows the first 100 settlers, a hand-picked crew of scientists and engineers who gradually transform the climate. There is plenty of engineering and biology, but Robinson broadens into philosophy when he explores how some settlers want to keep Mars pure and red, while others view the life that greens the planet as a gift from humanity. And alternative history is just around the corner when another wave of colonists arrive, dreaming of breaking away from planet Earth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Mars Trilogy is among Jeff Somers's five top sci-fi novels with reasonably believable futuristic technology. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson is among James Mustich's five notable books on Mars and beyond.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Eight books about male protagonists by female authors

Scarlett Harris is an Australian culture critic, with a focus on professional wrestling and television. She’s writing a book about women’s wrestling, A Diva Was a Female Version of a Wrestler, forthcoming in 2021.

At CrimeReads, Harris tagged eight classic and contemporary novels, written by women, that offer insight into damaged male psyches, including:
The Witch Elm by Tana French

The Witch Elm was the first (I know, I know) Tana French title I read, at the beginning of the year. I was immediately struck by French’s first person portrayal of Toby, with his simultaneous self-righteousness and -loathing, so much so that it became the inspiration for this piece.

As Toby slowly uncovers the mystery of how the body of his high school friend Dominic ends up inside the Wych Elm in his dead uncle’s house, so to does he discover how, as a straight, white, able-bodied man, he has navigated the world relatively unscathed.

“The point is, if your doctors went all out for you, great. But not everyone gets to live in the same world as you,” Toby’s cousin Susanna chastises him when he doesn’t believe that she was sexually assaulted by her doctor.

That is, until he is the victim of an assault and robbery at the beginning of the hefty tome that leads him to convalesce at his uncle’s house where the bulk of the mystery evolves and forces him to reckon with his privilege.

“Me six months ago, clear eyed and clear voiced, sitting up straight and smart, answering every question promptly and directly and with total unthinking confidence: every cell of me had carried a natural and absolute credibility; accusing me of murder would have been ridiculous,” French writes. “Me now, slurring, babbling, droopy-eyed and drag-footed, jumping and trembling at every word from the detectives: defective, unreliable, lacking any credibility or authority or weight, guilty as hell.”

Through the facade of mystery novels—The Witch Elm is French’s first stand-alone narrative outside of the Dublin Murder Squad saga—French clandestinely lays out what it means to grapple with manhood in the #MeToo era.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Witch Elm is among Ani Katz's top ten books about toxic masculinity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 23, 2020

Fifteen books to read in our age of social isolation

At the New York Post Mackenzie Dawson tagged the fifteen best books to read in our age of social isolation. One title on the list:
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

On New Year’s Eve 1982, Oona is just about to turn 19, her whole life ahead of her. But then she wakes up and she’s ... 51 and wondering what the hell just happened. As she grapples with this strange new world, she discovers it’s going to happen every New Year’s Eve: She’ll be transported to a different year in her life (which sounds pretty appealing right now, doesn’t it?)
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Oona Out of Order.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top morally bankrupt narrators in fiction

Samantha Downing currently lives in New Orleans.

My Lovely Wife is her first novel. (See: The Page 69 Test: My Lovely Wife.)

Her new novel, He Started It, is coming soon.

At CrimeReads, Downing tagged ten of fiction's most morally bankrupt narrators, including:
The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

Yu-jin wakes up to find himself covered in blood and it’s not his. The blood belongs to his mother, who has been murdered. He also has epilepsy, and the seizures cause memory blackouts. Over the course of the three days, Yu-jin tries to find out what happened and, at the same time, reveals his relationship with his mother. Fair warning: This disturbing, claustrophobic story is graphic and violent.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Five top books about female artists

Annalena McAfee was born in London to a Scottish mother and a Glasgow-Irish father. She founded the Guardian Review, which she edited for six years, and was Arts and Literary Editor of the Financial Times.

Her novels include The Spoiler, Hame, and Nightshade.

At the Guardian, McFee tagged five of the best books about female artists. One of the novels on the list:
John Updike trained as an artist and turned his observational gifts to fiction, using words with the gorgeous precision of the finest sable brush. In Seek My Face, his meta-subject is American art since the 1940s, but the focus is a female painter, Hope Chafetz, unfairly but predictably known less for her work than for the men she married (two celebrated artists). There is a roman-à-clef element, summoning echoes of Lee Krasner impatiently batting away questions about Jackson Pollock, as Updike’s elderly painter is interviewed by a thrusting young female art historian. It’s hard to detect in Updike’s extraordinary portrayal of both women the die-hard misogynist depicted by recent critics. He’s as good on female ageing as he is on art, and behind the unsparing observations of humanity, with all its flaws and vulnerabilities, lies a rueful compassion.

“All a woman does for a man ...” Hope reflects, “is secondary, inessential. Art was what these men had loved – that is, themselves.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Six current architecturally inspired novels

Suzanne Redfearn is the award-winning author of three novels: Hush Little Baby, No Ordinary Life, and In An Instant. Born and raised on the east coast, Redfearn moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband where they own two restaurants: Lumberyard and Slice Pizza & Beer.

In addition to being an author, Redfearn is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design.

At CrimeReads, Redfearn tagged "six current novels in which architecture plays an important role," including:
Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow is based entirely in Moscow’s famed Hotel Metropol, an art noveau landmark, where a Russian aristocrat, Count Rostov, has been sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life. Since the novel’s blockbuster success, the hotel has begun offering tours so fans can follow in the count’s footsteps and also offers “A Gentleman in Moscow” package complete with a stay in the Count’s room, drinks at “the Shalyapin bar,” dinner consisting of the Count’s favorite meals, and breakfast by the hotel’s fountain at the Piazza, which was an important spot in the novel: “…the Piazza did not aspire to elegance, service, or subtlety. With eighty tables scattered around a marble fountain and a menu offering everything from cabbage piroghi to cutlets of veal, the Piazza was meant to be an extension of the city—of its gardens, markets, and thoroughfares…where the lone diner seated under the great glass ceiling could indulge himself in admiration, indignation, suspicion, and laughter without getting up from his chair.” How wonderful it would be to sit under that glorious glass ceiling and experience the novel in such a unique and immersive way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 20, 2020

Nine bad mothers in fiction

Sarah Vaughan is a former Guardian journalist - news reporter and political correspondent - who always wanted to write fiction.

Her latest novel, Little Disasters, is a psychological drama about the challenges of motherhood.

At the Waterstones blog Vaughan tagged nine of "her favourite malicious, malevolent and muddle-headed mothers in literature," including:
Adèle in Adèle by Leila Slimani

Leila Slimani’s eponymous heroine, like Anna in Jill Alexander Essbaum’s Hausfrau, has been seen as a modern Emma Bovary. But Adèle is far more narcissistic and her addiction to often dangerous sex with strangers – she ends up asking two drug addicts to smash her genitals – means she is all too ready to abandon three-year-old Lucien. “Lucien is a burden, a constraint that she struggles to get used to… Adele isn’t sure where her love for her son fits in among all her other jumbled feelings: panic when she has to leave him with someone else; annoyance at having to dress him; exhaustion from pushing his recalcitrant buggy up the hill.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Ten top books about boarding school

James Scudamore is the author of the novels English Monsters, Wreaking, Heliopolis and The Amnesia Clinic. He has received the Somerset Maugham Award and been nominated for the Costa First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Man Booker Prize.

At the Guardian he tagged ten top books about boarding school, including:
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

At 14, Lee Fiora becomes fascinated with boarding schools while researching the subject at her local public library. She falls for the handsome boys in the prospectuses she sends away for and ends up, to the mystification of her parents, on a scholarship to the prestigious Ault school in Massachusetts. The environment here is as preppy as it gets – the characters have names such as Cross Sugarman and Gates Medkowski – but the stew of adolescent fears and desires the novel depicts is universal.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Prep is among Caroline Zancan's eight stories about what really happens on campus, Lucy Worsley's six best books, and James Browning's ten best boarding school books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Ten great works of historical fiction for Hilary Mantel fans

At Lit Hub, Emily Temple tagged ten great historical novels that pick up on the themes or forms of Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy in some way, including:
David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Another book to pick up if you love gorgeous prose and being dunked into an immersive narrative in a far flung land (and time). I remember reading this one, which begins in a Dutch trading post in 1799 Nagasaki and is packed to the gills both with detail and with emotion, on the sidewalk on my way to work when it first came out, unable to pause even to look where I was going. Also one of our favorite novels of the decade.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is among Lloyd Shepherd's top ten weird histories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Books to enjoy while in quarantine

Lois Beckett is a senior reporter at the Guardian covering gun policy, criminal justice and the far right in the United States. She compiled a list of "some of the brilliant pandemic novels that everyone is talking about, and some novels about being alone... [and] some comfort reads, and poetry, and books about people being thoughtful and useful and kind," including:
The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

In this 1992 novel by one of America’s most acclaimed science fiction writers, a graduate student who is part of a time-traveling history research group at Oxford is sent on an expedition to the Middle Ages and ends up in the middle of the Black Plague. Meanwhile, an epidemic is also spreading in mid-21st-century England. Have the time-traveling researchers infected their contemporary world?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Doomsday Book is among María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards's five books with female protagonists you'll love if you hate romances and Charlie Jane Anders's fifteen moments from science fiction and fantasy that will make absolutely anyone cry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 16, 2020

Six amazing books recommended by Anne Enright

Anne Enright's latest novel is Actress.

The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize and The Forgotten Waltz won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

In 2015 she was named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction.

Enright lives in Dublin.

At The Week magazine she tagged six amazing novels, including:
Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987).

The story of an escaped slave and her murdered daughter, this novel contains wrenching truths. Beloved is not just a work of literary genius; it also improves our understanding of what it means to be human. Morrison brought us all that bit further along.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beloved also appears on Candice Carty-Williams's list of six heroic women in literature, Kate Racculia's list of ten gothic fiction titles that meant something to her, Emily Temple's list of the ten books that defined the 1980s, Megan Abbott's list of six of the best books based on true crimes, Melba Pattillo Beals's 6 favorite books list, Sarah Porter's list of five favorite books featuring psychological hauntings, Matthew Fellion and Katherine Inglis' list of ten books that were subject to silencing or censorship, Jeff Somers's list of ten fictional characters based on real people, Christopher Barzak's top five list of books about magical families, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's ten top list of wartime love stories, Judith Claire Mitchell's list of ten of the best (unconventional) ghosts in literature, Kelly Link's list of four books that changed her, a list of four books that changed Libby Gleeson, The Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Elif Shafak's top five list of fictional mothers, Charlie Jane Anders's list of ten great books you didn't know were science fiction or fantasy, Peter Dimock's top ten list of books that challenge what we think we know as "history", Stuart Evers's top ten list of homes in literature, David W. Blight's list of five outstanding novels on the Civil War era, John Mullan's list of ten of the best births in literature, Kit Whitfield's top ten list of genre-defying novels, and at the top of one list of contenders for the title of the single best work of American fiction published in the last twenty-five years.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Five notable books featuring AI

Len Vlahos is the owner of the Tattered Cover in Colorado. He is the author of The Scar Boys, Scar Girl, and Life in a Fishbowl.

His new book is Hard Wired.

At Tor.com, Vlahos tagged "three books where AI doesn’t take over the world, and two where they kind of do," including:
Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Sea of Rust is definitely a book where AI take over the world. In fact, the last human crawls out of the sewers and dies on page two. Boom.

Decades later, the robots in Sea of Rust, led by a scavenger name Brittle, are battling a massive, hive-mind artificial intelligence to protect their individual freedom. The bots grapple with moral dilemmas, painful memories of the brutality they unleashed on humans, and what it means to be a living, thinking person. (A person, not a human.) These philosophical musings are encased in an adventure story that reads like a bad-ass android Western.

This is one of the books—along with Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and Otherworld (by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller)—that directly influenced the writing of Hard Wired, my own take on AI. Thanks C. Robert!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The 34 essential crime novels of Los Angeles

Born and raised in Reno, NV, Katie Orphan eventually made her way to Los Angeles via Spokane, WA, where she earned her B.A. from Whitworth University and Sheffield, UK, where she earned her M.A. from the University of Sheffield. She managed the Last Bookstore, located in downtown Los Angeles, for a decade. She now owns her own business, Orphan Books, Inc., and if you ever need help putting together a home library, set/prop library, or a bookstore, she’s your gal.

Her writing can be found on LitHub and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and interviews with her can be found in publications such as the New York Times and Open Skies magazine, as well as with Los Angeles’s CBS, WB, and NBC affiliates. Her debut book, Read Me, Los Angeles: Exploring L.A.'s Book Culture is now out.

At CrimeReads, Orphan tagged "34 novels every lover of LA Noir should read as soon as humanly possible," including:
Kind of Blue, Miles Corwin (2010)

A former Los Angeles Times crime reporter successfully turns his writing talent to the story of a jazz-loving, Jewish LAPD detective.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Kind of Blue.

My Book, The Movie: Kind of Blue.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 13, 2020

Five female-authored horror and horror-adjacent novels

Alma Katsu is the author of The Hunger, a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party with a horror twist. The Hunger made NPR’s list of the 100 Best Horror Stories, was named one of the best novels of 2018 by the Observer, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books (and more), and was nominated for a Stoker and Locus Award for best horror novel.

The Taker, her debut novel, has been compared to the early works of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for combining historical, the supernatural, and fantasy into one story. The Taker was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by Booklist, was nominated for a Goodreads Readers Choice award, and has been published in over 10 languages. It is the first in an award-winning trilogy that includes The Reckoning and The Descent.

Katsu's new novel is The Deep.

At SYFY Fangirls she tagged five "female-authored horror and horror-adjacent novels she's loved," including:
The bestselling author of Angelology is back with a new novel that combines history, horror, and science in a thoroughly entertaining and unexpected way. It seems that Alberta 'Bert' Monte’s prayers are being answered when she finds out she's the last of a wealthy European noble family. In order to receive her inheritance, however, she has to visit the family estate in a remote mountaintop in the Alps. In short order, Bert finds she's trapped and has no choice but to figure out what secrets her family has been keeping. It's from this point that the novel goes in a completely unexpected and daring direction. You'll never look at genealogy in the same way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Five books set in a fantastical America

Sara Holland is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Everless, Evermore, and most recently Havenfall.

At Tor.com she tagged five novels set in a fantastical America, including:
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

In the pressure-cooker environment of a Bay Area prep school, high-achieving sixteen-year-old Genie Lo will do whatever it takes to get into Harvard. But her plans are disrupted when she discovers that she is the reincarnation of an ancient weapon belonging to the Monkey King of Chinese mythology; furthermore, the obnoxious but cute new boy at school, Quentin, is in fact the manifestation of Sun Wukong himself. Oh, and there’s been a jailbreak in hell. A host of terrifying demons have escaped, and Genie must quickly get a handle on her newfound powers in order to dispatch them back. Yet she can’t defer her day-to-day responsibilities just because she’s singlehandedly responsible for saving the world–a mood that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever lost sleep over college applications. In between learning her abilities and kicking demon butt, she has to keep her grades up, deal with friend and family drama, and navigate the push-pull chemistry she feels with Quentin. The pace is breakneck, and Genie’s fabulously dry, sarcastic humor keeps things from feeling too heavy, even when the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Eight notable seaside mysteries

Jo Jakeman was the winner of the Friday Night Live competition at the York Festival of Writing in 2016. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in London before moving to the countryside with her husband and twin boys.

Jakeman's new novel is Safe House.

At CrimeReads, she tagged eight favorite seaside mysteries, including:
My Absolute Darling – Gabriel Tallent

This is a disturbing and challenging read set on the remote West Coast of America among the coastal communities of hippies and locals. Turtle Alveston lives a survivalist lifestyle manufactured by her overbearing father, Martin, in an isolated farmhouse where he controls, manipulates and abuses her. When Turtle begins to question her reality and forge friendships, Martin’s evil escalates to the point where she has to confront him. Her skills in survival and the strength of her will are turned against Martin. The sense of place, isolation and the sheer strength of the lead character make this, despite the difficulty of the subject matter, an ultimately inspiring read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Five gothic love stories

Jane Healey studied writing in the MFA program at CUNY Brooklyn College. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize, the Costa Short Story Award, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She lives in Edinburgh.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor is Healey's debut novel.

At the Waterstones blog, she tagged five favorite gothic romances, including:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I was named after Charlotte Brontë’s heroine so I’m naturally biased towards this extraordinary novel – although the ghostly presence in the Red Room meant that I was too frightened to read beyond the second chapter until I was an adult. The wilds of the moors and the eerie occurrences at Thornfield Hall are unforgettable but it is Jane’s stubborn sense of self-worth against a world that has starved her of affection and care that makes this love story so memorable. Jane wants Rochester on equal standing or not at all, insisting ‘I have as much soul as you, and full as much heart.’

A book to savour, to read in the small hours wrapped in a warm blanket while the rest of the house is asleep.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Annaleese Jochems's list of the great third wheels of literature, Sara Collins's list of six of fiction's best bad women, Sophie Hannah's list of fifteen top books with a twist, E. Lockhart's list of five favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” Sophie Hannah's top ten list of twists in fiction, Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 9, 2020

Six life-changing books

Glennon Doyle is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Love Warrior, an Oprah’s Book Club selection, as well as the New York Times bestseller Carry On, Warrior. An activist, speaker, and thought leader, she is also the founder and president of Together Rising, an all-women led nonprofit organization that has revolutionized grassroots philanthropy—raising over $20 million for women, families, and children in crisis, with a most frequent donation of just $25. Doyle was named among OWN Network’s SuperSoul 100 inaugural group as one of 100 “awakened leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity.” She lives in Florida with her wife and three children.

Her new memoir is Untamed.

At The Week magazine, Doyle tagged six "soulful, life-changing" books, including:
Know My Name by Chanel Miller (2019).

I sat down to read this memoir intending to bear witness to the story of a survivor of sexual assault. Instead, I found myself falling into the hands of one of the great writers and thinkers of our time. Miller is a philosopher, a cultural critic, a deep observer, a writer's writer, and an artist. If we are lucky, this will be the first of many world-changing pieces of art that this woman produces.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Sixteen of the most perfect murders in crime fiction

Peter Swanson's new novel is Eight Perfect Murders.

The murders of title refer to a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders compiled years ago by bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History.

At CrimeReads, Swanson tagged eight more books which nearly made the original list, including:
Deep Water (1957) by Patricia Highsmith

Much happens in this artful Highsmith portrait of a suburban couple, but an early murder, enacted in a swimming pool, is what made me pick this book. Drowning by murder seems like the type of act that would easily be mistaken as an accident. And drowning by murder at a drunken cocktail party makes it even better.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Seven books that will help you understand coronavirus

Jeva Lange is the culture critic at TheWeek.com.

At The Week magazine she tagged seven favorite books that "give us a chance to better understand what's unfolding now with COVID-19," including:
Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It, by Gina Kolata

Flu is one of my favorite books, an immensely digestible account of the 1918 influenza epidemic that, by some estimates, killed as many as 50 million people worldwide, "equivalent in proportion to 200 million in today's global population." Like this year's outbreak, the 1918 flu was a novel coronavirus, but New York Times reporter Gina Kolata's 2001 investigation reads more like a whodunit than a science book. "This is a detective story," explains the opening chapter's epigraph from molecular pathologist Jeffery Taubenberger. "Here was a mass murderer that was around 80 years ago and who's never been brought to justice. And what we're trying to do is find the murderer." What's especially worrying is that the modern coronavirus in many ways already seems to resemble the 1918 flu, with its mortality rate estimated to be about 2 percent, roughly the same as its devastating precursor. In Flu, you'll learn what it really means when the New England Journal of Medicine asks, "Are we seeing a replay of 1918?"
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue