Monday, August 31, 2020

Ten thrilling fictional mothers

Jenny Milchman's books include Cover of Snow, Ruin Falls, As Night Falls, and The Second Mother.

One of the author's ten top thrilling books in which mothers are the driving force, as shared at The Strand Magazine:
Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

Twenty-something Rose is missing. Her sister Violet is miserable, hospitalized, and depressed. And little brother Will just wants to please the woman who birthed them all. As water shapes rock, and wind stunts trees, so does the pathological narcissism of this matriarch warp and twist her children’s lives. The novel plumbs the dark depths at the core of the most ubiquitous unit in society. The family.

Read about the other entries on the list

Also see Heather Gudenkauf's eight favorite novels about fierce mothers-to-be, Sarah Vaughan's nine fictional bad mothers in fiction, Evelyn Toynton’s eight novels with monstrous mothers, and Nicole Hill's ten best moms in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Six books that could only take place at the seashore

S J Watson’s first novel, Before I Go To Sleep, became a phenomenal international success and has now sold over 6,000,000 copies worldwide. It won the Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Debut Novel and the Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year and has been translated into more than 40 languages.

The film of the book, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong, and directed by Rowan Joffe, was released in September 2014.

Watson’s second novel, Second Life, a psychological thriller, was published to acclaim in 2015.

His new novel is Final Cut.

At CrimeReads, Watson tagged six "books set by the sea and which couldn’t be set elsewhere." One title on the list:
Brighton Rock, Graham Greene

Greene’s classic novel was published in 1938 and has been filmed twice. It’s a tense masterpiece, a thriller which sees classic anti-hero Pinkie striving to cover up his part in a gangland murder. To do this he must silence the sweetly innocent Rose, either by marriage (back then a woman could not be forced to testify against her husband) or death. Standing in his way is Ida, who is determined to find out the truth behind her friend’s murder and save Rose, first from Pinkie, and then from herself. Catholicism and guilt run through the novel, too, and it’s Pinkie who eventually learns that the hell he’s been fearing all his life might actually exist here on earth. If you haven’t read it, rectify that immediately.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brighton Rock is among Danny Denton's ten best bad girls and boys in books, Peter James's six best books and top ten books about Brighton, Lucy Worsley's ten best fictional detectives, Alex Barclay's top ten psychological thrillers, and Linda Grant's five best books with novel approaches to kindness.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Seven books about being young and messy in New York

Greg Mania is a writer, comedian, and award-winning screenwriter based in New York City. His words have been published in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, O, The Oprah Magazine, PAPER, HuffPost, Out, BOMB, Electric Literature, among other international online and print platforms.

His debut memoir is Born to Be Public.

At Electric Lit, Mania tagged seven titles about being young and messy in New York, including:
Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent

My first apartment was in East Harlem. I’d take long walks to the Barnes & Noble on 86th Street and sit my broke ass down to read whole books from the humor section. Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse was one of those books. Like Nugent, I, too, was a 20-something college graduate navigating adulthood with the same finesse I would possess at pole vault. Did the employees at the Upper East Side Barnes & Noble start to recognize me and cast looks of pity in my direction? Yes. But it was worth it, because this book made a confusing time in my life a little less lonely.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 28, 2020

Eight dark thrillers with even darker antagonists

Michael Laurence was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado to an engineer and a teacher, who kindled his passions for science and history. He studied biology and creative writing at the University of Colorado and holds multiple advanced certifications in medical imaging. Before achieving his lifelong dream of becoming a full-time author, he worked as an x-ray/CT/MRI technologist and clinical instructor.

Laurence's latest thriller is The Annihilation Protocol.

At CrimeReads he tagged eight dark thrillers with unforgettable villains, including:
Orphan Y from Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

Orphan X—Evan Smoak—is a character seemingly without weakness, which means that his nemesis needs to be a supervillain like Charles Van Sciver, who can outthink, outmaneuver, and physically outmatch even a perfect protagonist. Unflinchingly cruel, Orphan Y’s sole reason for living is hunting Orphan X to the ends of the earth and putting him in the ground, serving as judge, jury, and executioner for a man he’s known since they were adopted from the same orphanage as children. Trained for black ops missions by shadowy government forces and gifted with a flair for sadism, he’s a true archetypal villain for the modern technological era.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Ten top books about Florence

Christobel Kent was born in London and grew up in London and Essex, including a stint on the Essex coast on a Thames barge with three siblings and four step-siblings, before reading English at Cambridge. She has worked in publishing and TEFL teaching, and has lived in Modena, in northern Italy, and in Florence.

Kent is the author of The Viper, the latest in the Florentine Sandro Cellini series and Sunday Times bestseller The Loving Husband, among other thrillers.

At the Guardian she tagged ten of her favorite books about Florence, including:
The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici by Christopher Hibbert

The history of Florence is inextricable from the story of the ruthless, brilliant family that drove it to prominence and dominated its politics for 300 years, and Hibbert’s history is tremendous: informative, exciting and involving. With its vivid character sketches and gossipy detail of pageants, poisonings, art, sex and architecture, it adds depth and dimension to even the most casual stroll through the city. The Folio Society’s edition has a deliciously patrician introduction by Harold Acton.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Eight thrillers that turn home into a place of mortal danger

Karen Dionne is the USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of The Marsh King’s Daughter, a psychological suspense novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the U.S. and in 25 other languages.

Her new psychological suspense novel is The Wicked Sister.

At CrimeReads Dionne tagged eight favorite that "turn the characters’ homes from a place of safety into a place of mortal danger," including:
Out, by John Smolens

Del Maki is recovering from hip surgery when a very pregnant home health care nurse visits him at his isolated cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness on the eve of an epic snowstorm. That this novel takes place in an area I know well and love isn’t the only reason it’s first on my list. Dangers from the storm, dangers from the unsavory characters who end up sheltering at the cabin—it’s clear from the first pages that this story is not going to end well.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Nine novels about nannies for grown-up “Baby-Sitters Club” fans

Preety Sidhu and Jae-Yeon Yoo are interns at Electric Literature. They tagged nine books that tackle the nanny novel from a variety of angles, including:
Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

This 1990 coming-of-age novella by Kincaid is now considered a postcolonial feminist classic. Lucy comes to the U.S. from the West Indies to work as an au pair for a wealthy white family. However, she soon starts to notice that neither the U.S. nor the family are as flawless as they initially appeared. She also struggles to communicate with her own mother, who is steeped in traditional values that Lucy is trying to escape.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lucy is among Nigella Lawson's ten favorite books and several books that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 24, 2020

Five novels featuring parenting gone wild

Pamela Crane is a professional juggler. Not one who can toss flaming torches in the air (though how cool would that be?), but a juggler of four kids, a writing addiction, a horse rescuer, and a book editor by trade. Her USA Today best-selling books unravel flawed women—some she knows, some she creates.

Crane's new novel is Pretty Ugly Lies.

At CrimeReads she tagged five novels powered by the unpredictability of childrearing, including:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Oh, the mama drama found in this witty take on parents behaving badly. Three women’s lives interconnect as Madeline, Celeste, and Jane’s kids all go to the same elementary school. Yet beyond the schoolyard where the biggest issue is who bit whom, their lives are littered with secrets and scandal that end in death.

Parenthood is the perfect primer for a riveting thriller. Anyone with kids knows that the day-to-day chaos with children can drive you homicidal (just me?). From one parent to another, I won’t judge you, but feel free to tell me about your child’s plot-worthy antics and you might just see them in my next book!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Big Little Lies is among Michelle Frances's eight top workplace thrillers and Jeff Somers's teen novels that teach you something about marriage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Ten books about the importance of the postal service

Jae-Yeon Yoo is a volunteer intern at Electric Literature.

She tagged "ten books in which letters and the postal service—or lack thereof—play a crucial role." One title on the list:
There’s Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality by Philip F. Rubio

The Postal Service was the first public service to hire women and Black workers, and continues to have one of the most diverse workforces today. There’s Always Work at the Post Office highlights the stories of Black postal workers, and the ways in which they fought for a more equal work environment. A history professor and former postal worker, Philip Rubio shows how civil rights movements and Black labor protest traditions combined to help establish postal unions in 1971. For another analytic look that discusses how gender, race, and class play out within the USPS, try Linda B. Benbow’s Sorting Letters, Sorting Lives: Delivering Diversity in the United States Postal Service.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Five flawed characters you’ll learn to appreciate

Amy Stuart is the #1 bestselling author of three novels, Still Mine, Still Water, and Still Here. Shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel Award and winner of the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Fiction Competition, Stuart is the founder of Writerscape, an online community for hopeful and emerging writers. She lives in Toronto with her husband and their three sons.

At CrimeReads, Stuart tagged "five thrilling novels with deeply flawed fictional characters we know you’ll learn to appreciate as you turn the pages." One title on the list:
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

In this literary thriller, Celeste Ng pulls off a perfect coup in forcing the reader to shift allegiances between an entire cast of unlikeable, and yet uncomfortably relatable, characters. Mia Warren and Elena Richardson couldn’t be more different, so when their lives collide in the cozy Ohio suburbia of Shaker Heights, the reader quickly recognizes that both women are deeply flawed. At the core of our human nature is the understanding that we’re all capable of terrible or underhanded things in the name of protecting or avenging those we love, and this novel capitalizes on that truth in big ways. As the story moves forward, Ng delves far enough into both Mia and Elena’s pasts to tell us why they are the way they are, and even build some empathy for them. Recently adapted into a TV series by Reese Witherspoon, Little Fires Everywhere is no doubt a read-the-book first proposition.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Fires Everywhere is among Kate Hamer's top ten teenage friendships in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 21, 2020

Nine books by women writers about disreputable women

Iris Martin Cohen grew up in the French Quarter of New Orleans. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and studied Creative Nonfiction at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She is the author of The Little Clan (2018). Her new novel is Last Call on Decatur Street. She lives in Brooklyn.

[Q&A with Iris Martin Cohen; The Page 69 Test: Last Call on Decatur Street; My Book, The Movie: Last Call on Decatur Street]

At Electric Lit she tagged nine favorite books about disreputable women by women writers, including:
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

Arafat’s unnamed narrator is a wild girl in recovery from drugs, alcohol, an eating disorder, and love addiction. Not only is the writing of this recent debut just exquisite, but she plumbs the inner life, the cause and effects, of why some girls seek to lose themselves in this kind of wild disorder. I was so grateful to have the perspective of a queer woman of color speaking on these tropes. Also, a perfect title. I would bet every character and writer on this list would second that feeling.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Seven novels that use weather to enhance the suspense

Jody Gehrman is a native of Northern California, where she can be found writing, teaching, reading, or obsessing over her three cats most days. She is also the author of numerous award-winning plays and novels, including The Girls Weekend.

Her Young Adult novel Babe in Boyland was optioned by the Disney Channel and won the International Reading Association's Teen Choice Award.

Gehrman's plays have been produced in Ashland, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and L.A. She and her partner David Wolf won the New Generation Playwrights Award for their one-act, Jake Savage, Jungle P.I.

She is a professor of English and Communications at Mendocino College.

At CrimeReads, Gehrman tagged seven favorite "books that use the weather beautifully to enhance the reader’s sense of imminent danger," including:
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I love the premise of this, and I don’t mind admitting it was a major inspiration for my own novel. A handful of friends, some of them estranged, gather in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Clare, the guest of honor. It takes place in November, and Ware makes you feel the cold in your bones as the danger creeps in. Atmospheric and brooding, cleverly plotted, this book will have you shivering with pleasure even in the midst of a heat wave.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Ten notable cousins in fiction

Jude Cook is the author of Byron Easy, which was published by Heinemann in 2013. He writes for the Guardian, The Spectator, Literary Review, New Statesman, TLS and the i paper, while his essays and short fiction have appeared in Stockholm Review, The Moth, The Tangerine and The Honest Ulsterman, among others. In 2017, he was longlisted for the Pin Drop RA short story award, and in 2018 for the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award. He is an editor for The Literary Consultancy and teaches creative writing at the University of Westminster. He lives in London.

Cook's new novel is Jacob's Advice.

At the Guardian he tagged ten top cousins in fiction, including:
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Another cousin novel with war as its backdrop, How I Live Now is a model of simplicity in comparison to the Cazelets’ byzantine adventures. Daisy is 15 when her father sends her away to live with her four cousins in their extensive country residence. When she falls in love with her cousin Edmond (perhaps an allusion to Austen’s novel) and his “quizzical wise-dog gaze”, she’s forced to negotiate adult emotions for the first time. An engaging debut novel with YA appeal.

Read about the other entries on the list.

How I Live Now is among Melissa Albert's top eight books for Divergent fans.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten California crime novels that aren't set in Los Angeles or San Francisco

Johnny Shaw’s novels have been set in the California settings of Indio, Calexico, Thermal, Holtville, Blythe, El Centro, Plaster City, and Campo. His most recent novel, The Southland, is hypocritically set in Los Angeles.

At CrimeReads, Shaw tagged ten favorite California crime novels that aren't set in Los Angeles or San Francisco. One title on the list:
FAT CITY by Leonard Gardner (1969)

The least crimey of the crime novels on this list, but damn if it isn’t one of my favorite books. The city of Stockton is as much of a character as any person in this book. Arguably one of the best boxing novels ever written, the story follows two fighters: one at the beginning of his journey, the other toward the end. It’s the heart of working class fiction, from the onion fields to the boxing ring and should be on every reader’s shelf. The John Huston adaptation of the book might also be the best boxing movie ever made.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Fat City is among Beth Raymer's six favorite books and Markus Zusak's top ten boxing books.

Gerald Haslam nominated Fat City as the Great California Novel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Five top books to build mental resilience

Matt Haig is an author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 40 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning How To Stop Time, The Radleys and The Humans.

Haig's new book is The Midnight Library.

At the Guardian he tagged five books that helped him to build mental resilience, including:
Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha is the story of a man’s spiritual awakening at the time of the Gautama Buddha, but also serves as a guide to life. First published in 1922, it was translated into English in 1951 and became a countercultural classic among hippies in the 60s. It is full of wise nuggets on the themes of spirituality and acceptance: “I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Siddhartha is among Jason Segel's six favorite books, Linus Roache's six best books, and Robert Irwin's top ten quest narratives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 17, 2020

Six books on loss and longing

Karolina Waclawiak is the author of the novels How to Get into the Twin Palms, The Invaders, and Life Events.

At The Week magazine she tagged six favorite books on loss and longing. One title on the list:
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005).

Didion's seminal book on grief is a clear-eyed description of losing oneself after losing a loved one. In the aftermath of the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, Didion examines grief with unflinching precision. In doing so, she provides a road map of a profound loss of control that is both revelatory and hypnotic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Year of Magical Thinking is among Tara Westover's top four inspirational memoirs, Mark Whitaker's six favorite memoirs, Adam Haslett's five best deathless accounts of mourning, Douglas Kennedy's top ten books about grief, and Norris Church Mailer's five best memoirs. It is a book that made a difference to Samantha Bee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Eight of the best non-human narrators in fiction

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches in the English Department at DePaul University, and her most recent books include the national best-seller, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (2017) and The Listening Room: A Novel of Georgette and Loulou Magritte (2018). Her new novel, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, is based on a true story of the Great War.

At Lit Hub, Rooney tagged eight books that "send messages and promises to their readers that, far from standing outside of so-called 'nature,' humans are animals too." One title on the list:
Deb Olin Unferth, Barn 8
(Graywolf Press)

A comic and unapologetically political indictment of factory farming, Deb Olin Unferth’s 2020 novel Barn 8 also rotates among various points of view, among them those of the hens at the heart of the heist being plotted by the book’s activists. The two main human characters—Janey and Cleveland, industry egg auditors—plan to liberate almost one million chickens from an atrocious egg farm. In an interview, Unferth explained that “I always wanted a sort of Cubist portrait of what was happening. I wanted many points of view, perspectives, voices, all looking at and talking about this one event: all the hens leaving that farm.” The almost overwhelming, cacophonous heterogeneity of the narration—including a particularly winsome chicken called Bwwaauk—results in a book that achieves Unferth’s aim of causing the reader to expand their taxonomies of personhood: who and what we are willing to grant subjectivity and why.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Seven thrillers about filmmakers & subversive art

Kate Reed Petty's new novel is True Story.

At CrimeReads she tagged "seven thrillers that go behind the camera to expose what the art and craft of filmmaking reveal about how we all think of ourselves and our life stories. One title on the list:
Night Film by Marisha Pessl

The filmmaker in Pessl’s second novel is a reclusive horror auteur, Cordova, whose later films are nearly as mythic as the Hitler porn at the heart of Running Dog. Cordova’s work is so beloved, fans devote their lives (literally) to his work. The book unfolds like a detective story, following a journalist who sets out to investigate the mysterious death of Cordova’s daughter for his own redemption. It’s hard to describe without giving away too much, as the book zips through a parade of dream-like settings, fever dreams, and incredibly vivid and creative twists; it’s propulsive and satisfyingly creepy, and Pessl boldly intersperses found documents to complicate the story. I also learned the word “oubliette” from this novel, which is something I’ll be forever grateful for.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Night Film is among Jeff Somers's four huge books that will hurt your brain—but in a good way.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 14, 2020

Five fantasy novels driven by traumatic family bonds

Jordan Ifueko is a Nigerian-American author of Young Adult fiction. She stans revolutionary girls and 4C curls.

Raybearer is her debut novel.

At she tagged five favorite fantasy titles that expertly explore traumatic family bonds, including:
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli

I include this book because it traumatized me as a young reader, showing just how abusive mother-daughter bonds can go. Zel is a retelling of Rapunzel, from the perspective of Mother, a soft-spoken witch who aches to have a baby—and Zel, the child she manages to procure. It follows the storyline of the original fairy tale, which is significantly grimmer than any Disney iteration (the prince gets blinded by falling into a patch of thorns, and that’s among the least traumatic events in this book), but concentrates heavily on the sincere love that Mother has for Zel, which teeters constantly toward obsession, until it tumbles into emotional (and finally physical) abuse. This classic retelling is not for the faint of heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 13, 2020

The best frenemies in fiction

E. G. Scott is a pseudonym for Elizabeth Keenan and Greg Wands, two writers who have been friends for over twenty-years, and have been writing plays, screenplays, and short stories separately since they were kids. They've collaborated on multiple projects from the beginning of their friendship.

Their new novel is In Case of Emergency.

At CrimeReads they tagged ten "favorite works featuring complex relationships, shifting allegiances, and odd bedfellows galore," including:
Clarice Starling & Dr. Hannibal Lecter
The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris

Sophisticated, charming, polite to a fault… just don’t let him have you for dinner. When clever, ambitious FBI trainee Starling enlists the help of incarcerated serial murderer Lecter—known not-so-affectionately as “Hannibal the Cannibal”—to aid in an active investigation, the two form a unique bond based on mutual respect that sees them through a veritable rollercoaster of a relationship. Come for the psychological gamesmanship, stay for the emotional tenderness.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Silence of The Lambs is among Caroline Louise Walker's six terrifying villain-doctors in fiction, Kathy Reichs's six best books, Matt Suddain's five great meals from literature, Elizabeth Heiter's ten favorite serial killer novels, Jill Boyd's five books with the worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving, Monique Alice's six great fictional evil geniuses, sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Seven novels about studying abroad

Rashi Rohatgi, a Pennsylvania native who lives in Arctic Norway, is the author of Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in A-Minor Magazine, The Misty Review, Boston Accent Lit, Anima, Allegro Poetry, Lunar Poetry, and Boston Accent Lit. Her non-fiction and reviews have appeared in The Review Review, Wasafiri, World Literature Today, Africa in Words, The Aerogram, and The Toast. She is a Bread Loaf Sicily and VONA alumna.

At Electric Lit, Rohatgi tagged seven favorite novels about studying abroad, including:
Paradise of the Blind by Dương Thu Hương, translated by Nina McPherson & Phan Huy Đường

This novel—possibly the most stunningly lyrical I’ve ever read—has been banned in Vietnam for its denouncement of the post-war Vietnamese government, but the story’s present takes place in the USSR. Hang, who’s been forced to leave college and go abroad to make money for her family, struggles to make sense of what she owes her family, who themselves have as many different valuations of what she owes as they do political opinions. Only in her interactions with The Bohemian, a boy she’d had chemistry with back home who’s now a student in Moscow, does she get a respite from responsibility.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Ten exciting crime novels featuring a small-town setting

Poppy Gee's new novel, Vanishing Falls, is set in a fictional rainforest area, near the Liffey Falls, an enchanting three-tiered waterfall beneath the Great Western Tiers in northern Tasmania.

At CrimeReads, the author tagged ten favorite small town mysteries from the US, Canada and Australia, including:
The Dark Lake, by Sarah Bailey (2017)

The folk of close-knit Smithson, a tranquil patch of green among acres of dry farmland in Australia, learn that a killer is among them when Rosalind, a beautiful, popular English teacher is found strangled in the lake. The high school was the last place Rosalind was seen alive, following her staging of a school play. Students and teachers provide the pieces of puzzle to solve the mystery for investigating officer, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock, however the policewoman is concealing her own complicated high school rivalry with the victim. This layered psychological mystery will have you guessing until the end, with a list of suspects that includes Rosalind’s mysterious, wealthy family. While police procedurals are not generally my favourite, this one stands out for its full bodied, intriguing characters. It is a twisty, riveting plot… maybe the lovely Rosalind is not as perfect as everyone thinks.

Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Lake.

My Book, The Movie: The Dark Lake.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 10, 2020

Five of the best books about justice

David Lammy was born in London to Guianese parents and has served as the MP for Tottenham since 2000. He was the first black Briton to study at Harvard Law School and before entering politics practised as a barrister. He served as a minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and his first book, Out of the Ashes: Britain after the Riots, was published to widespread acclaim in 2011.

Lammy's latest book is Tribes: How Our Need to Belong Can Make or Break Society.

At the Guardian, he tagged five of the best books about the legal system:
As cuts [in justice system spending] deepen, the backlog of criminal cases grows, leaving defendants sitting in their cells waiting for a trial. Defendants such as Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death in Alabama in 1988 for killing a white woman, serving six years before his conviction was overturned. In his powerful memoir, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson tells McMillian’s story and recalls his own struggles against injustice as a young lawyer. Thankfully, we do not have the death penalty in the UK. But our backlog of 41,000 criminal cases means some people are being held on remand for an even longer period than they would serve if convicted of their alleged offence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Just Mercy is among Samantha Powers's six recommended books and Brené Brown's six top books that inspire bravery.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Six novels that bring together mystery and time travel

Julie McElwain is a national award-winning journalist. Born and raised in North Dakota, she graduated from North Dakota State University, and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for a fashion trade newspaper.

Her first novel, A Murder In Time, was one of the top 10 picks by the National Librarian Association for its April 2016 book list. The novel was also a finalist for the 2016 Goodreads’ readers choice awards in the Sci-fi category, and made Bustle’s list of 9 Most Addictive Mystery series for 2017.

The series continues Kendra Donovan’s adventures in Regency England with A Twist in Time, Caught in Time, Betrayal in Time, and Shadows in Time.

At CrimeReads McElwain tagged six novels that test the boundaries of time itself, including:
11/22/63, by Stephen King

Traveling back in time with the purpose of changing history—and therefore the future—is an idea that has been explored in movies, TV (the old Twilight Zone had a few thought-provoking episodes on the subject), literature, philosophical discussions, and even in science classes. Yet Stephen King boldly—and brilliantly—explored the concept with perhaps the biggest do-over of all time with our main character, Jake (aka George), trying to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from assassinating John F. Kennedy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

11/22/63 is among Dwyer Murphy's eleven modern classics of conspiracy noir, Peter May's six best books, and Molly Driscoll's top six novels that explore a slightly alternate version of very familiar events.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Seven books about coming of age in a small town

Frances Macken is from Claremorris, County Mayo, Ireland.

She completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford, and also studied film production at the National Film School, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

Macken likes mysteries, twists in the tale, the supernatural, and the unexplained. She especially enjoys developing characters and creating fictional worlds. Her writing is creepy, humorous and experimental. You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here is her first novel of literary fiction.

Macken currently lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books about the adventures and the heartbreaks of becoming an adult, including:
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

Lives of Girls and Women by Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro was first published in 1971. The novel comprises short stories chronicling the life of Del Jordan, a girl growing up in small-town Jubilee, Ontario in the 1940s. Del learns about womanhood from the women she observes in her surroundings, including her mother Addie (with whom she has a strained relationship), various female relatives, and her mother’s boarder Fern. Several feminist themes are explored, including female self-actualization, the relationships between mothers and daughters, and women’s role in society. Del’s formative love relationships also feature, though male characters are only lightly drawn.

Having always felt like an outsider, dissatisfied with small town life and continually seeking meaning, Del will leave Jubilee behind in order to further her own development. The novel is considered to contain several autobiographical elements from Munro’s own life; at the very least, the author grew up in a small town in Ontario, and became a writer, as her lead character Del intends to.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Lives of Girls and Women is among four books that changed Libby Gleeson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 7, 2020

Six crime novels exploring the complexities of relationships between men

USA Today-bestselling author David Bell's newest novel is The Request.

At CrimeReads he tagged six "darkly suspenseful novels that explore some complicated—and dangerous—male friendships," including:
Understand This by Jervey Tervalon

A powerful coming-of-age novel with eight narrators set in South Central LA. The protagonist is Francois, a guy who has some friends who are dealing drugs…and he experiences the temptations of being led down that path and the consequences that come from it. This is a debut novel, and it’s rich, raw, and perfectly written. And it’s about what all great books are about—real people making tough choices, even when sometimes the choice is between the lesser of two evils.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Ten top books about probation

Kate Simants is a writer of psychological thrillers and crime fiction.

After a decade working in the UK television industry, specialising in investigative documentaries, police shows and undercover work, Simants relocated from London to Bristol to concentrate on writing. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Brunel University (2007) and another in Crime Fiction from the University of East Anglia (2018), where she was the recipient of the UEA Literary Festival Scholarship. Her first novel Lock Me In was shortlisted for the 2015 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, and is published by HarperCollins.

Simants won the 2019 Bath Novel Award with her second novel The Knocks, which is now published under the title A Ruined Girl.

At the Guardian, Simants tagged ten rich, human stories in the space between prison and the rest of life, including:
Slow Motion Riot by Peter Blauner

Steve Baum, a Harlem probation officer during the 1980s crack epidemic, shares a lot with my protagonist. Both suspect they’re fighting a losing battle, but refuse to let go of hope. As Baum puts it: “Here’s the secret, which I almost never say out loud: Every once in a while, you might just turn one of these guys around.” In this pacey, compassionate thriller, Blauner explores the conflict between intention and reality in Baum’s work.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue