Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Thirteen titles highlighting the wives in domestic suspense

Kaira Rouda is an award–winning USA Today bestselling author whose novels of domestic suspense include The Favorite Daughter, Best Day Ever, All the Difference, and the newly released The Next Wife.

At CrimeReads she tagged thirteen thrillers featuring captivating wives, including:
The Wife by Alafair Burke

Ah, the lifestyles of the rich and famous, East Hampton and Manhattan style. Angela and Jason Powell have it all. And now, Jason’s career has made him famous, a spotlight his wife worked carefully to avoid. When allegations begin to come forward against her husband, Angela must make the impossible choice: defend her husband or save herself. But is her husband really worth it? This is a sneaky, subtle story that will grip you from beginning to end.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Wife is among Margot Hunt's nine thrillers featuring untrustworthy spouses and Jessica Knoll's ten top dark thrillers.

The Page 69 Test: The Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 10, 2021

Five SFF books with island settings

Makiia Lucier grew up on the Pacific island of Guam and has degrees in journalism and library science from the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Her books have appeared on many notable lists, including the Kids’ Indie Next, the American Booksellers Association’s ‘Best Books for Children,’ and the American Library Association’s ‘Best Fiction for Young Adults.’ A Death-Struck Year, her debut novel, is set in Portland, Oregon during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. The world of St. John del Mar, in which Isle of Blood and Stone and Song of the Abyss take place, was inspired by a childhood love of the Indiana Jones movies, as well as a lifelong fascination with old, old maps.

Lucier's forthcoming YA fantasy, Year Of The Reaper, hits bookstores on November 9, 2021.

At Tor.com Lucier tagged five favorite SFF books with island settings, including:
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

“It is very hard to be human, little fox. Even the humans themselves don’t do a great job of it.”

In this Japanese-inspired fantasy, Yumeko is a half-human, half-fox raised by the monks of the Silent Winds Temple. The monks have in their possession part of an ancient scroll that, when made whole, will summon the Great Kami dragon from the sea and grant its possessor a single wish. When her guardians are murdered by demons searching for the scroll, Yumeko manages to escape, only to tumble directly into the path of a brooding young samurai, one who may end up being her fiercest protector, or her deadliest enemy.

Shadow of the Fox is a fun start to the trilogy (see also Soul of the Sword and Night of the Dragon), filled with evil courtesans, sinister assassins, and some seriously scary fantastical creatures.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Seven books that redefine the modern flâneuse

Kavita Bedford is an Australian-Indian writer with a background in journalism, anthropology and literature.

Her writing has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian and she was a recent Churchill Fellow exploring migrant narratives. She works and teaches in Sydney in media and global studies.

Friends and Dark Shapes is her first novel.

At LitHub Bedford tagged seven books that by their very nature question the subgenre of the flâneur novel, including:
Bryan Washington, Lot

This honest, punchy writing from Washington serves as a wake-up call. Lot showed me that the pace of the sauntering flâneur must change depending on the needs of who is doing the narrating and that it is possible to write about cities with a brutal immediacy. Washington explores the temporary, uncertain existences of those who live in the margins of different districts in Houston. He offers queer perspectives on place and what makes a community, a family, and a life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Nine stories about mother-son relationships

Keisha Bush was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her MFA in creative writing from The New School, where she was a Riggio Honors Teaching Fellow and recipient of an NSPE Dean’s Scholarship. After a career in corporate finance and international development that brought her to live in Dakar, Senegal, she decided to focus full-time on her writing. She lives in East Harlem.

Bush's new novel is No Heaven For Good Boys.

[My Book, The Movie: No Heaven for Good BoysThe Page 69 Test: No Heaven for Good Boys]

At Electric Lit she tagged nine "books, movies, and albums on the bond between boys and their moms," including:
Mama Phife Represents: A Verse Memoir by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

A mother grapples with the loss of her son, and reflects on motherhood. In the way Maps is an ode to [John] Freeman’s mother, Mama Phife writes to the son she has lost. “Grief is a dangerous widow,” she states and at one point poses the question, “honey when will the sun return?” In the scarce pages of this epic poem, we come to understand and see the writer’s grief in a way that anyone who has lost a loved one can recognize but may have struggled to put into words, and allows the reader to acknowledge that grief is universal and does not play favorites.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 7, 2021

Seven literary murderers hiding behind masks

Clare Whitfield is a UK-based writer living in a suburb where the main cultural landmark is a home store/Starbucks combo. She is the wife of a tattoo artist, mother of a small benign dictator and relies on a black Labrador for emotional stability. She has been a dancer, copywriter, amateur fire breather, buyer and mediocre weight lifter.

People of Abandoned Character is her first novel.

At CrimeReads Whitfield tagged seven literary murderers who inspired her novel, in which "everyone is potentially masquerading as something or someone else." One entry on the list:
Annie Wilkes, Misery by Stephen King

Played brilliantly by Kathy Bates in the movie that followed three years after the 1987 novel, Annie couldn’t be a nicer person. On first impressions we are thankful novelist Paul is miraculously rescued from a car accident by a warm and homely ex-nurse. What could be safer? Annie is a natural caregiver—she can’t even bear profanity, but it doesn’t take long for her frightening temper to reveal itself. Armed with more twee phrases than Ned Flanders, Annie has a seriously dark streak. While Paul is trapped in her care Annie suffers from periodic episodes of dark moods and despair and freaks out over the most minor and unpredictable things, acting out violently. The woman is a nightmare and is the reason I am wary of people who profess to be fans of romance novels.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Misery is among Max Seeck's six most haunting settings in crime fiction, Rula Lenska's six favorite booksJake Kerridge's top ten Stephen King booksJohn Niven's ten best writers in novelsEmerald Fennell's top ten villainesses in literature, and Lesley Glaister’s top ten books about incarceration.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Top 10 books about Colombia

Julianne Pachico was born in 1985 in Cambridge, England. She grew up in Cali, Colombia, where her parents worked in international development as agricultural social scientists.

In 2004 she moved to Portland, Oregon, where she completed her B.A. at Reed College in Comparative Literature. In 2012 she returned to England in order to complete her M.A. in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, where she was a recipient of UEA's Creative Writing International Scholarship. She also holds a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from UEA.

Pachico's latest novel is The Anthill.

At the Guardian she tagged her ten favorite books about Colombia, including:
Fiebre Tropical by Juli Delgado Lopera

Published during the height of the pandemic, Fiebre Tropical is about a teenage girl transplanted from the cold mountains of Bogotá to the strange sweaty world of Miami, a new life of Baptist churches, broken air conditioners and anxious queer love. Narrated in highly inventive Spanglish, the energy and verve of this novel’s voice is a joy to read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Eight books about the power dynamics between parents and their children

Kirstin Valdez Quade is the author of The Five Wounds, her debut novel. Her story collection, Night at the Fiestas, won the John Leonard Prize from the National Book Critics Circle, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, and was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and a best book of 2015 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the American Library Association. Quade is the recipient of the John Guare Writer’s Fund Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor at Princeton.

At Electric Lit Quade tagged "eight books about the power dynamics between parents and their children," including:
House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

Some characters take up residence in your heart. The House of Broken Angels is overflowing and joyful and expansive while also dealing with incredibly painful material, which is to say that it is about the experience of living in a family. The novel follows Big Angel and Little Angel, the oldest and youngest brothers in a family that sprawls across borders and languages and generations. Both Angels live in the shadow of their formidable father, Don Antonio, who shaped their lives with his gusto and abandonments. Big Angel has, his whole life, prepared himself to be a different kind of patriarch, loving and supporting his wife and children and vast, vibrant circle of relatives; by contrast, Little Angel, the much younger half-gringo half-brother, is alone, and approaches his past by studying it academically, as an outsider. Urrea captures how even in the same family, each child inhabits a different country.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Ten of the creepiest gothic novels

Elizabeth Brooks’ debut novel, The Orphan of Salt Winds, was hailed by BuzzFeed as “evocative, gothic, and utterly transportive.” She grew up in Chester, England, graduated from Cambridge University, and resides on the Isle of Man with her husband and two children.

Brooks’ new novel is The Whispering House.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten of the creepiest gothic novels, including:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is celebrated on many grounds: its insightful portrayal of childhood, its passionate proto-feminism, the heart-stopping romance of its central love story, to name but a few. I love it for all these reasons, but I also love it because it is Properly Creepy. I still get goosebumps when I imagine Jane waking at night to the sound of malevolent laughter outside her bedroom door. As with any self-respecting horror story, the reality of Jane’s situation is murky: is Thornfield Hall haunted by a ghost, or a would-be murderer, or is the mystery a trick of Jane’s mind, a symptom of her own dark desires? The scene that stays with me most vividly takes place shortly before Jane’s wedding, when she wakes at night to find an unknown woman standing in front of the mirror, wearing her bridal veil... It’s a gothic masterclass.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Kate Kellaway's list of the best romantic novels that aren’t riddled with cliches, Julia Spiro's list of seven titles told from the perspective of domestic workers, Jane Healey's list of five favorite gothic romances, 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, May 3, 2021

Seven great thrillers that play with the writing form

Amy Suiter Clarke is a writer and communications specialist. Originally from a small town in Minnesota, she completed an undergraduate in theater in the Twin Cities. She then moved to London and earned an MFA in Creative Writing with Publishing at Kingston University. She currently works for a university library in Melbourne, Australia.

Clarke's debut novel is Girl, 11.

[The Page 69 Test: Girl, 11]

At CrimeReads she tagged seven favorite thrillers that play with the writing form, including:
Sadie by Courtney Summers

My book wouldn’t exist in its current form if I hadn’t read Sadie. These days, there are plenty of books that make use of podcast transcripts as part of the narrative, but this was one of the first and still had the strongest impact on me as a reader. The story is told through the perspective of Sadie, a young girl determined to find her sister’s killer, and West McCray, a podcast host working in the near-future on trying to find Sadie after she goes missing. The transcripts are expertly constructed, building the tension to a heart-stopping, astonishing end that I still find myself thinking about years later.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sadie is among Kate McLaughlin's seven top fictional characters who are bent but not broken and Kate Kessler's six top revenge thrillers featuring female protagonists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Seven books on all-women utopias and dystopias

Christina Sweeney-Baird was born in 1993 and grew up in North London and Glasgow. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and graduated with a First in 2015. She works as a corporate litigation lawyer in London.

The End of Men is her first novel.

At Electric Lit Sweeney-Baird tagged "seven books that show, in some way, what a world could look like without men," including:
The Female Man by Joanna Russ

A sci-fi classic, this weird and spiky novel uses multiple, parallel universes to explore gender, reproduction (children are born through the merging of ova), and radical ideas of childcare. One of the four worlds of the novel, Whileaway, is a female-only utopian society in which men supposedly died many hundreds of years ago (starting in “PC 17,” PC being Preceding Catastrophe) from a plague to which women are immune.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Six top revenge novels

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is the author of ten books, including Mother May I, The Almost Sisters, and Never Have I Ever.

[The Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Stopped SwimmingMy Book, The Movie: The Girl Who Stopped SwimmingThe Page 69 Test: Backseat SaintsThe Page 69 Test: A Grown-Up Kind of PrettyThe Page 69 Test: The Opposite of EveryoneMy Book, The Movie: The Opposite of Everyone.]

At CrimeReads Jackson tagged six favorite thrillers and chillers that feature the kind of “getting even” narrative she loves, including:
The Weight of Lies, by Emily Carpenter

What may be my favorite Emily Carpenter book (and this is saying something) begins as a revenge tale about a tell-all expose planned by the neglected daughter of a famous writer. Meg Ashley’s mother was a one hit wonder, and Meg still lives well off the profits of that book. Desperate to separate herself via revenge-memoir, she begins investigating her mother’s life and the real-life events that inspired the cult classic. She soon finds herself embroiled in a decades old murder mystery. The closer Meg gets to solving this crime, the more dangerous things become. Come for the revenge narrative, stay for the Kitten excerpts.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Weight of Lies is among Kim Taylor Blakemore's seven novels featuring the unapologetic woman in the Gothic and Wendy Webb's eight best modern gothic mysteries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 30, 2021

Eight top novels about war-torn love

Gian Sardar studied creative writing at Loyola Marymount University and is the author of the novel You Were Here, as well as the coauthor of the memoir Psychic Junkie. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and insane dog.

Her new novel is Take What You Can Carry.

At Electric Lit Sardar tagged eight favorite novels about war-torn love. One title on the list:
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

In 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forced into the role of tattooing his fellow Jewish prisoners in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. When he meets Gita, Lale discovers a new purpose and a reason to survive. Based on a real story, this is truly love against all odds.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jennifer Ryan called The Tattooist of Auschwitz "heartfelt, inspiring, and even upbeat." Jane Corry said "as soon as I read the first page, I was hooked."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Top 10 books about museums

David Barnett is an author and journalist based in West Yorkshire. After a career working for regional newspapers he embarked upon a freelance career writing features for most of the UK national press. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed Gideon Smith series of Victorian fantasies, published by Tor Books, and teaches journalism part-time at Leeds Trinity University.

Barnett's new novel is The Handover.

At the Guardian he tagged ten favorite books about museums, including:
Still Lives by Maria Hummel

There’s more murderous museum action in this, the 2018 prose debut from the poet. An avant-garde artist, Kim Lord, puts on an exhibition of paintings of herself depicted as victims of notorious murders at LA’s Rocque Museum. It causes a stir in the art world … and even more so when Lord fails to turn up to her own launch event. This sparks a missing persons investigation that turns a mirror on to the dark heart of the art world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The best getaway drivers in contemporary crime fiction

Nick Kolakowski’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, North American Review, and Carrier Pigeon, among other venues.

His latest novel is Rattlesnake Rodeo.

Kolakowski lives in New York City.

At CrimeReads he tagged "five crime novels that explore the darker side of the American road, filled with anti-heroes looking for one last shot at fulfilling their dreams—if they can survive the next few miles." One title on the list:
Blacktop Wasteland, by S.A. Cosby

Beauregard “Bug” Montage is a skilled mechanic… and one heck of a getaway driver. As much as he wants to live a lawful existence, circumstances pull him back into the life of crime he worked so hard to escape. The forces arrayed against him are violent and awful, and require Bug to confront some of his deepest flaws—but the resulting car chases are exhilarating, pushing the limits of physics:

“’She flying now, Bug!’

“The Buick sailed off the overpass. It plummeted twenty-five feet like a stone. The trunk slammed into the pile of dirt, but the dirt helped to cushion their fall. The edge of the overpass rapidly receded from Beauregard’s vision as they fell. He braced himself by gripping the steering wheel and leaning back in his seat as hard as he could.”

Like Driver in Sallis’s novels, Bug doesn’t live a life anyone would envy, at least when he’s pursued by some of the worst villains ever to drift through a rural noir novel—but when he gets on the road, there’s transcendence in how he works the wheel, propelling tons of metal through the kinds of stunts that many a commuter might have fantasized about in a traffic jam.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Blacktop Wasteland is among Kia Abdullah's eight novels featuring co-conspirators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Ten of the best unstoppable women detectives

M. E. Hilliard is currently a full-time librarian who started out in retail merchandising. Her first job was as an assistant buyer at Lord & Taylor, where her glamour position involved office space in the basement of the Fifth Avenue store. After twelve years of mergers, consolidations, and moves around the country, she went to graduate school and got a Master of Library Science degree. Hilliard has been in the information business ever since, working for public libraries small and large. Originally from the Connecticut shoreline, she has never lost her love of quaint small towns, big cities, and fashion, so she indulges that in her writing. A life-long lover of mystery fiction, she currently lives and works in Florida.

Hilliard's debut mystery is The Unkindness of Ravens: A Greer Hogan Mystery.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten favorite unstoppable women detectives, including:
Harbinder Kaur

Harbinder Kaur describes herself as “the best gay Sikh detective in West Sussex.” Out at work but not at home, the 30-something detective sergeant lives with her parents, having decided she prefers her mother’s traditional cooking and time with her family to takeaway and messy roommates. Sometimes snarky and judgy, always observant and astute, Det. Sgt. Kaur is willing to take the imaginative leap that separates plodding police work from inspired detection.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 26, 2021

Seven of the best graceless literary exits

KT Sparks is a writer and farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Her work has appeared in Pank, Kenyon Review, Electric Lit, Lit Hub, Southern Review of Fiction, Largehearted Boy, Prime Number Magazine, Word Riot, Citron Review, Jersey Devil Press, WhiskeyPaper, and Jellyfish Review, was anthologized in The Lobsters Run Free: Bath Flash Fiction Volume Two and Tulip Tree Press’s Stories that Need to be Told 2019, and was recognized in the New Millennium Writing Awards and The Moth short story competition. Sparks received her MFA from Queens University in Charlotte, where she served as an assistant fiction editor of Qu (a literary magazine).

Four Dead Horses is Sparks’s first novel. The book was a semifinalist in Southeast Missouri State University Press’s Nilsen Prize for a First Novel, took first place in the James River Writers’ Best Unpublished Novel Contest, was excerpted in Richmond Magazine, and won Regal House Publishing’s 2019 Petrichor Prize.

At Lit Hub Sparks tagged seven of her favorite undignified departures in literature, including:
Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust

Tony Last—the genial exemplar of a social set in which “any sin is acceptable provided it is carried off in good taste”—spends the second half of A Handful of Dust trying hard to leave—his marriage, his faithless friends, his country—with the greatest dignity and refinement. And yet each of his attempts at grace only move him closer to one of the funniest—and saddest—graceless exits in print: declared dead back in Britain, Tony’s last scene is in an Amazonian village, far from his beloved country estate, forced to re-read Little Dorrit to his captor, an illiterate Dickens fanatic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Five books that feature lost, missing, and forgotten gods

Laini Taylor is the New York Times bestselling author of the Printz Honor Book Strange the Dreamer and its sequel, Muse of Nightmares. Taylor is also the author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy and the companion novella Night of Cake & Puppets. Taylor's other works include the Dreamdark books: Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the National Book Award finalist Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter, Clementine.

At Tor.com Taylor tagged five recent favorite books that feature lost, missing, and forgotten gods, including:
Odin’s Child by Siri Pettersen

The Raven Rings trilogy, from Norwegian author Siri Pettersen, has been wildly popular across Europe for a few years now, and I’m so glad it’s finally in English. I loved it deeply from the first to the last word, and was instantly and thoroughly immersed. The story of Hirka “the tailless girl,” it’s set in a Norse-inspired world called Ym, in which all people have tails—except for Hirka, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, whose time has come to participate in “the Rite.” It’s an annual ritual in which all ymlings display their ability to manipulate the natural energy of their world. Unthinkably, Hirka’s never been able to do it, and as the Rite approaches, her father drops a major bombshell that upends everything she thought she knew about herself, leaving her orphaned, alone in the world, and afraid she might be the abomination everybody believes she is: a child of Odin, not from this world. Add in Rime, the blue-blooded warrior boy who was her childhood rival; Urd, a truly vile villain; and—oh yes, the theme!—the Seer, a living god who is only ever seen by the ruling council, and you’ve got the makings of a terrific tale. Books two and three come out in English this fall and winter, and I can’t wait.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Ten titles that make the Earth come alive

Katie Yee is a Brooklyn-based writer and the Book Marks associate editor at Lit Hub.

At Lit Hub she tagged ten books in which the natural world becomes a character. One title on the list:
Richard Powers, The Overstory

A woman sits on the ground, leaning against a pine. Its bark presses hard against her back, as hard as life. Its needles scent the air and a force hums in the heart of the wood. Her ears tune down to the lowest frequencies. The tree is saying things, in words before words.

The trees are very much alive in this novel from the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Powers. They can communicate with humans. The novel follows nine individuals on their quest to save acres of untouched forest. Throughout, Richard Powers fuses fun facts with beautiful language. As Barbara Kingsolver wrote in the New York Times Book Review: “we gain glimpses of a vast, primordial sensibility, while watching our own kind get whittled down to size … The descriptions of this deeply animate place, including a thunderstorm as experienced from 300 feet up, stand with any prose I’ve ever read.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Overstory is among Lia Leendertz's six best books to celebrate spring.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 23, 2021

Ten top noir novels

Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, Willy Vlautin is the author of six novels and is the founder of the bands Richmond Fontaine and The Delines. Vlautin started writing stories and songs at the age of eleven after receiving his first guitar. Inspired by songwriters and novelists Paul Kelly, Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, William Kennedy, Raymond Carver, and John Steinbeck, Vlautin works diligently to tell working class stories in his novels and songs.

Vlautin has been the recipient of three Oregon Book Awards, The Nevada Silver Pen Award, and was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. He was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and was shortlisted for the Impac Award (International Dublin Literary Award). Two of his novels, The Motel Life and Lean on Pete, have been adapted as films. His novels have been translated into eleven languages. Vlautin teaches at Pacific University’s MFA in Writing program.

He lives near Portland, Oregon with his wife, dog, cats, and horses.

At Publishers Weekly Vlautin tagged ten of his favorite noir novels, including:
Wild at Heart by Barry Gifford

.... I don’t want you to think I only like novels from the ’30s and ’50s. But this one is dedicated to Charles Willeford and in a lot of ways lives in that Black Lizard world. When Sailor gets out of prison, he is picked up by his girlfriend, Lula, and they go on the run. They are star-crossed lovers who never waiver, who always stick together. Lula’s mom, Marietta Pace Fortune, hires Johnnie Farragut to track them down and bring them back. It’s a classic. And it’s just the beginning. Gifford wrote about Sailor and Lula for their entire lives.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Top 10 books about brothers

Fíona Scarlett is from Dublin but now living in Co. Kildare with her husband and two children. She holds an MLitt in creative writing from the University of Glasgow as well as a masters in early childhood education. She was awarded the Denis O’Driscoll Literary Bursary through Kildare County Council in 2019 and a Literature Bursary through the National Arts Council Ireland in 2020. She works full time as a primary school teacher and Boys Don’t Cry is her debut novel.

At the Guardian Scarlett tagged ten books that "reveal some general truths about brothers, for better and for worse." One title on the list:
The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

Nineteen-year-old Matt Homes is struggling to cope with his mental illness within an overloaded health system. He is also haunted by the death of his older brother Simon, 10 years previously. We are told at the very beginning of the book that it was “the shock of the fall” that killed Simon, yet as we get deeper into this story, we see just what happened on that fateful day, and why Matt is holding on to an unbearable guilt. A beautiful book, laced with humour, honesty and resilience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Seven suspenseful titles that examine immigrant identity

Zhanna Slor was born in the former Soviet Union and moved to the Midwest in the early 1990s. She has been published in many literary magazines, including Ninth Letter, Another Chicago Magazine, and Michigan Quarterly Review, and she is a frequent contributor to The Forward. She and her husband, saxophonist for Jazz-Rock fusion band Marbin, recently relocated to Milwaukee, where they live with their young daughter.

Slor's new novel is At the End of the World, Turn Left.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven suspenseful novels that examine immigrant identity, including:
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

This book was a bit unusual—framed as a courtroom mystery about an explosion at a special treatment center that kills one and injures several others—but the mystery of who did it was very compelling, and the characters were complex and interesting. Immigrant identity was a big theme here as well.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Miracle Creek.

The Page 69 Test: Miracle Creek.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Ten top Earth Day books

Green That Life founder Sara Goddard came up with ten Earth Day books that inspire and inform, including:
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells

Labeled “the most terrifying book I have ever read” by Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times, David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth takes an alarmist approach to alert its readers to the real threats of climate change.

In his own book description, Wallace-Wells tells us, “It is worse, much worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible.”

The Uninhabitable Earth outlines global resource wars, economic collapse, and even a pseudo-apocalyptic world that future generations might have to face. This is not a book for the faint of heart, but one that is an essential read to understand the profound challenges we face. Read it and act upon Wallace-Wells’ call to action.
Read about the other entries on the list at Green That Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 19, 2021

Nine of the best books about the sea

Emma Stonex is a novelist and The Lamplighters is her debut under her own name; she is the author of several books written under a pseudonym. Before becoming a writer, she worked as an editor at a major publishing house.

She lives in Bristol with her husband and two young daughters.

[Q&A with Emma Stonex]

At the Guardian Stonex tagged her nine of her favorite books about the sea. One title on the list:
When I think of the coast, it’s Cornwall, and, in fiction, Daphne du Maurier. I bought my copy of Jamaica Inn at Shrew Books, Fowey, and read it in the bath at our rented cottage, listening to a storm gain pace. For young Mary Yellan, the sea is restless and stinging, foaming with smugglers and shipwrecks; it’s a savage, intimidating sea, echoing her surfacing passions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Eight of the best books about modern dating

Katherine Heiny is the author of Single, Carefree Mellow, a collection of short stories, and the novels Standard Deviation and Early Morning Riser.

Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other places. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and children.

At Lit Hub Heiny tagged eight favorite books about modern dating, including:
Elif Batuman, The Idiot

Forget Dostoyevsky—Batuman’s novel has eclipsed the Russian classic in my mind. This book is smarter than a tenured professor, sharper than a reindeer’s antlers (both of which are discussed). Batuman writes about unrequited love, being the daughter of immigrants, and life at Harvard with unparalleled wit and intelligence. When the narrator finally receives an email from her elusive paramour, she’s reminded of “a kind of torture I had read about where afterward the captors returned your senses to you one by one, and you felt so grateful that you told them everything.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Five of the best female friendships in books

Lucy Jago is an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction, and a former documentary producer for Channel 4 and the BBC. Her first book, The Northern Lights, won the National Biography prize and has been translated into eight languages; her YA novel, Montacute House, met with critical acclaim in the US and the UK.

Jago's new novel is A Net for Small Fishes.

At the Guardian she tagged some favorite "books in which to immerse yourself in complex, occasionally wounding, but always irreplaceable female friendships." One title on the list:
In Sula, by Toni Morrison, Nel and Sula are best friends in a poor, black Ohio community, where women can take many roles but not that which Sula chooses, free from social and sexual restraint. She is shunned by everyone, even Nel, whose marriage crumbles in the face of Sula’s seductive presence. Nel mourns for years but comes to understand, as Sula does before her, that it was not her husband she was missing but the relationship with her best friend. Morrison says that it was the women around her, all struggling, all poor, who inspired the book. “The things we traded! Time, food, money, clothes, laughter, memory – and daring. Daring especially …”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sula is among John Green's six favorite coming-of-age books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 16, 2021

Five novels about twisted sisters

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives, The Things We Keep, The Mother's Promise, The Family Next Door, and The Mother-in-Law.

[The Page 69 Test: The Secrets of MidwivesMy Book, The Movie: The Secrets of MidwivesThe Page 69 Test: The Things We KeepMy Book, The Movie: The Things We KeepWriters Read: Sally Hepworth (February 2016)]

Her new novel is The Good Sister.

At CrimeReads Hepworth tagged five of her favorite novels about twisted sisters, including:
My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other… My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker— and more difficult to get out of the carpet—than water.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Sister the Serial Killer is among Megan Nolan's six books on unrequited love and unmet obsession, Sarah Pinborough's top ten titles where the setting is a character, Tiffany Tsao's top five novels about murder all in the family, Victoria Helen Stone's eight top crime books of deep, dark family lore, and Kristen Roupenian's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue