Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Seven thrillers about vacations gone wrong

Andrea Bartz is a Brooklyn-based journalist and author of We Were Never Here, The Lost Night, and The Herd. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, Martha Stewart Living, Redbook, Elle, and many other outlets, and she's held editorial positions at Glamour, Psychology Today, and Self, among other publications.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven thrillers that "feature Americans who head abroad expecting pleasure or relaxation—but who get far more than they bargained for." One title on the list:
They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall

When Miriam Macy receives a surprise invitation to join six strangers on a luxe private island off the coast of Mexico, she can’t believe her luck. Surrounded by miles of open water, though, she watches as a series of accidents takes down her fellow visitors one by one. This creepy, clever thriller is a brilliant modern send-up to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

They All Fall Down is among Amy Suiter Clarke's seven great thrillers that play with form, Catriona McPherson's five top mystery novels set on islands, CrimeReads' ten best crime novels of 2019, Kristen Lepionka's seven favorite unlikable female characters.

The Page 69 Test: They All Fall Down.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 2, 2021

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Thirteen top laugh-out-loud mysteries

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious RITA, a Golden Heart, and a Daphne du Maurier, and her books have been translated into 17 languages.

As a born storyteller, Jones grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, certain they went away the better for it.

Her new novel is A Good Day for Chardonnay.

At CrimeReads Jones tagged thirteen "stories where laugh-out-loud humor is a must, yet they still manage to deliver that soul-filling mystery we all crave like a carb addict craves pasta." One title on the list:
Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure by Diane Kelly

I have been in love with this series since the first book won an RWA Golden Heart in 2009. The premise is fun and the writing is delightful. Tax cheats, beware: The Treasury Department’s Criminal Investigations Division has a new special agent on its payroll. A recovering tomboy with a head for numbers, Tara’s fast becoming the Annie Oakley of the IRS—kicking ass, taking social security numbers, and keeping the world safe for honest taxpayers. Or else. With twelve books in the series, expect many hours of enjoyment.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Twelve great UK crime novels

Crime Fiction Lover assembled a list of twelve great UK crime novels from twelve great British cities, including:
Bristol – The Chosen Dead by MR Hall

Giovanni Caboto, AKA John Cabot, was one of Bristol’s most famous residents when, in 1497 he sailed off to discover North America, about four hundred years after the Vikings landed there. Even back then immigrants were contributing to the economy. Today the city’s famous for its relaxed atmosphere, the Bristol Sound, and street artist Banksy. Let’s not forget MR Hall, though, a lawyer turned crime writer whose ‘babbers’ in writing terms include the ‘gurt lush’ crime novel The Chosen Dead. This is a forensics piece featuring coroner Jenny Cooper, and it involves the disappearance of a biotech big cheese from Arizona in the 80s, the defection of a Russian professor a few years later, and the apparent suicide of an aid worker in present-day Bristol. Also, a mystery disease kills the child of one of Cooper’s friends. Could all these disparate events be somehow linked? Well, jump onto the M32 to find out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 30, 2021

Five thrillers to scare you off of social media

Lindsay Cameron worked as a corporate lawyer for many years in Vancouver and New York City before leaving the law behind to write books.

Her first novel, Biglaw, was published in 2015.

Just One Look is her suspense debut.

Cameron lives in New York City where she is currently at work on her next book.

At CrimeReads she tagged "five thrillers that might convince you to finally pull the trigger on that [social media account] delete button," including:
You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes

Joe Goldberg made me question my online presence back when he was stalking Beck in the first installment of Caroline Kepnes’s brilliantly twisted You series, and now he might be the reason I officially swear off social media forever. In You Love Me, Joe uses Instagram to keep tabs not only on his son, but on the new object of his affection – responsible, grounded librarian Mary Kay. Joe’s determined to do things right this time and win her love the old-fashioned way…with meticulous online stalking, of course! But while Joe’s turning Mary Kay’s white hearts red, someone may be tracking his feed too. Careful Joe! With Kepnes’s trademark mixture of humor, horror, and pop culture savvy, you’ll tear through this page-turner (and then pare down your Instagram profile.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Top ten works about bored teenagers

John Patrick McHugh is from Galway. His work has appeared in Banshee, Granta, Stinging Fly, Tangerine and Winter Papers.

Pure Gold is his debut story collection. ”'This is a terrific collection," says Roddy Doyle. "The stories are dark, funny, honest and engrossing.”

At the Guardian McHugh tagged ten "works that explore how the sublime can arise from the dull reality of being a teenager." One title on the list:
"Honoured Guest" by Joy Williams (2004)

This story is an examination of long-term illness and how it stagnates the life of both the person who is sick and those around them. In this instance, a teenage girl and her terminally ill mother. There is so much simmering below the surface here, but it is the bravery of the teenager, Helen, that captivates. She is trying to get on with things in the small way a teenager can (‘“I have a test today, Mom,” Helen said’). She is trying to figure out death by soliciting advice from a friend who has seen how cremated ashes are returned.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Quentin Tarantino's favorite books

Quentin Tarantino began his career as an independent filmmaker with the release of Reservoir Dogs in 1992, which was in part funded by money from the sale of his screenplay True Romance (1993).

His second film, Pulp Fiction (1994), was a major success among critics and audiences and won him numerous awards, including the Palme d'Or and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Subsequent film sinclude Jackie Brown (1997), Inglourious Basterds (2009), and Django Unchained (2012).

His most recent film is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). It received 10 nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt) and Best Production Design. It also won Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Pitt) at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.

Tarantino's first book is a novelization of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

At Lit Hub Vanessa Willoughby shared four of the writer-director's favorite books, including:
David Seltzer, The Omen

This novelization of the 1976 movie starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick sticks close to the source material. Jeremy Thorn, a United States Ambassador to England, and his wife Katherine become parents to a baby boy who is actually the spawn of Satan. And as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, it doesn’t end well.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Nine titles with plots pulled from real life

A son of the Finger Lakes in western New York State, Andrew Welsh-Huggins now calls himself a “proud native adopted Ohioan.” By day, he is a reporter for the Associated Press in Columbus. By earlier in the day, he is the author of seven books in the Andy Hayes private eye series, featuring a former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns quarterback turned investigator. “Readers who love old-fashioned detective novels will be in hog heaven as they tear into Welsh-Huggins’ latest adventure featuring Andy Hayes,” said Booklist of Fatal Judgment.

The newest Andy Hayes novel is An Empty Grave.

At CrimeReads Welsh-Huggins tagged "nine books with plots pulled from real life, expanded and turned, like straw into gold, into an altogether new creation." One title on the list:
Deadly Harvest, by Michael Stanley

The writing team that is Michael Stanley—Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip—chose one of the more horrific crimes in recent African history as a jumping off point for their 2015 book in their series about Botswana Inspector David “Kubu” Bengu. In 1994 a girl named Segametsi Mogomotsi was killed in the Botswanan village of Mochudi in a muti murder, or the witch doctor practice of killing people for body parts to be used in potions. No one was ever charged. In the novel, characters express fear at revealing the identity of a witch doctor involved in such activities. “But you know it happens,” Kubu counters. “And unless we stop it, unless we find the few witch doctors who commit such terrible deeds, it will never stop.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Deadly Harvest.

My Book, The Movie: Deadly Harvest.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 26, 2021

Seven top novels about losing faith in religion

Kelsey McKinney is a reporter and writer who lives in Washington, D.C. She is a co-owner and features writer at Defector.com.

In her freelance work, McKinney writes about everything from Tom DeLonge’s alien obsession to Christian megachurches and bull riding.

Her new novel is God Spare the Girls.

At Electric Lit McKinney tagged seven novels about losing faith in religion and yet feeling less alone. One title on the list:
The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett is a beautiful writer and her prose is mesmerizing, but what I loved most about her debut novel The Mothers is its contradictions. The story is about Nadia returning to the place where she grew up and being forced to confront her past: including her relationship with the pastor’s son. Bennett lays bare the biases of this California church and the effects of a tight-knit community that gossips. She doesn’t shy away from describing the shame many young women in the church feel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Mothers is among Priyanka Champaneri's nine top novels about gossip and Patrick Coleman's eight top San Diego books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Seven crime novels filled with family members

S. C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing or working at her day job, she’s likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.

Perkins's new novel is Fatal Family Ties.

At CrimeReads she tagged "seven books from all over the crime-fiction map where multiple family members are at the heart of each mystery," including:
The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T.J. Klune

Found family and how they will rally around and support one another is the main theme of T.J. Klune’s magic-tinged fantasy novel, with just a touch of mystery. When mild-mannered Linus Baker of the Department of Magical Youth is sent to an orphanage on an island in the Cerulean Sea to investigate six unusual orphans who may have the power to bring about the end of days, his life will be forever changed. As he grows closer to the children as well as the mysterious Arthur Parnassus, the master of the orphanage who has a secret of his own, Linus will learn how the particular magic that is acceptance can bring love and a truly amazing new family along with it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Five captivating SFF mystery novels

At Tor.com James Davis Nicoll tagged five favorite recent sci-fi & fantasy novels, including:
Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard (2020)

Scholar Vân struggles to make a meagre living as a tutor despite the challenges she faces as a product of the lower classes. The well-to-do often will not value instruction if it is delivered by someone from the lower orders. As if class were somehow contagious.

She is now faced with an even greater problem: an unexplained corpse found in quarters belonging to Vân’s student Uyên.

The Militia demands that all such deaths have satisfactory explanations, whether true or not. Vân’s personal history, if viewed in an unfavourable light, might make her an acceptable scapegoat. Thus, a reason for Vân and her criminally-inclined shipmind ally The Wild Orchid in Sunless Woods to figure out who the dead woman was, what killed her, and what brought her to Uyên’s quarters.

Detection leads them in an unexpected direction. What begins as a possible murder mystery transforms into a treasure hunt…albeit one that has already left a trail of bodies in its wake.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 23, 2021

Ten thrillers & mysteries full of style, plot & dark humor

Samantha Downing is the author of the bestselling My Lovely Wife, nominated for Edgar, ITW, Macavity, and CWA awards. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman's Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel.

Her second book, He Started It, was released in 2020 and became an instant international bestseller. Her third thriller, For Your Own Good, is now out in the US.

[The Page 69 Test: My Lovely Wife; The Page 69 Test: He Started It].

She currently lives and works in New Orleans.

At CrimeReads Downing tagged ten "books that influenced my style, plot, and the dark humor I love so much." One title on the list:
Dope by Sara Gran

Sara Gran isn’t afraid of anything, or at least that’s the impression I had after reading this book. Her writing is sparse but full of daggers, and her characters have more flaws than virtues. The opening lines hooked me right into this book about a sober heroin addict who sets out to find someone who is also an addict, and who isn’t anything close to sober. Reading Dope makes me want to push my own writing, and stories, further out there—as far as I can—because she taught me it was not only possible, it can make the book better.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Top 10 books about Sicily

Jamie Mackay is a writer and translator based in Florence. His work has appeared in the Guardian, the TLS, Frieze and elsewhere.

The Invention of Sicily: A Mediterranean History is his first book.

At the Guardian he tagged ten books "that show the island’s miscellaneous character, leaving the mafia in the margins where it belongs." One title on the list:
The Council of Egypt by Leonardo Sciascia

Sciascia is best known for his books on the mafia. This slim volume translated by Adrienne Foulke, though, is one of the secret gems of Sicilian literature. It is, in essence, an 18th-century detective story, populated by an intriguing cast of Spanish noblemen, Jacobin revolutionaries, forgers, smugglers and libertines. Yet it’s also a philosophical allegory about the fine lines that separate fact from fiction in Sicily, and the blurring of boundaries between history and legend. Fans of Andrea Camilleri will surely enjoy the affectionate yet cynical humour.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Six novels that explore the great & sometimes terrifying outdoors

Elisabeth de Mariaffi is the critically acclaimed author of four books: the Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated short story collection How to Get Along with Women (2012), the literary thriller The Devil You Know (2015), and the 1950s-era Hitchcock-style thriller, Hysteria (2018), both of which were named Globe and Mail Best Books of the year, and shortlisted for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize.

Her newest novel, The Retreat, is about a dancer who must separate truth from lies in order to survive a deadly storm at a remote mountain arts retreat.

At CrimeReads de Mariaffi tagged six favorite "books that use monstrous nature not only as a setting—but as a true character in the story." One title on the list:
The Bear by Claire Cameron

Based loosely around a real-life bear attack that occurred in Canada’s Algonquin Park, this harrowing suspense novel imagines the incident from the point of view of a fictional survivor—five-year old Anna, left to care for her brother in the wilderness after both her parents are killed. Abandoned on the small island where the family had been camping, Anna and her brother are of course not quite alone—the bear is still out there, too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Eight books about childhood pals—and the adults they become

Zak Salih earned his BA in English and Journalism from James Madison University, and his MA in English from the University of Virginia. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Foglifter, Epiphany, Crazyhorse, The Florida Review, The Chattahoochee Review, The Millions, Apogee Journal, Kenyon Review Online, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications.

Let's Get Back to the Party is his debut novel. He lives in Washington, D.C.

At Electric Lit Salih tagged eight books about childhood friendships throughout the years, including:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kathy H., Ruth, and Tommy are friends at an English boarding school that doubles as a factory for clones intended to be organ donors. The sci-fi elements of Ishiguro’s novel take a backseat to the nuanced friendship between these three teenagers, whose love and care for one another, even in the face of unavoidable fates, are proof of the souls in these engineered bodies.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Never Let Me Go is on Rachel Donohue's list of seven coming-of-age novels with elements of mystery or the supernatural, Chris Mooney's list of six top intelligent, page-turning, genre-bending classics, James Scudamore's top ten list of books about boarding school, Caroline Zancan's list of eight novels about students and teachers behaving badly, LitHub's list of the ten books that defined the 2000s, Meg Wolitzer's ten favorite books list, Jeff Somers's lists of nine science fiction novels that imagine the future of healthcare and "five pairs of books that have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other" and eight tales of technology run amok and top seven speculative works for those who think they hate speculative fiction, a list of five books that shaped Jason Gurley's Eleanor, Anne Charnock's list of five favorite books with fictitious works of art, Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of nine great science fiction books for people who don't like science fiction, Sabrina Rojas Weiss's list of ten favorite boarding school novels, Allegra Frazier's top four list of great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, James Browning's top ten list of boarding school books, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 19, 2021

Five notable food memoirs

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

At Lit Hub she tagged five food memoirs to dig into for National Culinary Arts Month. One title on the list:
Priya Basil, Be My Guest

There is no better person to break bread with than Priya Basil, whose book is an ode to, yes, food but also to the kinds of conversations that are possible around a dinner table. Be My Guest combines a generous dose of personal and family history with a few pinches of philosophy. It is a rich rumination on the meaning of hospitality, open-mindedness, and community. Pull up a chair!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Seven of the best absurd(ly entertaining) serial killers in fiction

Grady Hendrix is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter living in New York City. He is the author of Horrorstör, My Best Friend’s Exorcism (which is being adapted into a feature film by Amazon Studios), We Sold Our Souls, and the New York Times bestseller The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (currently being adapted into a TV series). Hendrix also authored the Bram Stoker Award-winning nonfiction book, Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom of the '70s and '80s.

His new novel is The Final Girl Support Group.

At CrimeReads Hendrix tagged some of the most absurd(ly entertaining) and memorable fictional serial killers he encountered when writing the new novel. One entry on the list:
Big Gurl in Big Gurl (Thomas Metzer & Richard P. Scott, 1989)

Years before Joyce Carol Oates and Bret Easton Ellis wowed readers with their big important literary novels, Zombie and American Psycho, told completely from a serial killer’s point-of-view, Metzger and Scott gave us Mary Cup, aka Big Gurl. We’re never quite sure how big Big Gurl is, but she’s so large that when she wants to murder someone she simply picks them up and carries them home, or she yells at them until they meekly follow her to their doom. Mary lives alone in an attic, protected by her social worker who’s in love with her, and she spends most of her days watching TV, licking blocks of frozen SPAM, and worshipping a mutilated baby doll name Vuvu who she sometimes has sex with. When people annoy her, she murders them, like Jerry Jeru the lounge singer at the Golden Gondola. When he won’t take her request that he play “Only the Broken Hearted Know What It’s Like to Cry Cry Cry All Night Long Cause They Lost Their True Loves and They’re Down and Out and in Their Beds Crying Burning Tears of Woe” she leads him back to her apartment, seals his mouth with electrical tape, and rubs baked beans into his chest before shooting whipped cream up his nose until he dies. As she says, “Big Gurl got to be happy every minute of every single day!”
Read about the other serial killers on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Ten thrilling African noir novels

T. L. Huchu (he/him) has been published previously (as Tendai Huchu) in the adult market, but The Library of the Dead is his genre fiction debut. His previous books (The Hairdresser of Harare and The Maestro, The Magistrate and the Mathematician) have been translated into multiple languages and his short fiction has won awards. Huchu grew in up Zimbabwe but has lived in Edinburgh for most of his adult life.

From Publishers Weekly:
T.L. Huchu’s powerhouse new novel, The Library of the Dead, plunges readers into the dark, supernatural recesses of contemporary Edinburgh while expertly blending SFF, noir, and elements of Zimbabwean and Scottish culture. High school dropout Ropafadzo “Ropa” Moyo works as a ghostalker, ferrying messages between the worlds of the dead and the living. When penniless ghost Nicola pleads for help, Ropa heads out on a dangerous hunt to discover who—or what—is sucking the souls out of the bodies of the city’s children. With plenty of twists, turns, and genuinely eerie moments, this occult thriller is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.
At Publishers Weekly Huchu tagged ten favorite thrilling African noir novels, including:
Nairobi Heat by Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Call me Ishmael? Ishmael, an African American detective, travels to Kenya to catch his own whale. A murder in Maple Bluff, Wis., sets off a chain of events leading back to the Rwandan genocide. Teamed up with local detective David Odhiambo, Ishmael discovers they do law enforcement very differently in Kenya. Fast-paced and full of thrills, this novel is written for the silver screen.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 16, 2021

Seven titles about the heartbreak of losing a sibling

Willa C. Richards is the author of The Comfort of Monsters.

She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review and she is the recipient of a PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize for Emerging Writers.

At Electric Lit Richards tagged "seven books that showcase the specific horror and heartbreak of loving and losing a sibling," including:
The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin

In this debut novel, set against the bleak backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness, Chia-Chia Lin portrays a Taiwanese immigrant family of six as they try to make a new home in a beautiful but nearly inhospitable place. Tragedy strikes the family when several of the children contract meningitis. The narrator, Gavin, is so sick that he is unconscious for a spell. When he awakes, he finds out that his sister Ruby has died. Gavin grapples with his grief throughout the novel, believing himself partially responsible for passing the sickness onto Ruby, and thus for her death. Ruby’s death haunts the whole novel’s telling, and remains a powerful vacuum of grief, like a large black hole, that the family struggles not to fall into. The Unpassing is an empathetic, deeply felt, and lyrical portrait of childhood loss, of never-ending grief, and of unbearable unbelonging.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Unpassing is among Jae-Yeon Yoo's top books to combat anti-Asian racism in America.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Top 10 books about the aftermath of empire

Madeleine Bunting was for many years a columnist for the Guardian, which she joined in 1990. Bunting read History at Cambridge and Politics at Harvard. She is the author of many non-fiction books, including The Plot: A Biography of My Father's English Acre, which won the Portico Prize, and Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey, which was shortlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize and the Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year.

She has also written the novels Island Song and the newly released Ceremony of Innocence.

At the Guardian Bunting tagged ten of the best books about the aftermath of empire, including:
Imperial Intimacies by Hazel V Carby

This book instantly stood out as the winner of the British Academy Nayef Al-Rodhan prize last year when I was on the jury. Carby is a professor at Yale, but this book is deeply personal as she brings academic research and analysis to bear on her family history. In the 18th century, a Lincolnshire farmer’s lad left home to make his fortune as a plantation owner and gave his name, Carby, to generations of mixed-race Jamaicans. In the second world war, her father joined up to fight for the empire, and then married a white British woman. Carby’s account of how her family were pulled apart by the systemic racism and intolerance of mixed-race marriages in the 50s and 60s is utterly shocking; she poignantly portrays how her father, a man of great dignity, had believed in the promises and ideals proclaimed by the British. Carby moves the reader through every possible response to the complex patterns of family lineage under empire.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Five top books that are secretly science fiction

Max Barry is the author of seven novels and the creator of the popular online game NationStates. He also once found a sock full of pennies. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two daughters. Sometimes he coaches kids' netball.

Barry's new novel is The 22 Murders of Madison May.

At CrimeReads he tagged five great books that are secretly science fiction.
The books ... offer reality with a twist: Something about the world is not quite normal. But you may not notice at first, because they’re all about people. At heart, they’re human dramas, which want to show you fully lived-in characters confronted with situations that challenge them in personal ways.
One title on the list:
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

It’s a ruthless, oppressive patriarchy, but not our ruthless, oppressive patriarchy; it’s worse than that. The general absence of technology from this story makes the setting feel far more historical than science-fiction, as the new society of Gilead seeks to return to a simpler, more straightforward time, when a family was a man, a woman, and children, in that order, living their lives for the glory of God. Plus, of course, a few necessary improvements, since infertility is rife, and children are hard to come by. Atwood is a writer of breathtaking talent, and she effortlessly creates a society that feels entirely plausible.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Handmaid's Tale made Louisa Treger's top ten list of great boundary-breaking women of fiction, Claire McGlasson's top ten list of books about cults, Siobhan Adcock's list of five top books about motherhood and dystopia, a list of four books that changed Meg Keneally, A.J. Hartley's list of five favorite books about the making of a dystopia, Lidia Yuknavitch's 6 favorite books list, Elisa Albert's list of nine revelatory books about motherhood, Michael W. Clune's top five list of books about imaginary religions, Jeff Somers's top six list of often misunderstood SF/F novels, Jason Sizemore's top five list of books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, S.J. Watson's list of four books that changed him, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, Guy Lodge's list of ten of the best dystopias in fiction, art, film, and television, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Charlie Jane Anders and Kelly Faircloth's list of the best and worst childbirth scenes in science fiction and fantasy, Lisa Tuttle's critic's chart of the top Arthur C. Clarke Award winners, and PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Seven stories about the search for intimacy

Genevieve Plunkett's debut collection of stories, Prepare Her, is now available. A recipient of an O. Henry Award, her short fiction can also be found in New England Review, Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Colorado Review, Literary Hub, and The Best Small Fictions 2018. Her novel, In the Lobby of the Dream Hotel, is forthcoming.

At Electric Lit Plunkett claims "that it is the nature of intimacy to be surprising, frightening, and sometimes downright otherworldly..." and tagged "seven books that approach intimacy from this angle, that hunger for human connection in the corners of the unexpected and strange." One title on the list:
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

When intimacy exists in dystopia, it can appear alien, or uncanny, in contrast to its surroundings. In Adjei-Brenyah’s story “The Era,” a high schooler named Ben, begins to fall for a girl despite a life’s worth of programming against emotional decision-making and compassion. It is with a backward, convex, kind of thrill that we watch intimacy for the sake of intimacy become an act of rebellion. By creating a future that is whittled down to the bare, ugly essentials, Adjei-Brenyah makes us crave the complexity and disorder of the heart more than ever.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 12, 2021

Fifteen essential books about climate change

Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn.

At Esquire she tagged fifteen essential books about climate change, including:
The Case for the Green New Deal, by Ann Pettifor

You’ve likely heard a lot about the Green New Deal, but you’d be forgiven if you’re not up to snuff on all the ins and outs of the meticulously-crafted policy. Pettifor, a British economist and a co-author of the Green New Deal, inspires and informs in this succinct book debunking claims that we can’t afford the legislation—in fact, she argues, we can’t afford not to pass it. Though the Green New Deal will require a complete overhaul of the international monetary system, Pettifor lays out a clear road map for the way forward, crafting a persuasive case for why we must act now. At just over two hundred pages, you could read this in an afternoon, then emerged a changed thinker.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Seven top thrillers about thrillers

David Bell is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author whose work has been translated into multiple foreign languages. He’s currently a professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he directs the MFA program. He received an MA in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a PhD in American literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. His novels include The Request, Layover, Somebody’s Daughter, Bring Her Home, Since She Went Away, Somebody I Used to Know, The Forgotten Girl, Never Come Back, The Hiding Place, and Cemetery Girl.

His new novel is Kill All Your Darlings.

At CrimeReads Bell tagged seven thrillers about writing a thriller, including:
Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

Is there anything David Morell, one of the greatest thriller writers alive, can’t write? Spy, western, suspense, horror, he’s done it all and done it masterfully. So why not a historical mystery about an opium addict who writes an essay about murder…and then becomes a suspect himself. And engages in a cat-and-mouse battle of wits with the real murderer in the foggy streets of London. And it’s just the first in the series.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Eight of the best books on Venice

Orsola Casagrande is a Havana-based journalist and film-maker. As a journalist, she worked for 25 years for the Italian daily newspaper il manifesto, and is currently co-editor of the web magazine Global Rights.

She writes in Italian, English, Spanish and Turkish and also speaks Basque and Catalan. She writes regularly on Spanish, Catalan and Basque politics and culture, and has covered Turkey and Kurdistan as a special correspondent.

Casagrande is the editor of The Book of Venice, an anthology of contemporary city stories.

At Lit Hub she tagged eight books "on the enchanting, hopelessly beautiful splendor and history of Venice," including:
Ernest Hemingway, Across the Rivers and into the Trees

Ernest Hemingway often visited Venice, and the city features in one of his lesser-known novels Across the Rivers and into the Trees, first published in 1950. I discovered and read this book while living in Havana, Cuba; Hemingway’s former house there, now a beautiful museum, was one of my favourite places to go when I needed a space of my own. One Sunday morning I went to the museum with my friend, Cuban intellectual Félix Julio Alfonso López, who told me about Across the Rivers and into the Trees. In this book, the city is the setting for Hemingway as he explores some of his classic themes: a soldier’s recovery from war and the function of love in the bloody 20th century.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 9, 2021

Seven “coming-of-age” novels with elements of mystery or the supernatural

Rachel Donohue lives in Dublin, Ireland, where she works in communication and media relations.

In 2017 she won the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award for her short fiction.

The Temple House Vanishing, her first novel, explores "the dynamics of desire in an oppressive, conservative catholic boarding school in Ireland in the early 1990s."

At CrimeReads Donohue tagged seven favorite “coming-of-age” novels that have elements of mystery or the supernatural, including:
Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng

Questions of identity, race and family thread through this extremely thoughtful excavation of a teenager’s death in the 1970s. It’s a book about absences and failure, both real and imagined, and of the gulf between people, even those who live under the same roof.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Top 10 platonic friendships in fiction

Nikita Lalwani is a contemporary British novelist whose work has been translated into sixteen languages. Her first novel, Gifted—the story of a child prodigy of Indian origin growing up in Wales—was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, and won the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction. Her second, The Village, was modeled on a real-life “prison village” in northern India, and won a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. Lalwani wrote the opening essay for AIDS Sutra, an anthology exploring the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS in India and is a trustee of the Civil Liberties Trust, a human rights organization.

Her new novel is You People.

At the Guardian Lalwani tagged ten books in which there is "'intense feeling' in fictional friendships where there is no carnal activity," including:
Sula by Toni Morrison

Long before the fever and dream of Lila and Lenu in Elena Ferrante’s epic Neapolitan novel series, and the haunting “imaginative empathy” of female friendship in Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, we had Sula and Nel busy dancing all over societal notions of class, race and marriage. Set in a black community in the Ohio hills between 1919 and 1965, where white gentrification is encroaching fast, the book circles around the bond between the pair as they become women. Hurt each other they do and must, but the power they exhibit together comes from their difference and the paradigm-altering questions they bring to the table. The ending, calamitous yet liberating, is a masterful study of regret.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sula is among Lucy Jago's five best female friendships and John Green's six favorite coming-of-age books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Seven books that will make you happy to be sad

Emily R. Austin was born in Ontario, Canada, and received a writing grant from the Canadian Council for the Arts in 2020. She studied English literature and library science at Western University. She currently lives in Ottawa.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is her first novel.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books
for people who feel like crying but are having trouble determining whether the cathartic release they seek should involve tears of laughter or sadness. These books will break your heart and have you in stitches. You will feel like you would sitting in the audience of a depressed comedian whose poignant wit will have you cackling, blubbering, and feeling alive.
One title on the list:
Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin

This sequel to Pretend I’m Dead follows Mona at 26. She is cleaning houses, having affairs, grappling with trauma, still making us sad, and still tickling us pink. This novel, like the one before, manages to touch on heavy topics while also being laugh out loud funny.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue