Sunday, January 31, 2021

Nine coming-of-age stories about girls who do bad things

Alison Wisdom's new novel We Can Only Save Ourselves "follows the disappearance and radicalization of one 'perfect' teenage girl, told from the perspective of the town she left behind."

At Electric Lit, Wisdom tagged nine pieces of literature that explore the dark side of girlhood, including:
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

No one writes about the psyches and complexities of teenage girls like Megan Abbott; this entire list could have been comprised solely of her fantastic novels. But I could only pick one, and as a mother who has logged many hours watching her gymnast daughter work out, I had to go with this one: Katie Knox and her husband Eric have made their daughter Devon, an exceptionally talented gymnast, the center of their world—everything revolves around Devon’s training and their shared Olympic dreams. Devon herself is steely, icy, wholly apart from her peers in the gym and at school; she is untouchable, and, as Katie learns, unknowable. When a member of their gymnastics community is found dead, everyone is shocked, but Katie watches Devon absorb the event with a cool detachment, and Katie worries about what that means about Devon and about herself as a parent. As the book unfolds, we see how Devon’s ambition, which serves her so well in the gym, is its own kind of darkness, and her parents must confront their own complicity in that. Like [Celeste Ng's] Everything I Never Told You, You Will Know Me explores the horrifying reality that all children remain, to a certain degree, strangers to their parents.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Five fantasy heroines that fight systems of oppression

J. Elle was born in Houston, Texas, and is a first-generation college student with a bachelor’s in journalism and MA in educational administration and human development. An advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community, J. Elle’s passion for empowering youth dates back to her first career in education. She’s worked as a preschool director, middle school teacher, and high school creative writing mentor. In her spare time, she volunteers at an alternative school, provides feedback for aspiring writers, loves on her three littles, and cooks up dishes true to her Texas and Louisiana roots. Wings of Ebony is her first novel.

At she tagged five favorite fantasy heroines that fight systems of oppression, including:
Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis (2021)

Favorite line: “I don’t have the luxury of being a good person.”

Bad Witch Burning is a YA contemporary about Katrell, a Black teen battling poverty, who can talk to the dead. She starts a side business to make money, allowing people to commune with her loved ones for a bit of change. But when she accidentally raises someone from the dead, she sees a shiny new way to upgrade her hustle (read: make a lot more money). But, the deeper she leans into her new gig the more she realizes all that costs—that to truly change her she might have to confront the darkness in herself.

This book is a game changing read. Katrell isn’t the typical sword wielding heroine taking on the system. And that’s my favorite part of this book. This is a keenly perceptive YA debut explores the adultification of teen Black girls, mental health, domestic abuse, all wrapped up in a thrilling page-turner about a Black teen in a fight for her life against a product of systemic oppression: poverty. Lewis seamlessly blends fantasy elements in a contemporary setting with a voice that makes you sit up in your seat. There are horror elements but accessible for non-horror readers. There’s necromancy, revenants. This book is haunting, but not just in the way you might think. Contemporary readers, fantasy lovers, horror and gothic STANs, this book is your next obsession. You will be up all night, compelled to devour it in one sitting.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 29, 2021

Ten of the most dynamic detective duos in crime fiction

Joanna Schaffhausen wields a mean scalpel, skills developed in her years studying neuroscience. She has a doctorate in psychology, which reflects her long-standing interest in the brain—how it develops and the many ways it can go wrong.

Her new book, Every Waking Hour, is the fourth book in her heartpounding Ellery Hathaway mystery series.

At Publishers Weekly Schaffhausen tagged ten of her favorite dynamic detective duos in crime fiction, including:
Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs

Jeffrey Deaver’s detective pair is unusual in that Rhyme is a brilliant forensic analyst who also happens to be paralyzed and house-bound after suffering a serious injury on the job. NYPD detective Amelia Sachs does the fieldwork as the two combine to investigate diabolical serial offenders like the villain in The Bone Collector, their first appearance together. Lincoln and Amelia’s intellectual interplay and growing personal connection has remained strong through 14 books, and the intricate plotting keeps readers coming back for more.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Ten top books about children fending for themselves

Una Mannion’s debut novel is A Crooked Tree.

At the Guardian she tagged ten books in which "the dramatic force of the children portrayed is not their weakness but their strength, their ability to resist and sometimes to forgive." One title on the list:
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

“We were oddities, our family, even in that tiny rural town of Amgash,” says Lucy, reminiscing about her childhood during which her family lived in a garage until she was 11. They were set apart not just because they were poor but by an emotional poverty with parents unable to express affection and who routinely neglected and humiliated the children. They are locked in the truck while the parents work. Her brother is humiliated by the father on the town’s main street. Despite this difficult and lonely childhood, shadowed by ill-treatment and the suggestion of abuse, years later when she is sick on her hospital bed: “It was the sound of my mother’s voice I most wanted.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Name Is Lucy Barton is among Hannah Beckerman's top ten toxic families in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Ten titles that explore true crime obsession

Eliza Jane Brazier is an author, screenwriter, and journalist.

If I Disappear is her adult debut.

At CrimeReads, Brazier tagged ten favorite novels that explore true crime obsession, including:
Truly Devious, Maureen Johnson

Citizen Detective: Stevie Bell, a true crime superfan who enrolls in the mysterious Ellingham Academy intent on solving a notorious cold case.

Crime: The kidnapping of the wife and daughter of Ellingham Academy’s founder, Albert Ellingham. Ellingham was a notorious tycoon who wanted to build a school “where learning is a game.” So, he packed it with riddles, twists and garden mazes.

Fandom: True Crime fan Stevie uses her knowledge to track the cold case when one of her housemates is murdered. This cold case just turned hot! Can Stevie solve the crime and keep her head above water at the mysterious academy, where even murder feels like a game?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Ten of the best female assassin books

Vernieda Vergara is a freelance writer who specializes in comics, entertainment, and literature.

At Book Riot, she tagged ten female assassin books about death, justice, and survival. One title on the list:

The first installment of Estep’s long-running Elemental Assassin series introduces us to Gin Blanco. Gin’s family was murdered when she was a child, landing her on the streets. Many people do all sorts of things to survive when in that situation. Gin chose to become an assassin. But when her latest job ends up being a trap, she must use her lethal skills to uncover the people responsible—and more importantly, why they chose to target her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 25, 2021

Six stories for fans of beautiful Australian Gothic

Kathleen Jennings is an illustrator and writer based in Brisbane, Australia. As an illustrator, she has won one World Fantasy Award (and been a finalist three other times), and has been shortlisted once for the Hugos, and once for the Locus Awards, as well as winning a number of Ditmars. As a writer, she has won two Ditmars and been shortlisted for the Eugie Foster Memorial Award and for several Aurealis Awards.

At she tagged six favorite stories for fans of beautiful Australian Gothic, including:
Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (2008)

Shaun Tan is far from under-recognised as an illustrator (most recently winning the Kate Greenaway award for Tales from the Inner City—the first BAME author to do so). However he is viewed primarily as an illustrator and artist, and the books he writes—being heavily illustrated—are frequently labelled as children’s books. But he has always been a writer and teller of speculative fiction, and the Kate Greenaway-award-winning book would be better categorised as a collection of masterfully cool—and occasionally achingly bleak strange speculative fiction, half glimmering post-apocalyptic dreamscape, half longing, urban-weird folk-horror.

But the preceding collection, Tales from Outer Suburbia, is a warm, effusively illustrated collection of deeply affectionate—if extremely unexplained—tales, and a number of the stories in it are either squarely Australian Gothic or increase in fascination if you read them that way. These include a family scrabbling to survive in a hostile Australian landscape who discover a secret hidden in the walls of their house—and what the neighbours might know about it (“No Other Country”), children in a magpie-stalked suburb encountering a forbidding neighbour and the ghost of a pearl diver (“Broken Toys”), a distinctly Australian urban development haunted by the presence of inscrutable terrors watching through the windows (“Stick Figures”), judgements passed and witnessed by a court of the voiceless (“Wake”), and the fearsome inexplicable loveliness of nameless night-time festivals (“The Nameless Holiday”), and how people in a landscape of backyards and watching neighbours choose to live when in the immediate shadow of a potential apocalypse (“Alert but not alarmed”).

The Australian-ness is clearly identified in the layered, textured, bounding artwork; the doublings and secrets and hauntings are indisputably Gothic. But they are beautiful, all these stories: painterly and allusive, deceptively slight and enormously resonant, bird-filled, haunted by the possibility of joy, the ghost of understanding. (I recommend writers spend a little time studying what Tan does in his illustrations—the exuberant and ominous textures, the references and hints and possibilities and all the narrative techniques that appear in the art, let alone the accompanying prose). While Tales from Outer Suburbia is littered with silvery flecks of loss, there’s a warm, impossible, grand (sometimes terrifying) beauty at the core of (or wilfully and relentlessly ornamenting) what could in other hands be merely grim.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Six top academic mysteries

Edwin Hill is the Edgar- and Agatha-award nominated author of Little Comfort, The Missing Ones, and Watch Her.

[Q&A with Edwin Hill]

At CrimeReads. he tagged six favorite academic mysteries, including:
Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers (1935)

I teach a course called Women Crime Writers as part of the Emerson College MFA program. Sayers’ novel was the first book I added to the syllabus (paired with her fantastic essay, “Are Women Human?”). Set in Oxford’s Shrewsbury College, the novel focuses on Lord Peter Wimsey’s occasional partner, Harriet Vane, who returns to attend a gaudy (a reunion of sorts) expecting to be called out for having been accused of murder (in 1930’s Strong Poison). Instead, Harriet has a blast – and snarks on plenty of her fellow alums herself – only to have the event marred by a series of malicious pranks, including a poison pen letter, graffiti, and vandalism. Harriet then calls on Wimsey to solve the crime.

This is by far my favorite of Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels, if only because it’s more of a Harriet Vane novel, and she’s a much more interesting character for me. It’s too bad that Sayers abandoned the series after one more book (1937’s Busman’s Honeymoon). Who knows what Harriet could have done if she’d been given her own novel?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Gaudy Night is among Ruth Ware's six favorite books about boarding schools, Kate Macdonald's top ten conservative novels, and Anna Quindlen's favorite mystery novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Eight titles about mothers separated from their daughters

Eman Quotah grew up in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, and Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Toast, The Establishment, Book Riot, and other publications. She lives with her family near Washington, D.C.

Her new "novel, Bride of the Sea, tells the story of Hanadi, a daughter separated from her father when her mother, Saeedah, abducts her. In the end, though, the true rift is with her mother." (That's not a spoiler.)

At Electric Lit, Quotah tagged eight books about mothers separated from their daughters, including:
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Margo Crane’s mother disappears from their rural Michigan home one day, leaving only a note. After surviving rape and family violence, 16-year-old Margo flees in the teak rowboat her grandfather bequeathed her, embarking on a river odyssey that leads her to her mother and then away again. Margo’s life current pushes her toward her own motherhood; in the story’s coda, a pregnant Margo floats in the river, “a paradise for a girl swollen up the way she was.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 22, 2021

Seven chilling snowy thrillers

British-born Allie Reynolds is a former freestyle snowboarder who swapped her snowboard for a surfboard and moved to the Gold Coast in Australia, where she taught English as a foreign language for fifteen years. She still lives in Australia with her family. Reynolds’s short fiction has been published in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden, and South Africa.

Shiver is her debut novel.

At CrimeReads, Reynolds tagged seven of her favorite chilling winter thrillers. One title on the list:
In Lee Child’s 61 Hours, a tour bus crashes on an icy road in a savage snowstorm. Jack Reacher is one of the passengers who finds himself holed up in a freezing South Dakota town. Trouble finds Reacher, like it always does, and the small town has sinister goings on for him to investigate. Reacher braves the arctic conditions without a coat in a fight for justice against someone who is determined to stop him.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Ten top books about spirit mediums

Laura Purcell is the author of The Silent Companions, The Poison Thread, and The House of Whispers. She worked in local government, the financial industry and a bookshop before becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England, with her husband and pet guinea pigs. Fascinated by the darker side of royal history, Purcell has also written two historical fiction novels about the Hanoverian dynasty.

Her latest novel is The Shape of Darkness.

At the Guardian, Purcell tagged her top ten books about spirit mediums, including:
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel

No one writes about the dead better than Mantel. She breathed new life into the bones of Thomas Cromwell and the Wolf Hall Trilogy was full of gothic touches, but this earlier work is on another level. It tells the tale of spirit medium Alison and her toxic relationship with her manager, Collette, who inhabit a drab, threadbare life very like a ghost land in itself. They jazz up the concept of life after death to make it more palatable for their audience, however, the real fiends haunting Alison are obscene and bleakly horrific.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Beyond Black is among Jess Kidd's ten essential supernatural mysteries and Sarah Porter's five top books with unusual demons and devils.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ten feminist retellings of mythology

Christine Hume is the author of an experimental memoir in the form of three interlinked essays, Saturation Project (2021), as well as three books of poetry. Her chapbooks include Lullaby: Speculations on the First Active Sense; Ventifacts; Atalanta: an Anatomy; a collaboration with Jeff Clark, Question Like a Face, a Brooklyn Rail Best Nonfiction Book of 2017, and A Different Shade for Each Person Reading the Story. She recently curated and introduced two issues, on #MeToo and on Girlhood, of the American Book Review.

Since 2001, she has been faculty in the Creative Writing program at Eastern Michigan University.

At Electric Lit, Hume tagged ten "modern stories that turn patriarchal folklore on its head," including:
Under Everything by Daisy Johnson

Daisy Johnson’s Under Everything hijacks the Oedipus cycle with fairy tale riffs and fingerings. Her Jocasta-figure steps from the shadows into a visceral presence; her Oedipus is trans. The novel’s gorgeous prose immerses us in fluidity—gender, sexuality, memory, language—yet that very mutability, its queer, abolitionist currents, determines “everything” eternally.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Six titles that straddle the line between honest & too honest

Michael Leviton is a writer, musician, photographer, and storyteller. He is the host of the storytelling series and podcast The Tell. He has worked as a screenwriter and contributed music to television shows, including HBO’s Bored to Death.

Leviton's new memoir is To Be Honest.

At LitHub he tagged six books that straddle the line between being honest and being too honest, including:
Deborah Tannen, That’s Not What I Meant

Tannen is a linguist who specializes in identifying and categorizing different styles of communication, but she became a linguist to unravel the communication issues that led to her divorce, so her personal mission often makes this feel strangely like memoir. Tannen suggests that whatever communication style we ended up with probably feels like the only correct one, that anyone communicating differently appears to us as foolish, insane, or evil. Over the course of the book, she tells enough personal experiences that we get a vision of what the world looks like to a communication expert and I find her a riveting character. Tannen doesn’t really make jokes and yet I can’t remember a book that made me laugh this much. Her zooming out on social life feels like a sharper way to express what most great literature tries to. I get the sense from her personal anecdotes that her analysis really bothers people, that she’s often attacked by those who insist that they alone know what’s rude and what’s polite, what’s invasive and what’s friendly, what’s kind and what’s manipulative. As I read, I found that this book explained most things that have gone wrong in my life, solving nearly all my long obsessed-over interpersonal mysteries. I know that’s an absurd level of praise for a book, but I’m not even exaggerating.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 18, 2021

Ten climate change titles about endangered & extinct species

Julie Carrick Dalton's debut novel is Waiting for the Night Song.

[Julie Carrick Dalton's top ten works of fiction about climate disaster]

At Electric Lit she tagged ten books that bring "together a wide range of novels from science fiction to literary fiction to romance, all with an eye on how the loss of species affects how we imagine the future of life on planet Earth," including:
Shipped by Angie Hockman

Shipped by Angie Hockman centers on an enemies-to-lovers romance on a cruise ship exploring the Galapagos. As the characters battle for a coveted promotion at the cruise line where they both work, they contemplate the travel industry’s responsibility to protect vulnerable species and ecosystems. These relatable characters’ choices challenge readers to evaluate their own actions and how those actions might affect other species on our fragile planet.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Nine great sci-fi thrillers

Nick Petrie is the author of six novels in the Peter Ash series, most recently The Breaker. His debut, The Drifter, won both the ITW Thriller award and the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and was a finalist for the Edgar and the Hammett Awards.

At CrimeReads, Petrie tagged nine top science fiction novels built on the chassis of crime fiction, including:
Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan (2003)

This hardboiled novel is set in the far future, where interstellar travel is performed by transferring one’s consciousness between bodies—known as “sleeves.” The protagonist is Takeshi Kovacs, a deeply cynical former elite U.N. soldier turned private detective, hired to investigate the murder of a wealthy man—by the man himself, who had preserved his consciousness as a backup several days before his death.

With its political and religious themes, Altered Carbon is both a rich read and over-the-top fun, full of sex, violence, and glorious storytelling. It’s also the first in a trilogy, and Morgan only gets better with the second and third books.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Altered Carbon is among Neal Asher's top five favorite about achieving immortality, Ernest Cline’s ten favorite SF novels, Jeff Somers's five books that lived up to the hype, Lauren Davis's ten most depressing futuristic retirement scenarios in science fiction and Charlie Jane Anders's top ten science fiction novels that pack more action than most summer movies and top 10 science fiction detective novels of all time.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Five recent titles featuring superpowered characters

Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. He has contributed to major geek websites (The Mary Sue, The Portalist, Tor) and covered the NHL for mainstream media outlets. A member of SFWA and Codex Writers, Chen lives in the Bay Area, where he can be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals.

Chen is the author of the novels We Could Be Heroes, Here and Now and Then, and A Beginning At The End.

[My Book, The Movie: Here and Now and Then.]

At Chen tagged five recent books featuring superpowered characters, including:
The Green Bone Saga (Jade City and Jade War) by Fonda Lee

The award-winning Green Bone Saga—now in development with Peacock–is the ultimate genre-masher. It’s got generational crime family drama and politics. It’s got intricately constructed fight scenes (which, if you’re an aspiring writer, provide a masterclass in tension and execution). It’s got morally complex protagonists in both the Kaul family and its rivals in the Mountain clan, characters where the terms “hero” and “villain” don’t really apply.

And yes, it’s got powers, as certain groups of people are capable of harnessing the power of a mineral called jade. The result? Speed, strength, and other superhuman abilities, making the Green Bone Saga a blend of eastern and western influences that comes together as something wholly unique—and widely beloved by the fantasy community. With the trilogy finale Jade Legacy scheduled for September 2021, now is the perfect time to dive into this urban fantasy epic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jade City is among David R. Slayton's ten favorite urban fantasies that break new ground, Emily Temple's top six epic fantasy series for fans of Game of Thrones and R.F. Kuang's five top East Asian SFF novels by East Asian authors.

The Page 69 Test: Jade City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 15, 2021

Ten of the best dinner parties in modern fiction

Emma Rous grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before switching to full time writing in 2016.

The Perfect Guests is her new novel.

At CrimeReads, Rous tagged ten top dinner parties in modern fiction, including:
Expectation by Anna Hope

This story follows three friends, Hannah, Cate and Lissa, as they navigate adulthood and relationships through a decade and more. At one point, Cate and her husband host a dinner party, even though Cate finds the prospect of it excruciating. A key couple arrive late and unhappy, and the evening descends into drunken dancing, arguments and wild accusations, until eventually someone storms out into the night.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Ten top unconventional essays

Eula Biss is the author of four books, most recently Having and Being Had. Her book On Immunity was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2014 by the New York Times Book Review, and Notes from No Man’s Land won the National Book Critics Circle award for criticism in 2009.

At the Guardian, Biss tagged "10 book-length essays that appeal to [her] in their style, and that informed [her] writing of Having and Being Had." One title on the list:
Times Square Red, Times Square Blue by Samuel R Delany

This book is an essay in two parts, and it makes its argument in two different ways, once through a personal recollection of sexual encounters in Times Square, and then through an academic exploration of how gentrification degrades urban life. The essay genre is sometimes divided into two major categories – the formal, or academic essay, and the informal, or personal essay. Here the author leverages both, the two halves making one intriguing book. It is a moving elegy for a Times Square that is now lost, and a spirited appreciation of the porn cinemas and peep shows that brought together men of various races and classes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Seven contemporary novels about the Victorian era

Paraic O'Donnell is a writer of fiction, poetry, and criticism. His most recent novel, The House on Vesper Sands, was a Guardian and Observer book of the year for 2018. It is out now in the US from Tin House.

At Electric Lit, he tagged seven top 21st-century novels with 19th-century settings, including:
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

Like Eleanor Catton, the Australian novelist Peter Carey shows how Victorian certainties tended to dissolve at the periphery of their empire. When he undertakes to transport Lucinda Leplastrier’s glass church to the remote Outback, inveterate gambler Oscar Hopkins seems to embody Pascal’s conception of religious belief as a momentous wager. The same might be said of this novel’s unlikely but indelible love story, in which everything and nothing may be at stake.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Oscar and Lucinda also appears among Mark Skinner's top twenty period dramas for fans of Hilary Mantel, David Haig's six best books list, Katharine Norbury's top ten books about rivers, the Guardian's ten best unconsummated passions in fiction, and Elise Valmorbida's top ten books on the migrant experience, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best horse races in literature, ten of the best fossils in literature, ten of the best thin men in literature and ten of the best card games in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Five novels about the world after the end of the world

At James Davis Nicoll tagged five works about the world after the end of the world, including:
We Shall Sing a Song into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart (2021)

The submarine Leviathan survived the nuclear war that scoured the surface world. In the years since then, the nuclear submarine has patrolled the seas, sheltering the faithful who labour within it. The devout who call Leviathan home know that one day the final Judgement will come, the day when they will finally use their last SLBM to redeem the sinful Topsiders.

When necessary, Leviathan recruits new choristers from Topside. Many recruits are willing. Leviathan’s most recent acquisition is not. Forcibly kidnapped for her technical skills, the latest crewmember brings unwelcome news to the faithful: They may have fundamentally misunderstood the post-war world, and their great mission may in fact be deepest folly.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 11, 2021

Eight books about magical & mysterious libraries

At Book Riot, Megan Mabee tagged eight of the best books about magical and mysterious libraries, including:

The Invisible Library combines two of my favorite things: steampunk and libraries. Irene works as a librarian for the Library, a most mysterious organization that exists between worlds and collects books from all realities. Sent to a supernatural Victorian London with her assistant Kai, Irene seeks a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Much to her chagrin, she’s not the only one after
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Five notable retellings of "Jane Eyre"

Rachel Hawkins is the New York Times bestselling author of multiple books for young readers, and her work has been translated in over a dozen countries. She studied gender and sexuality in Victorian literature at Auburn University and currently lives in Alabama. The Wife Upstairs is her first adult novel.

At CrimeReads, Hawkins tagged five retellings of Jane Eyre that influenced The Wife Upstairs, including:
Jane, by April Lindner

Taking Charlotte Bronte’s quintessential brooding hero and turning him into an equally brooding rock star just feels right, and April Lindner’s modern update of Jane Eyre captures the dark romanticism of Rochester and Jane’s love story perfectly. In this version, Edward Rochester is now Nico Rathburn, a famous musician about to make his comeback. Jane is still Jane, a poor college student here who, following the deaths of her parents, takes a job as nanny for Nico’s daughter, Maddy. Obviously, sparks fly, but like his Victorian predecessor, Nico has a big secret.

This retelling is maybe the most faithful of all of them, following Jane’s original story closely, but Lindner manages to up the swoon factor and she doesn’t shy away from how moving Jane’s story into modern times increases the forbidden aspects of Jane and Rochester’s relationship.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Fourteen books that are so hot they're basically erotica

At Bustle, K.W. Colyard tagged fourteen books that are so sexy they're basically erotica, including:
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

A married British nurse finds a magical portal to 18th-century Scotland in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Distrusted by the highlanders who take her in, Claire marries Jamie, an inexperienced Laird with a bounty on his head, in order to protect herself from the encroaching British forces.
Read about the other books on the list.

Outlander is among Kiersten White's five best books that recycle historical legends.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 8, 2021

Ten historical crime titles that trace the history of New York City

Stacie Murphy began writing A Deadly Fortune in March of 2017 as a way to force herself to stay off Twitter in the evenings. (It didn’t work).

At CrimeReads, Murphy tagged "ten novels—ranging from the early 18th century to the middle of the 20th, some standalones and others part of wonderful series—" that trace the history of New York City. One title on the list:
The Gods of Gotham, Lyndsay Faye

The first installment of Faye’s Timothy Wilde trilogy follows former barman Wilde as he takes a position with the copper stars, New York City’s first organized police force. Wilde and his fellow star police, as they’re commonly known, have their work cut out for them. The city’s population has ballooned from around 60,000 at the beginning of the 19th century to nearly half a million by 1845, when the novel begins. Thousands of desperate, starving Irish immigrants are staggering off of ships every week, fleeing famine, and the city’s native residents don’t necessarily welcome their arrival. When Wilde begins investigating the murders of children—or “kinchin,” in the argot of the city’s criminal class—he runs the risk of further inflaming a city already on the edge. Faye’s vivid use of historical detail and language is nothing short of brilliant.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Gods of Gotham.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Top ten books about the unknowable

Peter Ho Davies’s latest book is A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself. His previous novel, The Fortunes, a New York Times Notable Book, won the Anisfield-Wolf Award and the Chautauqua Prize, and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His first novel, The Welsh Girl, a London Times Best Seller, was long-listed for the Booker Prize. He has also published two short story collections, The Ugliest House in the World (winner of the John Llewelyn Rhys Prize, and the Oregon Book Award) and Equal Love (finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a New York Times Notable Book).

At the Guardian, Davies tagged ten "books that each in their various ways face the unknown, less to dispel mystery than to accept it," including:
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

Another book that seems to hover in the uncertain space between memoir and fiction. In this case the formal uncertainty reflects on, most obviously, the unknowability of a friend’s suicide, but also more subtly on the status of the friendship itself and the essential unknowability of even those we love – whether human or animal (in the form of a great dane called Apollo).
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Friend is among Mia Levitin's ten top books about consent, Lee Conell's seven books about New York City’s stark economic divide and Eliza Smith's twenty books to help you navigate grief.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Nine novels that explore secrecy and deception in racial identity

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

At CrimeReads he tagged "nine crime, suspense and noir novels that revolve around the act of racial passing," including:
The Human Stain, Philip Roth

The third and final entry in the late, great Philip Roth’s American Trilogy, 2000’s The Human Stain contains one of the author’s most startling and controversial reveals (which, given his talent for meta-narrative trickery, is saying something). Initially, we’re led to believe that the story’s protagonist, the aging and newly widowed Coleman Silk, is a white Jewish man not too dissimilar to Roth’s narrator (and alter ego) Nathan Zuckerman. It’s only around the half-way mark that Roth—following in the footsteps of authors like Dorothy Hughes and Charles Willeford—reveals that Silk is actually a Black man who has spent his entire adulthood passing. What follows is a complex examination of identity by one of America’s greatest novelists working at the top of his game. The Human Stain is included here because in its back half it shifts gears and becomes something of a thriller (and, ultimately, a murder mystery), one that involves Silk’s attempts to protect his newfound love from the violent attention of her disturbed Vietnam vet ex.

While Roth never dived headlong into the genre, the thematically-linked trilogy of novels he produced at the turn of the century—American Pastoral, I Married a Communist and The Human Stain—all use crime as a lens through which he attempted to understand what he dubbed the “American Berserk”. In centering the final novel of that trilogy around passing, Roth connected his grand theme to the greatest of all-American transgressions.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Human Stain is among Jess Dukes's ten brain-expanding books for the college-bound teen and John Mullan's ten best fishing trips in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Ten books like "The Queen's Gambit"

At Bustle, K.W. Colyard tagged ten "books like The Queen's Gambit that prove chess is far from boring," including:
A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer duBois

After finding her late father's letter to a minor Russian celebrity among his belongings, Irina packs her bags and heads for St. Petersburg. Facing certain death from the degenerative illness that killed her father, she's intent on forcing an answer out of Aleksandr Bezetov: a chess champion who has just challenged Vladimir Putin in what will surely be an ill-fated presidential campaign. As Irina and Aleksandr draw closer together, the letter's inquiry — How does one proceed in a lost cause? — becomes critical to them both.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: A Partial History of Lost Causes.

My Book, The Movie: A Partial History of Lost Causes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 4, 2021

Fourteen of the best books about unions, organizing, and American labor

At Book Riot, Sarah Ullery tagged fourteen top books about unions, organizing, and American labor, including:

Immigrant women who work as janitors or farmworkers or domestic staff are often the most vulnerable to sexual violence in the workplace. These are women who work low-paying jobs and have little to no resources to fight against abuse.

In Bernice Yeung’s book, she tells the stories of some of the women who have fought back. Many of the women who step forward to report abuse are shoved aside by bureaucrats, indifference, or under- resourced government agencies; but there are stories of women who persist and beat the odds. No labor movement will ever be successful unless all workers are protected equally.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Ten romance novels for fans of Netflix's "Bridgerton"

At Vulture, Carly Lane tagged ten romance novels to read after binging Netflix's Bridgerton, including:
My Fake Rake, by Eva Leigh

Early on in Bridgerton, Daphne and Simon agree to feign romantic interest in one another in order for him to stave off matchmaking mamas and so she can attract more suitors. If the fake courtship trope is what you’re after, then try the first book in Leigh’s Union of the Rakes series, which puts a Regency-era twist on classic ’80s movies. Lady Grace Wyatt wants to earn the attention of a handsome naturalist, and what better way than to use another man to spike his competitive interest? But her only potential candidate is her colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway. She’ll have to make him over into a rake that would rival any suitor, but she doesn’t expect to fall for him along the way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue