Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Seven mysteries set during the original roaring ‘20s

Erica Ruth Neubauer spent eleven years in the military, two years as a cop and one year as a high school English teacher before finding her way as a writer. She has reviewed mysteries and crime fiction for several years at publications such as Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Mystery Scene Magazine and is a member of both Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. When she’s not writing her next novel or curled up with a book, she enjoys traveling, yoga and craft beer. She lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband.

Neubauer's latest novel is Murder at Wedgefield Manor.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven favorite books set during the original roaring ‘20s, including:
Catriona McPherson, After the Armistice Ball

The Dandy Gilver Murder Mystery series starts out in the 1920s, but the newest installment The Turning Tide has moved into the 1930s and I don’t want to be accused of cheating. So, we start at the beginning with After the Armistice Ball. Now that the war is done, Dandy Gilver is bored to tears. When the opportunity to discover what happened to the Duffy Diamonds presents itself, how could she resist? But soon a simple case of theft turns into murder. You can never go wrong with McPherson—her storytelling is impeccable no matter which book, series, or standalone you choose. The Dandy Gilver series is set in McPherson’s native Scotland and will leave you yearning for a trip abroad.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Five great books that do just fine without traditional villains

J.S. Dewes is an author, cinematographer, and video editor with a degree in film production from Columbia College Chicago. She cut her narrative teeth writing scripts for award-winning feature films and shorts which have screened at festivals and conventions all across the United States. A creative a heart, she enjoys video games, drawing, photography, graphic design, Pinterest, and all things visual.

Dewes's debut science fiction novel The Last Watch is coming from Tor Books April 20.

At the Tor/Forge Blog she tagged five great books that do just fine without a villain, including:
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Surely you know this one, but just in case: The Giver follows twelve-year-old Jonas, living a peaceable if not bland life in an apparent utopia. When he becomes apprentice to the sole keeper of the community’s memories, he learns some dangerous truths about society and history, and soon realizes he must find a way to escape the confines of their community in order to save his loved ones.

As a kid, this one hit me really hard; I remember thinking, “STORIES CAN END THIS WAY?!” And I know that very ending is what many people don’t like about it, but I was beyond thrilled. It felt like a door of endless possibilities had been kicked wide open. As with life, not everything is always so black and white (unintentional reference, I swear) and sometimes answers aren’t clear-cut or tied up with tidy expository bows.

Though the elders are ostensibly villainous, I’d argue their own ignorance precludes them from attaining true Bad Guy status. Jonas’s journey is more about surmounting his own beliefs and understanding of reality, and as a result his “antagonist” is basically everything—expectation, propriety, society, regulation, trust, resources, fear, “Sameness,” all of human history, even memory itself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Giver made Carolyn Quimby's list of the 38 best dystopian novels everyone should read, W.L. Goodwater's top five list of books with manipulated memories, the Tor Teen blog's list of eleven top YA dystopian novels, Jeff Somers's top five list of science fiction novels that really should be considered literary classics, Jen Harper's top ten list of kids' books from the ’90s that have proven to be utterly timeless, John Corey Whaley's top ten list of coming of age books for teens, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of thirteen top, occasionally-banned YA novels, Guy Lodge's list of ten of the best dystopias in fiction, film, art, and television, Joel Cunningham's list of six great young adult book series for fans of The Hunger Games, and Lauren Davis's top ten list of science fiction’s most depressing futuristic retirement scenarios.

Coffee with a Canine: Lois Lowry & Alfie.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 29, 2021

Fifteen top feminist books

Adrienne Westenfeld is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn.

At Esquire she tagged "fifteen books [by] feminist thinkers [who] interrogate everything from intersections of racism and misogyny to Pepe the Frog's deeper meaning to online enclaves of sexist men." One title on the list:
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa

The fourth edition of this venerable anthology, first published in 1981, remains an enduring trove of foundational thought from women of color. Before the term “intersectionality” entered academic discourse, This Bridge Called My Back put in the radical work of developing intersectional feminism, challenging the hollow “sisterhood” of white feminists while drawing connections between race, class, gender, and sexuality. Forty years later, the panoply of perspectives contained in this anthology continues to undergird third wave feminism and emerging activist coalitions. May future generations of radical women fall just as hard for This Bridge Called My Back as their forebears did; after all, the future of feminism remains forever indebted to this groundbreaking anthology.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 28, 2021

The best books to understand vaccines & why some refuse them

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 "the best books to understand vaccines– and why some refuse them." One title on the list:
New viruses require new vaccines, but vaccines are not a new technology – they predate penicillin, and X-ray machines, and most of the advances of modern medicine. Scepticism of vaccines is as old as vaccines themselves. In Bodily Matters: The Anti-Vaccination Movement in England 1853-1907, Nadja Durbach details widespread refusal of the government-mandated vaccination against smallpox. Some fears from that time seem comical now, such as the belief that vaccination could cause a person to grow the horns of a cow. But other concerns remain familiar – fear of bodily pollution, suspicion of both doctors and the medical system, and opposition to the government’s role in public health.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Seven great books built around cheating spouses & affairs

Peter Swanson is the Sunday Times and New York Times best selling author of seven novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Every Vow You Break.

[My Book, The Movie: The Kind Worth Killing; The Page 69 Test: The Kind Worth Killing.]

At CrimeReads Swanson tagged seven "favorite thrillers, all of which find interesting ways to incorporate the cheating spouse," including:
The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene (1951)

Not a traditional suspense novel by any stretch, but there is a large mystery at the heart of this story of a writer obsessed with a married woman. As the novel begins writer Maurice Bendrix is still reeling from his affair with Sarah, the wife of a neighbor and acquaintance. Maurice learns from the husband that Sarah seems to have taken a new lover and they hire a private investigator to uncover the truth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The End of the Affair also appears on Dwyer Murphy's list of ten great opening paragraphs from the works of Graham Greene, Travis Elborough's list of the ten best books featuring parks, Karin Altenberg's top ten list of books about betrayal, Howard Norman's six favorite books list, Newsweek's list of love-charmed novels from bomb-blitzed London, Alex Preston's top 10 list of fictional characters struggling with faith, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best explosions in literature, ten of the best umbrellas in literature, ten of the best novels about novelists, and ten of the best priests in literature, and Douglas Kennedy's top ten list of books about grief. It is one of Pico Iyer's four essential Graham Greene novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 26, 2021

Seven books to understand the Arab Spring

Layla AlAmmar is a writer and academic from Kuwait. She has a master's degree in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh. Her short stories have appeared in the Evening Standard, Quail Bell Magazine, the Red Letters St. Andrews Prose Journal, and Aesthetica Magazine, where her story "The Lagoon" was a finalist for the 2014 Creative Writing Award. She was the 2018 British Council international writer in residence at the Small Wonder Short Story Festival. Her debut novel, The Pact We Made, was published in 2019. She has written for The Guardian and ArabLit Quarterly. She is currently pursuing a PhD on the intersection of Arab women's fiction and literary trauma theory.

AlAmmar's new novel is Silence Is a Sense.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books about life in the aftermath of revolution and civil war, including:
The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton

This kaleidoscopic novel chronicles the immediate aftermath of the Egyptian revolution that toppled Mubarak’s nearly 30-year regime. Moving from the ecstatic highs in the wake of January 25th to the power grabs and crackdowns that came a few years later, we follow Khalil and his friends as they witness and document this attempt to re-fashion their world. The novel uses lyrical prose alongside actual tweets and headlines in a poignant illustration of the chaos of the time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Top 10 novels set in villages

Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England, and has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester.

She has written four novels: Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize; Swimming Lessons; Bitter Orange; and Unsettled Ground.

"The best novels with a village at their heart will play with our assumptions about village life and not make even the most gossipy old woman a cliche," Fuller writes at the Guardian. She tagged ten of her favorite novels set in villages, including:
Galore by Michael Crummey

In the early 1700s, a whale is washed ashore on a Newfoundland beach, and the local villagers cut it up for food and oil. When they slit the belly open, a man slithers out. Mute, pale, and forever stinking of fish (presumably suffering from trimethylaminuria), Judah starts this saga that spans two centuries of hard life. There are so many children, grandchildren, marriages and houses that it is best to let it wash over you in a wonderful jumble and enjoy the sweeping story, only stopping to focus on strange details like the drunkard who keeps a goat in her house for company, a chick born with four legs, and babies who are passed through the branches of a particular tree.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Five of the best spy novels, written by spies

Alma Katsu's first spy novel is Red Widow, the logical marriage of her love of storytelling with her 30+ year career in intelligence. As an intelligence officer, Katsu worked at several federal agencies as a senior analyst where she advised policymakers and military commanders on issues of national security. The last third of her government career was spent in emerging technologies and technology forecasting. She was also a senior technology policy analyst for the RAND Corporation and continues as an independent consultant and technology futurist, advising clients in government and private industry.

At CrimeReads Katsu tagged five of the best spy novels, written by spies, including:
Charles McCarry, The Miernik Dossier

McCarry, who had been in CIA’s clandestine service, could be called the American le Carré except for one thing: he never made it look easy. His underlying themes are often the same—the spy’s sneaking suspicion that his morality is being chipped away, that he may be serving bad men with bad intentions—but his writing was painstakingly beautiful, poetic, lush. You’d expect no less from a former presidential speechwriter. The Miernik Dossier was his first book and has inspired many aspiring spy novelists both inside and outside at the Agency, I suspect.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Miernik Dossier is among Alan Furst's five best spy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Seven books about long-distance relationships

Alex Juarez is a Chicanx lesbian writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast from Los Angeles. A recent graduate of the BFA Writing Program at Pratt Institute, they are currently an editorial intern for Electric Literature.

At Electric Lit Juarez tagged seven favorite books about long-distance relationships, including:
Love at the Speed of Email by Lisa McKay

When Lisa McKay received an email from Mike, a humanitarian worker in Papua New Guinea, she wasn’t surprised. After her nomadic childhood and finishing her degree in psychology, Lisa developed a career of coaching and aiding humanitarian workers globally. What Lisa didn’t expect from Mike’s email is that their relationship would blossom into something more and would finally teach her what “home” really means.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 22, 2021

The 15 best books about TV comedies

At Vulture Brian Boone tagged the fifteen best books about TV comedy shows. One title on the list:
The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, by Andy Greene

At the beginning of its original 2005–2013 run, The Office was viewed as a second-rate imitation of its more biting, cutting, depressing, and thus cooler British counterpart of the same name. But under the vision of writers like Greg Daniels, and with layered work by actors like Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, and the dozens of other Dundie-winning paper shills, The Office evolved into the greatest workplace comedy of all time. Just how it did that is the thesis of Greene’s careful and affectionately researched 2020 history. He interviewed dozens of cast members, writers, and crew members, most of whom revealed fascinating facts and heretofore unknown scandalous set stories.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Twelve gothic novels that explore the deepest darkest possibilities of sibling relationships

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 CrimeReads she tagged twelve gothic novels that explore the deepest darkest possibilities of sibling relationships, including:
The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield (2006)

Twins are intriguing. Who (among non-twins) hasn’t wondered what it would be like to grow up alongside someone so similar yet so separate? Would it be bolstering? Constricting? A blessing? A curse? Faced with your twin, would you be facing your opposite or your mirror-image, or some uncanny combination of the two? No wonder gothic mysteries, from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher onwards, have been fascinated by the dramatic potential of twin-hood. In Diane Setterfield’s novel, calm twin, Emmeline and violent twin, Adeline are presented as two halves of a whole. Together they form an eerie unit, subject to its own laws and repellent to outsiders.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Seven top mystery novels set by 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 Electric Lit Stonex tagged her "top seven mysteries set by the sea, in which the seascape plays as important a role as any in the story." One title on the list:
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Glamour and deception weave an intoxicating web in this gripping tale of murder and mystery, played out against the glittering Mediterranean. The sea holds a mirror to Tom Ripley’s slippery identity and uncertain motivations, as well as one of the most memorable boat scenes of all time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Russ Thomas's top ten list of queer protagonists in crime fictionPaul Vidich's list of five of the most enduring imposters in crime fiction & espionage, Lisa Levy's list of eight of the most toxic friendships in crime fiction, Elizabeth Macneal's list of five sympathetic fictional psychopaths, Laurence Scott's list of seven top books about doppelgangers, J.S. Monroe's list of seven suspenseful literary thrillers, Simon Lelic's top ten list of false identities in fiction, Jeff Somers's list of fifty novels that changed novels, Olivia Sudjic's list of eight favorite books about love and obsession, Roz Chast's six favorite books list, Nicholas Searle's top five list of favorite deceivers in fiction, Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 19, 2021

Five obsessive female relationships in literature

Forsyth Harmon is the illustrator of The Art of the Affair by Catherine Lacey, and has collaborated with writers Alexander Chee, Hermione Hoby, Sanaë Lemoine, and Leslie Jamison. She is also the illustrator of the essay collection, Girlhood, by Melissa Febos. Forsyth’s work has been featured in The Believer, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Awl. She received an MFA from Columbia University and currently lives in New York.

Harmon's new novel is Justine.

At Lit Hub she tagged five favorite obsessive female relationships in literature, including:
Gabriella Burnham, It Is Wood, It Is Stone

Linda has just moved to São Paulo for her husband Dennis’ job, despite having planned to leave him. While Dennis is at work, Linda feels trapped inside the apartment, and her life—she feels nothing more than her husband’s wife—until she meets Celia, a charming Brazilian artist. Linda yearns for the freedom of spirit Celia seems to possess, and she begins to paint her new idol’s portrait over and over—and their connection spirals from there. Linda later explains it to her husband like this: “I was ready to grow. And I now know, this type of growth can only be learned through an emotional apprenticeship from another woman who has learned the same.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight coming-of-age thrillers

Debbie Babitt left her career as the Copy Chief for a major publishing company to focus on writing fiction. A former actress, playwright, and drama critic, she now divides her time between Manhattan and Florida. Saving Grace is her debut novel.

At CrimeReads Babitt tagged eight favorite coming-of-age thrillers, including:
In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the grown up Jean Louise “Scout” Finch looks back on her life as a young girl living in Alabama in the 1930s. Scout is almost six when the novel opens, and nearly nine by the end. The action doesn’t alternate between Scout’s childhood and adulthood; and she reveals little about the woman she has become. That isn’t the point of her story. She’s trying to put the seminal events that shaped her as a child into perspective. Viewing these events from the distance of years enables her to see the past more objectively. By examining the elusive concepts of justice and equality through the prism of experience and
knowledge, she hopes to better understand the far-reaching impact of a rape, a trial, and a murder in a rabidly racist southern town three decades before the civil rights movement.
Read about the other entries on the list.

To Kill a Mockingbird made Allison Pataki's top ten list of father figures in literature, Bonnie Kistler's list of four classic fictional trials that subverted the truth, Kathy Bates's ten desert island books list, Lavie Tidhar's list of five fantastical heroines in great children’s books, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Katy Guest's list of six top books for shy readers, Jeff Somers's top ten list of fictional characters based on actual people, Carol Wall's list of five books that changed her, John Bardinelli's list of five authors who became famous after publishing a single novel and never published another one, Ellie Irving's top ten list of quiet heroes and heroines, a list of five books that changed Richelle Mead, Robert Williams's top ten list of loners in fiction, Alyssa Bereznak's top ten list of literary heroes with weird names, Louise Doughty's top ten list of courtroom dramas, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epic epigraphs, the Telegraph's list of ten great meals in literature, Nicole Hill's list of fourteen characters their creators should have spared, Isla Blair's six best books list, Lauren Passell's list of ten pairs of books made better when read together, Charlie Fletcher's top ten list of adventure classics, Sheila Bair's 6 favorite books list, Kathryn Erskine's top ten list of first person narratives, Julia Donaldson's six best books list, TIME magazine's top 10 list of books you were forced to read in school, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lawyers in literature, John Cusack's list of books that made a difference to him, Lisa Scottoline's top ten list of books about justice, and Luke Leitch's list of ten literary one-hit wonders. It is one of Sanjeev Bhaskar's six best books and one of Alexandra Styron's five best stories of fathers and daughters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Top 10 matriarchs in fiction

A. K. Blakemore is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Humbert Summer (2015) and Fondue (2018), which was awarded the 2019 Ledbury Forte Prize for Best Second Collection. She has also translated the work of Sichuanese poet Yu Yoyo (My Tenantless Body, Poetry Translation Centre, 2019). Her poetry and prose writing has been widely published and anthologized, appearing in the The London Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review and The White Review, among others.

Blakemore's new book is The Manningtree Witches.

At the Guardian she tagged ten favorite matriarchs in fiction, including:
Tenar in Tehanu by Ursula K Le Guin

To my mind, Le Guin’s dazzling Earthsea Quartet ought to hold the place in our cultural esteem that Harry Potter and the etc does. We meet Tenar in the second book of the series, The Tombs of Atuan, when she is taken to serve as a child priestess to the mysterious Nameless Ones. But it is in Tehanu – older, wiser, and desperate to protect Therru, a child who has fallen under her guardianship – that she comes into her own. As a semi-literate middle-aged woman, Tenar is far from the typical fantasy heroine. But her fearlessness and grit as she works to build a life for the child she loves is as thrilling as any of Sparrowhawk’s dragon battles. Most daringly, on Le Guin’s part, Tenar’s perspective serves to interrogate the sexual politics of the earlier Quartet, and the fantasy genre in general.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Six books on unrequited love & unmet obsession

Megan Nolan lives in London and was born in 1990 in Waterford, Ireland. Her essays, fiction and reviews have been published in The New York Times, The White Review, The Sunday Times, The Village Voice, The Guardian and in the literary anthology, Winter Papers. She writes a fortnightly column for the New Statesman.

Nolan's newly released debut novel is Acts of Desperation.

At Lit Hub she tagged six titles on unrequited love and unmet obsession, including:
John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

There are some scenes so incongruous that I wonder years later if I dreamed them, most notably the ending of Stephen King’s IT when seven children engage in group sex to defeat a demon. I have sometimes experienced this with The Hotel New Hampshire, a book I treasured dearly as a 15 year old and whose maxim “You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed” inspired me to get a tattoo simply reading “OBSESSED.” Can it really be the case, I ask myself, that there is a scene in this beloved book of my childhood where a brother and sister have an exhaustive amount of sex with each other to expel themselves of their incestuous lust? Indeed it is, but somehow it feels much more plausible and moving than the bare facts account for. Franny loves John too but really it’s John’s lifelong dedication to his wounded sister that they are putting to bed when they do so. Like so much in John Irving’s work, you either buy in or you don’t and all these years later I still do, somehow.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hotel New Hampshire is among Rick Moody's top six books that take place in hotels and Mark Watson's top ten hotel novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Six riveting titles of ultra-competitive parents

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman have been great friends for over 20 years. Their friendship has sustained them through the ups and downs of motherhood, careers, and life’s many curveballs. Their debut novel, Girls with Bright Futures, is a dark, suspenseful journey into the cutthroat world of college admissions. Between the two of them, they have undergraduate degrees from Princeton University and the University of Michigan, a law degree from UC Berkeley, careers in marketing, non-profit leadership and biotechnology law, two husbands, and four kids (three of whom have survived the college admissions process without a single parent landing in jail).

At CrimeReads they tagged six "books featuring parents who claim to want the best for their children, but who somehow convince themselves that their lies, schemes, or worse, are justified in the service of their kids’ bright futures." One title on the list:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

No roundup of competitive-parenting thrillers would be complete without the inclusion of Big Little Lies. A father dies at a boozy school trivia night. Was it an accident? Or murder? The police investigation reveals the battle lines drawn within the gossipy school community over a kindergarten bullying incident months earlier pitting the victim’s high-powered mother against the single-mother newcomer whose son stands accused. The fangs come out as the mothers seek to protect their precious children while keeping their own secrets and lies buried.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Big Little Lies is among Pamela Crane's five novels featuring parenting gone wild, Michelle Frances's eight top workplace thrillers, and Jeff Somers's teen novels that teach you something about marriage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 15, 2021

Nine titles about women who reject expectations

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a former model who lives in London, Ontario, with her husband and three children. She is the author of three young adult novels: Firsts, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, along with Last Girl Lied To and All Eyes on Her, under the name L.E. Flynn.

Her adult debut, The Girls Are All So Nice Here, has sold in nine territories and has been optioned for television by AMC.

At Electric Lit Flynn tagged nine novels about women who reject expectations. One title on the list:
The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

This bold, unapologetic novel, releasing in May, has already garnered big buzz, for good reason. Sophie has recently abandoned her Chicago career for a slower-paced lifestyle in small-town Texas with her husband and son, a lifestyle within which she’s expected to be satisfied and fulfilled. But Sophie finds herself bored quickly, and her fixation with a beautiful, charismatic socialite fills the void. She joins up with the Hunting Wives, but this is no clique of suburban moms: these women play games, some with devastating consequences. What I loved was the upending of the “old boys’ club” stereotype. These women have big sexual appetites and aren’t constrained within any sort of framework.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Six top kid narrators in literature

Chris Whitaker lives in the United Kingdom with his wife and three young children. When not writing he works part-time at a local library, where he gets to surround himself with books.

Whitaker's new novel is We Begin at the End.

At Lit Hub he tagged six of the best kid narrators in literature. One title on the list:
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

Though inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and shining a much-needed spotlight on prejudice, injustice and institutional racism, Thomas’ novel also has all the elements of a gripping thriller with beautifully drawn characters. The only witness to the police shooting of her unarmed friend, Khalil, sixteen-year-old Starr must somehow come to terms with her grief, whilst also walking the tightrope between testifying in front of a grand jury, speaking out on Khalil’s behalf, and keeping the carefully constructed boundary between her home and school life from crumbling. Brave beyond her years, the world would be a brighter place with more Starrs in it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Hate U Give is among Sif Sigmarsdóttir's top ten novels about burning issues for young adults and Natasha Ochshorn's seven banned books that should be required reading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Six novels with intriguing, imperfect female characters

Melissa Colasanti is a mother and an author. She has a BFA in fiction from Boise State University. Her writing has appeared in Lit Hub, Memoir Magazine, The Coffin Bell Journal and others. She is the Stephen R. Kustra scholar in creative writing for 2019, and was awarded the Glenn Balch Award for fiction in 2020.

Colasanti's new novel is Call Me Elizabeth Lark.

At CrimeReads she tagged six deliciously duplicitous female characters in thrillers, including:
Her Daughter’s Mother by Daniela Petrova

This page-turner focuses on a newfound friendship built on lies. Lana Stone impulsively follows the supposedly anonymous egg donor who’s making motherhood a possibility for her. On the flip side, we have Katya, the student at Columbia and egg donor, who is loaded with secrets of her own. When Katya ends up dead, Lana digs into Katya’s past. Daniela Petrova crafts a propulsive, character-driven story with two perfectly duplicitous women at its center.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 12, 2021

Five SFF books featuring middle-aged and elderly heroes who still kick ass

Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of over twenty fantasy books for kids, teens, and adults, including Spark, Drink Slay Love, and The Queens of Renthia series. She won an American Library Association Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Nebula Award three times.

Her new novel is The Bone Maker.

At Durst tagged five favorite novels "about older characters who thought the curtain had closed on their show but discovered there was still a whole lot of saving-the-world to be done," including:
Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner

The subtitle of this book is “Confessions of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom,” and it is absolutely everything you’d expect and want from a book with that subtitle. Kate Connor is perfectly happy with her life as a retired demon hunter and is not pleased when she catches a whiff of a demon at the local supermarket while she’s contending with a dirty diaper. She’s even less pleased when the demon barges into her kitchen, intent on killing her, while she has a dinner party to prepare. This book is all about achieving that work-life balancing act (when your work is top secret and highly dangerous), and it’s fabulous. Won me over from the moment she tried to hide a demon body behind the pet food.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Top 10 books about the body

Molly McCully Brown is the author of the essay collection Places I’ve Taken my Body and the poetry collection The Virginia State Colony For Epileptics and Feebleminded, which won the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and was named a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2017. With Susannah Nevison, she is also the coauthor of the poetry collection In The Field Between Us.

At the Guardian Brown tagged ten books "across genres, and styles, and periods, that influenced the writing of ... Places I’ve Taken My Body and the living that led to it." One title on the list:
Poster Child by Emily Rapp Black

At the most basic level, this is a memoir about growing up as an amputee. Rapp Black’s left foot was amputated at the age of four as the result of a congenital defect, and the title refers to the time she spent as a poster child for the US nonprofit March of Dimes. But the book is really a look at what it means to come of age in a culture that impels you to despise yourself. Sharp and smart, this book has been essential company for me in both adolescence and adulthood.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Eight great titles about black boyhood

Hari Ziyad is a screenwriter, the bestselling author of Black Boy Out of Time and the Editor-in-Chief of RaceBaitr. They received their BFA from New York University, where they concentrated in Film and Television and Psychology.

At Lit Hub Ziyad tagged eight "texts by some of the most insightful thinkers today that inspired the term misafropedia—which [they] coined to name the specific oppression Black children experience—as [they] wrote to uncover how we Black adults who have lost our childhoods to the violence Black boys face might become whole with them once again." One title on the list:
George M. Johnson, All Boys Aren’t Blue (Farrar Straus Giroux)

In their groundbreaking young adult memoir, Johnson tackles the ways Blackness, gender, and social ties intersect to shape a person’s identity in terms that resonate specifically with Black youth. Through a moving exploration of their relationship with their family and fraternity as they come of age along a different path than many of their peers, Johnson challenges the singular narratives of Black boyhood and the binary thinking that shapes it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Five SFF books about division & separation

Aliya Whiteley writes across many different genres and lengths. Her first published full-length novels, Three Things About Me and Light Reading, were comic crime adventures. Her 2014 SF-horror novella The Beauty was shortlisted for the James Tiptree and Shirley Jackson awards. The following historical-SF novella, The Arrival of Missives, was a finalist for the Campbell Memorial Award, and her noir novel The Loosening Skin was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award.

Whiteley's latest novel, Skyward Inn, is a classic science fiction story of division between worlds, states, families, and memories.

At she tagged five top SFF books about division and separation, including:
Divided Kingdom by Rupert Thomson

First published in 2005, Thomas’ vision of a United Kingdom chopped into quarters to house a populace divided by personality type is a dystopia full of ideas that feel ever more relevant. Once sorted into Humors (the Ancient Greek system of medical categorisation) children are relocated to live with families designated as similar in temperament. The main character, Thomas, is Sanguine—with his new, cheerful family he appears to thrive, until a trip over the border to the Phlegmatic quarter arouses old memories. For a country split apart by razor-wire boundaries and strict rules, Thomson finds beautiful moments. Or maybe that’s simply down to the exceptional quality of his writing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 8, 2021

Six novels based on historical scandals

Deanna Raybourn is the author of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Lady Julia Grey series, currently in development for television, as well as the USA Today bestselling and Edgar Award nominated Veronica Speedwell Mysteries and several standalone works.

Her new Veronica Speedwell mystery is An Unexpected Peril.

At CrimeReads Raybourn tagged six "favorite scandals and the novels that bring them to life." One title on the list:
Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron, Stephanie Barron

Few periods in English history were as entertaining as the Regency and few Regency figures were as legendary as Lord Byron. By the time he died at the age of 36, he had dozens of scandals to his credit—love affairs, debaucheries, misbehavior of every sort. In Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron, Stephanie Barron plucks a typical Byronic contretemps (a dead woman in his bedchamber) and gives the sleuthing over to none other than Jane Austen herself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Six of the best books to celebrate spring

Lia Leendertz is an award-winning garden and food writer. She writes a weekly column for the Telegraph, a monthly column for The Garden magazine and a long-running series on growing and eating seasonally for Simple Things magazine. She also contributes frequently to the Guardian and Gardens Illustrated. She is the author of several gardening books and the cookbook Petal, Leaf, Seed: Cooking with the garden’s treasures.

Leendertz is also the author of The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide to 2021.

At the Guardian she shared a list of the best books to celebrate spring, including:
The Overstory by Richard Powers is a highly unusual novel about trees, their relationships to each other and the world, and a set of people drawn together around a shared love and sense of protection for America’s ancient giant redwood forest. It makes you look at trees and woodland with new eyes, and wonder what messages the trees are sending each other through scents in the air and root chemicals, and that can’t be a bad thing as the sap rises and the first fuzz of green tips appear in our own woodland.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Five SFF titles about memory

Daniel Polansky’s first book, Low Town, was released in 2011, winning the Prix Imaginales. Two sequels followed, Tomorrow, The Killing (2012) and She Who Waits (2013). His follow up series, The Empty Throne, began with Those Above (2015) and concluded with Those Below (2016). A City Dreaming was released in 2016. His novella, The Builders, was nominated for the 2016 Hugo award. His latest novella, The Seventh Perfection (2020), was featured on Kirkus’s best of 2020 list. He lives in Los Angeles.

[My Book, The Movie: Low Town; Writers Read: Daniel Polansky (September 2011)]

At Polansky tagged five books fascinated (tormented?) by memory, including:
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

In a fantastical version of Medieval Italy, the survivors of a ruined city-state seek the true name of their lost nation to overthrow the (surprisingly sympathetic) dark lord who stole it. Here we see how history—that is, memory on a large scale—can be warped and altered to the benefit of the powerful, with a foreign tyrant not only conquering the eponymous nation but magically eliminating its history from existence. Without a name, without memory to serve as a cohesive identity, the exiled citizens of Tigana become lost and rootless. But Kay is interested in memory on a much finer grain as well, with our cast of anti-heroes (and outright villains) shackled to the events of their lives, struggling to move beyond their tragedies and lost loves.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue