Friday, April 30, 2021

Eight top novels about war-torn love

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

Her new novel is Take What You Can Carry.

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Top 10 books about museums

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

Barnett's new novel is The Handover.

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The best getaway drivers in contemporary crime fiction

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

His latest novel is Rattlesnake Rodeo.

Kolakowski lives in New York City.

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

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

“’She flying now, Bug!’

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Ten of the best unstoppable women detectives

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 26, 2021

Seven of the best graceless literary exits

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Five books that feature lost, missing, and forgotten gods

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Ten titles that make the Earth come alive

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 23, 2021

Ten top noir novels

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Top 10 books about brothers

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Seven suspenseful titles that examine immigrant identity

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

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

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

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

My Book, The Movie: Miracle Creek.

The Page 69 Test: Miracle Creek.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Ten top Earth Day books

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 19, 2021

Nine of the best books about the sea

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

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

[Q&A with Emma Stonex]

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Eight of the best books about modern dating

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Five of the best female friendships in books

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 16, 2021

Five novels about twisted sisters

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

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

Her new novel is The Good Sister.

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Top 10 books about revenge

Jonas Jonasson was a journalist for the Expressen newspaper for many years. He became a media consultant and later set up a company producing sports and events for Swedish television, before selling his company and moving abroad to work on his first novel. He is the author of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All, The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man, and most recently, Sweet, Sweet Revenge Ltd. He lives on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

At the Guardian Jonasson tagged ten books on "how to plot revenge in a good way," One title on the list:
Nutshell by Ian McEwan

In my youth, I was fascinated by the Swedish writer PC Jersild’s novel A Living Soul, in which the protagonist is in fact a free-floating brain inside an aquarium standing in a laboratory. The brain falls in love with its caregiver, which doesn’t work out brilliantly. When I, 37 years later, read Ian McEwan, I was reminded of A Living Soul. In Nutshell, the protagonist is an unborn foetus inside its mother’s womb. It’s bleak, funny, murderous – and Hamlet-inspired.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Five stories built around the threat of nuclear blackmail

At James Davis Nicoll tagged five stories that build on the dramatic potential of nuclear blackmail, including:
The Mouse that Roared by Leonard Wibberley (1955)

The tiny principality of Grand Fenwick had no intention of blackmailing the world with atomic doom. Faced with economic calamity (Americans had successfully copied Grand Fenwick’s principal export, Pinot Grand Fenwick wine), they came up with a simple but brilliant plan: declare war on the United States of America, lose, capitulate, and then wait for US to expend billions of dollars rebuilding Grand Fenwick (shades of the Marshall Plan). Since Grand Fenwick had not upgraded its military toolkit since the Hundred Years War, there was no way this cunning scheme could go wrong. Or so it seemed.

The handful of men-at-arms dispatched to New York City find a city abandoned thanks to a Cold War-era Civil Defense exercise. Hunting for someone to whom they might surrender, they stumble across Dr. Kokintz and his Q-bomb demonstration model. Both Kokintz and his device are carried off to Grand Fenwick, whereupon the astounded Grand Fenwickians discover to their alarm that they are now in possession of a weapon that could, if detonated, depopulate a continent. Still, having the eyes of the world on them has possibilities…provided nobody jostles the delicate Q-bomb.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Six titles featuring adoptions gone awry

R.J. Hoffmann was born and raised in St. Louis and received an MFA in fiction from Columbia College Chicago. Hoffmann’s writing has appeared in Barely South Review, The Sun, Harpur Palate, The Roanoke Review, Booth, and Lunch Ticket. He is the winner of The Madison Review’s 2018 Chris O’Malley Prize for Fiction and a finalist for The Missouri Review’s 2019 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors Prize. He lives in Elmhurst, Illinois with his wife and two children.

At CrimeReads Hoffmann tagged six books featuring adoptions gone awry, including:
Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

The novel opens with the Richardson house ablaze from an apparent arson. Accelerant was employed. Little fires were set throughout the house. The themes of race, privilege, and family serve as kindling for the story. In the background, an immigrant from China first abandons her infant daughter in desperation, and then struggles to regain custody from the wealthy, white friends of the Richardsons who have adopted her. The whole town of Shaker Heights, Ohio weighs in, and the adoptive family applies all the leverage that money can buy. Meanwhile, in the foreground, Elena Richardson serves as a surrogate mother for Pearl Warren, while her own daughter, Izzy finds a surrogate in Pearl’s mother, Mia. Both women chafe, even as Ng slow-burns a literal surrogacy crisis.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Fires Everywhere is among Amy Stuart's five thrilling novels with deeply flawed fictional characters you’ll learn to appreciate as you turn the pages and Kate Hamer's top ten teenage friendships in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 12, 2021

Nine notable nature memoirs

Since traveling the South West Coastal Path, Raynor Winn has become a regular long-distance walker and writes about nature, homelessness and wild camping. Her first book, The Salt Path, was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award. In The Wild Silence, Winn explores readjusting to life after homelessness. She lives in Cornwall with her husband Moth.

At Lit Hub Winn tagged nine books that reignited her connection to the wild, including:
Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places

Even from a young age, I’ve carried a strong sense of being fundamentally connected to the natural world. Strangely though, for many years I didn’t find that feeling echoed in nature writing but encountered mainly abstracted observations of nature, viewed through the lens of academic research, or heavily clichéd prose. Consequently, I stopped reading nature writing. Until a friend gave me a copy of The Wild Places by Robert Macfarlane. At last, I’d found a writer who felt a strong, almost rapturous response to nature, a writer who remembered “what the world feels like.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Tim Harford's 6 best books

Tim Harford, “the Undercover Economist,” is a Financial Times columnist, BBC broadcaster, and the author of nine books (most recently How To Make The World Add Up / The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics) and the podcast “Cautionary Tales.”

[Tim Harford: top 10 undercover economics booksThe Page 69 Test: The Undercover EconomistThe Page 69 Test:The Logic of LifeThe Page 99 Test: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with FailureThe Page 99 Test: The Undercover Economist Strikes BackThe Page 99 Test: The Data Detective]

At The Week magazine Harford tagged his six best books. One title on the list:
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez.

Used wisely, statistics can show us truths about the world that we can’t see in any other way. But the statistics have to be collected and analysed with everyone in mind, not just a default white male. This is a powerful, insightful book.
Read about the other books on the list at Tim Harford's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Ten romance novels that tug at the heartstrings

Libby Hubscher is an author and scientist. She studied biology at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and holds a doctor of philosophy in molecular toxicology from North Carolina State University. Her work has appeared online and in textbooks, scientific journals, and literary journals. Her short story “The Unwelcome Guest” was long-listed for the Wigleaf Top 50 in 2018. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two young children, and a menagerie of pets.

Hubscher's debut novel is Meet Me in Paradise.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten favorite romance novels that tug at the heartstrings, including:
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Hoang’s heartaching and beautiful novel is the exquisite story of Esme, who leaves her home and young daughter in Vietnam for the promise of love and the American dream, only to be met with the brilliant, but tortured Khai, whose past traumas have instilled in him the misbelief that he is incapable of love. As Esme wrestles with her feelings of unworthiness and her affection and admiration for Khai, the book becomes an intricately layered portrait of two people who could be perfect each other, if they’d only overcome the seemingly insurmountable emotional obstacles keeping them apart. Fortunately the torment of deep hurt and heartbreaking things left unsaid is offset by the care these characters show each other as well as their growth as they each realize their own truths and go after what they want.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 9, 2021

Five books featuring fictional women who are, unashamedly, wicked

Heather Walter has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with both English and Information Science degrees, books are–and always will be–a definitive part of her life. Her new novel is Malice.

As an author, Walter loves writing about what-ifs, flawed protagonists, and re-imagined history. Her favorite characters are usually villains.

When not writing, you can find her reading (duh), knitting, binging TV, and planning her next travel adventure.

At Walter tagged five favorite books featuring fictional women who are, unashamedly, wicked. One title on the list:
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso

A wicked woman doesn’t have to be a heartless one. Villoso’s epic fantasy features one of the most complex female protagonists I’ve encountered. Talyien is queen of Oren-Yaro. But the bitter warlords heading the clans of her realm hate her. Talyien is supposed to be a mere consort to her husband, but he abandons her in favor of exile, and Talyien insists that she be crowned alone. Her reign may be holding the nation together (by a thread), and protecting the rights of her son and heir, but civil war looms. With scant allies and the constant threat of assassination, Talyien must prove herself far more often than any man would have to do. When her husband sends Talyien a secret letter asking to meet, she agrees. But the journey proves rife with betrayals, political intrigue, and forbidden arts. Talyien’s husband expects a wife ready to cede to his whims. He gets a sword-wielding badass, bent on protecting her son and securing her rule—no matter the cost. And things get pricey.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Top 10 homecomings in fiction

Catherine Menon is Australian-British, has Malaysian heritage and lives in London. She is a University lecturer in robotics and has both a PhD in pure mathematics and an MA in Creative Writing.

Her short story collection, Subjunctive Moods, was published in 2018. Her short stories have won or been placed in a number of competitions. Her work has been broadcast on radio, and she’s been a judge for several international short fiction competitions.

Fragile Monsters is Menon's debut novel.

At the Guardian she tagged ten "books [that] offer intimate, startling perspectives on homecomings: some that celebrate it, some that examine the challenges and others that question the nature of what it means to return." One title on the list:
Friend of My Youth by Amit Chaudhuri

This novel is a love letter to Bombay (now Mumbai), but a specific, very personal Bombay constructed from the narrator’s memories. Amit, a character created simultaneously from the writing and the life of Amit Chaudhuri, makes several returns to Bombay. The city changes each time and Chaudhuri gives us the sense that Bombay itself is constantly experiencing a homecoming of its own. The protagonist’s one constant, Ramu – the titular friend – is absent for the first half of the book and this absence lends a depth and poignancy to this elegiac novel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Thirteen titles that explore codependent relationships

Sam Cohen was born and raised in suburban Detroit. Her fiction is published in Fence, Bomb, Diagram, and Gulf Coast, among others. The recipient of a MacDowell fellowship and a PhD fellow at the University of Southern California, Cohen lives in Los Angeles.

Her new story collection is Sarahland.

At Electric Lit Cohen tagged thirteen "books that explore the earth-shattering capacity of the power of two," including:
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Midcentury American David moves to Paris at least unconsciously so that he can explore his homosexual desire. He drifts his way into a bar of swishy men with their own language of she pronouns and witty repartee and falls for Giovanni. The eponymous room is dark and at the edge of town, and in it, away from the rules and the gaze of the world, David and Giovanni are liquefied by desire. Only, David remains a little solid, eventually leaves the nest of mutual queer reconstitution for a life of bourgeois respectability. Giovanni says he will die without David, and, via a series of devastating events, does.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Ten of the best novels about fictional bands

Glenn Dixon is the #1 bestselling author of the memoir Juliet’s Answer. He has played in bands all his life, traveled through more than seventy-five countries, and written for National Geographic, the New York Post, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, and Psychology Today. Before becoming a full-time writer, he taught high school English for twenty years. He lives in Calgary with his girlfriend.

Dixon's new novel is Bootleg Stardust.

At Lit Hub he tagged his top ten novels about fictional bands. One entry on the list:
Daisy Jones and the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid, Daisy Jones and the Six

Taylor Jenkins Reid tells the story of this Fleetwood Mac-like band (disastrous relationships galore) in an enticingly original documentary style. Snippets of interviews from the band’s five members propel the plot forward to a final reveal about the mysterious event that caused the band’s sudden end. And we’ll soon hear the music of Daisy Jones as the book has been optioned for a limited series on Amazon Prime (produced by no less than Reese Witherspoon).
Read about the other entries on the list.

Daisy Jones and the Six is among Benjamin Myers's top ten mentors in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 5, 2021

Eight novels featuring twisted medicine

Shelley Nolden's debut novel is The Vines. Her obsession with forbidden North Brother Island in New York City's East River, as well as her personal health history and passion for equality, heavily influenced the creation of this historical fiction thriller.

At CrimeReads Nolden tagged eight favorite novels that break the “do no harm” medical oath, including:
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

The wrenching classic novel, which sits atop numerous best fiction lists, transports and profoundly haunts. When Randall McMurphy, a free-spirited, wildly rebellious con man, fakes insanity to beat a prison sentence of hard labor, he believes he’s pulling the ultimate hustle and that his time behind psychiatric facility bars will be a breeze. Housed with a cast of heartbreakingly damaged and traumatized men, whose minds and hearts have been left to slowly decompose at the hands of a cruel and sadistic nurse, McMurphy tries, and temporarily succeeds, to breathe life and spirit into their dark lives. In an unforgettably dehumanizing twist that shocks and tortures, McMurphy pays for his “sins” with the sickening, twisted, and perverse use of a legal medical treatment.
Read about the other entries on the list.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is on Richard Zimler's list of ten top novels about pariahs, Kim Hood's top ten list of interesting characters who just happen to have a disability, Rebecca Jane Stokes's list of seven books for fans of Orange Is The New Black, Gavin Extence's list of ten of the best underdogs in literature, Melvin Burgess's list of five notable books on drugs, and Darren Shan's top ten list of books about outsiders for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Ten top books about movies

Andrew Pulver, film editor at the Guardian, tagged ten of the best books about movies, including:
What Makes Sammy Run?
Budd Schulberg

Novels can offer an interesting angle on the film world. Martin Amis’s Money, for example, was inspired by working on the flop sci-fi yarn Saturn 5, while Christopher Isherwood’s Prater Violet is an account of prewar British cinema. The real prince of industry fiction, though, has to be this 1941 account of the insanely ambitious wannabe Sammy Glick.
Read about the other entries on the list.

What Makes Sammy Run? is among Richard Schickel's five favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue