Monday, May 31, 2021

Five of the best fiction titles about Hollywood

Katherine St. John is a native of Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Southern California who spent over a decade in the film industry as an actress, screenwriter, and director before turning to penning novels. When she's not writing, she can be found hiking or on the beach with a good book. St. John currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.

She is the author of The Lion's Den and The Siren.

[Q&A with Katherine St. John]

At Lit Hub St. John tagged five of her top fiction reads about Hollywood, including:
Martha Southgate, Third Girl From The Left

This layered and emotional story of three women—grandmother, mother, and daughter—ranges freely through time through the Tulsa race riots of 1921, the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, and the Los Angeles of modern times. Each of the women has a different perspective based on her life experience and the time in which she came of age, and Southgate paints an intimate portrait of their dreams and disappointments with fresh prose. While set in Hollywood, the true heart of the book lies in the complex relationships between these women and how they influence one another over the years.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Seven darkly humorous titles about relationships

Emma Duffy-Comparone’s fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, New England Review, One Story, AGNI, The Sun, The Pushcart Prize XXXIX & XLI, and elsewhere. A recipient of awards from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, the MacDowell Colony, the Yaddo Corporation, and the Elizabeth George Foundation, she is an assistant professor of creative writing at Merrimack College.

Love Like That is Duffy-Comparone’s first published book.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven "books that break up the dark with some light, whose characters make me laugh and wince with recognition." One title on the list:
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I’ve been hearing the term “unlikable women” a lot and wondering what people mean by that, and sometimes all I can come up with is that it has something to do with a sharpness, a bite, that we seem to have a problem with women who don’t mince words. But these are my favorite kind of women, and Olive Kitteridge is one of my favorite characters: incorrigibly honest, often wickedly funny, strong and fearless, her big heart beating. Here is a little taste of her:

“She must not hear him because of the water running into the sink. She is not as tall as she used to be, and is broader across her back. The water stops. ‘Olive,’ he says, and she turns. ‘You’re not going to leave me, are you?’

‘Oh, for God’s sake, Henry. You could make a woman sick.'”
Read about the other entries on the list.

Olive Kitteridge is among Susie Yang's six titles featuring dark anti-heroines, Sara Collins's six favorite bad women in fiction, Laura Barnett's ten top unconventional love stories, and Sophie Ward's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Twelve top books about the New York underworld

David Gordon was born in New York City. His first novel, The Serialist, won the VCU/Cabell First Novel Award and was a finalist for an Edgar Award. It was also made into a major motion picture in Japan. His work has also appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, Purple, and Fence, among other publications.

[The Page 69 Test: The SerialistThe Page 69 Test: Mystery GirlThe Page 69 Test: White Tiger on Snow MountainWriters Read: David Gordon (August 2019)The Page 69 Test: The Hard StuffQ&A with David Gordon.]

Gordon's new novel, Against the Law, is his third installment in the Joe the Bouncer series.

At CrimeReads he tagged twelve "favorite books about outlaw New York," including:
Down These Mean Streets, by Piri Thomas

A sensation upon publication, this is an autobiographical account of growing up poor and angry in Spanish Harlem in the 50s. Of mixed Puerto Rican and Cuban background, the narrator is darker than his family, who are ashamed of their African heritage. He is poor and exposed at a young age to violence and sex. Drawn into the gang life, he becomes an addict and ends up in prison for armed robbery. Upon his release, he began the “soul-searching” that led to this book. An amazing record of the speech, style, subcultures of the time, it is also extremely current in its concern with the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and poverty. Considered a founding text of Nuyorican literature.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 28, 2021

Top 10 books about ballet

Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Poison Tree, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, He Said/She Said, Stone Mothers and Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the mega-hit TV series. In 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011. He Said/She Said spent six weeks in the top ten in both hardback and paperback, was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, and selected for both the Simon Mayo Radio 2 and Richard & Judy Book Clubs.

Kelly's latest novel is Watch Her Fall.

At the Guardian she tagged ten of the best books about ballet, including:
Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

Copeland was the first African American female soloist in the history of the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. At 13, she came to the barre relatively late and from a chaotic home life, but talent and drive quickly saw her outshine her peers. Copeland is frank about the racism and sizeism she experienced in an environment that still favours pale skin and narrow hips. She turns the spotlight back on the women of colour who wore pointe shoes before her: the way she talks about her mentor Raven Wilkinson is especially moving. There’s also an abridged, accessible version for younger readers, for so many of whom Copeland is an icon.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Six non-fiction books about crime & general bad behavior in Silicon Valley

Kathy Wang grew up in Northern California and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children.

Wang's debut novel Family Trust was a Costco Pennie’s Pick, Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, and the inaugural selection of the Buzzfeed Book Club. Her second novel Impostor Syndrome will be published by Custom House/HarperCollins in June 2021.

At CrimeReads Wang tagged six of her "favorite non-fiction books about crime and general bad behavior in Silicon Valley," including:
Super Pumped, by Mike Isaac

This book charts the rise and fall of Travis Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder and CEO, who revolutionized the gig economy. We follow Kalanick as he expands Uber while maintaining an iron grip over control of the company—growth, growth, growth being his chief mantra, and we watch as he does everything from deceiving Apple (and enraging Tim Cook) to personally targeting journalists. This is another tale, like with Bad Blood, in which the reporter becomes part of the story. In Isaac’s case, it is when an employee at Uber comes to him with documentation of illegal tracking programs—and you see Travis Kalanick go from being king of the world, to being pushed out of the still very successful company that he founded.

Also, if you enjoy Super Pumped, I also highly recommend Whistleblower, by Susan Fowler. Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, outlines her very personal experience with the company. She’s also an excellent writer, perceptive and clever, even while facing increasingly outrageous treatment from her management and HR.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Seven top uninhabitable houses in fiction

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.

At Electric Lit Fuller tagged seven "fictional homes that test the limits of where we’re willing to live," including:
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Cassandra lives in a crumbling castle with her father, sister and stepmother. At some times of the day, especially in a dusky kind of afternoon light when it can’t be seen properly, the castle appears romantic and beautiful. But in her diary, Cassandra wittily records the reality of the place: the icy draughts, how her father has sold off most of the furniture, the smelly, muddy moat, and how she has to take a hot brick to bed to keep warm at night.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

I Capture the Castle is among Sarah Driver's five best sibling stories for children, Gail Honeyman's five favorite idiosyncratic characters, Anna Wilson's top ten embarrassing parents in books, Rose Mannering’s top five books, Diane Johnson's six favorite books, and Sophia Bennett's top ten stylish reads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Five historical fantasies set beyond New York & London

Nicole Jarvis has been writing stories as long as she can remember. After graduating with degrees in English and Italian from Emory University, Jarvis moved to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. She lives in Manhattan with two cats named after children’s book characters.

The Lights of Prague is her first published novel.

At Jarvis tagged "five brilliant historical fantasy novels exploring a range of locales—all with their own dose of magic." One title on the list:
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

If you haven’t already picked up Ta-Nehisi Coates’s debut novel, you are in for a true treat. An Oprah’s Book Club selection and star of “Best of” lists throughout 2019, this stunning book starts at a plantation in Antebellum Virginia. Hiram Walker, the mixed-race son of a white plantation owner and a black mother, has a powerful ability—through water, he can transport himself and others across the country. This power, called Conduction, is key to Hiram’s freedom and priceless to the Underground Railroad movement. However, it is tied to the power of memories, so he must confront the tragedy of his lost mother before he can unlock his true potential.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Water Dancer is among Elif Shafak's six top books to help us through tough times.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 24, 2021

Eleven books to help understand the Sixties

Mike Bond has been called the “master of the existential thriller” by the BBC and “one of the 21st century’s most exciting authors” by the Washington Times. He is a bestselling novelist, environmental activist, international energy expert, war and human rights correspondent and award-winning poet who has lived and worked in many remote and dangerous parts of the world.

Bond's latest novel is America.

At LitHub he tagged eleven books that influenced his 1960s experience, including:
Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

Though written in 1954, Aldous Huxley’s extraordinary introduction to psychotropic drugs had a huge impact on me and millions of others during the 1960s. “The urge to transcend self-conscious selfhood is… a principal appetite of the soul.” – these words exemplify the 1960s and what we tried to achieve.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Doors of Perception is among John Higgs's top ten psychedelic non-fiction books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Nine titles about the reality of life on the internet

Kleopatra Olympiou is a writer from Cyprus, and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Durham University. She works as a staff writer at Reedsy.

At Electric Lit she tagged nine books about the reality of life on the internet, including:
Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth

Jenny McLaine’s life is a mess, and she knows it. Exasperated by her lukewarm and precarious career as a columnist, sharing her London house with unamused lodgers since her ex moved out, failing at friendship, and ambushed by her mother, Jenny feels cornered into inaction—all she does is idolize (read: stalk) flawless women on Instagram. Grown Ups is the hilarious and heartbreaking account of what happens when she begins to lose control. Bonus points for the all-around pissed off energy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Top 10 books about depression

Alex Riley is an award-winning science writer and the author of A Cure for Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It, his first book. He received a best feature award from the Association of British Science Writers for his reporting on The Friendship Bench, a project that began in Zimbabwe in 2006 and has since provided mental health care to thousands of people in New York. A former research scientist, he has co-authored peer-reviewed scientific papers while working at the Natural History Museum in London. Since leaving academia in 2015, he began writing popular science articles for magazines such as New Scientist, PBS’s NOVA Next, BBC Future, Mosaic Science, Aeon, and Nautilus Magazine.

At the Guardian Riley tagged ten top books about depression, including:
The Inflamed Mind by Ed Bullmore

An accessible insight into psychoneuroimmunology, the study of inflammation, the brain and mental illness. While the subtitle, A Radical New Approach to Depression, suggests that this is a new science, it actually emerged decades ago and, as the author explains, has now found support from numerous fields of study. Epidemiology, immunology and trials into anti-inflammatories are finding that a subset of depressions stem from low-grade chronic inflammation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 21, 2021

Six titles which aren’t mysteries but are full of suspense

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.

"Sometimes it’s easy to slot a book into a category or genre: romance, crime, or indeed, mystery. But there are lots of novels which are too slippery for that," Fuller writes at CrimeReads. "They have plenty of suspense and often a good dose of secrets and the unexplained to propel the story forward, even though their premise is not built around a central mystery which follows a trail to a satisfying conclusion."

At CrimeReads she tagged "six recommended novels which aren’t mysteries but are full of suspense," including:
The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna

Duro is an odd-job man who is hired to help renovate The Blue House on the edge of a Croatian village after the house has been bought by Laura, an English woman there for the summer with her two teenage children. The family is unaware of the history of the house, the land and the people, and as Duro helps them reveal a mosaic of a bird on the front of The Blue House, what happened to the previous occupant—Duro’s first love—is also slowly revealed to the reader in flashbacks. Forna writes about the lasting effects of civil war in a such understated way that the suspense gradually creeps up on the reader until we have to know what happened.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Seven novels about running away from the past

Ailsa McFarlane was born in 1997 in Seattle, Washington, and grew up in Snowdonia in the United Kingdom. After leaving school, she studied veterinary science before dropping out to travel the United States and Europe by road.

Highway Blue is her first novel.

At Electric Lit McFarlane tagged seven books about misfits trying to escape societal pressure, including:
Therese Desqueyroux by François Mauriac, translated by Raymond N. MacKenzie

At the novel’s opening, Therese Desqueyroux sits in a carriage traveling down a dark road. The carriage is taking her away from a trial, at which she has just been acquitted of the attempted poisoning of her husband. At this point, as she makes her way towards her family estate, Therese is not so much running from a troubled past as moving towards a troubled future—she is going home, to face her husband and young child, and the emotional punishment that she knows is waiting for her there.

Through Therese’s memories, we see her existence leading up to the trial, trapped in a marriage that is not only loveless but also abusive. The people who surround her are obsessed only with maintaining the tight social rigors of the day, unable and unwilling to offer help.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Five SFF books that showcase siblings at their core

Sarah Pinsker is the author of over fifty works of short fiction, including the novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road," winner of the Nebula Award in 2016. Her novelette "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind," was the Sturgeon Award winner in 2014. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, and Uncanny and in numerous anthologies and year's bests. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, French, and Italian, among other languages, and have been nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, Locus, Eugie, and World Fantasy Awards.

Pinsker's first collection, the Philip K Dick Award winning Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea: Stories, was published in March 2019, and her first novel, A Song For A New Day, was published in September 2019. Her latest book is We Are Satellites.

[The Page 69 Test: A Song for a New Day]

At Pinsker tagged five "adult SFF books built around a rich, gooey, sibling core," including:
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress

Alice and Leisha are fraternal twins with one huge difference: Leisha has been genetically modified to be one of a growing number of Sleepless children, and her sister has not. Leisha has all that the Sleepless modification confers, including longevity, productivity, intelligence, and good health, and is doted on by their father as the child he designed, while Alice is in every way the ordinary daughter their mother had hoped to have. From the start, they are each other’s playmates, but they know the differences: Alice gets cranky and has to go to bed, and that’s when Leisha’s tutors come in for the night. As they get older, their relationship gets complicated. Leisha craves connection with her sister, but Alice just wants to be normal, and is embarrassed by the attention Leisha gets. Leisha even saying the word “twin” to describe them upsets Alice. Leisha seeks out her Sleepless peers, while Alice deliberately gets pregnant, rejects their longstanding plans, and leaves to make her own way in life. The book takes place over most of a century and moves on to other protagonists and the larger societal repercussions of the Sleeper/Sleepless divide, but it’s the fierce, contentious sibling relationship that has stayed with me in the years since I read the book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Nine top thrillers featuring alter egos

Saul A. Lelchuk holds a B.A. in English from Amherst College and a master's degree from Dartmouth College. He divides his time between Oakland, California and New Hampshire, where he teaches graduate creative writing at Dartmouth. He has served as a PEN America Prison Writing Mentor and makes regular appearances discussing fiction writing around the country.

Save Me From Dangerous Men was the start of a series featuring bookseller and private investigator Nikki Griffin. The series was optioned for film and television and has been published in translations around the world. Save Me From Dangerous Men was named a USA Today Best Book of 2019, a Booklist Top 10 Crime Debut of 2019, a Kirkus Best Mystery/Thriller of 2019, a Hudson Booksellers Best of the Year, and was short-listed for a Barry Award.

The sequel, One Got Away, was named as a “5 Books Not to Miss” by USA Today and was published in April 2021.

At CrimeReads Lelchuk tagged nine favorite thrillers featuring alter egos, including:
Double Indemnity, James N. Cain

When talking alter egos in thrillers, it’s impossible not to include at least one classic femme fatale. There are many excellent choices, but it’s hard to do better than Phyllis Nirdlinger, James N. Cain’s deadly creation (so memorably played by Barbara Stanwyck in the film adaptation). A beautiful, bored blond housewife looking for a bit of spousal life insurance and maybe a little fun along the way… what could go wrong? As Walter Huff, Cain’s patsy of an insurance salesman learns (the hard way), just about everything. For good reason, this slender volume is one of the defining classics of the genre.
Double Indemnity is among Peter Swanson's five best fictional femme fatalesCarlos Ruiz Zafón's top ten 20th-century gothic novels, and Malcolm Jones' ten favorite crime novels.

Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 17, 2021

Seven books about the Partition of India and Pakistan

Anjali Enjeti is a former attorney, organizer, and award-winning journalist based near Atlanta.

A graduate of Duke University, Washington University School of Law, and the MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, she teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Reinhardt University.

Enjeti's collection of essays, Southbound: Essays on Identity, Inheritance, and Social Change, and her debut novel The Parted Earth will be published in the spring of 2021.

At Electric Lit Enjeti tagged seven of the best books about the Partition of India and Pakistan, including:
The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India by Urvashi Butalia

This groundbreaking book was one of the first I came across with in-depth firsthand testimonies of Partition survivors. Butalia’s family members were Sikh refugees from Lahore, a city in the new Pakistan, who were forced to escape to India. One of the survivors she interviews is her own uncle who stayed behind. Her family did not have contact with him for 40 years until she reached out.

Butalia is a feminist activist and scholar, and in the book, she highlights the violence against women during Partition. Some 75,000 women were raped, she writes, though some sources put this figure closer to 100,000. In order to keep them from being kidnapped, raped, and converted, men killed the women in their families to “martyr” them. Butalia writes about the fustrating silence around Partition’s gendered violence, and the inaccurate ways it is often described...
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Six top books about sex

Kate Lister is a lecturer in the School of Arts and Communication at Leeds Trinity University.

She is the author of A Curious History of Sex and won the Sexual Freedom award for publicist of the year in 2017.

At the Guardian Lister tagged six of her favorite books about the beauty, ugliness and joy of sexuality. One title on the list:
We might think of ourselves as a sexually progressive bunch, but our idea of sex, and who should be having it, is actually quite limited. Although our society is saturated with sexualised images, they tend to be of young, able-bodied, typically beautiful people. This is where senior-sex coach and activist Joan Price comes in. Her trailblazing Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex grabs stigma and stereotypes by the scruff of the neck and gives them the dressing-down they deserve. Drawing on the voices of health professionals and sex therapists, the book not only confronts prejudice but offers sound practical advice. Good sex needn’t stop when you retire; in fact, as Price shows, the best is yet to come.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Six medical nonfiction books that read like thrillers

Audrey Blake has a split personality-- because she is the creative alter ego of Regina Sirois and Jaima Fixsen, two authors who met online in a survivor style writing contest. They live 1500 miles apart, but both are prairie girls: Fixsen hails from Alberta, Canada, and Sirois from the wheatfields of Kansas. Both are addicted to history, words, and stories of redoubtable women, and agree that their friendship, better and longer lasting than any other prize, is proof that good things happen in this random, crazy universe.

Blake's new novel is The Girl in His Shadow.

At CrimeReads the authors tagged six "current non-fiction titles...every bit as gripping as the latest forensic thriller," including:
The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

If epidemiology has ever been sexy it certainly is in this book. Barry’s exceptional gift for personifying the tiniest elements of a virus will leave you wondering if you are reading about germs or intense relationships. He doesn’t tell history; He builds it around you until you are completely immersed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Lydia Kang's eight titles that will immerse you in medicine's long, messy past.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 14, 2021

Ten top books inspired by Greek myth

Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote Ariadne which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne - the woman who made it happen.

Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten of her "favorite books about Greek mythology that breathe new life into old legends," including:
Circe by Madeline Miller

The life of an ancient, immortal witch born to the cruel sun god Helios and best known for her dalliance with Odysseus is told in this spellbinding, glorious novel. From the obsidian halls of her childhood home to her exile on a deserted island, taking in the golden palace of
Knossos and the dim depths of the ocean home of the powerful monster whose help she must enlist, Circe’s world lives and breathes in lush, lyrical prose. This is a completely fresh portrait of a maligned and misunderstood woman and a book whose pages you will return to over and over again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Circe is among Adrienne Westenfeld's fifteen feminist books that will inspire, enrage, & educate you, Ali Benjamin's top ten classic stories retold, Lucile Scott's eight books about hexing the patriarchy, E. Foley and B. Coates's top ten goddesses in fiction, Jordan Ifueko's five fantasy titles driven by traumatic family bonds, Eleanor Porter's top ten books about witch-hunts, Emily B. Martin's six stunning fantasies for nature lovers, Allison Pataki's top six books that feature strong female voices, Pam Grossman's thirteen stories about strong women with magical powers, Kris Waldherr's nine top books inspired by mythology, Katharine Duckett's eight novels that reexamine literature from the margins, and Steph Posts' thirteen top novels set in the world of myth.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Top 10 books about duels

Dan Glaister's novel, A Melancholy Event, "features not one but two guns, hanging in a pair. These are guns with a purpose, for they are duelling pistols, and thereby – with apologies to Shakespeare and Jeffrey Archer – hangs a tale."

At the Guardian Glaister tagged ten top books and stories from the "grand literary tradition" involving duels, including:
Gentlemen’s Blood: A History of Duelling from Swords at Dawn to Pistols at Dusk by Barbara Holland

An entertaining breeze through a thousand years of duelling by the sparky and sardonic Holland, taking in German mensur clubs, Alexander Hamilton’s death in a duel at the hands of Aaron Burr – as seen in the musical – and the 2002 effort by the Iraqi vice president to avoid the looming conflict by challenging Bush and Cheney to duels. Holland takes duelling to be a symptom of male insecurity. “Men spring from the womb needing to prove that they’re men,” she concludes, before suggesting that a mechanism for properly organised personal vengeance might defuse some of the tensions in the world. “Perhaps,” she writes, “a return to the duel would serve a social purpose.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Seven novels about very dysfunctional families

Stacey Swann holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Memorious, Versal, and other journals, and she is a contributing editor of American Short Fiction. She is a native Texan.

Swann's debut novel is Olympus, Texas.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven novels about family members making each other miserable, including:
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

While there is a dysfunctional family at the heart of Sing, Unburied, Sing—Leonie takes her two children, 13-year-old Jojo and toddler Kayla, on a drug-running road trip to Parchman Farm, the Mississippi maximum security prison that is set to release their father—this novel’s reach expands so much further than that single scenario. Jojo and his sister have been living with Leonie’s parents, and the ghosts of both Leonie’s brother and Richie, a boy that Jojo’s grandfather knew during his own time at Parchman Farm, come to life in the pages of the book, both victims of violence too large and too cruel to not seep forward into the lives of the still living. Ward gives us insight into racism past and present in America, and the strength of love and family in the face of it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sing, Unburied Sing is among Una Mannion’s top ten books about children fending for themselves, Sahar Mustafah's seven novels about grieving a family member and LitHub's ten books we'll be reading in ten years.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Thirteen titles highlighting the wives in domestic suspense

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

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

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

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

The Page 69 Test: The Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 10, 2021

Five SFF books with island settings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Seven books that redefine the modern flâneuse

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

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

Friends and Dark Shapes is her first novel.

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Nine stories about mother-son relationships

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

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

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 7, 2021

Seven literary murderers hiding behind masks

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

People of Abandoned Character is her first novel.

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

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Top 10 books about Colombia

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

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

Pachico's latest novel is The Anthill.

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

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

--Marshal Zeringue