Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Five of the best detectives from science fiction or fantasy

Neil Sharpson lives in Dublin with his wife and their two children. Having written for theatre since his teens, Sharpson transitioned to writing novels in 2017, adapting his own play The Caspian Sea into When The Sparrow Falls.

At he tagged five top SFF detectives, including:
Constable Peter Grant, Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London Series

A young Sierra Leonean/British copper with an aptitude for magic, Grant is recruited into the Folly, the London Met’s unit for dealing with magical crimes. A complete departure from your typical detective archetype, Grant is young, tech-savvy, snarky and genuinely seems to like other human beings(!)

Another thing that sets the series apart is that it doesn’t just show the aspects of policing that fiction tends to focus on i.e., solving crimes. Sure, Grant might face ghosts and body-hopping serial killers, but he also acts as a mediator, brokering peace between the feuding gods of London’s rivers and liaising with other agencies from across the world. Rivers of London takes a whole-cloth approach to depicting the day to day life of a modern British police officer which honestly makes it feel more faithful and realistic than a lot of straight crime fiction.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Six domestic suspense titles where nothing is really ever what it seems

Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because—as her professor pointed out—'It's not meant to be a story.' She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters' degree in Children's Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.

The idea for her first published novel, The Boy Under the Table, was so scary that it took a year for her to find the courage to write the emotional story. Her second novel, Three Hours Late, was voted one of Fifty Books you can't put down in 2013 and her third novel, The Secrets in Silence, was The Australian Woman's Weekly Book of the month for June 2014.

Trope lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

At CrimeReads she tagged six domestic suspense novels where nothing is really ever what it seems:
Am I Guilty?, Jackie Kabler

A baby is dead—a mother accused of gross negligence and surrounded by a group of people who don’t seem trustworthy from the very first chapter. Thea has a wonderful life with everything her heart desires until the day she makes a fatal mistake. But was it her mistake? What is her best friend, her husband, her former nanny hiding from her and why can’t she remember anything at all? I liked that I felt a little distanced from Thea throughout the novel. It allowed me to judge her along with everyone else until I had to start questioning myself and what I understood was the truth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 28, 2021

Top 10 books of everyday social anthropology

Gillian Tett is chair of the US editorial board at the Financial Times and the author of books including Fool's Gold (2009) and Anthro-Vision: A New Way to See in Business and Life (2021).

"[W]hile culture is hard to define," she argues, "nobody can ignore it – certainly not in a world that is so globalised and dangerously polarised that we clearly need to gain empathy for others."

At the Guardian Tett tagged ten "books that help explain why culture – and anthropology – matter so much today." One title on the list:
Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex and Gender in the 20th Century by Charles King

The title is odd but this is a truly fantastic book on the history of anthropology in the 19th and 20th centuries. Essential reading for anyone interested in the origins of modern western thought or the current debate around diversity issues. It’s a lively insight into a part of western history that tends to be ignored. Indispensable for anyone engaged in legal, government and corporate policies.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Nine immersive historical mysteries

Martha Hall Kelly is the New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls and Lost Roses.

She lives in Connecticut, where she spends her days filling legal pads with stories and reading World War II books.

Kelly's new novel is Sunflower Sisters.

At CrimeReads she tagged nine favorite historical mysteries in which setting plays a significant part, including:
A Fatal Lie by Charles Todd

I’m a sucker for a peaceful Welsh village thrown into turmoil when a mysterious body is found. And Charles Todd’s latest in his Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries Series starts off just this way, with an unidentified body fished out of a local river. It’s post-World War I and the village police turn to Scotland Yard for help and once Inspector Rutledge is dispatched from London to find answers but uncovers only a web of lies. The clever murderer stays hidden, and it will take all Rutledge’s skill to catch one of Todd’s cleverest killers yet.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Nine top novels about women fighting for a just society

Claire Boyles is a writer, mom, and former farmer who lives and writes in Colorado on the traditional, ancestral, and stolen lands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute peoples. She received my MFA from Colorado State University in May of 2018. Her new short story collection is Site Fidelity. She has a novel on the way, too. Boyles's writing has appeared in VQR, Kenyon Review, Boulevard, and Masters Review, among others. She writes movies for the Hallmark Channel and is a proud member of the WGAW.

At Electric Lit Boyles tagged nine novels about women activists, including:
Kickdown by Rebecca Clarren

The Dunbar sisters—already struggling to manage their family’s western Colorado ranch after the death of their father—begin to suspect that an accident at a nearby natural gas well is causing their neighbors’ animals to miscarry and has possibly poisoned the stream that runs through their own ranch. The sisters, each facing their own life challenges, work to overcome their own disagreements about how to proceed in the face of a community divided over the ecological costs and perceived economic benefits of natural gas development.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 25, 2021

Ten thrillers that revolve around grief

Nicci French is the pseudonym of English wife-and-husband team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Their acclaimed novels of psychological suspense have sold more than 8 million copies around the world. At CrimeReads they write:
Writers (and readers) ... are drawn to leading characters who are active, who go out into the world and solve problems. Grief is the opposite of that, and grieving involves the acceptance that some problems cannot be fixed, they can only be lived with. That acceptance can be immensely important in getting through the dark periods of our life but it is a very bad basis for a thriller. So what do we do with grief when we write a thriller?
They tagged "ten books which make use of grief, or pointedly avoid it, or turn it into something else," including:
Tell No One by Harlan Coben (2001)

Here, finally, is a book that starts with a hero experiencing full-on grief for his wife, who, eight years earlier, was kidnapped and murdered. But this apparent exception to the rule that grief must be displaced in order to be used in a thriller is actually another example of it. Suddenly he gets a mysterious message which suggests his wife may be still alive. He’s reached the stage of acceptance under a misapprehension. Thrillers are all about ‘what if’s’ and here Coben asks: what if the ‘denial’ stage and the ‘anger’ stage were the authentic ones. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross would not approve.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Seven books about teen friendships

Brittany Ackerman is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University's Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has completed a residency at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, and has attended the Mont Blanc Workshop in Chamonix, France under the instruction of Alan Heathcock. She has also attended the Writers by Writers Methow Valley Workshop under the leadership of Ross Gay.

Her first collection of essays and winner of the 2016 Nonfiction Award, The Perpetual Motion Machine, was published with Red Hen Press in 2018. Her debut novel, The Brittanys, it out now with Vintage.

At Electric Lit Ackerman tagged seven "books about teen friendships from the 1970s to 2000s," including:
Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? by Lorrie Moore

Berie is 15 when she meets Sils at her job in Storyland in upstate New York where Berie sells tickets and Sils gets to play Cinderella. It’s the kind of friendship where doing nothing becomes everything, listening to records, hitching rides to concerts, snacking on whatever you can find in the fridge, sharing clothes, sharing lives. Berie is envious when Sils gets a boyfriend, Mike, and contemplates her own womanhood and existence:
I only wanted my body to bloom and bleed and be loved. I was raw with want, but in part it was a simple want, one made for easy satisfaction, quick drama, deep life: I wanted to go places and do things with Sils.
Their easy-going, almost dream-like friendship is challenged when Sils needs Berie’s help and the tables are turned. Lorrie Moore’s writing is masterful amidst the backdrop of Storyland, where fairytale characters smoke cigarettes in costume on their break. One summer changes everything for Berie, who ultimately, like the rest of us, just wants to find where she fits in, how she can blossom, and when she’ll be loved.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Seven doubles in the twisted world of mystery fiction

Emily Beyda is a Los Angeles native who written the popular “Dear Glutton” advice column in The Austin Chronicle. She is graduate of Texas State’s M.F.A. program.

Her debut novel is The Body Double.

At CrimeReads Beyda tagged seven of her "favorite doubles in the twisted world of mystery fiction and (slightly) beyond," including:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Probably one of the first ever books centered around the behavior of a second self, I was surprised at how effectively creepy Jekyll and Hyde is. I was familiar with the conceit of the book of course–the main character’s duality is probably one of the most infamous plots of rarely read but widely known literature–but the details of it, including the distance of the telling, and the huge role foggy, filthy London plays in the unfolding of the story, were a delight to discover. I left the pages feeling unsettled in a hard to shake, bone deep way. Jekyll and Hyde is the perfect rainy day book, easy to plunge through with one pleasurable gulp. It’s no wonder it’s been adapted as many times as it has!
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also appears on Caroline Louise Walker's list of six terrifying doctor-villains in fiction, Robert Masello's list of six classic stories with supernatural crimes at their center, J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison's list of eleven top vile villains in fiction, Chris Howard's top five list of addictive books featuring sci-fi drugs, Steve Toutonghi's list of six top books that expand our mental horizons, Irvine Welsh's list of six favorite books that explore human duality, the Huffington Post's list of classic works that are all under 200 pages, Koren Zailckas's top 11 list of favorite evil characters, Stuart Evers's list of the top ten homes in literature, H.M. Castor's top ten list of dark and haunted heroes and heroines and John Mullan's list of ten of the best butlers in literature, and among Yann Martel's six favorite books. It is one of Ali Shaw's top ten transformation stories and Nicholas Frankel's five best pieces of decadent writing from the nineteenth century.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Five thrilling SFF books to accompany exercise

Aigner Loren Wilson is a SFWA, HWA, and Codex writer who writes poetry, nonfiction, games, alongside her fiction. Her work has been called evocative, noteworthy, and imaginative.

At Wilson tagged five "great books to help keep your motivation up while you hit the gym, trail, or whatever other method you use to exercise," including:
The Unbroken by C.L. Clark

Touraine’s arms. Need I say more? If you haven’t seen Tommy Arnold’s rendition of Touraine, (Gideon the Ninth, Wizards of the Coast, etc.) C.L. Clark’s sapphic muscular main character’s arms, it’s worth studying. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone’s sent a picture of the buff hero to their personal trainer or group chat with the message, “I want those arms.”

The Unbroken depicts the battles, romances, and deceits between soldier Touraine and the Queen-to-be, Luca, who has tasked her and the rest of the indentured soldiers to squash an uprising in the land Touraine was stolen from as a child. Trained to be a killer and ripped like the fighter you’d want on your side in a tight spot, Touraine finds more than her home and Luca discovers that Touraine has more to offer than powerful arms.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 21, 2021

Six dark tales of fatherhood crime and noir

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

At CrimeReads he tagged six dark titles of fatherhood crime and noir, including:
The Ones You Do, Daniel Woodrell

Speaking of southern-fried, this novel from the reigning king of “country noir” is ostensibly the conclusion to an early trilogy of detective novels, but really, it’s its own beast. Unlike the two novels that preceded it—Under the Bright Lights (1986) and Muscle for the Wing (1988)—this 1992 novel focuses not on Rene Shade, the hardscrabble boxer-turned-detective who traverses the seedy and dangerous river city of St. Bruno, but his ne’er do well father, John X Shade.

A washed-out ladies’ man, pool hustler and bartender, John X. returns to the family and son he abandoned after being himself jilted by his much younger wife, who absconds with a sizeable bundle of cash that belongs to their very dangerous employers. Left holding the bag (but not the money), John X. flees to St. Bruno and attempts to put things to right with his sons. He might have succeeded too, were it not for the diminutive and psychotic hitman that tracks him down, culminating in a touching, but totally unsentimental ending that combines noir’s inherent fatalism and cruel irony with a heavy dose of pathos.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Seven absent fathers in fiction

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

At Lit Hub she tagged seven "stories that start with what might feel like an absence but turn into something else entirely." One title on the list:
Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai

Reader, meet Ludo. He is the star of Helen DeWitt’s masterpiece and the most delightfully precocious young child you will encounter in literature. He’s sort of a genius, a voracious reader with a knack for learning new languages. There’s nothing he can’t learn… except for the identity of his dad. As a substitute father-figure, his mother just keeps playing the movie The Last Samurai, which is both a hilarious and brilliant response to the kid’s one question. Unfortunately, it doesn’t suffice forever. So begins the 482-page journey detailing Ludo testing the men he might deem fit to be his father.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Ten guilty pleasure novels to devour

May Cobb earned her MA in literature from San Francisco State University, and her essays and interviews have appeared in the Washington Post, the Rumpus, Edible Austin, and Austin Monthly. Her debut novel, Big Woods, won multiple awards. A Texas native, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

Cobb's new novel is The Hunting Wives.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten favorite "page-turnery, propulsive reads that are also whip-smart with a side of social commentary that goes down like honey," including:
The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward

This gorgeous, sumptuous novel opens with Charlotte Perkins, 70 and long ago widowed, at her best friend’s funeral. With the passing of her friend, it seems that life might be drained of all adventure, but when Charlotte wins a “Become a Jetsetter” contest by submitting an essay about a long-ago love affair, she wins a 10-day cruise around the Mediterranean, inviting along her estranged adult children, in the hopes of patching the family back together. Both slyly funny and heart wrenching, this is the ultimate dysfunctional family vacation novel. It’ll make you cry and laugh at the same time, all while cruising through swoon-worthy coastal ports.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 18, 2021

Four good books filled with “bad” gays

P. J. Vernon was born in South Carolina. Called a "rising star thriller writer" by Library Journal, Vernon's debut, When You Find Me, was both an Audible Plus #1 Listen and Associated Press Top Ten U.S. Audiobook.

[The Page 69 Test: When You Find MeWriters Read: P. J. Vernon (November 2018)My Book, The Movie: When You Find MeCoffee with a Canine: P. J. Vernon & Chauncey and Mikko.]

His new novel is Bath Haus, praised as "a nightmarish white-knuckler by O, The Oprah Magazine.

Vernon lives in Calgary with his husband and two wily dogs.

At CrimeReads he shared a list of "good books filled with 'bad' (i.e. 'real') gays," including:
When grieving your soulmate means opening their old wounds:
After Elias, Eddy Boudel Tan

As an exceedingly anxious person, my brain love cultivating unmerited fears, new insecurities, and worst-case scenarios that keep getting, well, worse. Greatest among them: the loss of a partner. Piling on, was the desperate fear that family support during life-shattering tragedies like death, divorce, or dangerous relationships may not come. If they don’t accept us when things are grreat, how can they accept our pain when things aren’t? In Eddy Boudel Tan’s gripping debut After Elias (Dundurn), Coen awaits the arrival of his fiancé, airline pilot Elias, at the Mexican resort where they’ll soon be wed—only to learn Elias’s flight has crashed. In a horrifying reveal mirroring the real-life Germanwings tragedy, it appears Elias may have taken the aircraft down on purpose.

Do queer folks grieve differently? We sure don’t. In Boudel Tan’s stunning heartbreaker, secrets are surfaced and layers peeled back as Coen demands answers as messily (read: realistically) as any person would. His quest for truth and absolution is relentless and experiencing this through a queer lens is nothing shy of empowering.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Top 10 books about public spaces

Jonathan Lee is an award-winning, internationally bestselling novelist, editor, and screenwriter living in New York. His new novel is The Great Mistake.

Lee's writing has been called “achingly good” in The New Yorker, and The New York Times has stated that “Lee’s prose will shame just about anyone who writes for a living.” According to The Guardian, “Lee dives deep into the minds and hearts of his characters, skillfully shoring up ‘the private moments history so rarely records.’”

At the Guardian Lee tagged ten stories that are "are celebrations of areas where strangers can mingle, think, and be less alone," including:
The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri

There are those for whom public space is the only space available. Aged eight, Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother, living in a refugee camp before eventually being granted asylum in the US and making her way to Princeton University. Here, she weaves together her own vivid story with the stories of other refugees and asylum seekers who have been displaced in recent years, bringing us inside their daily lives as they gather in camps and borderlands, trying to find a path toward resettlement in homes they can call their own.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Nine titles that explore the weirder side of reproduction

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Utah with her husband and her two young sons.

Murphy is the author of two novels: The Possessions (2017) and Girl One (2021).

[My Book, The Movie: The PossessionsThe Page 69 Test: The PossessionsWriters Read: Sara Flannery Murphy (March 2017).]

At Lit Hub she tagged "nine books that prove, in different ways, that the question of how we get here is one of the richest topics in literature," including:
Bina Shah, Before She Sleeps

Usually, when we discuss the dangers of forced plural marriage, we focus on polygamy. Shah goes with the reverse. After an endemic strain of HPV shifts the gender balance, the surviving women are tasked with reproducing with as many husbands as possible. Those who rebel against a life of constant pregnancy and government-assigned husbands can go underground, but even these rebels must provide illicit services to men to get by, offering emotional support for a single evening. Whether repopulating the earth or doling out empathy, the women in Shah’s future are only valued in ways that harm them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Five SFF books that set sail for adventure

F.T. Lukens is the author of In Deeper Waters, So This is Ever After, and four young adult novels published through Interlude Press. Her book Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, won the ForeWord INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award for YA Fiction, and the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction, and it was also recently named to ALA’s 2019 Rainbow List. Lukens lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats.

At Lukens tagged five favorite books "involving mythology of the deep, pirates and their exploits, action and adventure, and sailing across the wide deep blue sea," including:
A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

On September 7th it will be time to adventure to the South China Sea during the golden age of piracy. A Treasure Island remix, the reader can expect pirates, treasure maps, fabled riches and the thrill of adventure. The story follows Xiang, a girl who was left a gold pendant by her father who died at sea. When Anh steals the ordinary looking pendant, the girls discover a tiny map scroll inside which when decoded may lead them to the fabled last treasure of the Head of the Dragon, leader of the Dragon Fleet. Embarking on their journey, the girls discover that the sea is more dangerous than they thought. Written by the amazing CB Lee, who wrote the Sidekick Squad series, readers can expect queer representation, action and adventure, and of course a strong romance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 14, 2021

Eight books for reality TV fans

Alexandria Juarez is a Chicanx lesbian writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast from Southern California. 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 eight "books that fictionalize new reality TV premises, or open conversations about all of the shows we can’t stop watching," including:
Eat A Peach by David Chang and Gabe Ulla

The host of Netflix’s Ugly Delicious and founder of Momofuku and Milk Bar, David Chang’s memoir is perfect for food show lovers. Chang grew up in Virginia as the child of Korean immigrants, and he documents his coming-of-age journey with the culinary world. He reflects on his mental health, racial identity, and social movements, as he was thrust into restaurant and food TV success. Incredibly raw and insightful, Eat a Peach gives a glimpse into the individuals behind the screen.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Five SFF squads you wish you could join

Alexis Nedd is a Brooklyn-based pop culture "fanthropologist" who has only ever loved things in a big, obsessive way. As the Senior Entertainment Reporter at, she covers television, movies, and video games with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy universes like Game of Thrones and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Don't Hate the Player is her first novel.

At Nedd tagged five favorite "SFF books where loners band together to kick butt, steal stuff, support each other, or simply survive," including:
The Crows — Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

All right, I get one more heist-y squad as a treat. The family that breaks people out of prison, gets captured, dons elaborate disguises, and commandeers tanks together stays together, that’s what I always say. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Jesper, Matthias, and Wylan all come from different walks of life but are bonded by their fierce loyalty to each other and the knowledge that what they can accomplish together is worth more than the sum of what they can handle on their own. That’s the practical reason, anyway. They also just adore each other even if they’d never admit it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Four fictional serial killers you can't forget

Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their small ridiculous cat. Having been a fan of grisly fairy tales from a young age, these days Williams writes dark unsettling thrillers with strong female leads, as well as character-driven fantasy novels with plenty of adventure and magic. She has twice won the British Fantasy Award for her Winnowing Flame trilogy, and when she's not writing books she works as a bookseller and a freelance copywriter.

Her new novel is A Dark and Secret Place.

At CrimeReads Williams tagged four favorite dark and twisted villains of fictional lore, including:
Munshun/The Monday Man of Black House

Black House is a collaboration between two horror giants, Stephen King and Peter Straub – and it’s also a direct sequel to their previous joint project, The Talisman. There is a lot going on in Black House, not least a complex web of connections to King’s multi book epic, The Dark Tower series, but for my purposes I want to highlight the murderer at its heart; a killer who is modelled after a very real monster. The town of French Landing is being terrorized by a child killer dubbed “the Fisherman” – a name he’s earned for his similarity to Albert Fish. Fish was an American serial killer from the early years of the 20th century, known for abducting, raping and cannibalizing his young victims. He was convicted and executed for a single murder, but he boasted of many more, claiming he had at least one victim in “every state.” In the world of Black House, we eventually discover that the new “Fisherman” is a man called Charles Burnside, who has been working in league with a demon known as Munshun, or the Monday Man – and it is revealed that this creature has “consensually possessed” many cannibalistic killers over the years, including the repulsive Albert Fish. Being a horror novel, Black House directly addresses the idea that serial killers are, literally, inhuman monsters, and Munshun – with his swollen white head and shark-like teeth – is an especially memorable one. But it’s worth remembering that Albert Fish was a real man, who really did these atrocious acts, a fact that is more frightening than any demon – and it’s also the part that stayed with me when I’d finished the book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 11, 2021

Eight titles about small-town woman detectives

Sophie Stein is an intern at Electric Literature. She was born in Chicago and is currently an MFA candidate at Indiana University, where she is the Fiction Editor of the Indiana Review. Her short fiction has won awards from The Hypertext Review and december magazine; her work has also appeared in The Briar Cliff Review, The Tangerine, and elsewhere.

At Electric Lit Stein tagged eight books about small-town woman detectives, including:
Whispers in the Dark by Eleanor Taylor Bland

Detective Marti MacAlister has been tasked with a seemingly unsolvable case: all that’s left of the murder victim is an unidentifiable arm. Marti and her partner delve into the exclusive artistic community of Lincoln Prairie, Illinois to tackle the mystery. Meanwhile, Marti’s best friend is embroiled in a dangerous journey of her own as a suitor spirits her away to the Bahamas. As the case in Lincoln Prairie starts to crack, Marti must also rescue her friend in this dramatic whirlwind of a novel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Top 10 novels told in a single day

James Clammer has worked at many kinds of jobs, including plumbing. He now lives in Sussex, where he writes in a shed at the bottom of a cliff. His first novel, Why I Went Back — a work of YA fiction compared with Susan Cooper and Alan Garner — was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and longlisted for the Branford Boase Award.

Insignificance is Clammer’s first novel for adults.

At the Guardian Clammer tagged ten novels that, like Insignificance, take place in a single day. One title on the list:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick

From ghosts to androids. “In one sense I’m now the greatest bounty hunter who ever lived,” Rick Deckard muses towards the end of this science-fiction classic. “No one ever retired six Nexus-6 types in one twenty-four hour span and no one probably ever will again.” His reward, at the end of an almost impossibly long day? A toad. This is a future Earth where real animals are status symbols. Unfortunately, the toad itself turns out to be a robot. Not
that Deckard cares – by then he desires only to sleep. Well, you see his point. Imagine six back-to-back Zoom meetings, and at the end of each you have to terminate one participant. Wouldn’t you fancy a bit of a snooze?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? also appears on Kinks guitarist Dave Davies's six best books list, Abhimanyu Das and Gordon Jackson's list of eleven science fiction books that are often taught in college, Robert Kroese's list of five science fiction novels about sheep, Ceridwen Christensen's list of eleven stories of love and robots, Ryan Britt's list of six of the best detectives from science fiction literature, Weston Williams's list of fifteen classic science fiction books, Allegra Frazier's list of four great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, Ryan Menezes's list of five movies that improved the book, Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the twelve most unfaithful movie versions of science fiction and fantasy books, Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, John Mullan's list of ten of the best titles in the form of questions, Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of ten classic sci-fi books that were originally considered failures and Robert Collins's top ten list of dystopian novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Five top horror novels that explore the darkest corners of our minds

Lisa Unger is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author. With books published in twenty-nine languages and millions of copies sold worldwide, she is widely regarded as a master of suspense.

Her latest release is Confessions on the 7:45.

At CrimeReads Unger tagged five great horror novels that terrified her. One title on the list:
Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin

Guy Woodhouse is a struggling actor and Rosemary is his young wife. We like them right away because they’re just like us. Guy is smart and adoring. Rosemary is aspirational and sweet. They’ve already signed a lease on a place when they get the big news that an apartment in their dream building The Bramford has come available. They fall in love with it, and at Rosemary’s behest Guy gets them out of their just-signed lease and into The Bramford. When good pal Hutch tries to talk them out of it, they scoff. He claims that The Bramford is in the “danger zone” and warns of a history of cannibalism, satanism, and a rash of suicides. It’s Levin’s first master stroke; we’re worried about the lovely couple before the first sign of trouble. As Guy’s acting dreams come true, and Rosemary’s pregnancy seems to leave her ever weaker, Levin ratchets up the tension subtly, moment by moment, scene by scene until we are as completely in the thrall of The Bramford’s horrors as poor Rosemary.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Rosemary's Baby is among Alice Blanchard's ten chilling thrillers to get you through a winter storm, Ania Ahlborn's ten scariest books of all time, Jeff Somers's twenty-one books that will give you an idea of how the horror genre has evolved and "twenty-five books that might not necessarily be the best horror novels, but are certainly the scariest," Christopher Shultz's top ten literary chillers, and Kat Rosenfield's top seven scary autumnal stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Seven top books about faith & feminism

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Monica West received her BA from Duke University, her MA from New York University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was a Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow. She was a Southern Methodist University Kimbilio Fellow in 2014, and she will be a Hedgebrook Writer in Residence in 2021.

Revival Season is West's first novel.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books about women who grapple with—or reject and replace—patriarchal religion, including:
The Power by Naomi Alderman

Though not centered around an organized religion per se, Alderman’s novel imagines what happens when women have a special physical power that makes them omnipotent and potentially dangerous. One of the characters with this power—Allie—uses her abilities to escape a brutal home life and flee to a convent. Soon, other people recognize that she has the special ability to control her power, and they come to her for healing. Thus, she reinvents herself as Eve—a spiritual leader of a new matriarchal religion that believes that God is female and emphasizes the female deities in other religions. Even though power ultimately corrupts Eve and her mission, Alderman fuses feminism and faith to remind readers of what can be possible in the world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 7, 2021

Six top literary thrillers about espionage, spies, & double agents

Rebecca Starford is the author of Bad Behaviour, a memoir about boarding school and bullying. The book has been optioned for television by Matchbox Pictures.

Starford’s first novel, The Imitator, is out now in Australia, and in the United States, Canada, the UK and South Africa under the title An Unlikely Spy.

She is also the co-founder and publishing director of Kill Your Darlings, and has previously worked for Text Publishing and Affirm Press. She is a freelance editor and creative writing teacher.

Originally from Melbourne, Starford currently lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her partner, son and many pets.

At CrimeReads she tagged six great literary thrillers about espionage, spies, and double agents, including:
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer

I have never read anything quite like The Sympathizer. I say “read”, but in fact I first consumed this Pulitzer-Prize winning novel in audio, with Francois Chau narrating, which is an absolute delight. Chau’s rich, mellifluous voice gives a wearied yet determined detachment to this story of a North Vietnamese mole, who after the fall of Saigon remains embedded a South Vietnamese community in exile in the United States. This novel is mind-blowingly good, a pyrotechnic demonstration of style, mashing up a range of fictional genres, including mystery, meta-fiction, comedy and, of course, espionage. The Janus-like nature a spy’s character, the moral ambiguity of which the novel works to reflect back to the reader, is captured succinctly in the opening lines: “I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds.” The Sympathizer is brilliant.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Sympathizer is among Siobhan Adcock's six crime books that explore the experience of veterans and Shelley Wood's five top epistolary novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Six SFF books about gods and pantheons

Zen Cho was born and raised in Malaysia, and currently lives in England.

She is a Crawford, British Fantasy and Hugo Award winner, and was a 2013 finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

Cho is the author of the Sorcerer to the Crown novels, historical fantasies with a postcolonial sensibility about magicians in 1800s London. She's also published a short story collection, Spirits Abroad, and a novella about nuns and bandits in a wuxia take on Emergency Malaya, The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water. Her newest novel is a contemporary fantasy called Black Water Sister.

At Cho tagged six SFF titles about gods and pantheons, including:
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A feminist reimagining of the Indian epic Mahabharata from the point of view of Panchaali, wife of the five Pandava brothers. The book traces Panchaali’s life from her birth in fire to her marriage with the five brothers, which takes her from queenhood to a long exile, and finally, into a catastrophic war. I read this before encountering any other retelling of the Mahabharata: it’s an accessible, entertaining and moving introduction to one of humanity’s great stories.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Seven titles about the lies that bind siblings together

Andy Abramowitz is the author of A Beginner’s Guide to Free Fall and Thank You, Goodnight. A native of Baltimore, Andy lives with his wife, two daughters, and their dog, Rufus, in Philadelphia, where he enjoys classic rock, pitchers’ duels, birthday cake, the sound of a Fender Rhodes piano, and the month of October. He is also a lawyer.

Abramowitz's new novel is Darling at the Campsite.

At Electric Lit he tagged seven books about the lies that bind siblings together, including:
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Ten-year-old Abdullah watches helplessly as his father sells Pari—Abdullah’s beloved sister, only three-years-old—to a wealthy family. Forced to endure the painful separation from his sister, the rest of Abdullah’s life is shaped by this event. Following its characters through the decades in Afghanistan, France, and the United States, it’s a shattering novel about the consequences of brutal choices.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 4, 2021

Seven classics of hustler noir

Rahul Raina is the author of the new novel, How to Kidnap the Rich.

At CrimeReads he tagged seven "favourite books about hucksters, hustlers, con men big and small, desperate for their own piece of the action." One title on the list:
Hullaballoo in the Guava Orchard, by Kiran Desai

One of my favourite Indian novels, and one of the most unjustly ignored despite the author’s later fame. It can best be described with one of the words I hate most about Indian literature—kaleidoscopic. A freewheeling trip through small-town India, through its calumnies, secrets, hypocrisies, when the young failson Sampath Chawla accidentally becomes a holy man by decamping to the titular location. Whether you think he’s a conman or not will be based on what you think about masculinity, about the role of first-born sons in society, whether you believe in his guilt or innocence. A free-wheeling raucous satire on men and the lies they construct so readily and easily, the destruction they cause, just to make an easy buck in a world gone insane.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Top 10 books for a greener economy

Ann Pettifor is director of Prime: Policy Research in Macroeconomics and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation.

She is the author of The Case for the Green New Deal. “What still distinguishes Pettifor’s thinking about the Green New Deal," according to Sierra Magazine, "is the way that it tackles not only the climate crisis but also the financial system that helped create it.”

At the Guardian Pettifor tagged ten of the best books that "think through some of the ways we can adopt a more sustainable way of life," including:
The Money Makers by Eric Rauchway (2015)

Roosevelt’s New Deal was an inspiration for the expansive, state-led investment which I’ve argued for in my work, and Rauchway’s book is an excellent account of how FDR achieved his impressive revival of the US economy. It might be about economics but he makes it interesting for people who aren’t economists. He tells an exciting story about how Roosevelt proved his detractors wrong, and how the British economist John Maynard Keynes provided the ideas that were central to his transformative programme.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue