Sunday, October 31, 2021

Five books featuring fantasy clergy

Margaret Rogerson is the author of the New York Times bestsellers An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses.

Rogerson's new novel is Vespertine.

At she tagged five books featuring fantasy clergy, including:
The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison

The Witness for the Dead is a companion to one of my all time favorite novels, The Goblin Emperor. It follows Thara Celehar, a compelling and mysterious side character from the first book. As a Priest of Ulis, his discipline allows him to re-live the final moments of the recently deceased, a gift (or sometimes curse) that he uses to investigate their deaths. Related to this talent, he can also subdue flesh-devouring ghouls that occasionally crawl forth from neglected graves. Addison weaves religion and fantasy together into a living, breathing world of immense yet subtle complexity, and depicts Celehar’s dedication to his faith—and its corresponding burdens—with quiet, poignant grace. Despite being elves and goblins, her characters feel more human than most humans.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Thirteen enchanted reads for spooky season

At B&N Reads Kat Sarfas tagged thirteen witchy books reads for spooky season, including:
Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove Series #2)
Shelby Mahurin

This hotly anticipated sequel to Serpent & Dove packs in all the magic and heart-stopping action we loved in the first book, and more. Full of witchcraft and forbidden love, the Serpent & Dove series should not be missed. In this second installment, Lou, Reid, and their crew are on the run from enemies and in desperate need of protection. Relationships are put to the test as the group travels through dangerous situations to find the strong allies they need that just might force them to turn to a darker side of magic. Mahurin’s epic world-building and well-developed cast of characters make this hands-down one of our favorite new YA fantasy series.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 29, 2021

Top 10 books on neocolonialism

Susan Williams is a senior research fellow in the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her pathbreaking books include Who Killed Hammarskjöld?, which in 2015 triggered a new, ongoing UN investigation into the death of the UN Secretary General. Spies in the Congo spotlights the link between US espionage in the Congo and the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. Colour Bar, the story of Botswana’s founding President, was made into the major 2016 film A United Kingdom. A People’s King presents an original perspective on the abdication of Edward VIII and his marriage to Wallis Simpson.

Williams's new book is White Malice: The CIA and the Covert Recolonization of Africa.

At the Guardian she tagged ten "books [to] help to answer the questions posed by Abderrahmane Sissako’s remarkable 2006 film Bamako, in which the World Bank and the IMF are put on trial in Mali: 'Why when Africa sows does she not reap? Why when Africa reaps does she not eat?'” One title on the list:
Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism by Kwame Nkrumah (1965)

Described as the classic statement on the postcolonial condition, this is a compelling read and is supported by a wealth of detail. Nkrumah believed that neocolonialism is “the worst form of imperialism”, on the grounds that those who practise it exercise “power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress”.

The US government was incensed by the book. According to a senior official in the state department, it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back … It accused the United States of every sin imaginable. We were blamed for everything in the world”. The year after its publication, Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup backed by the CIA.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Seven crime books that challenge the idea of inherent female goodness

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in more than one hundred journals worldwide. Recognition includes the Bath Flash Fiction Award short list, nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia, with her husband.

Dalcher's latest novel is Femlandia.

At CrineReads she tagged seven recent books that challenge the "traditional world view that the fairer sex is, well, fairer." One title on the list:
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn — Adora Crellin

We could also talk about Amma Crellin in Flynn’s debut novel, but let’s stick to the source of the problem—the mother. Adora (aptly named) showers her daughters with attention. It’s just that it’s the wrong sort of attention in this psychological thriller featuring that worst of all maternal perversions: Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. It’s difficult to think of a purer evil than poisoning your own child.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sharp Objects is among Nicole Trope's six domestic suspense novels where nothing is really ever what it seems, Heather Gudenkauf's ten great thrillers centered on psychology, and Peter Swanson's ten top thrillers that explore mental health.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Nine books on the very human importance of walking

Katherine May is a New York Times bestselling author, whose titles include Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times and The Electricity of Every Living Thing, her memoir of being autistic. Her fiction includes The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club and Burning Out. She is also the editor of The Best, Most Awful Job, an anthology of essays about motherhood. Her journalism and essays have appeared in a range of publications including The New York Times, The Observer and Aeon.

May lives in Whitstable, UK with her husband, son, three cats and a dog.

Her latest book is The Electricity of Every Living Thing: A Woman's Walk In The Wild To Find Her Way Home.

At Lit Hub May tagged nine books on the very human importance of walking, including:
Jay Griffiths, Tristimania

Jay Griffiths’ beautiful prose casts a light on the experience of “tristimania”—a historic term, preferred by Griffiths, for a bipolar episode. Mania, here, is portrayed as a kind of spiralling creativity that is too big, too vigorous, to endure. But healing comes through a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, where she finds a different kind of endurance and also the kindness of strangers. Reading it, I felt like I understood for the first time that we can learn to honor our difficult, uncompromising selves, and that the arduous work of getting there is vital to the process.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Twelve of the scariest books

The staff at USA Today tagged "the spookiest, most spine-tingling books [they]'ve ever read," including:
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Hollywood in its darkest dreams could not come up with something as lurid as this true story of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and the killer who prowled its grounds. The story is told through the eyes of two men: the fair’s renowned architect, Daniel Burnham, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, the cold-blooded, blue-eyed murderer widely regarded as America’s first urban serial killer. In the prologue, titled “Evils Imminent,” the author tells us: “Beneath the gore and smoke and loam, this book is about the evanescence of life, and why some men choose to fill their brief allotment of time engaging the impossible, others in the manufacture of sorrow. In the end it is a story of the ineluctable conflict between good and evil, daylight and darkness, the White City and the Black.” So what’s so scary about this story? It really happened. –Robert Abitbol
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Devil in the White City is among Thomas Harding's eight favorite true crime books, Graham Moore's six favorite books about technology, Jeff Somers's eight top true crime books, Dell Villa's top five literary escapes to American cities, and Randy Dotinga's five favorite historical true-crime books from the last decade.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 25, 2021

Seven top crime & suspense novels set on the river

Rebecca Hodge is an author of fiction, a veterinarian, and a clinical research scientist who lives and writes in North Carolina. Fiction writing is the space where her creative side comes out to play, and her writing centers on characters who discover that life is not a spectator sport. She has three grown sons, two crazy dogs, and one patient husband. When not writing on the back porch or brewing yet another mug of tea, she loves hiking, travel, and (of course) curling up with a good book.

[The Page 69 Test: Over the FallsCoffee with a Canine: Rebecca Hodge & Tess and Kalen]

Hodge's new novel is Over the Falls.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven top crime and suspense novels set on the river, including:
Down River – Karen Harper

When Lisa is swept away in the rapids of Alaska’s Wild River, and Mitch sets out to search for her, they believe the river and the wilderness are their only enemies. But there’s a killer on the loose, and nature is not the only thing they have to battle.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Five top dark & disturbing reads

James Han Mattson was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in North Dakota. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received grants from the Copernicus Society of America and Humanities North Dakota. He has been a featured storyteller on The Moth, and has taught at the University of Iowa, the University of Cape Town, the University of Maryland, the George Washington University, Murray State University, and the University of California – Berkeley. In 2009, he moved to Korea and reunited with his birth family after 30 years of separation.

He is the author of two novels: The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves (2017) and Reprieve (2021). He is currently the fiction editor of Hyphen Magazine.

At the Waterstones blog he tagged five favorite dark and disturbing reads including:
The Damnation Game by Clive Barker

This is Clive Barker’s first novel, and my favorite by a long-shot, partly because it feels very contained, and partly because the twisted horror scenes are so creative. A completely absorbing and chilling tale about a Faustian bargain gone awry, the book is full of haunting and macabre imagery, and left me feeling unsettled long after I turned the last page.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Eight books about women walking in nature

Annabel Abbs is an award-winning author and journalist. She writes regularly for a wide range of newspapers and magazines and lives in London, with her husband and four children. Her novels, The Joyce Girl and Frieda, were published to great acclaim.

Abbs's newest novel is Miss Eliza's English Kitchen: A Novel of Victorian Cookery and Friendship.

Her first foray into memoir and her first solo-authored non-fiction book is Windswept: Walking in the Footsteps of Remarkable Women.

At Electric Lit Abbs tagged eight memoirs of women hiking in the wilderness. One title on the list:
Wanderers: A History of Women Walking by Kerri Andrews

The first nonfiction book to excavate lost women walker-writers of the past and return them to the literary stage. Andrews spent over a decade researching women from as far back as the 18th-century in a scholarly bid to prove that women have always hiked in wild landscapes. From Elizabeth Carter to Dorothy Wordsworth to Cheryl Strayed, Andrews argues for a re-evaluation of the genre now known as literature of the leg.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 22, 2021

Eight noir novels featuring saps & suckers

Gregory Galloway is the author of the novels The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand and the Alex Award-winning As Simple As Snow. His short stories have appeared in the Rush Hour and Taking Aim anthologies. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Galloway's new novel is Just Thieves.

At CrimeReads Galloway tagged eight "favorite noirs of characters in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong idea, thinking everything will be alright," including:
Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham

William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley (1946) is about as grim as they come, and almost as grim as Gresham’s real life (which provided some of the material for his novel).

Stan Carlisle thinks he can do better than work in a carnival, he might even think he’s better than the strongman, the fortuneteller, geek, and other performers. Stan thinks he can make it to the big time, and uses almost everyone he meets as another rung up the ladder of his success. He becomes the Great Stanton, conning the unsuspecting rich out of their money with a phony mentalist act, until he runs his grift on the wrong guy. Running from his mistakes and the people he’s wronged, Stanton falls back down the ladder, winding up exactly where he started. Well, actually lower, much lower.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Top 10 true crime novels

After a peripatetic childhood in Glasgow, Paris, London, Invergordon, Bergen and Perth, Denise Mina left school early. Working in a number of dead end jobs, all of them badly, before studying at night school to get into Glasgow University Law School.

Mira went on to study for a PhD at Strathclyde, misusing her student grant to write her first novel. This was Garnethill, published in 1998, which won the Crime Writers Association John Creasy Dagger for Best First Crime Novel.

She has since published more than a dozen novels. Her new novella is Rizzio, based on the true story of a brutal murder in 1566, in the court of Mary, Queen of Scots.

At the Guardian Mina tagged ten top true crime novels, including:
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

It’s a stretch to include this glorious book because it pushes the parameters beyond a tale of individual criminality to fictionalise the crimes of nation states, governments and the CIA, but it covers the crack wars of the 1980s and the attempted murder of Bob Marley, attempting to make sense of the incomprehensible, which is surely what this form is all about.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Brief History of Seven Killings is among Jonathan Lee's top ten assassination plots in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Eight books about living in Los Angeles

María Amparo Escandón is the author of the #1 L.A. Times bestseller Esperanza’s Box of Saints and González & Daughter Trucking Co. Named a writer to watch by both Newsweek and the L.A. Times, she was born in Mexico City and has lived in Los Angeles for nearly four decades.

Escandón's new novel is L.A. Weather.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight favorite books about living in Los Angeles, including:
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Your House Will Pay is Steph Cha’s powerful, haunting exploration of a decades-old crime and its far-reaching effects on two Los Angeles families—one Korean American, and one African American. This thriller follows Shawn Matthews, a black Angeleno who is still reeling from the murder of his sister by a Korean woman in the early 1990s, and Grace Park, who lives a quiet life with her immigrant parents until she discovers that her mother might be hiding a dark secret about her past. Inspired, in part, by true L.A. events, Your House Will Pay is a story of loss, injustice, trauma, and reckoning that captures the complicated history of two Los Angeles communities.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Your House Will Pay is among Alyssa Cole's five top crime novels that explore social issues, Sara Sligar's seven California crime novels with a nuanced take on race, class, gender & community, and Karen Dietrich's eight top red herrings in contemporary crime fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Six books about crime & colonialism at the U.S.-Mexico border

Bruce McCandless III grew up in the shadow of Houston’s Johnson Space Center during the Apollo and Skylab eras. He graduated from the Plan II Honors Program of the University of Texas in 1983 and went on to earn degrees from the University of Reading in England and the University of Texas School of Law. After teaching at Saint David’s School in New York City, he returned to Austin to practice law and retired as general counsel of Superior HealthPlan in 2019. He is the author of Sour Lake (2011), Beatrice and the Basilisk (2014), and, with his daughter Carson, Carson Clare’s Trail Guide to Avoiding Death (And Other Unpleasant Consequences) (2017).

His latest work, In the Land of Dead Horses, is a spine-tingling tale of Texas history and supernatural terror. A prequel to 2011’s Sour Lake, In the Land of Dead Horses reintroduces readers to Texas Ranger Jewel Lightfoot and his macabre world of double-barreled demon hunting.

At CrimeReads McCandless tagged six books "to truly understand the currents of violence and criminality that run just below the surface of U.S.-Mexican relations," including:
In the Rogue Blood by James Carlos Blake

In some ways even more ambitious than Blood Meridian, Mexican-born Blake’s In the Rogue Blood is an obvious but able McCarthy copycat that chronicles the long, bloody migration of two brothers from the U.S. to Mexico during the Mexican-American War. South of the border, the brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict: One rides with a group of Mexican outlaws helping the American army, while the other finds himself serving in St. Patrick’s Battalion, a contingent of Americans and Europeans fighting for Mexico. It’s a narrative contrivance, to be sure, but it’s one that allows us to better understand Mexican resentment of the American invasion. Published in 1997, In the Rogue Blood is worth a read, but it fails as art somewhere along the way, featuring so many fistfights, knifings, and broken skulls that it forfeits credibility. Blake has made the bloodbath his cup of tea, and has written a number of other novels involving the border, including The Friends of Pancho Villa and a “border noir” series about the piratical Wolfe Family. They’re all crunchy and vivid, but they tend to hit some of the same notes in their gore-soaked sonatas.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 18, 2021

Nine books about love, loss & belonging set in the Caribbean

Myriam J. A. Chancy, Guggenheim Fellow & HBA Chair of the Humanities at Scripps College, is a Haitian-Canadian/American writer born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and subsequently raised there and in Canada. After obtaining her BA in English/Philosophy from the University of Manitoba (1989) and her MA in English Literature from Dalhousie University, she completed her Ph. D. in English at the University of Iowa.

Chancy's new novel on the 2010 Haiti earthquake is What Storm, What Thunder.

At Electric Lit she tagged nine books about love, loss, and belonging set in the Caribbean, including:
The Marvellous Equation of the Dread by Marcia Douglass

In this novel, Douglass weaves an indelible tale of Jamaican life from a deeply spiritual perspective, as she fictionalizes Rastafarian history into a tale for the ages. Bob Marley is reincarnated as a homeless man, Fall Down, who might be a Jamaican Everyman. An unknown deaf woman, Leenah, once Marley’s lover, is a seer who extrapolates the meaning of unexplored spaces between life and death. Told through multiple perspectives, including those of children, and what Douglass calls “bass riddim,” the author brings to life the rhythms of reggae through its many incarnations through her very prose.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Five books on troublesome women in the House of Windsor

Wendy Holden has written numerous books and is a celebrated journalist. She lives in England.

Her latest novel is The Duchess.

At Lit Hub Holden tagged five top books on Troublesome Women in the House of Windsor. One title on the list:
Tina Brown, The Diana Chronicles

Reading for my Diana novel, I’ve found this sparky, irreverent and sharp-witted biography by the celebrated journalist both fascinating and entertaining. Brown, whose background is upmarket British glossy magazines, knew Diana’s milieu well and has some pungent opinions on why what happened happened. She is especially good on Diana’s early life, which is the focus of my book. A breezy and well-informed take on the fairytale which was actually anything but.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Four titles featuring paintings that illuminate their characters

Katie Lattari is the author of two novels, Dark Things I Adore (2021), her thriller debut, and American Vaudeville (2016), a small press work. Her short stories have appeared in such places as NOO Journal, The Bend, Cabildo Quarterly, and more. She lives in Maine with her husband Kevin and Alex the cat.

At CrimeReads Lattari tagged four books featuring paintings that reveal emotional truths about their characters. One title on the list:
Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood (1988)

When painter Elaine Risley returns home to Toronto for a retrospective of her career, she is forced to confront her past, including long-held memories tinged with trauma. As a child, Elaine was the victim of bullying from friends, a girl named Cordelia her particular tormenter. As the two grow up, however, the tables turn, and Elaine becomes the bully and Cordelia the victim. Over the years, the unhealthy relationship between these two frenemies continues until the retrospective, when, despite Elaine’s expectation to the contrary, Cordelia does not attend.

It is through Cordelia’s conspicuous absence that Elaine realizes that at least one of them has left their childish game of one-upmanship behind. Forced to experience her retrospective alone, which is filled with paintings rife with anger and hurt from her past, including intimations of people and moments that have left her wounded and disappointed – Elaine begins to come to terms with the meaning of her paintings and the journey of her career and her life.

The paintings that Elaine must confront seem to form a narrative only legible to her upon reflection. It is a corpus intimating the trials and tribulations of an entire life full of vulnerabilities and truths she must be the one to look upon most closely of all. Elaine must ruminate on what she has made, what these works reflect and refract back to her from various points in her life, and what to make of it all now, armed with her new understanding. The paintings become portals for reflection and revelation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cat's Eye is among Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott's ten top cliques in fiction and Jessica Winter's six favorite novels on girl power.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 15, 2021

Seven funny titles about the internal politics of working at a newspaper

Katherine Ashenburg is the prize-winning author of two novels, four non-fiction books and hundreds of articles on subjects that range from travel to mourning customs to architecture. She describes herself as a lapsed Dickensian and as someone who has had a different career every decade. Her work life began with a Ph.D. dissertation about Dickens and Christmas, but she quickly left the academic world for successive careers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer; at the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail as the arts and books editor; and most recently as a full-time writer.

[ Q&A with Katherine Ashenburg]

Ashenburg's new novel is Her Turn. In it, Liz, a divorced newspaper editor, finds her tidy life overturned when the woman now married to Liz’s ex-husband submits a personal essay to the column Liz edits. Wife #2 has no idea that she is sending her essay to Wife #1, and Liz decides to keep that a secret, with surprising results. Elizabeth Renzetti writes of it, “It is infused with the joyful spirit of Nora Ephron and lit with a charm all its own.”

At Electric Lit Ashenburg tagged seven funny novels about journalists chasing stories and uncovering intrigue, including:
The Spoiler by Annalena McAfee

It’s 1997 and newspapers are beginning to fight for their survival. The novel centers on two women at different ends of the journalistic food chain—Honor, an older, admired war correspondent, and Tamara, a young writer of fluff for an entertainment supplement called Psst. Tamara, who specializes in listicles (“The Best Soap Opera Shags”), has never heard of Franco, thinks zeitgeist is a German magazine and assumes Levi-Strauss is a new kind of jeans. Ambitious to climb an increasingly shaky ladder, she tries to write a feature about the flinty and contemptuous Honor. The gap between two generations and two attitudes to journalism could not be starker, or more darkly amusing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Six literary works that might be horror novels

James Han Mattson was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in North Dakota. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received grants from the Copernicus Society of America and Humanities North Dakota. He has been a featured storyteller on The Moth, and has taught at the University of Iowa, the University of Cape Town, the University of Maryland, the George Washington University, Murray State University, and the University of California – Berkeley. In 2009, he moved to Korea and reunited with his birth family after 30 years of separation.

He is the author of two novels: The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves (2017) and Reprieve (2021). He is currently the fiction editor of Hyphen Magazine.

At CrimeReads he tagged "six books that are widely classified as literary but could have easily made their way over to the horror shelf," including:
Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates

I mean, this book is straight-up horror. I wouldn’t even put it in that nebulous category of “literary horror”, but just, you know: this his horror. It’s about a psychopath who wants to perform ice-pick lobotomies on people so he can have sex with them. Yeah. Beyond grisly. The book even has pictures, one of which shows a head with an ice pick jammed into its brain. Joyce Carol Oates, though, mostly writes more subdued (but still very dark!) novels, and she’s by and large considered a literary luminary, so I don’t ever see any of her books making that trip over to the horror section (which, by the way, no longer exists in most bookstores).
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Seven of the weirdest high schools in literature

Bethany Ball was born in Detroit and now lives in New York with her family.

She is the author of What To Do About The Solomons and the newly released, The Pessimists.

[The Page 69 Test: What To Do About The Solomons.]

At Electic Lit Ball tagged seven "books set in schools where things aren't quite what they seem," including:
Ault School in Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Upper-class waspy prep schools are something I can’t get enough of. A club so elite they’d never accept me? Please, tell me more. I devoured this book when it came out. Being a Midwesterner myself, I also pined for the J Crew catalog-looking East Coast boarding schools and begged my mother to attend one. However, because we were not rich and I was a fairly terrible student, it was never going to happen. Prep is the quintessential fish out of water story: Lee is Midwestern, not rich, not schooled in the ways of the monied East Coast elite, but she wants desperately to fit in. She finds herself, at least initially, with the outsiders on the margins, but rejects them as she moves closer to the center. Ault School is full of the sort of arcane rituals one expects: names like Tig and Cross and Gates, summers in Nantucket, and the game of Assassin played throughout campus.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Prep is among James Scudamore's ten top books about boarding school, Caroline Zancan's eight stories about what really happens on campus, Lucy Worsley's six best books, and James Browning's ten best boarding school books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Nine current classics in magic and covens and spells

For more than ten years, Fire Lyte has interviewed self-identified witches, fairy experts, goblin hunters, paranormal investigators, and even a werewolf on his podcast Inciting A Riot. His thousands of listeners worldwide tune in as he examines magic, witchcraft, Paganism, and spiritual seekership through a diverse, inclusive lens with a balance of modern science, critical thought, and pop culture. He lives in the Chicago suburbs with his husband and vast array of fur children.

Fire Lyte's new book is The Dabbler's Guide to Witchcraft: Seeking an Intentional Magical Path.

At Lit Hub he tagged nine "stories of witches, a coven of stories if you will, that encompass the history of the witch through time and how these stories are thriving in the modern era." One title on the list:
Madeline Miller, Circe

Madeline Miller’s 2019 masterpiece features history’s first witch, the eponymous Circe. She’s presented as a relatively minor goddess who likely would have been relegated to a footnote in a Classics textbook somewhere except for the fact that she realizes her power doesn’t lie in carrying the sun across the sky like her father Helios, but in the hidden magic and medicine of plants. Miller’s prose is at once familiar and romantic while always teetering on the edge of ripping the reader’s heart out, which is my very favorite kind of book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Circe is among Elodie Harper's six top novels set in the ancient world, Kiran Millwood Hargrave's seven best books about islands, Zen Cho's six SFF titles about gods and pantheons, Jennifer Saint's ten top books inspired by Greek myth, 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

Monday, October 11, 2021

Eight novels in which a small town is the perfect crime incubator

L. Alison Heller is the author of The Neighbor’s Secret, The Never Never Sisters and The Love Wars. In a former life, she was an attorney in New York City. She now lives in Colorado with her family.

At CrimeReads Heller tagged eight "favorite novels in which a small town is the perfect incubator for some truly grisly secrets." One title on the list:
Faithful Place by Tana French

Detective Frank Mackey grew up in Faithful Place, a neighborhood consisting of two rows of eight red brick houses in Dublin. At nineteen, he and his girlfriend Rosie O’Daly plotted to flee their small flats and oppressive families for a better life in London. On the night of their planned departure, however, Rosie failed to show up.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Faithful Place is among Katie Tallo's top ten crime novels about returning home.

Also see Janice Hallett's five notable gripping mysteries set in small towns and Sophie Stein's eight top books about small-town woman detectives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Seven books about older women behaving badly

Amy Lee Lillard is the author of Dig Me Out from Atelier26 Books. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Berlin Writing Prize and named one of Epiphany’s Breakout 8 Writers in 2018. Her fiction and nonfiction appears in Barrelhouse, Foglifter, Epiphany, Off Assignment, and other publications.

Lillard has worked as a copywriter and marketer for over twenty years, working in advertising, corporate communications, trade journalism, and medical education. She has also taught writing at local community colleges and mentored in the PEN America Prison Writing Program.

Lillard is the co-creator, co-host, and producer of Broads and Books, the funny and feminist book podcast.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books "about women who refuse to disappear and insist on being seen." including:
Animal by Lisa Taddeo

After losing her parents at a young age, Joan has spent her life pursuing men. Especially the married, rich men that serve as father figures. She trades her youthful looks, her body, her emotional labor, for a sense of protection and care. But as she ages, things grow desperate.

When one of the delusional married men kills himself in front of her, she flees. And in California, she discovers her dormant, lifelong rage at men is demanding to come out. This is an intensely deep and nuanced look at a woman who defines herself with men and against women. But with age, with the withering of all her tools of youth, she accesses both a murderous anger and a shocking capacity to love. And with both, she’ll never cede the floor.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Six top books about migration & Caribbean identity in America

Antonio Michael Downing grew up in southern Trinidad, Northern Ontario, Brooklyn, and Kitchener. He is a musician, writer, and activist based in Toronto. His 2010 debut novel, Molasses, was published to critical acclaim. In 2017 he was named by the RBC Taylor Prize as one of Canada's top Emerging Authors for nonfiction. He performs and composes music as John Orpheus.

Downing's new book is Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming.

At Lit Hub he tagged six favorite books about migration and Caribbean identity in America, including:
David Chariandy, Brother

This novel is closely based on the author’s experiences growing up in Scarborough, a massive, mostly immigrant section of Toronto; my high school there educated students from at least 70 different nationalities! Brother introduces the complexities of growing up in this melting pot. Chariandy is a masterful stylist, he deftly navigates the stories of immigrant parents as they raise children who are disconnected from them. The parents have “useless foreign degrees” framed on the walls while their children, “oiled creatures of mongoose cunning,” bang hip-hop and kick it in barber shops seeking some sense of belonging. Brother is a celebration of brotherhood, a mediation on the divide between migrants and their children, and an exquisite book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 8, 2021

Ten books focused on opulent wealth, family secrets & suspense

The author of Nanny Needed, The Stepdaughter, and The Missing Woman, Georgina Cross worked as a journalist and then spent nine years in business development for an aerospace and defense contractor before joining the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce as the workforce director. She lives in Alabama with her husband and four sons.

At CrimeReads Cross tagged ten books focused on opulent wealth, family secrets and suspense. One title on the list:
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

In Nekesa Afia’s debut mystery, a young Black woman named Louise is working at a café by day in Harlem and the hottest speakeasy at night in 1920s Manhattan. This is a time for hopes and dreams and great jazz, but to everyone’s horror, someone is killing young Black girls, and no one knows who is behind the murders. After an unfortunate altercation with a police officer and Louise is arrested, her past threatens to lumber her with the consequences she’s been avoiding. Instead, she agrees to help the investigation and find the serial killer who is targeting young Black girls in her neighborhood. With the prejudices of New York society working against her and several influential people standing in her way, Louise must track down the killer before they hurt someone else, and before Louise finds herself in the crosshairs too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Top 10 books about theatre

Michael Billington has written about theatre for the Guardian since 1971. His books include The 101 Greatest Plays and State of the Nation: British Theatre Since 1945.

His latest book is Affair of the Heart: British Theatre from 1992 to 2020.

At the Guardian Billington tagged his top ten books "on the fugitive art" of theatre, including:
The Empty Space by Peter Brook

This is arguably the most influential theatre book of modern times. Generations of students and practitioners have absorbed Brook’s division of theatre into four categories – deadly, holy, rough, immediate – but this is also a book for the playgoer. Time and again I am struck by Brook’s practical wisdom: that high prices often deter young theatregoers, that a permanent company is doomed to deadliness without a philosophy, that what remains after a performance is a central image. Brook says at the end that his book is already out of date: I’d say it is as topical as ever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Seven books that grapple with memory & loss

Tom Lin was born in China and immigrated to the United States when he was four. A graduate of Pomona College, he is currently in the PhD program at the University of California, Davis.

The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is his first novel.

At Electric Lit Lin tagged seven titles that grapple with memory and loss, including:
The Glen Rock Book of the Dead by Marion Winik

In the space of 100 pages, Winik pays poignant and often funny tribute to people in her life who have died. The book is a masterclass in character. Winik resurrects these memorialized dead as epithets—an occupation, a demonym, a relation—and pairs them with finely-wrought prose portraits that run two or three pages at most. In terms of pure word count, this book can be easily finished in a single sitting; in terms of weight and breadth, however, you’ll want to slow down, read and reread, if only to give these remembered phantoms a little more space to breathe, a little more time to linger.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue