Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Twenty-five of the best vampire books

At Bustle, K.W. Colyard tagged twenty-five of the best recent vampire books, including:
Soulless by Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger’s first Parasol Protectorate novel introduces readers to Alexia Tarabotti, a young woman whose lack of a soul makes her impervious to all supernatural attackers — including the vampire who breaks the laws of common decency to go after her. Now he’s dead, and none other than the Queen herself has sent a werewolf investigator to sniff out Alexia’s trail.
Read about the other books on the list.

Soulless is among David R. Slayton's ten groundbreaking urban fantasy novels and Darynda Jones's ten must-read crime-fighting duos.

My Book, The Movie: Soulless by Gail Carriger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 29, 2021

Five top science fiction books by autistic authors

Ada Hoffmann is the author of the space opera novel The Outside, the collection Monsters in My Mind, and over 60 published speculative short stories and poems.

[The Page 69 Test: The Outside]

Hoffmann was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 13, and is passionate about autistic self-advocacy. Her Autistic Book Party review series is devoted to in-depth discussions of autism representation in speculative fiction. Much of her own work also features autistic characters.

At Shepherd Hoffmann tagged five of the best science fiction books by autistic authors, including:
Nophek Gloss by Essa Hansen

A boy named Caiden, raised a slave on a remote planet, escapes - only to find himself thrown into a battle for justice and freedom larger than he can comprehend. This sweeping, visceral space opera is full of vivid visuals, inventive technology, fantastical species, and harrowing challenges. Behind the scenes, it's also a very nuanced look at found family, trauma, and healing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Ten top murder mysteries that take place during Christmas

Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before sitting down to write the Cape Cod Foodie Mystery series, including A Side of Murder — which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” — and An Eggnog to Die For — which Kirkus Reviews gave a starred review, saying, "A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens."

At CrimeReads Pershing tagged ten "stylish, well written and cleverly plotted" murder mysteries that take place during Christmas, including:
Red Christmas by Reginald Hill

“I’m not going to be shot in a wheelbarrow, for the sake of appearances, to pleases anybody.” Mr. Samuel Pickwick

In this Dickens-inspired whodunit (which includes lovely chapter-headings from Dickens himself), the author of the Dalziel and Pascoe mysteries, Reginald Hill, takes us to Dingley Dell, a secluded hotel in the English countryside where the guests have been promised a “Dickensian Christmas.”

In this stand-alone novel, Miss Arabella Allen, “possessed of all the knowing cynicism of a twenty-three-year-old English virgin,” (it’s 1972, people) finds herself snowbound with a rather odd assortment of fellow hotel guests—and a frozen corpse. As the temperatures drop and the body count rises, the clever and resourceful Arabella takes it upon herself to investigate this increasingly deadly silent night.

Verdict: A thrilling (spies!) “Dickensian” mystery.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Seven novels by African writers about the legacy of colonialism on their homelands

Okezie Nwọka was born and raised in Washington, D.C. They are a graduate of Brown University, and attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop as a Dean Graduate Research Fellow. They are presently teaching and living in their hometown.

Nwọka's debut novel is God of Mercy.

At Electric Lit they tagged seven "books by African writers about the legacy of colonialism on their homelands." One title on the list:
Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera

This beautiful novel is set in 1940s Bulawayo (a city in then Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe) and follows the story of Phephelaphi Dube, a young woman who falls in love and ends up in troubling relationship. This novel is written in verse with most of its lines feeling like works of poetry. This book explores the nature of city life during Zimbabwe’s colonial era and is unrelenting in its exposition of the main characters.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 26, 2021

Five of the best books that take zombies in a new direction

Rachel Aukes's many books include the zombie trilogy, The Deadland Saga. About the first book in the series, 100 Days in Deadland, from the author:
100 Days in Deadland, the Amazon bestseller that made Suspense Magazine’s Best of the Year list, is set in a near-future Midwest United States decimated by a zombie plague. In this tale, our hero, Cash, and her guide, Clutch, are forced on a journey through hell on earth in a modern retelling of Dante Alighieri’s epic medieval poem, The Divine Comedy...reimagined zombie apocalypse style!
At Shepherd Aukes tagged five books that take zombies in a new direction, including:
The Retreat: Pandemic by Craig DiLouie with Stephen Knight and Joe McKinney

This book is the first part of a limited series by some of the biggest names in the genre. They’ve teamed up to bring you zombies that are absolutely insane. There were multiple times in the book where my jaw dropped in unexpected shock or I jumped in my chair at these zombies. I just have to say, if these zombies take over Earth, we are screwed. These zombies will maim, eat, and do many, many other horrible things to us and have a blast doing it. If you’re in the mood for a high-octane zombie book that stars the most disturbing zombies out there, read this book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Top 10 novels and stories of the 1970s

Hilma Wolitzer is a recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and a Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. She has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, New York University, Columbia University, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Her first published story appeared when she was thirty-six, and her first novel eight years later. Her many stories and novels have drawn critical praise for illuminating the dark interiors of the American home. She lives in New York City.

Wolitzer's newest book is Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket: Stories.

At the Guardian she tagged ten top novels and stories of the 1970s, including:
Final Payments by Mary Gordon (1978)

When Isabel Moore’s demanding and devoutly Catholic father dies after a series of strokes, she’s released from caring for him into the terrifying freedom of independence. Isabel was 19 when she first became his carer after her mother’s death, and now she’s an unworldly 30. Two female friends offer advice and support, and two men become her lovers. Isabel, who struggles with the meaning of Christian love, has to choose between the pleasures of an unfettered life and doing penance for an act that contributed to her father’s fatal illness. Final Payments was Mary Gordon’s debut novel, and it is remarkably insightful and accomplished.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Five of worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving

At The Barnes & Noble Book Blog Jill Boyd tagged five of the worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving. One entry on the list:
Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces)

You may be able to forgive Ignatius for his bloviating, his condescension, even his gluttony. But his stance on canned food—that it is a perversion, damaging to the soul—is unforgivable. Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce that retains the shape of the can from whence it came.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Confederacy of Dunces is among the Telegraph's critics' fifty best cult books, Melissa Albert's eight favorite fictional misfits, Ken Jennings's eight notable books about parents and kids, Sarah Stodol's top ten lost-then-found novels, Hallie Ephron's top ten books for a good laugh, Stephen Kelman's top 10 outsiders' stories, John Mullan's ten best moustaches in literature, Michael Lewis's five favorite books, and Cracked magazine's classic funny novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-five of the best Thanksgiving books

At Oprah Daily DeAnna Janes and Elena Nicolaou tagged twenty-five of the best Thanksgiving books to celebrate the holiday, including:
Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich

Thanksgiving means family, food, and...romance? In Janet Evanovich’s easygoing page-turner, you’ll devour the instant connection between Megan Murphy, the redhead who’s been hurt by love’s games in the past, and Patrick Hunter, a doctor who is "too handsome to stay mad at for long."
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The best novels for learning how to write crime fiction

Thomas Perry is the bestselling author of over twenty-nine novels, including the critically acclaimed Jane Whitefield series, Forty Thieves, and The Butcher’s Boy, which won the Edgar Award. He lives in Southern California.

Perry's latest Jane Whitefield novel is The Left-Handed Twin.

[The Page 69 Test: SilenceThe Page 99 Test: NightlifeThe Page 69/99 Test: FidelityThe Page 69/99 Test: RunnerThe Page 69 Test: Strip; The Page 69 Test: The InformantThe Page 69 Test: The BoyfriendThe Page 69 Test: A String of BeadsThe Page 69 Test: Forty ThievesThe Page 69 Test: The Old ManThe Page 69 Test: The Bomb MakerThe Page 69 Test: The BurglarThe Page 69 Test: A Small TownThe Page 69 Test: Eddie's BoyThe Page 69 Test: The Left-Handed TwinQ&A with Thomas Perry]

At Shepherd Perry tagged five of the best novels for learning how to write crime fiction, including:
Pure by Jo Perry

This is a risky choice because the author is my old university colleague and later television writing partner, to whom I’ve been married for 41 years. I feel comfortable about it because of the number of fine British and American writers who have recommended this and her earlier books. I picked it because it’s the first novel I’ve read that makes a credible artistic attempt to grasp the experience of the current Pandemic. It’s a murder mystery that takes place during those first few months, when what was happening in the world seemed unthinkable, going out meant breaking a lockdown, and contact with anyone might be fatal. The amateur investigator, a young woman with an aimless and undisciplined past, takes a deep expedition into death, and it galvanizes her into taking charge and being really alive.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Pure.

The Page 69 Test: Pure.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 22, 2021

Five sagas about alternate timelines & parallel universes

Charles Stross has won three Hugo Awards and been nominated twelve times. He has also won the Locus Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best Novella, and has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke and Nebula Awards. His latest book is Invisible Sun.

One of the author's five favorite sagas about alternate timelines and parallel universes, as shared at Tor.com:
The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

Beginning with Nine Princes in Amber (published in 1970), Zelazny’s ten book series puts the fun into dysfunctional families. Corwin of Amber, our initially-amnesic protagonist, is one of the ten bickering children of the king of Amber, the ur-kingdom that casts endless shadows—by which I mean other worlds—upon the abyss of Chaos. The family have inherited paranormal powers—the ability to walk through shadows to any world they can imagine, uncanny healing, remarkable longevity—but what they don’t possess is amity: their backbiting and feuding can be lethal. The godlike King Oberon is missing, the fate of the universe is in jeopardy, and…they’re the type specimen for parallel universe travel in fantasy. These are short books, written with Zelazny’s characteristic elan and playfulness, and published between 1970 and 1991: and while they’re very much of their time (30-50 years ago) they haven’t aged as poorly as many other works from the same period.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Seven intergenerational novels about family lore

Maria Kuznetsova was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to the United States as a child. Her first novel, Oksana, Behave!, was published in 2019. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and daughter, where she is an assistant professor of creative writing at Auburn University. She is also a fiction editor at The Bare Life Review, a journal of immigrant and refugee literature.

Kuznetsova's newest novel is Something Unbelievable.

[Q&A with Maria Kuznetsova; The Page 69 Test: Something Unbelievable]

At Electric Lit the author tagged seven books about the burdens and blessings of ancestral legacy, including:
City of Thieves by David Benioff

David Benioff’s City of Thieves begins with a frame of the writer-narrator, David, preparing to write down his grandfather’s story of surviving the devastating Siege of Leningrad during WWII. As the story goes on, the reader can’t help but wonder which love interest from the past is the current grandmother from the present—after the story is over, the reader finally learns who is who, though what matters more is how the narrator will make sense of his family’s story. At first, the narrator is concerned that his grandfather doesn’t remember every part of it because he wants to make sure he gets it right. But his grandfather doesn’t care. “You’re a writer,” he tells him. “Make it up.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

City of Thieves is among Thomas Dolby's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Five SFF books where magic has a steep cost

Roseanne A. Brown is an immigrant from the West African nation of Ghana and a graduate of the University of Maryland, where she completed the Jimenez-Porter Writers’ House program. Her work has been featured by Voice of America, among other outlets.

Her novels are A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and A Psalm of Storms and Silence.

At Tor.com Brown tagged five favorite SFF books where magic has a steep cost, including:
Jade City by Fonda Lee

On the island nation of Kekon, jade is king, and the Green Bones who can harness its power gain enhanced skills and abilities that have made them the backbone of their society. But jade can be a corrupting force as well, driving some people to literal madness and exacerbating the fault lines within the already divided country. Jade City follows the Kaul family as they struggle to hold onto power in a rapidly changing world full of threats but close to home and across the sea. Lee expertly avoids the pitfall of having jade be wholly good or bad, and instead explores how the meaning and relevance of the substance changes depending on social and political contexts. For some, the obvious risks of jade make it not worth the trouble, but Lee convinces us why her characters would risk life and limb for a substance that causes so much strife.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jade City is among Chloe Gong's five top SFF books about warring families, Mike Chen's five recent titles featuring superpowered characters, David R. Slayton's ten favorite urban fantasies that break new ground, Emily Temple's top six epic fantasy series for fans of Game of Thrones and R.F. Kuang's five top East Asian SFF novels by East Asian authors.

The Page 69 Test: Jade City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 19, 2021

Five top espionage thrillers

Philip Kaplan had a 27-year career as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, including being U.S. minister, deputy chief of mission and Charge d’Affaires, to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines during the tumultuous overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos. Now retired from the State Department, Kaplan is currently a partner in Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe LLP’s Washington, D.C law office, where his practice is focused on public and private international law. He lives in Washington, DC.

Kaplan is the author of the suspenseful thriller, Night in Tehran.

At CrimeReads he tagged five "remarkable novels that pose similar choices as to how fictional characters (but in fact real people) confront challenges on missions in foreign countries and the impact these missions could have domestically and even globally." One title on the list:
A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler

A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler was hailed by the New York Times Book Review as “one of the undisputed masterpieces of the genre.” It is the classic story of an average man named Charles Latimer seemingly out of his depth. A chance encounter leads Latimer, who is a mystery novelist, into a world of political intrigue. Latimer meets a Colonel of the Turkish secret police who professes to be a fan of his novels. The Colonel tells him of the notorious Dimitrios, whose body has been identified in an Istanbul morgue. Latimer decides to track down people who may know what Dimitrios did and uncover the story of his murder. Latimer is cast into a web of espionage, drug smuggling and assassination. The pursuit of mere mystery leads him into an elusive net of moral ambiguity. Latimer is warned that, “The important thing to know about an assassination or an attempted assassination is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Coffin for Dimitrios is among Nicola DeRobertis-Theye's five top novels of biographical detection, Thomas H. Cook's top ten mystery books, Charles Cumming's top five works on espionage, and Otto Penzler's best thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Top 10 books about Calcutta

Abir Mukherjee is the bestselling author of the award-winning Wyndham & Banerjee series of crime novels set in 1920s Colonial India. He is a two-time winner of the CWA Historical Dagger and has won the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing. His books have also been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and the HWA Gold Crown. His novels, A Rising Man and Smoke and Ashes were both selected as Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Smoke and Ashes was also chosen as one of The Times' Best Crime and Thriller novels since 1945.

The newest Wyndham & Banerjee novel is The Shadows of Men.

At the Guardian Mukherjee tagged ten top books about Calcutta, including:
The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta by Kushanava Choudhury

After graduating from Princeton, Choudhury moved back to Calcutta and the world his immigrant parents had abandoned. Working as a journalist, he sifts through the chaos for the stories that never make the papers, and paints a soulful, compelling portrait of the everyday lives that make Calcutta. It’s a portrait of the end of an era in a city that is a world unto itself.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Five SFF books about warring families

Chloe Gong is the New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights and its sequel Our Violent Ends.

She is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she double-majored in English and International Relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Gong is now located in New York.

At Tor.com she tagged "five books that investigate what is and isn’t enough to stir a quarrel between families," including:
Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez

Inspired by the story of Tristan and Eseult, this book follows Branwen, caught in a conflict between two kingdoms at war: or otherwise, two families keeping secrets about the bloody history between them. The classics are retold again and again for a reason, after all, just like how stories of family conflicts have also been played out since the dawn of time, wink wink. The idea of star-crossed lovers colliding against their very family to be together is endlessly fascinating, and this book interrogates all the juicy questions of loyalty and love.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Eight defiant books by women

Amy Butcher is an award-winning essayist and author of Mothertrucker, a book that interrogates the realities of female fear, abusive relationships, and America’s quiet epidemic of intimate partner violence set against the geography of remote, northern Alaska.

She is the Director of Creative Writing and an Associate Professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University and teaches annually at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Sitka Fine Arts Camp in Sitka, Alaska. She lives in Ohio with her three rescue dogs, beautiful beasts.

At Lit Hub Butcher tagged eight favorite defiant books by women, including:
Mira Jacobs, Good Talk

How do you explain to a 6-year-old child that America is a different America for Americans of color? This is the question that frames and establishes Jacob’s intimate and tender graphic memoir, and Jacobs sets about the task of answering with candor, nuance, humor, and grace. Perhaps the most important book I have ever read or will ever read on the post-9/11 experience for Americans of color, and a broader political and social commentary on the way our nation’s propaganda and policies are designed to comfort and protect certain Americans at the expense of other Americans’ safety, daily experience, and well-being. A vitally crucial book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 15, 2021

Seven novels about only children

Kate McIntyre is an assistant professor of creative writing at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Her story collection, Mad Prairie, is the winner of the 2020 Flannery O’Connor Award, selected by Roxane Gay, and was published by UGA Press in September 2021. Her fiction and essays have appeared in journals including Denver Quarterly, the Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, and the Cimarron Review, and she is a recipient of residencies at Hambidge, Playa, and the Spring Creek Project. She has a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2014 and a Special Mention in the 2016 Pushcart Prize anthology. Previously the managing editor of the Missouri Review, she is now managing editor of the Worcester Review, a publication of the Worcester County Poetry Association.

At Electric Lit McIntyre tagged seven novels about "main characters with no siblings, but plenty of problems," including:
Depraved Indifference by Gary Indiana

Gary Indiana’s Depraved Indifference is third in a loose trilogy of true crime novels. The first two, Resentment and Three Month Fever, follow the parricidal Menendez brothers and Andrew Cunanan, killer of Gianni Versace, respectively. Depraved Indifference tracks two lesser-known miscreants, Sante and Kevin Kimes, who, fictionalized by Indiana, become Evangeline and Devin Slote.

If in Nothing to See Here, the only child Lillian is victim of her mother’s low expectations for her, in Depraved Indifference, Devin is his mother’s willing accomplice as she grifts her way across the country in a “circus of locomotion and calamity.” Though Devin lives without siblings, he is not technically an only child. He has a much younger brother, Darren, whom Evangeline stashes with various relatives so she can maintain her peripatetic agenda of passing bad checks, faking cancer, setting fires to collect insurance money, and abducting foreign workers to serve as unpaid servants at her homes. The bumper crop of crimes is hard to trace and prosecute, because Evangeline and Devin move so adeptly across jurisdictions. We hear little about Darren because he isn’t useful to Evangeline, and what we learn about Devin shows how lonely it is to grow up alone in the radioactive glow of a brilliant, toxic mother, and how easy it is for the son to follow in the mother’s crooked footsteps.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Five SFF books about road trips

R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire USA writer with an MA in Fine Arts, which he exorcises in dive bars and coffee shops. He is a frequent panelist at the Boskone Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Boston, and his work has been in Stupefying Stories, Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, and Jersey Devil Press, among others. Greene is a past board member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. He keeps bees, collects typewriters, and lives with writer/artist spouse Brenda and two cats.

Greene's novels The Light Years (2020) and Twenty-Five to Life (2021) are published by Angry Robot.

At Tor.com he tagged five favorite SFF books about road trips, including:
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

A family of werewolves lives a nomadic life in the American south, avoiding contact with a world that hates and fears them. The main character, a teen, hasn’t done the change-into-a-wolf thing yet, and uses his travel time to write a manual on werewolf life, which includes such useful tidbits as ‘empty the trash before you change, because some garbage is not digestible.’ Excellent book. I can’t recall if I ordered this list one-to-five best or five-to-one best, but Mongrels is up there somewhere.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Mongrels is among Mallory O'Meara's ten great horror books for wimps.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Five books that feature dysfunctional families

Patricia Dunn is the author of young adult novel Rebels By Accident (2014). This Italian American, Bronx-raised rebel has traveled the world. These days, she can be found on her living room couch working on her next novel or meeting with aspiring and established writers.

Dunn's new novel, Last Stop on the 6, is her first novel for adults.

At Lit Hub she tagged five favorite books that feature dysfunctional families, including:
Akhil Sharma, Family Life

This novel centers on the heartbreaking struggles that a family experiences after Birju, the eldest son, is in an accident that leaves him brain-damaged and completely dependent on his family. This event emotionally paralyzes the entire family.

In order to cope with this new reality, the father turns to alcohol. The mother and Ajay, the younger son, try to hide this secret from the community. The stress of keeping up appearances almost breaks them. Unknown to the family, most of the members of the community are aware of the father’s substance abuse. The father ultimately decides to go public with his addiction and get help, which allows the family to heal.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 12, 2021

Eight thrillers and mysteries with underlying supernatural elements

C. J. Cooke is an award-winning poet and novelist published in twenty-three languages. She teaches creative writing at the University of Glasgow, where she also researches the impact of motherhood on women’s writing and creative writing interventions for mental health.

Cooke's newest novel is The Lighthouse Witches.

At CrimeReads she tagged eight thrillers and mysteries that "combine the supernatural with the real in believable ways," including:
Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes

Did somebody say WTF? Because Pinborough is Queen of WTF. Behind Her Eyes *seems* like a straightforward psychological thriller, with enough wild-eyed characters and unhealthy relationships to make for a rollercoaster read. But then the supernatural element tiptoes in and chucks the whole plot through a Black Hole. Funny thing is, I didn’t think I would buy into the kind of supernatural Pinborough offers here—but she achieves it, and the result is WTF on steroids.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Behind Her Eyes is among Clare Whitfield's seven literary murderers hiding in plain sight, Alice Feeney's eight top novels featuring odd couples and unexpected partnerships, Leah Konen's seven dark thrillers about friendships gone wrong, and Camilla Bruce's eight novels to make you question reality.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Top 10 epics

Stephanie Sy-Quia was born in Berkeley, CA, in 1995 and grew up near Paris. She is a freelance broadcaster and writer (specialising in literary criticism) with a BA in English Language and Literature from Oxford University. She is a Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critic and has twice been shortlisted for the FT Bodley Head Essay Prize. Her writing has appeared in The FT Weekend Magazine, The Guardian, The TLS, The Economist, and others. She lives in London.

Her first book, Amnion -- "a form of anti- or counter-epic: it is an attempt to honour a fractured family history and give it its due weight," Sy-Quia writes --is published by Granta Poetry.

At the Guardian Sy-Quia tagged ten of her favorite epics, including:
Norma Jeane Baker of Troy by Anne Carson

There’s a long tradition of using original epics as the departure point for new texts that foreground minor characters in their antecedents. Carson has been writing into the cracks of the classical corpus her whole career, but in this book she is partially following in the footsteps of HD’s Helen in Egypt, itself a modernist epic poem. Carson places Marilyn Monroe alongside Helen of Troy and investigates the incendiary, nation-shaking potential of sex appeal.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Seven books about immigrants encountering the American South

Blake Sanz, originally from Louisiana, has recently been chosen by Brandon Taylor as the winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award for 2021. His collection of stories, The Boundaries of Their Dwelling, was published in October 2021 by the University of Iowa Press. He teaches writing at the University of Denver.

At Electric Lit Sanz tagged "seven of [his] favorite books about immigrant and first-generation encounters in the U.S. South," including:
The Celestial Jukebox by Cynthia Shearer

Imagine a Mississippi town where, in the lead-up to 9/11, a Chinese grocer has a crush on a Honduran employee, and a Mauritanian boy ... stumbles upon the wonder of the Delta blues, while a Black Ivy League student returns here to find out the story of her great grandmother’s life, and a white landowner tries to help his longtime neighbor quit a gambling addiction fed by the local casino (the new business that threatens the livelihood of the whole area’s population). This is Shearer’s imaginary town of Madagascar, and these are only a few of the characters and situations that populate this wondrous and lush book, a panoramic Mississippi novel that recalls the best of canonical Southern fiction while also insisting that that tradition enter the 21st century, with all its modern complaints and entanglements.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Six top Midwestern mystery novels

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a nonprofit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa.

Her novels including You Were Always Mine, Little Broken Things, The Beautiful Daughters, and the newly released Everything We Didn’t Say.

At CrimeReads Baart tagged six top "mysteries set in and written by fantastic Midwestern authors," including:
The Monsters We Make by Kali White

The Des Moines Register paper boy kidnappings of the early 1980’s were the inspiration for Kali White’s The Monsters We Make. White was just a child growing up in Iowa when the kidnappings took place, and the immediacy of the fear and uncertainty she felt as a girl is taut throughout each chapter. Told from multiple perspectives, with characters that leap off the page and a storyline that haunts, White captures a moment in time that unraveled the trust of a close-knit community. We’re taught to be wary of strangers, but what if the people we should be worried about are closer to home?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Q&A with Kali White.

The Page 69 Test: The Monsters We Make.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 8, 2021

Five books to help us battle fake news

Nina Jankowicz is an internationally-recognized expert on disinformation and democratization. Her debut book, How to Lose the Information War, was named a New Statesman 2020 book of the year; The New Yorker called it “a persuasive new book on disinformation as a geopolitical strategy.”

At Lit Hub she tagged "five books that will enhance and expand your understanding of the tools of disinformation, its adjacent harms, and the future of the threat in a way that the morning news can’t." One title on the list:
Nina Schick, Deep Fakes: The Coming Infocalypse

You’ve probably heard about deep fakes—manipulated images and video created through artificial intelligence—and how they are the next big disinformation threat. Nina Schick breaks down how these technologies can be used to affect political outcomes, threaten national security, and cause us to question everything we see. She also leaves us with hope and a plan for defending against deep fakes; we’ll surely need it soon.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Five books for people who crave more vampires

Linden A. Lewis is a queer writer and world wanderer currently living in Madrid with a couple of American cats who have little kitty passports.

Tall and tattooed, and the author of The First Sister and The Second Rebel, Linden exists only because society has stopped burning witches.

At Tor.com they tagged five "new vampire books that absolutely deserve to be added to the Bram Stoker canon," including:
Walk Among Us by Cassandra Khaw, Genevieve Gornichec, and Caitlin Starling

Walk Among Us is another anthology, this time with a tie-in to the Vampire: the Masquerade series of roleplay games. But don’t worry if you’re not well-versed in the World of Darkness; each story is perfectly approachable as a beginner. In Genevieve Gornichec’s “A Sheep Among Wolves”, a young woman tries to fight her depression with a support group that turns out to be more than she bargained for. In Cassandra Khaw’s “Fine Print”, alpha male tech bro learns what it means to be prey instead of predator. And in Caitlin Starling’s “The Land of Milk and Honey”, ethical farming is taken to an entirely new level of unsettling.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Seven novels about, or by, folk musicians

Henry Adam Svec is the author of American Folk Music as Tactical Media, a scholarly monograph, and Life Is Like Canadian Football and Other Authentic Folk Songs, a novel. His writing has also appeared in Noisey, MOTHERBOARD, C Magazine, The New Quarterly, and elsewhere. He holds a PhD in media studies from the University of Western Ontario, and currently teaches at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

At Electric Lit Svec tagged seven novels that honor grassroots musical traditions. One title on the list:
Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem

Three generations of activists in New York City reckon with the influence of Rose, their difficult matriarch. Rose’s daughter Miriam and her folk-singing husband Thomas seek meaningful ways to contribute to history; decades later their Quaker son connects with his father’s legacy; and a stepson, the scholar Cicero, finds himself immersed in the milieu of academic critical theory. With characteristic verve and style, Lethem weaves relationships between individuals and collectivities, history and action, from the Popular Front to Occupy Wall Street.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 5, 2021

Six top books featuring father-daughter relationships

Kimi Cunningham Grant is the author of three books. Silver Like Dust is a memoir chronicling her Japanese-American grandparents and their internment during World War II. Her second book, Fallen Mountains, is a literary mystery set in a small town in Pennsylvania, where fracking has just begun. The newly released These Silent Woods is her third book.

At CrimeReads she tagged six favorite books featuring father-daughter relationships, including:
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I’m hesitant to even attempt to write about this magnificent novel, as my words will surely fall short, but here goes. Marie-Laure, one of the novel’s two young protagonists, is blind. Her father, Daniel, builds a miniature replica of her neighborhood so that she can memorize it and find her way home. When the Nazis invade Paris and the two of them flee the city, Daniel describes everything that he sees, patiently detailing his observations to his daughter, who must learn to navigate an entirely new and terrifying landscape. Both Marie-Laure and Daniel are noble, brave, and likable, and the love between them is endearing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue