Sunday, May 22, 2022

Nine of the best road trip novels

Bud Smith works heavy construction and lives in Jersey City, NJ. He is the author of Teenager (2022), Double Bird (2018), Dust Bunny City (2017), among others. His fiction has been published in The Paris Review, The Believer, The Baffler, and The Nervous Breakdown, and many others (collected below). He is also a creative writing teacher and editor.

At Lit Hub he shared nine of his favorite road trip novels, including:
Tim O’Brien, Going After Cacciato

An absurdist war novel. A high art page turner. A soldier decides to go AWOL, and walk from Vietnam to Paris. His platoon goes after him, on the strangest walk of their lives. Beyond the borders of their war, into the hallucinogenic territory of the soul. The same dream logic that seemed to guide the U.S.’s botched war effort, guides the telling of this novel about fleeing that same effort. O’Brien won a deserved National Book Award for this one. It’s hilarious, wrenching, goes farther and wilder than most would ever imagine and then goes a little farther still.
Read about the other entries on the list at Lit Hub.

Going After Cacciato is among Anthony Swofford's five best books about war by authors who served.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Seven books where fun & games threaten to turn fatal

Heather Chavez is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley’s English literature program and has worked as a newspaper reporter, editor, contributor to mystery and television blogs, and in public affairs for a major health care organization. She lives with her family in Santa Rosa, California.

Blood Will Tell is Chavez's new novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged "seven novels that are a lot of fun for readers, if not for their game-playing characters." One title on the list:
The Escape Room, Megan Goldin

Escape rooms are fun, right? Break out of prison. Complete a secret mission. Escape an elevator or possibly die. Actually, that last one doesn’t sound all that fun, though it does make an intriguing premise for a novel. In Goldin’s thriller, four high-powered Wall Street colleagues are lured to a vacant high-rise under the pretense of a team-building exercise. When they board an elevator, the lights go out, the doors won’t budge, and a message appears on a monitor: Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive. The tense elevator scenes are interspersed with the story of a young woman on their team who disappeared.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

The Escape Room is among Amy Gentry's eleven top thrillers set in toxic workplaces.

The Page 69 Test: The Escape Room.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 20, 2022

Ten of the best novels featuring sisters

Alison Espach is the author of the novels Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance, an Indie Next Pick and Amazon Editors’ Pick for 2022, and The Adults, a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Barnes and Noble Discover pick.

At Publishers Weekly Espach tagged ten books in which "the sisters are the hearts of each story," including:
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

A retelling of King Lear that explores the darker side of sisterhood. What happens when, at the end of a father’s life, he cuts one of his three daughters out of the will? A lot, it turns out—much between the Cook sisters gets revealed, heightened, and examined in the wake of the disinheritance. The hidden tensions and the secrets of the sisters are set against the absolute beauty of Smiley’s prose.
Read about the other entries on the list at Publishers Weekly.

A Thousand Acres is among Renée Branum's seven novels about family curses, Lois Leveen's five novels that riff on—and rip off—Shakespeare, Stacey Swann's seven novels about family members making each other miserable, Robert McCrum's ten top Shakespearean books, Rachel Mans McKenny's eleven books about midwesterners who aren’t trying to be nice, Hannah Beckerman's top ten toxic families in fiction, Brian Boone's five books that offer a brand new take on pre-existing works, Edward Docx's top ten Shakespearean stories in modern fiction, Emma Donoghue's six best books, Anne Tyler's six favorite books, Sally O'Reilly ten top novels inspired by Shakespeare, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, and John Mullan's top ten twice-told tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Five books that get demon summoning right

Lana Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of Payback's A Witch and From Bad to Cursed. Writing as Lana Popovic, she is also the author of YA novels Wicked Like a Wildfire, Fierce Like a Firestorm, Blood Countess, and Poison Priestess. Harper studied psychology and literature at Yale University, law at Boston University, and is a graduate of the Emerson College publishing and writing master's program. She was born in Serbia and lived in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania before moving to the United States, where she now lives in Chicago with her family.

At Harper tagged five titles that get demon summoning right, including:
The Possession by Michael Rutger

The second in the author’s The Anomaly Files, this book is equal parts absolutely horrifying and hilarious, largely due to Rutger’s incredibly deft and droll first-person narration. The Possession follows American myth and legend “explorer” (with only an underfunded and relatively unpopular YouTube show under his belt) Nolan Moore—the wisecracking, thoughtful, and genuinely delightful Indiana Jones we all need—as he and the gang explore the phenomenon of unexplained, freestanding walls in a picturesque small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I’ve never seen this extremely clever take on demons before, and I don’t want to spoil it, but it relies on the notions that 1), these mysterious walls function as a barrier, keeping demonic entities out of our world; and 2), reality is fundamentally an illusion, a constantly shifting amalgam pieced together by our brains rather than anything concretely real. So, what if demons could manipulate this perception, and entirely alter what reality even means to us? It triggered every phobic fear I have about not being able to trust my own mind, and I loved it. (So much that I had to stop reading the book at night.)
Read about the other entries on the list at

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Eight top New England psychological thrillers

Brian Lebeau was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, home of the infamous Lizzie Borden. After being awarded an “A” in high school English once and denied a career in music for “lack of talent” repeatedly, he taught economics at several colleges and universities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island before moving to Fauquier County, Virginia, to work as a defense contractor for two decades.

A Disturbing Nature is Lebeau’s first novel.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight favorite New England psychological thrillers, including:
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, published in 2001, is a seminal psychological thriller and ranks among my all-time favorite novels. The story follows three childhood friends who navigate adulthood burdened by past trauma. Things come to a climax after the murder of one of their daughters. As the story plays out in a working-class neighborhood of Boston, Lehane uses the nearby Mystic River as a metaphor for the past, the future, and karma. Despite being dirty and polluted, the river washes characters clean of their sins. Mystic River gets us thinking about the lingering impact of childhood trauma and leaves us wondering how we might’ve turned out if certain events had unfolded differently.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

Mystic River is among James Lee Burke's six top books for aspiring novelists and Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Seven novels about women who refuse to fit in

Anne Heltzel is a New York-based novelist and book editor. In addition to writing horror, she has penned several milder titles for children and young adults.

Just Like Mother is her adult debut.

At Electric Lit Heltzel tagged seven books "about characters...who are unable to be the type of women their communities expect them to be." One title on the list:
Chemistry by Weike Wang

In Chemistry, we meet another woman with a life that is by all accounts rewarding, yet fails to deliver happiness. The novel’s narrator is working toward her PhD in chemistry—a goal foisted on her by her parents—and her perfectly lovely boyfriend has proposed. But she’s mired in ambivalence about her career and relationship and struggles to untangle her own wants from the wants foisted on her. As the story develops, the narrator reveals aspects of her childhood that led to her present state of indecision. This is a moving, character-driven illustration of what happens when the presence of others looms so large that there’s no room left to develop your own identity.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 16, 2022

Eight thrilling titles about mountaineering

Amy McCulloch is the author of eight novels for children and young adults, including the internationally bestselling YA novel The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow. In September 2019, she became the youngest Canadian woman to climb Manaslu in Nepal--the world's eighth-highest mountain. She also summited the highest mountain in the Americas, Aconcagua, in -50°F temperatures and 55 mph winds, and has visited all seven continents. Breathless is her adult fiction debut.

At CrimeReads McCulloch tagged eight "favorite thrilling books to read about mountaineering," including:
Thin Air by Michelle Paver

A book with a similar title to Krakauer’s but completely different set-up. Michelle Paver has written a cracker of a ghost story novel here, set in 1935 and following a British doctor and gentleman adventurer Stephen on an expedition to Kanchenjunga—the world’s third highest mountain. Brimming with historic detail about early climbing expeditions (like how climbers used to stuff their boots with straw to ward off frostbite, or the joys of eating pemmican), the novel takes an increasingly creepy turn as Stephen is haunted by a spectral figure from a prior failed expedition—or is it hypoxia driving him mad? Paver plays beautifully with our expectations and fears, delivering a truly terrifying tale in the high peaks.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Six top children's books featuring mythical creatures

A.F. Steadman grew up in the Kent countryside, getting lost in fantasy worlds and scribbling stories in notebooks. Before focusing on writing, she worked in law, until she realized that there wasn’t nearly enough magic involved.

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief is her debut novel.

At the Waterstones blog Steadman tagged six "favourite children's books featuring richly imagined and beautifully realised mythical creatures. From beloved classics to exciting new stories," including:
Frostheart by Jamie Littler

Another book I adore is Frostheart. At its heart are monsters called Leviathans, that lurk beneath the ice. Their songs are central to the main character’s adventures and I’m sure I had nightmares about them while reading the books! Another mythical creature, a yeti called Tobu, also plays a big role in the story and I loved the way his and Ash’s friendship develops across the series.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Eight titles about women's rage

Kelly Barnhill lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children. Her novels include The Girl Who Drank the Moon, winner of the 2017 John Newbery Medal for the year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. She is also the winner of a World Fantasy Award and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. She has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award, the SFWA Andre Norton Award, and the PEN/USA literary prize.

Barnhill's new novel is When Women Were Dragons.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight books that explored "rage, feminism, memory, and maybe dragons too." One title on the list:
A Natural History of Dragons, by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons is written as a memoir (albeit of a fictional person, in a fictional world) of Lady Isabella Trent, the world’s most famous dragon naturalist. Though her interest in science and natural observation was tolerated as a child, as she grew it became very clear to Isabella that her future was limited by her gender and social status, and that her duty to her family was to make an acceptable matrimonial match. How vexing! And how unacceptable. This is a story about dragons, obviously, and science, and the practice of biological research, as well as a play on manners and expectations and the ridiculousness of society. But it is more besides: persistence, curiosity, attention to detail, a refusal to be dominated, and a profound sense of that deep joy of learning, and wonder. The way that Lady Trent pushes on the boundaries of her society, and deftly steps beyond them, was a thrill to read.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 13, 2022

Six creepy novels involving childcare

Jason Rekulak is the author of The Impossible Fortress, which was translated into 12 languages and was nominated for the Edgar Award. For many years, he was the publisher of Quirk Books, an independent press, where he acquired and edited multiple New York Times bestsellers. He lives in Philadelphia with his family.

Rekulak's new novel is Hidden Pictures.

At CrimeReads the author tagged "six of my favorite books featuring inquisitive nannies, creepy children, supernatural forces, curiously distant parents, disapproving housekeepers, and so much more." One title on the list:
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The title gives a not-so-subtle nod to Ware’s inspiration. This high-tech update on Henry James finds a nanny named Rowan taking a job in a mansion full of surveillance devices and smart-home technology. The interview brings plenty of warning signs (the last few nannies have abruptly quit; one of the children sobs “it’s not safe here…”) but Rowan takes the job, anyway. Is it any wonder things start going bump in the night?
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

Also see Amanda Craig's best books about nannies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Top 10 novels about neighbors

Ayşegül Savaş is a Turkish writer living in Paris.

Her first novel, Walking on the Ceiling, was published in 2019.

Her new novel is White on White.

At the Guardian Savaş tagged ten books that "investigate lives at close proximity, at once familiar and distant," including:
The Borrowers by Mary Norton

How could I not include this enchanting book, which I read and re-read in the years that my family lived in the Danish commune. It must, in part, be responsible for my fascination with neighbours and their secret lives. The borrowers are tiny people who live in the walls and under the floorboards of an English house and “borrow” from the big humans. Though the house’s tenants are unaware of their miniature neighbours, one boy starts a friendship with the young borrower, Arrietty Clock.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Ten notable close families in literature

Harriet Evans is the author of several top ten bestsellers including the Sunday Times bestselling The Garden of Lost and Found and Richard and Judy bookclub selection The Wildflowers. She used to work in publishing and now writes full time, when she is not being distracted by her children, other books, sewing projects, puzzles, gardening, and her much-loved collection of jumpsuits. Last year, she and her family moved from London to Bath.

Evans's newest book is The Beloved Girls.

At CrimeReads she tagged "ten of my favorite close families in literature, and they’re my favorites because it’s often their closeness that threatens to pull them apart." One entry on the list:
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I couldn’t leave Wuthering Heights out, because as a teenager studying it for my school exams I had a family tree of the Earnshaws and Lintons and it was worryingly sparse as everyone marries everyone. WH is what happens when you live in a remote village and only know one other family. Rereading it last year, I thought of it as a metaphor for lockdown. Too much socialising with your own kind makes you hate them all—and yourself. But the passion! The emotion! Even trying to reread it now exhausts me. Feelings!
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

Wuthering Heights appears Jane Healey's list of five of the best gothic love stories, Brett Kahr's list of books helpful for understanding blended families, Siri Hustvedt’s ten favorite books list, Robert Masello's list of six classics with supernatural crimes at their center, André Aciman's list of five favorite books about the intensity of a once-in-a-lifetime love, Emily Temple's top ten list of literary classics we (not so) secretly hate, Cristina Merrill's list of eight of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance, Kate Hamer's list of six top novels with a strong evocation of atmosphere, Siri Hustvedt's six favorite books list, Tom Easton's top ten list of fictional "houses which themselves seem to have a personality which affects the story," Melissa Harrison's list of the ten top depictions of British rain, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Ed Sikov's list of eight top books that got slammed by critics, Amelia Schonbek's top five list of approachable must-read classics, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of the lamest girlfriends in fiction, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the worst wingmen in literature, Na'ima B. Robert's top ten list of Romeo and Juliet stories, Jimmy So's list of fifteen notable film adaptations of literary classics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best thunderstorms in literature, ten of the worst nightmares in literature and ten of the best foundlings in literature, Valerie Martin's list of novels about doomed marriages, Susan Cheever's list of the five best books about obsession, and Melissa Katsoulis' top 25 list of book to film adaptations. It is one of John Inverdale's six best books and Sheila Hancock's six best books.

The Page 99 Test: Wuthering Heights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Seven titles inspired by the dictionary

Ceillie Clark-Keane is a writer and editor based in Boston. Her work has been published by Electric Literature, Bustle, the Ploughshares blog, the Chicago Review of Books and other outlets. She is a nonfiction reader for Salamander and Pangyrus.

At Electric Lit Clark-Keane tagged "seven books that explore the dictionary and its cultural impact as a scholarly pursuit, as a place to find purpose, as a text to
be challenged and changed, and a way to find meaning." One title on the list:
Americanon: An Unexpected U.S. History in Thirteen Best-Selling Books by Jess McHugh

Admittedly, this book isn’t exclusively or primarily about dictionaries. But it does explore the impact that seemingly un-biased reference texts have on our society and one particularly eye-opening chapter on a dictionary that originated American mythology we still see today. Journalist Jess McHugh shares the history of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, which was first written by Noah Webster in the 1780s.

Webster’s project was to standardize a distinctly American English language. As McHugh explains, that included dropping the “u” in words like “color” and providing pronunciation guides that matched Webster’s own Connecticut accent. It also included using the right examples to illustrate the uses of these words, drawing from Protestant beliefs and American literature.

Even from its inception, the reference text was anything but neutral. Pick this one up for McHugh’s exploration of this American dictionary, but keep reading for how other benign texts like The Betty Crocker Cookbook and The Old Farmer’s Almanac contribute to our understanding of American identity today.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 9, 2022

Five top bittersweet novels

Meg Mason began her career at the Financial Times and The Times of London. Her work has since appeared in The Sunday Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sunday Telegraph. She has written humour for The New Yorker and Sunday STYLE, monthly columns for GQ and has been a regular contributor to Vogue, ELLE and marie claire, before becoming an author full time.

Her first book Say It Again in a Nice Voice, a memoir of early motherhood, was published in 2012. Her novel You Be Mother followed in 2017. Sorrow and Bliss is her third novel. She lives in Sydney, with her husband and two daughters.

[The Page 69 Test: Sorrow and Bliss]

At the Waterstones blog Mason tagged five favorite bittersweet novels including:
The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett

If there were a special fiction prize for uncut poignancy, The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett would clean up the field. A love story from about 17 directions, equal parts humour and pathos, with the kind of characters, and an ending that won’t let you go.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Seven dark novels about motherhood

Zach Vasquez is a native of Los Angeles, California. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Little White Lies, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Full Stop, and other publications.

At CrimeReads he tagged six dark titles about motherhood, including:
Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn

In Flynn’s debut novel, a troubled reporter returns to her small Missouri hometown to investigate the gruesome murder of two teenage girls and ends up discovering the truth behind her own late sister’s death, as well as the physical and psychological harm currently being inflicted on her much younger half-sister.

At the center of it all is Adora Crellin, an aristocratic businesswoman from genteel stock who, along with being the protagonist’s mother, is also the matriarch of the town in which the novel is set. The scars—both literal and figurative—that the outwardly cold, but deeply unhinged Crellin has inflicted on both her daughters and her neighbors are eventually revealed in a series of devastating revelations.

While not as deliciously evil or charismatically brassy as some of the other mothers on this list, Adora Crellin (who would be brought to life by Patricia Clarkson in the 2018 HBO miniseries adaptation of the novel) stands as one of the most legitimately unnerving.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

Sharp Objects is among Christina Dalcher's seven crime books that challenge the idea of inherent female goodness, 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

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Top 10 wilderness stories

Irene Solà is a Catalan writer and artist, winner of the Documenta Prize for first novels, the Llibres Anagrama Prize, the European Union Prize for Literature, and the Amadeu Oller Poetry Prize. Her artwork has been exhibited in the Whitechapel Gallery.

Her newest novel is When I Sing, Mountains Dance.

At the Guardian Solà tagged ten wilderness stories that transcend "the passive landscape or the backdrop of compelling beauty and instead appreciates it as an active entity," including:
The Vorrh by Brian Catling

The vorrh, in Catling’s The Vorrh trilogy, is a very ancient forest, so old that it’s thought of as being home to the garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve roam along with cyclops and anthropophagi (cannibal rogues that attract humans deep into the forest with pails of water and food). This forest is in itself an entity that has sentience and perhaps even a will, and it rejects the presence of humans by driving them insane.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 6, 2022

Five books that trace the portrayal of mental disorders in literature

While working full time as a physician, Jane Shemilt received an M.A. in creative writing. She was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbit award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize for The Daughter, her first novel. She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol, England.

Shemilt's new novel is The Patient.

At CrimeReads the author tagged five books that
reflect the age in which they were written; if mental illness is diagnosed by doctors it is also defined by society because society decides what makes behaviour unusual, undesirable or even ‘mad.’
One title on the list:
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte published in 1848

The story, set in the Victorian era, concerns Jane Eyre, an orphan sent by relatives to live in an orphanage which she leaves as a young woman when she finds employment as a governess to the ward of the Mr Rochester at Thornfield Hall, a place of mystery that appears haunted. Against this ghostly drop back, Jane and Edward Rochester fall in love but on the point of marriage to Mr Rochester, he is is revealed to have a mad wife, Bertha living under lock and key at Thornfield Hall. Jane leaves, returning at the end of the story to find Mr Rochester alone and blinded after a vain attempt to save Bertha as she was in the act of burning down the hall. The two marry.

Madness as embodied in the form of Bertha, the first wife, contributes narratively crucial elements of gothic suspense and intrigue; the reader is made aware, as Jane is, of laughter and footsteps in Thornfield, culminating in danger and horror. This gives the story its power and is key to the narrative arc, being the reason for the mystery and why Jane cannot marry and has to escape.

However, there are unsettling elements to this enduring story: the mad woman is described as animal-like, with wild hair and disheveled appearance, locked in a windowless room. To modern sensibilities this is a sensationalist and stereotypical portrait of a woman with a mental illness, whose punishment was essentially a social construct; those who were considered mad were indeed locked up without any documentation. Insanity was portrayed as bad and certainly dangerous. However, by the time Jane Eyre was actually published, this view was already out of step with current attitudes of the day as political awareness was changing and a commission had been set up by the government to look into the treatment of mentally ill with the finding that it was important change the environments in which they were held.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

Jane Eyre also made Lucy Ellmann's top ten list of gripes in literature, Elizabeth Brooks’s list of ten of the creepiest gothic novels, Kate Kellaway's list of the best romantic novels that aren’t riddled with cliches, Julia Spiro's list of seven titles told from the perspective of domestic workers, Jane Healey's list of five favorite gothic romances, Annaleese Jochems's list of the great third wheels of literature, Sara Collins's list of six of fiction's best bad women, Sophie Hannah's list of fifteen top books with a twist, E. Lockhart's list of five favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” Sophie Hannah's top ten list of twists in fiction, Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Ten top books on the legacy of abortion in America

One title on Electric Lit's "literary guide to reproductive rights: where we've been, where we are, and where we are likely headed:"
Bodies on the Line by Lauren Rankin

At the front lines of ensuring abortion access are the escorts who guide patients safely to the clinic, away from screaming protestors who are often belligerent and occasionally violent. In Bodies on the Line, Lauren Rankin delves into the fraught public space that surrounds the American abortion clinic and the “pro-life” disruptors who occupy that small stretch with signs and megaphones in order to manipulate, coerce, and shame women from even entering the clinic: “Their goal? To make it as difficult and traumatic as possible to access an abortion.” Rankin weaves personal testimonies from patients and volunteers with historical research, from the 1970s to the present day, about abortion providers and the violent, deadly attacks on these institutes. A must-read to understand the physical and emotional labor that comes with the fight to ensure that abortion is both accessible and a human right.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Ten top literary antiheroes

Sascha Rothchild is an Emmy-nominated screenwriter, who has written and produced lauded shows such as GLOW, The Bold Type, The Babysitters Club, and The Carrie Diaries. In 2015, she was named one of Variety‘s “10 TV Writers to Watch.” Rothchild has written for LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, ELLE, and the Miami Herald, and adapted her article, “How To Get Divorced By 30” into both a memoir and a screenplay for Universal Studios. She graduated from the honors program of Boston College summa cum laude, with a major in theater.

Blood Sugar is her debut novel.

At Publishers Weekly Rothchild tagged ten favorite literary antiheroes, including:
Hannibal Lecter: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

One marker of fantastic antiheroes is extreme intelligence. One can understand why a genius might easily get bored and behave badly, even eat a person every now and again. Hannibal is a supreme antihero because his admiration for Clarice Starling, our heroine, helps us give him a pass. Also, as evil as Hannibal is, there are other, worse monsters lurking, making him seem likable in comparison.
Read about the other entries on the list at Publishers Weekly.

The Silence of The Lambs is among Andrew Bourelle's four best ticking-clock thrillers, Ben McPherson’s ten thrillers based on real-life events, E.G. Scott's best frenemies in fiction, Caroline Louise Walker's six terrifying villain-doctors in fiction, Kathy Reichs's six best books, Matt Suddain's five great meals from literature, Elizabeth Heiter's ten favorite serial killer novels, Jill Boyd's five books with the worst fictional characters to invite to Thanksgiving, Monique Alice's six great fictional evil geniuses, sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Nine recent thrillers in which isolation is the enemy

Victoria Helen Stone, author of the runaway best seller Jane Doe, writes critically acclaimed novels of dark intrigue and emotional suspense. Aside from The Last One Home, Problem Child, Half Past, and the chart-topping False Step and Evelyn, After, she also published twenty-nine books as USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl and won the prestigious American Library Association Reading List award for best genre fiction.

Her new novel is At The Quiet Edge.

At CrimeReads Stone tagged nine recent thrillers that "make use of many kinds of solitude to amp up the tension," including:
Andy Weir, Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir begins with the terror and dread of a man waking up on a spaceship alone with no memory of his life before. When he discovers two dead astronauts who were supposed to be his teammates, the weight of being completely cut off only increases. This book is the story of him solving the mystery of how he arrived on board, why he’s in space, and just how impossible his mission is. And then he discovers he’s not actually as alone in the darkness of the universe as he thought…
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 2, 2022

Five top mother-daughter books

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen novels, including The Book of Two Ways, A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister's Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page.

Picoult's latest novel is Wish You Were Here.

At Goodreads in 2014 she tagged "five of her favorite books that understand the loving and aggravating ties that bind mothers and daughters." One title on the list:
Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman

Imagine being a quiet introvert who discovers that the mom who gave you up for adoption 30-plus years earlier is the world's most famous television talk show host. That's the tender, funny premise of this novel. As they begin to forge a relationship, a rocky gap is bridged as they find in each other a piece that was missing from their own personalities. I have long loved Elinor Lipman's books; this is one of my favorites.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Five SFF books about technology & grief

Dante Medema is an author of books for young readers. Her debut The Truth Project was an Indies Introduce title and an Indies Next List Pick.

She lives in Anchorage, Alaska, with her husband, four daughters, and a room full of alien memorabilia—and books, of course.

Medema's new novel is Message Not Found.

At the author tagged five "favorite books that explore the intersection of grief and technology," including:
No One Here Is Lonely by Sarah Everett

When Eden is going through a particularly hard time, she calls someone unexpected: the object of her unrequited love, Will. He’s kind, sweet, listens to her, and oh yeah: He’s dead. Thanks to In Good Company, a service that allows people to talk to those that have opted to become “Cognitive Donors” to provide companionship for the living after they’re gone. This book asks a lot of questions about what it means to love someone after they’re gone and a wonderful portrayal of nonlinear grief.
Read about the other entries on the list at

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Nine titles about boundary-breaking women of the Gilded Age

Maya Rodale is the best-selling and award-winning author of funny, feminist fiction including historical romance, YA and historical fiction. A champion of the romance genre and its readers, she is also the author of Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained.

Rodale's new book is The Mad Girls of New York: A Nellie Bly Novel.

At Lit Hub the author tagged nine favorite books about boundary-breaking women of the Gilded Age, including:
Kim Todd, Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s Girl Stunt Reporters

This is a smart, effervescent book about Nellie Bly and the other stunt girl reporters who dominated the newspaper pages with all their daring undercover investigations to expose factory conditions, medical treatments, prisons and other aspects of working women’s lives. Todd examines the lives of these boundary-busting reporters and makes a compelling case for the significance of their work, which pioneered investigative reporting and put women on the front page of newspapers. This book, and these women, were indeed sensational.
Read about the other entries on the list at Lit Hub.

The Page 99 Test: Sensational.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 29, 2022

Seven titles about the theater set in Victorian London

In 2018, Lianne Dillsworth graduated from Royal Holloway with a MA in Creative Writing with distinction, and in 2019, she won a place on the London Library Emerging Writers Programme. She was awarded a bursary place for underrepresented writers on the Jericho Writers Self-Editing course and short-listed for the SI Leeds Literary Prize. She also holds an MA in Victorian studies and currently lives in London, where she works in diversity and inclusion.

Dillsworth's debut novel is Theatre of Marvels.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven novels about the theater set in Victorian London, including:
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Nan King is music hall star Kitty Butler’s number one fan. When they are introduced, she follows her to London and soon becomes part of Kitty’s daring act, as a male impersonator. Through her relationship with Kitty, Nan gets the chance to explore her sexuality. This novel, Sarah Waters’ debut, was also made into a BBC TV series. Both are unmissable.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

Tipping the Velvet is among Sam Cohen's thirteen books that explore codependent relationships and Kate Davies's ten top books about coming out.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Top 10 books about performance – the lives of actors & musicians

Imogen Crimp studied English at Cambridge, followed by an MA in contemporary literature from University College London, where she specialized in female modernist writers. After university, she briefly studied singing at a London conservatory. She lives in London.

Crimp is the author of A Very Nice Girl.

At the Guardian she tagged ten "books that include scenes of musical or theatrical performance [and] often explore ideas of performance in a broader sense – the way we try on different identities or perform to conceal aspects of ourselves." One title on the list:
The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride

Eighteen-year-old Eily has moved from Ireland to go to drama school in London, where she meets Stephen, a 38-year-old established actor. Their relationship moves quickly from casual sex to intense love. McBride writes brilliantly about life as a performer, and the role of performance for both Eily and Stephen in processing trauma. Discussions about roles, scripts and the creation of characters suggest that growing into yourself is a creative process.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Six thrillers with surprising twists

Jeneva Rose is the Amazon Charts, Apple Books, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of The Perfect Marriage. It’s been translated into a dozen languages, and the film/tv rights were optioned by Picture Perfect Federation.

Her new suspense novel is One of Us Is Dead.

At CrimeReads Rose tagged "six thrillers that I believe will fool even the most seasoned readers." One title on the list:
The One by John Marrs

A simple DNA test will match you to your soulmate, the person you were genetically made for. Five couples have been “Matched” but in this compelling and addictive suspense thriller, romance takes a backseat… no, it actually doesn’t even have a seat. The One is full of gasp-worthy moments, more than I could count. At one point, I stopped guessing what was going to happen next, because I knew I couldn’t predict it, and I just wanted to be along for the crazy ride.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

My Book, The Movie: The One.

The Page 69 Test: The One.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Five books featuring uploaded minds & memories

At James Davis Nicoll tagged five favorite books featuring uploaded minds and memories, including:
Vast by Linda Nagata (1998)

The alien Chenzeme littered swaths of the Milky Way with ancient but still functional war machines. Although the war that spawned them is long over, the machines are perfectly happy to target humans who encounter the homicidal relics. Some human ships escape; most of them are eradicated.

The starship Null Boundary was lucky enough to survive an encounter with Chenzeme relics. Now the craft flees towards what the crew hopes will be answers, pursued by a relentless relic. Stern chases are long chases, particularly where sublight interstellar vehicles are concerned. Mortal humans might well die of old age mid-voyage. Mind-recording is only one of the marvelous technologies humanity has mastered, but it is the one that proves most useful to the crew of the Null Boundary.
Read about the other entries on the list at

--Marshal Zeringue