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

Monday, April 25, 2022

Seven books centered on people of color and technology

Claire Stanford's fiction has appeared in Black Warrior Review, The Rumpus, Third Coast, Redivider, Paper Darts, and Tin House Flash Fridays, among other publications. Her work has received fellowships and grants from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences.

Stanford holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota and is currently a PhD candidate in English at UCLA, where she studies science fiction/speculative fiction, narrative theory, and novel theory. Born and raised in Berkeley, she lives in Los Angeles.

Her debut novel is Happy for You.

At Electric Lit Stanford tagged seven books centered on people of color and technology, including:
Soft Science by Franny Choi

This collection of poems expresses what it feels like to be an Asian American woman—to be objectified, to be fetishized—both in real life and in the virtual world. Choi writes about technology and incorporates technology itself into her poetry as a formal device; in “The Cyborg Wants to Make Sure She Heard You Right,” for example, she runs a series of tweets that were directed at her through Google Translate, showing the startling persistence of Orientalizing language even as it moves through multiple rounds of translation. Another poem inhabits the voiceless android Kyoko from Ex Machina, writing back to the film’s techno-Orientalized vision of the future and insisting on an Asian woman’s right to speak and to be heard.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Ten female sleuths in long-running historical mystery series

Anna Lee Huber is the USA Today bestselling and Daphne award-winning author of the Lady Darby Mysteries, the Verity Kent Mysteries, and the Gothic Myths series, as well as the anthology The Deadly Hours. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in music and minored in psychology.

Huber's latest mystery is A Perilous Perspective.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten favorite female sleuths in long-running historical mystery series, including:
Susan Elia MacNeal – Maggie Hope

MacNeal first introduces her clever and courageous heroine, Maggie Hope, in Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, where she works for the prime minister in the War Rooms in 1940. But Maggie’s intellect and daring soon see her sent on increasingly varied missions on behalf of British Intelligence, enabling MacNeal to explore various intriguing settings and aspects of the Second World War. Maggie breaks codes, slips into enemy-occupied territory, diffuses bombs, and rides motorcycles. She is as active as she is smart. In the tenth book in the Maggie Hope Mysteries, The Hollywood Spy, which released last summer, we learn that America was not without its nests of Nazi spies and collaborators.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

My Book, The Movie: The Prisoner in the Castle.

Writers Read: Susan Elia MacNeal (August 2018).

Q&A with Susan Elia MacNeal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Seven Korean novels set in Seoul

A native of Nyack, New York, Soon Wiley received his BA in English & Philosophy from Connecticut College. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wichita State University. His writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and earned him fellowships in Wyoming and France. He resides in Connecticut with his wife and their two cats.

When We Fell Apart is his debut novel.

At Electric Lit Wiley tagged seven "books that unfold against the backdrop of the bustling South Korean capital" that he read after he finished writing his own. One title on the list:
At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell

In his novel, that at times reminded me of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, Hwang Sok-yong tells the story Park Minwoo, an elderly businessman who begins reexamining his past. A rags to riches tale, Park was born into abject poverty and raised in one of Seoul’s poorest districts, only to ride Korea’s rapid modernization to wealth and success. But when his company is the target of a corruption investigation, and he receives a message from an old lover, he begins to reassess the cost of his success.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electic Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 22, 2022

Seven top novels of crime & coming-of-age

Samantha Jayne Allen has an MFA in fiction from Texas State University. Her writing has been published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, The Common, and Electric Literature. Raised in small towns in Texas and California, she now lives with her husband in Atlanta.

Pay Dirt Road is Allen's debut novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged "seven excellent crime meets coming-of-age novels," including:
Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

This richly-detailed, evocative novel is written from the point-of-view of three Black fifth-graders in 1979, during the ongoing investigation into the Atlanta Child Murders. Jones accurately depicts the terror of being on cusp of adolescence: it’s a book about realizing that the world is bigger than you ever imagined, full of external forces both good and bad. That specific-to-childhood feeling of being both in the world and powerless to it. Worse, realizing that the buffer between you and the monsters of the world doesn’t really exist—that your parents can’t always protect you. And specifically, for Tasha, Rodney, Octavia, a sharper awareness of racism. The terror of an unknown assailant who targets Black children setting the entire city on edge is palpable. And though the story thrums with this anxiety, the book is often funny, nostalgic, and warm—in other words, a totally immersive read.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Top 10 books about gardening

Lulah Ellender is a writer based in East Sussex. Her first book, Elisabeth’s Lists: A Life Between the Lines, was published by Granta in 2018. It was one of The Spectator’s Books of the Year, described as "hauntingly beautiful" by the Guardian and reviewed widely across the press.

Her new book is a memoir called Grounding: Finding Home in a Garden.

At the Guardian Ellender tagged ten top books about gardening, including a few that reflect an "interest in creativity and the human impulse to cultivate beauty." One title on the list:
My Garden by Jamaica Kincaid

A passionate, poetic collection of New Yorker column essays exploring Kincaid’s relationship with her garden and the plants she grows (or fails to grow). She weaves botanical and colonial history with personal stories of the intuitive way she grew her garden in Vermont. Kincaid is interested in ownership, displacement and the history of botanical classification, asking us to examine imperial history and ancestral memory within the context of the garden.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Five titles on the romance and wonder of Victorian science

Nicole Yunger Halpern is a Fellow of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS), a theoretical physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland.

Yunger Halpern's new book is Quantum Steampunk: The Physics of Yesterday’s Tomorrow.

At Lit Hub she tagged five books imbued with the romance and wonder of Victorian science, including:
Laura J. Snyder, The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World

Early in the 19th century, four students determined to transform science: enhance its precision, professionalize it, augment the role of evidence, and harness science for the public good. In this book, historian Laura Snyder argues that they succeeded. Furthermore, the friends’ enchantment with all of nature’s facets enchanted me. In one striking image from the book, the polymath William Whewell describes how he plans to commune with a mountain: Upon “sketching it from the bottom I shall climb to the top and measure its height by the barometer, knock off a piece of rock with a geological hammer to see what it is made of, and then evolve some quotation from Wordsworth into the still air above it.” The book shows that this broad-mindedness and curiosity, together with rigor, determination, and collaboration, enabled the four friends to forge the modern science.
Read about the other entries on the list at Lit Hub.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Ten crime novels with isolated settings

After studying English at university, Nell Pattison became a teacher and specialized in Deaf education. She has been teaching in the Deaf community for 14 years in both England and Scotland, working with students who use BSL (British Sign Language), and began losing her hearing in her twenties. She lives in North Lincolnshire with her husband and son. Pattison is the author of novels The Silent House, which was a USA Today bestseller, Silent Night, and The Silent Suspect, featuring British Sign Language interpreter Paige Northwood.

Pattison's latest novel is Nowhere to Hide.

[The Page 69 Test: Nowhere to Hide]

At CrimeReads she tagged ten favorite crime novels with isolated settings, including:
The Bodies Left Behind, by Jeffery Deaver

Set in the forests of Wisconsin, this thriller deftly weaves together tension and a palpable threat level to keep the reader turning the pages. Two strangers, one of whom is an off-duty police officer, find themselves escaping from a cabin that has been the scene of a gruesome murder, and must trust each other in order to survive. Most of the plot takes place in just one night, adding a sense of urgency to the action.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 18, 2022

Five unconventional SFF heists

Marion Deeds was born in Santa Barbara, California and moved to northern California when she was five. She loves the redwoods, the ocean, dogs and crows.

She’s fascinated by the unexplained, and curious about power: who has it, who gets it, what is the best way to wield it. These questions inform her stories.

Deeds's new novel is Comeuppance Served Cold.

At she tagged five favorite unconventional heists in SFF, including:
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

I think Bennett’s The Divine Cities trilogy is a masterpiece, but The Founders Trilogy may give it a run for its money. The series kicks off with Foundryside, introducing us to Sancia, who escaped enslavement and now steals for a living. Sancia has a metal plate in her head that allows her to listen to magically inscribed or “scrived” objects. When she steals an oddly-shaped gold key, she sets in motion a chain reaction that will literally change the reality of her world, but not before she participates in more than one heist. The magic and politics of Foundryside, with its oligarchical “campo” families controlling scriving, are complex, multi-layered and dazzling. The characters are heartbreakingly deep and complicated, and one of the truly original notes in the heist aspect is that the “gang” that forms are all adversaries of each other first. Trust is hard to come by, and even harder to maintain when things start going wrong. Come for the magic and the heist, stay for the philosophical and political observations.
Read about the other entries on the list at

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Ten novels about art & artists

Jennifer Murphy holds an MFA in painting from the University of Denver and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington. She is the recipient of the 2013 Loren D.
Milliman Scholarship for creative writing and was a contributor at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference from 2008 through 2012. In 2015, her acclaimed debut novel, I Love You More, won the prestigious Nancy Pearl Fiction Award. Her love of art led her to start Citi Arts, a public art and urban planning company that has created public art master plans for airports, transit facilities, streetscapes, and cities nationwide. She hails from a small beachfront town in Michigan and has lived in Denver, Charlotte, Seattle, and Charleston. She currently lives in Houston, Texas.

Murphy's new novel is Scarlet in Blue.

[ Q&A with Jennifer Murphy]

At Electric Lit she tagged ten novels that "do what art itself does best. They intrigue. They seduce. They grab our attention and pull us inside." One title on the list:
The Painter by Peter Heller

Peter Heller tells the story of successful fictional painter Jim Stegner, whose life takes a turn when he shoots a man in a bar for making lewd comments about his daughter, a scene which he later paints in an “explosion of colors.” His marriage has also ended. He leaves New Mexico and starts a fresh life in Colorado where he attempts to lose himself in his paintings and fishing. Heller does an amazing job of using his protagonist’s paintings to reflect the violence of his life. The prose has a clean, hard-boiled detective edge to it, instilling the novel with mystery and urgency.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Six novels about power, deception, & control

Stacey Halls was born in Lancashire and worked as a journalist before her debut, The Familiars, was published in 2019. The Familiars was the bestselling debut hardback novel of that year, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards' Debut Book of the Year. The Foundling, her second novel, was also a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Mrs. England is her third novel.

At CrimeReads Halls tagged six favorite novels in which "[p]ower, control and deception aren’t just plot devices: they’re part of the reader experience." One title on the list:
Vera, by Elizabeth von Arnim

Based on von Arnim’s disastrous second marriage, Vera is one of the most powerful and frightening depictions of narcissism I’ve ever read. Published in the 1920s, it’s said to be Du Maurier’s inspiration for Rebecca, and many parallels can be drawn between the two, from the sun-soaked opening setting to the shotgun wedding and subsequent loneliness as the mistress of a vast house. Naive and grieving after the sudden death of her father, 20-something Lucy Entwistle is swept off her feet by Everard Wemyss, a widow 20 years her senior who she meets on holiday. Persuaded into marriage, she moves into his country house, The Willows, where a portrait of his first wife looms large. What follows is an onslaught of manipulation, possessive behaviour, cruelty and control disguised as love, that is still as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 15, 2022

Five books about telepathy

Brendan Bellecourt was raised in the cold climes of rural Wisconsin, where he lives still with his family and trio of cats. His love of science fiction was sparked early by Frank Herbert’s Dune and C. J. Cherryh’s Faded Sun Trilogy. Later influences include Robert Charles Wilson, Ted Chiang, and China Miéville. His favorite stories are those with flawed protagonists who are deeply affected by, and later come to influence, some jaw-dropping, world-altering change.

Bellecourt's debut sci-fi novel is Absynthe.

At he tagged five "books that make interesting use of telepathy," including:
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

In Ancillary Justice, Breq was once the Justice of Toren, a starship with an artificial intelligence that linked thousands of soldiers together—a hivemind, in essence, with Breq at its core. It was a mesmerizing experience entering Breq’s world and getting glimpses of the life it once led, linking so many in service of the Radtch Empire and its unquenchable thirst for expansion.

The way Ancillary Justice addresses the notions of empire and the costs of war and domination was masterful, but my favorite part was Leckie’s take on an AI navigating the world of humanity after leading a very different life as a starship. The “telepathy” in Ancillary Justice is more like networked data communication, a neural network of sorts, but it still certainly qualifies. It’s an excellent read and one I highly recommend.
Read about the other entries on the list at

Ancillary Justice is among Peter F Hamilton's top ten books about remaking the future, Gareth L. Powell's ten top spaceships in fiction, Stacey Berg's five speculative fiction books that obliterate the Bechdel Test, Andrew Liptak's six notable novels featuring Artificial Intelligence, and Jeff Somers's top five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Top 10 novels about postwar Germany

Martin Goodman has written eleven books, fiction and nonfiction. A theme common to much of his fiction is the exploration of war guilt: his first novel On Bended Knees, set in England and Berlin, examined how the effects of war are passed from one generation to the next, and was shortlisted for the Whitbread (now the Costa) First Novel Award. His latest novel J SS Bach picks up that thread and considers the themes of Music and the Holocaust.

At the Guardian Goodman tagged ten novels that "explore how the guilt and traumas of war are passed down to succeeding generations," including:
Here in Berlin by Cristina Garcia (2017)

The Visitor, akin to the Cuban-American author, spends months of 2013 in Berlin. She brings questions such as “What did war keep offering that ensured its survival?”. Can this 21st-century Germany still be examining its postwar condition? It seems so. She pulls tales from vivid and various survivors in the city. Some are so real they have photos, one is snatched from Günter Grass’s Tin Drum, and all offer up their own versions of honesty.
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Five thrillers about killer relatives

Tessa Wegert is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Adweek, and The Economist. She grew up in Quebec near the border of Vermont and now lives with her husband and children in a hundred- year-old house in Coastal Connecticut. Wegert writes mysteries set in Upstate New York while studying martial arts and dance, and is the author of the Shana Merchant series, beginning with Death in the Family.

Her new novel is Dead Wind.

[My Book, The Movie: The Dead SeasonThe Page 69 Test: The Dead SeasonQ&A with Tessa WegertThe Page 69 Test: Dead WindWriters Read: Tessa Wegert (April 2022)]

At CrimeReads Wegert tagged five thrillers in which "family ties to known killers complicate characters’ lives as well – and it isn’t just the heroes who find themselves in conflict." One title on the list:
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

In this inventive and darkly funny thriller, tenderhearted nurse Korede feels she has no choice but to help her younger sister Ayoola. Ayoola has a nasty habit of murdering her boyfriends, and Korede is terrified that her sister will be found out.

This masterwork of Nigerian Noir is about murder, but it’s also a study of sisterly love, the complexity of sibling relationships, and romantic rivalry. While Korede initially feels obligated to protect her sister, she finds herself rethinking her position when Ayoola sets her sights on Tade – the object of Korede’s desire. Suddenly, Korede needs to figure out how to protect him, too.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

My Sister the Serial Killer is among Catherine Ryan Howard's five notable dangers-of-dating thrillers, Sally Hepworth's top five novels about twisted sisters, Megan Nolan's six books on unrequited love and unmet obsession, Sarah Pinborough's top ten titles where the setting is a character, Tiffany Tsao's top five novels about murder all in the family, Victoria Helen Stone's eight top crime books of deep, dark family lore, and Kristen Roupenian's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Fourteen titles about nature by women writers

Megan Mayhew Bergman is the author of three books, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Almost Famous Women, and How Strange a Season, now out from Scribner. She is currently writing a book on the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

Bergman is a journalist, essayist, and critic. She has written columns on climate change and the natural world for The Guardian and The Paris Review. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Tin House, Ploughshares, Oxford American, Orion, and elsewhere. Her short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2011 and 2015, and on NPR’s Selected Shorts. She was awarded the Garrett Award for Fiction and the Phil Reed Environmental Writing Award for Journalism, and, previously, fellowships at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the American Library in Paris.

She currently teaches literature and environmental writing at Middlebury College, where she also serves as Director of the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference.

At Electric Lit Bergman tagged fourteen books "about our relationship with the natural world that subverts patriarchal norms," including:
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray

No one has ever written about a rural junkyard in Georgia—and the slash pine forests—with more color, skill, and heart. The New York Times called Ray the next Rachel Carson, but she is under-read. Ray offers a crucial take on the intersection between class and a conservation mindset in this ecological memoir that traces her origins and the essential flow between person and place.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 11, 2022

Five titles that recall the surreal (and sociopathic?) 1990s in America

Candice Wuehle is the author of the novel Monarch as well as three collections of poetry. She is also a co-author of Collected Voices in the Expanded Field.

Wuehle holds an MA in literature from the University of Minnesota as well as an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She earned a doctorate in Creative Writing at The University of Kansas, where she was the recipient of a Chancellor's Fellowship. Her studies focus on the relationship between trauma, memory, and the occult.

Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Wuehle lives in Roanoke, Virginia.

At Lit Hub she tagged "five books that remember [the 1990s] and offer up their own resistance to its commercial and patriarchal values," including:
Jenny Hval, Girls Against God

“It’s 1992 and I’m the Gloomiest Child Queen.” So begins Jenny Hval’s novel-manifesto-spell-screenplay, Girls Against God. Enraged by the racism and homophobia of her ultra-religious hometown, a teenager seeks haven in the Oslo’s nascent black metal scene. At the Munch Museum, Hval’s unnamed narrator is struck by the notion that all “naked young women in paintings are actually sitting there, hating.” With the help of her coven/band, Hval sets out to “rewrite the girl in [Munch’s] painting, save her, save us” through occultism and art. Queer and feminist theories are both forms of magic in Girls Against God, as are the mysterious depths of the early internet. “I type into the search bar the internet as a spiritual force. I delete it and instead type How the spiritual world is like the internet. I delete this too and write Find God on the internet,” writes Hval. “I don’t press Search, but I am searching… Dear God, who art online.” Hval captures the world-widening of the world wide web in this subversive and spectacular book.
Read about the other entries on the list at Lit Hub.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Six books featuring characters growing up against the wall

Amelia Kahaney is the author of All the Best Liars and The Brokenhearted series. Her short fiction has appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, One Story, and Crazyhorse, among other publications. She teaches writing in New York City, where she lives with her husband and son.

At CrimeReads Kahaney tagged "six books that have inspired and thrilled me, all of them featuring characters in the process of growing into their truest selves despite—or because of—dark forces urging them onward, whether to unravel a mystery, stash a body, avenge a wrong, or try to stop time before things move from bad to unthinkable." One title on the list:
Dare Me by Megan Abbott

Dare Me is set in the world of high school cheerleading, but there’s nothing bouncy or frivolous about the power dynamics between Beth, head cheerleader and queen bee, and Addy, her loyal minion. When a young and beautiful new cheer coach shows up and upends the girls’ established order, Beth is dethroned from her eternal position at the top of the pyramid and Addy finds herself in thrall to Coach’s risky personal life. Stack up the team’s dangerous acrobatics and ruthless competition with the mid-point murder of Coach’s lover, and this taut powder keg of a story becomes explosive. I love all of Abbott’s books, but Dare Me remains an all-time favorite.
Read about the other entries at CrimeReads.

Dare Me is among Frederick Weisel's six crime novels set in public school classrooms, Rachel Kapelke-Dale's eleven unexpected thrillers about female rage, Debbie Babitt's eight top coming-of-age thrillers, Avery Bishop's top five novels that explore "mean girl" culture, Kelly Simmons's six books to buddy-read with your teen or twentyish daughter, Katie Lowe's top eight crime novels for angry women in an angry world, Kate Hamer's top ten teenage friendships in fiction, S.R. Masters's seven thrillers that capture some of the darker aspects of tight-knit friendship groups, Jessica Knoll's top ten thrillers, Brian Boone's fifty most essential high school stories, Julie Buntin's twelve books that totally get female friendship, L.S. Hilton's top ten female-fronted thrillers, Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Anna Fitzpatrick's four top horror stories set in the real universe of girlhood and Adam Sternbergh's six notable crime novels that double as great literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Seven titles about the Chinese Exclusion Act

Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer from Austin and Senior Editor for The Adroit Journal. Her work has appeared in Apogee, CALYX, Ninth Letter, Passages North, wildness, and The Rumpus, with essays in HuffPost, Bustle, The Cut, and HelloGiggles, among others. She is a Kundiman fellow and graduate of the VONA/Voices and Tin House workshops, and holds an MFA from the University of Wyoming.

Her debut novel Four Treasures of the Sky is out now from Flatiron Books.

At Electric Lit Zhang tagged seven books that examine "the impact of the 1882 law that restricted Chinese migration to the United States," including:
The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies

In four distinct sections, Peter Ho Davies presents the lives of four generations of Chinese Americans (three of which are real figures) and interrogates what it means to be a stranger in your home, in a land that refuses to call itself your own. We meet Ah Ling, who is struggling to carve his way in 1860s California; Anna Mae Wong, the first Chinese movie star in Hollywood; Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American killed in 1982 by a pair of Detroit auto workers for looking Japanese; and John Ling Smith, a half-Chinese writer who hopes to adopt a baby girl in China. Spanning 150 years, this unique novel examines pivotal moments of Chinese American history and the ways in which anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism have haunted the lives lived (and extinguished) along the way....
Read about the other titles on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 8, 2022

Nine historical novels featuring real people as main characters

After studying journalism at Texas A&M University, Jody Hadlock was a television news reporter and anchor in Bryan-College Station, Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; and San Antonio, Texas.

In addition to writing, her other passion is advocating for people with special needs. She met her son, Marius, while reporting on Romania’s orphanages post-communism and saw firsthand the effects of the lack of nurturing and nutrition on the young orphans. For several years Jody served on the board of directors of North Texas Special Needs Assistance Partners (SNAP), a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live the fullest lives possible in their communities.

Hadlock lives near Fort Worth with her husband. The Lives of Diamond Bessie is her first novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged "nine authors and their works that will take you back in time to another place, another way of life, all told from the points of view of real people who may not have lived to tell their stories but are told now through others’ pens." One entry on the list:
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall trilogy

If there’s one novel anyone who loves history should read, it’s Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Followed by Bring Up the Bodies and The Mirror and the Light. Each reminds us how brutal life was back in the days of Henry VIII, when he was chopping off heads left and right. Even though you know how the story is going to end for Anne Boleyn and eventually Thomas Cromwell, the main protagonist of the trilogy, you’re still turning the page as if you don’t know what’s going to happen and you can’t wait to find out. And the writing. Mantel’s sentences are like nesting dolls. She packs more into a sentence than any other writer and unpacking each one is always a pleasurable experience.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

Wolf Hall made Benjamin Myers's top ten list of mentors in fiction, Jessie Burton's list of eleven of the best books about/with cats, Pete Buttigieg’s ten favorite books list, Ruby Bentall's six best books list, Rula Lenska's six favorite books list, Deborah Cadbury's top ten list of books about royal families, Peter Stanford's top ten list of Protestants in fiction, Melissa Harrsion's ten top depictions of British rain, the Telegraph's list of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels, BBC Culture's list of the 21st century’s twelve greatest novels, Ester Bloom's ten list of books for fans of the television series House of Cards, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Kathryn Williams's reading list on pride, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of books on baby-watching in Great Britain, Julie Buntin's top ten list of literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Hermione Norris's 6 best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best cardinals in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on dangerous minds and Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009, and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Top 10 difficult marriages in fiction

Elizabeth Lowry was born in Washington DC, USA and educated in South Africa and England.

Her first novel, The Bellini Madonna, was published in 2008 to great acclaim and reissued in September 2019.

Her second novel, Dark Water, appeared in September 2018. It was The Times’s Historical Fiction Book of the Month, The Sunday Times’s Historical Fiction Critic’s Choice, The Guardian’s Book of the Day, and was chosen as a Times and New Statesman Book of the Year.

Dark Water was longlisted for the 2019 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and for the HWA’s Gold Crown Award for 2019.

Lowry's new novel is The Chosen.

At the Guardian she tagged her ten "favourite depictions of coupledom gone wrong," including:
Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Delectably acid, this is the quintessential marital revenge novel: a roman à clef, based on the collapse of the marriage of Ephron (then a food writer) to the political journalist Carl Bernstein. Rachel Samstat and her husband Mark Feldman have moved to Washington, DC, for his career. Then Mark has an affair with Thelma Rice (AKA Margaret Jay) who resembles a giraffe “with big feet”. Small-footed Rachel not only dumps him but writes this bestseller, too. Bonus: the book is studded with delicious recipes.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Heartburn is among Candice Carty-Williams's six heroic women in literature, Jeff Somers's ten books to read before getting divorced, Diana Secker Tesdell's top ten memorable meals in literature, and Anna Murphy's top ten lesser-known literary heroines.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Seven books about uprootedness

Anjanette Delgado is a Puerto Rican writer and journalist based in Miami. She is the author of The Heartbreak Pill: A Novel and The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho. She has written for the New York Times “Modern Love” column, Vogue, NPR, HBO, the Kenyon Review, Pleiades, the Hong Kong Review, and others.

Delgado is the editor of the anthology Home in Florida: Latinx Writers and the Literature of Uprootedness.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books for when your life has radically changed, including:
We, the Animals by Justin Torres

We, the Animals is also a coming out and coming of age story with an immigrant family at its center, but here what threatens to uproot is family. It’s a home so infested with the culture of toxic masculinity that it kills its own. Yes, you will cry a little, curse a lot, but the way in which the narrator emerges from it all, will have you reading and rereading it for years to come.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Seven notable Russian spy novels

Ellen Crosby is a former reporter for The Washington Post, foreign correspondent for ABC News Radio and economist at the U.S. Senate. She has spent many years overseas in Europe, but now lives in Virginia with her husband. She is the author of the Wine Country mysteries and the Sophie Medina mysteries. The latest in the Wine Country mystery series is Bitter Roots.

[The Page 69 Test: The Vineyard Victims]

At CrimeReads Crosby tagged seven favorite Russian spy novels, including:
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

A terrific thriller that garnered an Edgar nomination for Best First Novel and was inspired by the true story of a CIA plot. Irina, a Russian-American secretary from the Agency’s typing pool, is assigned to smuggle the greatest love story of the twentieth century—Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago—into Soviet Russia where it had been banned. Mentored by a glamorous, experienced CIA agent, the two women become involved in unexpected ways, but also prove once again the powerful belief that there are books that can change the world.
Read about the other entries on the list--and learn about Crosby's adventures in the Soviet Union during the Cold War--at CrimeReads.

--Marshal Zeringue