Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Seven of the best locked room mysteries

Alice Feeney is the New York Times bestselling author of Sometimes I Lie, I Know Who You Are, His & Hers, and Rock Paper Scissors. Her novels have been translated into over twenty-five languages, and have been optioned for major screen adaptations.

Feeney was a BBC journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the Devon countryside with her family. Daisy Darker is her fifth novel.

At CrimeReads the author tagged seven of her favorite locked room mysteries, including:
The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White

My second favourite locked room mystery is The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White. You may not have heard of this book, or its author, but in her day Ethel was just as popular and successful as Agatha Christie. I think she is an amazing and underrated writer. A lot of people think she may have been forgotten because, like me, she was shy.

The Wheel Spins is about a girl called Iris who is returning to England by train after a somewhat underwhelming holiday. She finds herself in a carriage with a woman called Miss Froy. When Iris wakes up from a nap, Miss Froy is missing and everyone else on the train insists that she was never there in the first place!

I love this book so much, so did Alfred Hitchcock, so he turned it into a film called The Lady Vanishes. (The film is not as good as the book). The Wheel Spins was written in 1936, but it feels surprisingly contemporary when read today. If you enjoy my books I think you might enjoy this too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Seven complex portraits of criminality in literature

Our Sister Who Will Not Die: Stories, Rebecca Bernard’s debut collection of stories, won the 2021 Non/Fiction prize from The Journal and was published by Ohio State’s Mad Creek Books in August 2022. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Southwest Review, Wigleaf, Witness, and elsewhere. She holds a PhD in Fiction from the University of North Texas and an MFA from Vanderbilt University. Her work received notable mention in the Best American Short Stories of 2018. She is an Assistant Professor in the English department at Angelo State University. She serves as a Fiction Editor for The Boiler.

At Lit Hub Bernard tagged seven of the best complex portraits of criminality in literature, including:
Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room

Kushner weaves a complex, moving, and empathic narrative that challenges our assumptions of criminality and simultaneously exposes the gross inequities within the prison system. The primary first-person point of view follows Romy, a 20-something woman convicted of murdering her stalker as she begins a life sentence within the California prison system. On paper, Romy, a sex worker and a single mother, might elicit a dehumanizing dismissal, but Kushner puts us directly in her shoes, privy to the complex workings of her mind (and importantly, Romy is new to the system alongside the reader). The real magic in Kushner’s narrative comes through the bold offering of multiple close-third person viewpoints alongside Romy that include an incarcerated former policeman, one of Romy’s peers in prison, Sammy, and the teacher of the prison GED program. With each perspective, we see more deeply into the character’s actions, both their capacity to hurt others, as well as their methods for survival in a society and system that rarely protects its most disenfranchised members from the gross and far-reaching effects of poverty and abuse. Daring in its empathic reach, this book enforces the idea that no individual holds all parts of a story, and we’re better for the humility that awareness brings.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 29, 2022

Ten of the best books highlighting honesty

Reviewers at the Christian Science Monitor tagged ten books that "offer powerful examples of people seeking truth, pursuing justice, and insisting on the dignity of each individual." One title on the list:
The Inheritors by Eve Fairbanks

The end of South Africa’s apartheid regime in 1994 was met with jubilation. But the new government faced daunting challenges, and whatever its successes, it was bound to disappoint. Decades later, journalist Eve Fairbanks gets to know South Africans who grew up under apartheid and those who don’t remember it. The result is a moving group portrait of disillusion and resilience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Eleven top books about restaurant kitchens

At Vulture Megan Hennessey tagged eleven books "if you .. want to immerse yourself in the thrilling (and oftentimes stressful) world of restaurants, or if you just need a cathartic story centered on a kitchen." One title on the list:
I Hear She’s a Real Bitch, by Jen Agg

Jen Agg, author of I Hear She’s a Real Bitch and owner of several restaurants in Toronto, doesn’t want to play by the rules created and maintained by chef bros, her term for the dudes who insist on running their kitchens with a perfectionistic, overbearing attitude. So she created her own path forward, opening her own restaurant called the Black Hoof. As the owner, she challenges the Way Things Are Done™. Why should the back of house and front of house always be feuding? Why should she have to prove single-handedly, usually without proper support, that she can beat a system determined to crush her? This book is full of anecdotes, tips for building your own restaurant, and strong opinions about cocktails.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Five of the best road trip novels featuring women

Before her retirement in 2014, Deborah K. Shepherd was the director of a domestic violence program in central Maine. Her essays have been published by Herstry, Persimmon Tree, Women on Writing, and Women Writers, Women’s Books. Her Covid-themed essay was a winner in the Center for Interfaith Relations 2020 Sacred Essay Contest. During an earlier career as a reporter, she wrote for Show Business Newspaper and the Roe Jan Independent, a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. She holds a BFA in drama from the University of Arizona and an MSW from Fordham University.

Shepherd's first novel is So Happy Together.

At Shepherd she tagged five of the "best road trip novels with women in the driver’s seat," including:
Boop and Eve's Road Trip by Mary Helen Sheriff

The author had me at the first line: “Boop loved her daughter to the moon and back, but Justine had a way of sucking the joy out of a room faster than a vampire bat.” This road trip story about three generations of women (Boop, her daughter, Justine—who’s not in the car, but her presence is—and Justine’s daughter, Eve) set against a background of family secrets, has a decidedly Southern tone. One imagines a narrator relating the story from a rocker on the front porch, a glass of sweet tea in her hand. Although there are lighthearted moments, this is a serious story, about familial expectations, mental illness, family secrets, estrangement, and three women trying to find their way back to themselves and to each other. Travelling with this unforgettable grandmother/granddaughter duo is a gift.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 26, 2022

Five SFF books about the multiverse

Tim Pratt is a Hugo Award-winning SF and fantasy author, and has been a finalist for World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Stoker, Mythopoeic, and Nebula Awards, among others. He is the author of over twenty novels, including The Deep Woods and Heirs of Grace, and scores of short stories. His work has been reprinted in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, and other nice places. Since 2001 he has worked for Locus, the magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, where he currently serves as senior editor. He lives in Berkeley, CA with his wife and son.

Pratt's latest novel is Prison of Sleep: Book II of the Journals of Zaxony Delatree.

[Writers Read: Tim Pratt (October 2019); Writers Read: Tim Pratt (April 2022)]

At the author tagged five "books and stories that got me hooked on the concept of the multiverse in the first place, and the ones that expanded my idea of what multiverse stories could accomplish," including:
The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub

Twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer’s mother is dying of cancer in a crumbling East Coast hotel when Jack meets a strange old man at an amusement park. The man tells him there’s a way to save her life: go on a quest across the country, and across realities, to obtain the Talisman. During the course of his journey, Jack has to “flip” back and forth between the long roads of the United States and a parallel universe, The Territories, a magical version of North America populated by monsters, mutants, wolf-people, and “twinners” of some people in our reality—his mother, for instance, is a queen over there, and she’s dying, too. This is a long, weird, occasionally heartwarming (but mostly heart-wrenching) coming-of-age story, as Jack proceeds along the “road of trials,” making allies and enemies along the way. The most mind-blowing part comes at the very end, when Jack begins to flip rapidly through alternate realities, revealing that our world and the Territories are just two of a possibly infinite number of possible realities. (King went on to explore that idea alone in his multiverse epic Dark Tower series.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Top 10 books about Israel

Lavie Tidhar was born just ten miles from Armageddon and grew up on a kibbutz in northern Israel. He has since made his home in London. He won the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize for Best British Fiction, was twice longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award and was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger Award and the Rome Prize. He co-wrote Art and War: Poetry, Pulp and Politics in Israeli Fiction, and is a columnist for the Washington Post.

Tidhar's latest work is Maror, "a novel that attempts to write an Israel that couldn’t be written from within."

At the Guardian he tagged ten books that answer the question How does one write of Israel? differently. One title on the list:
One Mile and Two Days Before Sunset by Shimon Adaf

Adaf’s first novel is merely the opening shot in the recently translated Lost Detective trilogy, which treats the story of Israel as a fiction that must be deciphered by an author-detective lost in the futility of the attempt. A welcome introduction in English to one of Israel’s most adventurous literary novelists.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Ten essential Illinois books

Edward McClelland is a native of Lansing, Mich., which is also the birthplace of Burt Reynolds and the Oldsmobile.

McClelland’s most recent book, Midnight in Vehicle City: General Motors, Flint, and the Strike That Built the Middle Class, is a narrative account of the 1936-37 Flint Sit Down Strike, which led to the establishment of the United Auto Workers as the nation’s flagship labor union. His previous book, How to Speak Midwestern, is a guide to the speech and sayings of Middle America, which The New York Times called “a dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance.”

At Chicago magazine McClelland tagged ten books to take us on "an armchair journey through Illinois, from Chicago to Cairo, and from the Age of Lincoln to the Age of Obama," including:
A Street in Bronzeville, Gwendolyn Brooks

There may be more widely read Chicago authors than Gwendolyn Brooks, but there has never been one more beloved. “Miss Brooks,” as the poetess was known (although she was married to Henry Blakely for 57 years) succeeded the Olympian Carl Sandburg as Illinois Poet Laureate. Brooks’s first collection, A Street in Bronzeville, offered a more commonplace look at Black Belt life than Wright’s drama. The lead-off poem is titled “kitchenette building”: “‘Dream’ makes a giddy sound, not strong/ Like “rent,” “feeding a wife,” “satisfying a man.” Brooks was an inspiration to the city’s rappers, and even in this early work, Brooks’s verses contain the seeds of hip-hop, as when she writes about “the soft man”: “Disgusting, isn’t it, dealing out the damns/ To every comer? Hits the heart like pain./ And calling women (Marys) chicks and broads/ Men hep, and cats, or corny to the jive.”

Five years later, Brooks became the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize, for Annie Allen. A statue of Brooks was recently unveiled in a Kenwood park that bears her name.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Ten of the best books about how people imagine politics

Eve Fairbanks writes about change: in cities, countries, landscapes, morals, values, and our ideas of ourselves. A former political writer for The New Republic, her essays and reportage have been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Guardian, among other outlets. Born in Virginia, she now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Inheritors: An Intimate Portrait of South Africa's Racial Reckoning is her debut.

At Lit Hub Fairbanks tagged ten favorite titles "about politics [that] dig deep into how people imagine politics—how we imagine what makes people happy and how much change we can tolerate to our self-image." One entry on the list:
Moises Naim, The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be

Paradoxically, imagining that maximally evil, conspiratorial, even psychopathic political villains—Soros, the Koch brothers—control our world can be a comfort, a purportedly dark worldview that belies a hidden optimism. If a small set of villains wield outsized power, it would be possible to right the world by ousting them. Naim has worked and traveled among favorite villains of the left and the right as head of Foreign Policy magazine and the World Bank’s executive director. And he does something virtually no other writer dares to do: really depict the world from the point of view of the Davos elites everybody likes to make out as evil geniuses. In Naim’s telling, they also feel impotent, even terrified—a persuasive argument that upends many myths of contemporary politics. I probably recommend this book to others more than any other work of contemporary political nonfiction.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 22, 2022

Seven YA titles that bring color to dark academia

Nzinga Temu is a writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Howard University. During her undergraduate studies she has written for Zenger News and Picture This Post.

At Electric Lit she tagged, "for all of the academics of color, ... a list of seven dark YA narratives surrounding the intrigues of academic life." One title on the list:
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké‑Íyímídé

Feeling like the fly in the buttermilk is an all too familiar sensation to African American academics, and Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s debut novel fuses the air of petty evil from Pretty Little Liars with the anxiety of being cornered from Get Out to articulate this experience. Elite, wealthy, popular girl Chiamaka, and unsociable yet talented musician from the rough part of the neighborhood, Devon are the only two Black students at Niveus Private Academy. They both have high aspirations that all hinge on the success of their final year of high school, but during the first weeks of class they are sabotaged by anonymous text messages sent to their classmates that spill secrets that can ruin their lives, or have them dead.

Àbíké‑Íyímídé addresses systemic racism in academia as well as toxic friendships, all the while drawing us in with the drama and intrigue. As a Black, queer author, she is as tired of Black and queer struggle narratives as the rest of us; we can count on her to not put us through any unnecessary pain. But Ace of Spades is certainly a thriller, and challenges two Black high schoolers to survive the racist tyranny of their white classmates all while maintaining their prestigious college prospects.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Six books about psychopathic women

Kathleen Hale is the author of two young adult novels and one essay collection. She has written for the Guardian, Hazlitt, and Vice, and is a writer and producer for Outer Banks on Netflix. She was born in Wisconsin and lives in Los Angeles.

Hales new book is Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls.

At CrimeReads she tagged six "of the most chilling stories I’ve ever read about female psychopaths," including:
Good Me Bad Me: A Novel by Ali Land

Milly’s Mom is not like other Moms… She’s a serial killer. After finding the courage to turn in her mother to the police, Milly escapes to live with the perfect foster family. But dark details from her old life back still haunt her. Dark urges plague her, too. Despite her best intentions, Milly’s horrifying past slowly creeps into the present. Preparing to act as a witness at her mother’s criminal trial not only triggers Milly’s PTSD, but also raises uncomfortable questions about Milly’s role in her mother’s killing spree. Was Milly really just a passive victim in her mother’s house of horrors? Or did she participate in the game? Is it possible to be a victim, and a perpetrator? Ali Land’s masterful debut raises these and other groundbreaking questions about the fine line between nature and nurture. With a monster for a mother, can Milly ever truly outgrow the evil she experienced as a child? Or does that same evil live inside of her, too? Good Me Bad Me is an addictive, voice-driven psychological thriller, and a must-read. But not for the faint of heart.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Five of the best novels about fame

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones and the Six, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, as well as One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. Daisy Jones and the Six is currently being adapted by Hello Sunshine into a limited series for Amazon. She lives in Los Angeles.

[The Page 69 Test: Forever, Interrupted; Writers Read: Taylor Jenkins Reid (June 2014)].

Reid's new novel is Carrie Soto Is Back.

At the Waterstones blog she tagged five favorite novels that deal with the glamorous drama of fame and notoriety, including:
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

True Story: I once stayed up until 4 in the morning to finish this beautifully told story of a woman named Alice Lindgren who is but also is not based on Former First Lady Laura Bush. We follow the story of Alice growing up, falling in love, and ultimately, having to hide and deny parts of her history and who she is in order to fit the public's expectations. It's a really special book — as is Sittenfeld's latest, Rodham, which is an alternative take on the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Read about the other entries on the list.

American Wife is among Sif Sigmarsdóttir's ten top novels about burning issues for young adults and Jenny Eclair's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 19, 2022

Nine titles that consider the meaning of life by confronting death

Coco Picard is a writer, cartoonist, and curator. She is the author of the novel The Healing Circle (2022), which won the Red Hen Press Women's Prose Prize, as well as The Chronicles of Fortune (2017), which was nominated for a DiNKy Award. Art criticism and comics have otherwise appeared under the name Caroline Picard in Artforum, Hyperallergic, The Paris Review, and Seven Stories Press, among others. She started the Green Lantern Press in 2005, received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute, and was a Bookends Fellow at Stony Brook University.

At Electric Lit Picard tagged nine novels that don't fear the reaper, including:
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

Jefferson, a young, uneducated Black man in a 1940s Cajun community, is the sole survivor of a liquor store shoot-out. Though innocent, he is convicted of the crime and given a death sentence. Meanwhile, Grant Wiggins, a university graduate, has just returned to teach at a local plantation school and wrestles with his decision, imagining he might be better off leaving the past behind and moving to another state. Upon the urging of his immediate family, Wiggins visits Jefferson and agrees to offer what lessons he can. The burgeoning friendship between these two men allows Gaines—himself born as a fifth-generation sharecropper in Louisiana—to explore questions around life, justice, the pursuit of knowledge, and the reverberations of racism.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Top 10 books about starting afresh

Born in Edinburgh and raised in the Scottish Borders, Ali Millar now lives in London.

She has an MA with distinction in Creative Writing from Edinburgh Napier University where she graduated with the class medal. As producer and broadcast journalist she has interviewed some of the world's leading authors, including Etgar Keret and Marina Warner.

The Last Days: a memoir of faith, desire and freedom is her first book.

At the Guardian Millar tagged ten books that "explore the possibilities and perils of remaking one’s life," including:
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Following the death of her husband, John Dunne, Didion takes the reader deep inside her experience of grief and the madness it brings, showing the near impossibility of moving beyond such a huge loss. Instead, as the year progresses, she becomes convinced he’ll return. All the hallmarks of Didion’s writing are here: her tightly honed eloquence, her pared back prose. It is also an eerily quiet book; grief both stalks and haunts the page. This is a new beginning that’s nearly impossible to move towards.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Year of Magical Thinking is among Mary-Frances O'Connor's five books for the grieving brain, Karolina Waclawiak's six books on loss and longing, Tara Westover's top four inspirational memoirs, Mark Whitaker's six favorite memoirs, Adam Haslett's five best deathless accounts of mourning, Douglas Kennedy's top ten books about grief, and Norris Church Mailer's five best memoirs. It is a book that made a difference to Samantha Bee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Seven top thrillers set at weddings

Amanda Jayatissa loves to read disturbing books with shocking plot twists, so it seemed logical to her that she should attempt to write disturbing books with shocking plot twists. When she isn’t recovering from a self-induced book hangover, she works tirelessly as the chief taste tester at the cookie shop she co-owns. She grew up in Sri Lanka and has lived in the California bay area and British countryside, before relocating back to her sunny island, where she lives with her husband and two Tasmanian-devil-reincarnate huskies.

Jayatissa's new thriller is You're Invited.

At CrimeReads she tagged seven of the best thrillers set at weddings, including:
Every Vow You Break, by Peter Swanson

What happens after you make it through the wedding? You have to survive the honeymoon, of course! Abigail Baskin makes a terrible mistake during her bachelorette weekend— she had a one-night-stand with a stranger. Hoping to put it behind her, she goes ahead with the wedding, but things start to unravel as this man shows up during her honeymoon, professes his love to her, and mysterious things start happening on the island that Abigail cannot leave. This story is a slow burn, but definitely dials up the creepy elements!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Six top titles about football

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged six must-reads to help prepare for the upcoming football season, including:
Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America
Jason Reid

This new release was really started in September 2019 when ESPN’s The Undefeated website (now Andscape) kicked off a series of articles on the emergence of Black quarterbacks in the NFL with Jason Reid’s “Welcome to the Year of the Black Quarterback” and culminated with a television program in February 2020 with Reid hosting. This book expands on that with intimate looks at the careers of beloved NFL players and will keep fans of the sport absolutely riveted.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 15, 2022

Meg Gardiner's 6 favorite crime fiction books

Meg Gardiner is the author of sixteen acclaimed, award-winning novels. Her thrillers have been bestsellers in the U.S. and internationally and have been translated into more than twenty languages. China Lake won an Edgar Award and UNSUB, the first in Gardiner’s acclaimed UNSUB series, won a Barry Award. Her third UNSUB novel, The Dark Corners of the Night, has been bought by Amazon Studios for development as a television series. A former lawyer, three-time Jeopardy! champion, and two-time president of Mystery Writers of America, Gardiner lives in Austin, Texas.

[The Page 69 Test: The Dirty Secrets ClubThe Page 69 Test: The Memory Collector; My Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Evan Delaney seriesThe Page 69 Test: The Liar's LullabyMy Book, The Movie: Meg Gardiner's Jo Beckett seriesThe Page 69 Test: The Nightmare ThiefThe Page 69 Test: Ransom RiverThe Page 69 Test: The Shadow Tracer; The Page 69 Test: Phantom InstinctThe Page 69 Test: UNSUBThe Page 69 Test: Into the Black NowhereThe Page 69 Test: The Dark Corners of the Night]

Gardiner's new novel, with director Michael Mann, is Heat 2. At The Week magazine Gardiner tagged six favorite books about crooks and their hunters, including:
Norco '80 by Peter Houlahan (2019)

This stunning true-crime book delivers both a riveting account of a wild Southern California bank robbery and an astonishing courtroom story. The robbery's haunting effect on victims, witnesses, and police officers is movingly portrayed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Norco ’80.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Seven titles that speak the truth of war for civilians

Faleeha Hassan is a poet, playwright, writer, teacher, and editor who earned her master’s degree in Arabic literature and has published twenty-five books. A nominee for both the Pulitzer and Pushcart Prizes, she is the first woman to write poetry for children in Iraq. Her poems have been translated into twenty-one languages, and she has received numerous awards throughout the Middle East. Hassan is a member of the Iraq Literary Women’s Association, the Sinonu Association in Denmark, the Society of Poets Beyond Limits, and Poets of the World Community. Born in Iraq, she now resides in the United States.

Hassan's new book is War and Me: A Memoir, translated by William Hutchins.

At Electric Lit Hassan tagged seven books in which "readers learn the truth about war for innocent citizens: crushing poverty and starvation, constant danger and fear, job loss, severe lack of medical care, and the absence of security and freedom." One title on the list:
The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh

Bao Ninh’s harrowing tale depicts the lasting impact of war on an individual’s conscience through the journey of Kien, a veteran of the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade of the Vietcong. Kien struggles with PTSD, substance abuse, and an indescribable longing, a hope for a better future that he knows will never come. Ninh beautifully illustrates the emotional aftermath of war, a subject that often goes underrepresented in war stories. Though it was written in 1990, the novel is still fresh, presenting a unique, but surprisingly relatable, story of one soldier and how war changed both the world around him and the world within him. The Sorrow of War was banned in Vietnam upon its release for its negative representation of war and the government. It is that exact rawness, however, that makes it such a standout read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 13, 2022

The ten best books about addiction

Matt Rowland Hill was born in 1984 in Pontypridd, South Wales, and grew up in Wales and England. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Independent, New Statesman, the Telegraph and other outlets. He now lives in London.

Original Sins: A Memoir is his first book.

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten of his favorite books about addiction, including:
The Recovering by Leslie Jamison

There’s no other book like this: it blends literary criticism about great addiction writing, perceptive cultural and social commentary, and gorgeous autobiography about the author’s own alcoholism and recovery. Jamison is one of the wisest and most elegant writers currently at work. An alchemical book that manages to turn heartache and sorrow into literary joy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Nina Renata Aron's top ten books about recovery, Leslie Jamison's six notable books about addiction, Lisa Levy's seventeen top addiction books, Jeff Somers's ten notable fictional detectives marked by their addictions, Mary Kate Carr and David Canfield's fifteen most powerful memoirs about addiction and recovery, and SJ Watson's top ten books about addiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 12, 2022

Five of the best books-within-books

E.G. Scott is the pen name of writing partners Elizabeth Keenan and Greg Wands. Together they have written three novels: The Woman Inside, In Case of Emergency, and The Rule of Three. Their first book, The Woman Inside, was an international bestseller, which has been translated into twelve languages and is in development for a television series by Blumhouse.

At CrimeReads they tagged "five great novels where the suspense revolves around writing and books," including:
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

A deliciously sinister take on the ‘those who can’t, teach’ trope, Korelitz’s literary thriller dives into the life of struggling novelist and professor Jacob Finch Bonner. Unable to follow up on his first novel’s considerable success, Bonner finds himself toiling away at a middling MFA program, surrounded by starry-eyed writing students looking to him to shepherd them into dream literary careers. All except for the insufferably cocksure Evan Parker, who makes no secret of his creative brilliance. He doesn’t need Jacob or the program; he already has an idea for a guaranteed blockbuster. Jacob writes Evan off as hubristic, until he privately hears the novel’s setup. Captivated by the idea, and crippled by his own creative inadequacy, Bonner spirals, until he learns that Evan Parker has died without ever publishing his book. Jacob’s resulting decision to craft his own novel around Parker’s inspired plot unfurls into a delicious cat and mouse mind-bender when the book vaults him toward a meteoric comeback. Then, he receives a cryptic message; “You are a thief”. The ensuing mystery about who knows the truth, and how far they will go to punish him, culminates in a twisty revenge tale that strips bare all of the self-doubt and insecurity inherent in an imposter syndrome heavy creative career.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Plot is among Kimberly Belle's four thrillers with maximum escapism and Louise Dean's top ten novels about novelists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Top 10 books about women written out of history

Janina Ramirez is an Oxford lecturer, BBC broadcaster, researcher and author. She has presented and written over 30 hours of BBC history documentaries and series on TV and radio, and written five books for children and adults.

Ramirez's new book is Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages, Through the Women Written Out of It.

At the Guardian she tagged ten "books that have pushed the boundaries of history as a discipline and put the women back in." One title on the list:
The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse

Historical fiction was the main way I connected with women’s stories from the past when I was young, and Mosse is at the forefront of the genre. I love all her books but this one is most powerful for me because of the way she positions her protagonist Constantia within a complex and believable Sussex village more than a century ago. You can see, smell, touch and taste the past. The backdrop of taxidermy is also fascinating, since it is an art form that tries to capture time and preserve life after death.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Eight books about fraught mother-daughter relationships

Kayla Maiuri holds an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University. Born in the greater Boston area, she now lives in Brooklyn.

Mother in the Dark is her first novel.

At Electric Lit Maiuri tagged "eight books that explore the ways mothers and daughters can love, wound, and haunt," including:
Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder

Slim and thrilling, this novel is narrated by Mari, a 17-year-old girl who’s been forced to drop out of high school to work at her family’s rundown seaside hotel. Mari is lonely and starved of affection, overworked and tormented by a callous and demanding mother. One night, she witnesses a middle-aged hotel guest chastising a prostitute who’s been staying in his room. Marie is immediately drawn to the man’s commanding voice, and soon falls into a dangerous affair. Hotel Iris masterfully explores the violence and pleasure of intimacy, and how our relationship to our parents might affect the romantic relationships we seek.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Fifteen of the best books about unforgettable friendships

At B&N Reads the editors tagged fifteen "favorite titles that feature unforgettable friendships," including:
Her Majesty's Royal Coven
Juno Dawson

On the longest day of the year, four girls on the precipice of their adolescence took the oath to join Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, a covert government department established by Queen Elizabeth I. Joining the Coven started their friendship, but somehow, life has gotten in the way, taking a war to bring them back together. Niamh, Helena, Leonie and Elle are phenomenally powerful witches who will always be bound by the sisterhood of the coven. This book is a fantastic look at 30-something womanhood today and the realization that you’re always much stronger with the bonds of friendship.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 8, 2022

Ten midlife coming-of-age novels

Sarah McCraw Crow grew up in Virginia but has lived most of her adult life in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has run in Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, Good Housekeeping, So to Speak, Waccamaw, and Stanford Alumni Magazine. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College (AB, history), Stanford University (MA, journalism), and Vermont College of Fine Arts (MFA in writing). When she's not reading or writing, she's probably gardening or snowshoeing (depending on the weather).

The Wrong Kind of Woman is her literary debut.

[Q&A with Sarah McCraw Crow]

At Lit Hub the author tagged ten "notable midlife coming-of-age novels," including:
Tessa Hadley, Free Love

British novelist Tessa Hadley writes gorgeous evocations of characters at all ages, but especially women in midlife. Free Love follows forty-year-old Phyllis Fischer, who makes a seemingly silly and precipitate decision: After a kiss with a twenty-something family friend, she leaves her suburban life and her husband and kids behind. Within days, she’s entered a very different life in swinging-Sixties-grungy-mod London. Though this new life takes some turns for the worse, Phyllis finds her own way, twenty years after marrying, having children, and living as a suburban wife.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Free Love is among Meg Mason's five notable bittersweet novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Eight top legal thrillers

Jillian Medoff is the author of four acclaimed novels: This Could Hurt, I Couldn't Love You More, Good Girls Gone Bad, and Hunger Point. Hunger Point was made into an original cable movie starring Christina Hendricks and Barbara Hershey and directed by Joan Micklin Silver (Lifetime TV, 2003).

My Book, The Movie: This Could Hurt.

Medoff's new novel is When We Were Bright and Beautiful.

At CrimeReads she tagged "eight [courtroom dramas] that stunned me with their artistry, insight, and sheer brilliance," including:
Jill Ciment, The Body in Question

A short, addictive novel that packs an enormous punch. I read it compulsively in one sitting, and when I finished, I instantly started over. Ciment subverts the traditional courtroom procedural in two clever ways. First, rather than focus on the accused, accuser, or law enforcement, she hones in on the jury, specifically jurors C-2 and F-17, who have a passionate affair while sequestered. Second, Ciment illustrates the jurors’ experience in and out of the courtroom. The first half of the novel details the three-week trial of a wealthy teenager accused of murdering her toddler brother; the latter half deals with the emotional fallout of the trial on the jurors’ private lives. Juror C-2’s observations, thoughts, notes, and relationship with her fellow juror drive the story. As the push and pull of their entanglement play out against the backdrop of a gruesome murder, Ciment explores the big questions: guilt versus innocence, loyalty versus betrayal, life versus death.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Ten overlooked yet essential novels

Elaine Castillo, named one of “30 of the Planet’s Most Exciting Young People” by the Financial Times, was born and raised in the Bay Area. Her debut novel, America Is Not the Heart, was a finalist for numerous prizes including the Elle Big Book Award, the Center for Fiction Prize, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize and was named a best book of 2018 by NPR, Real Simple, Lit Hub, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Post, Kirkus Reviews, and the New York Public Library.

Castillo's new book is How to Read Now: Essays.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten " books that are perhaps less glimpsed here on our mainstream syllabi and reading lists, yet whose force reverberates across all sorts of borders, in ways indelible, unforgettable, and yes, essential." One title on the list:
The Drone Outside by Kristine Ong Muslim

I’d been a fan of Kristine’s science fiction and fantasy short stories for a long time before I met her at the Philippine International Literary Festival in 2018; I remember her joking/not joking about Manila being an imperial city (she’s from Mindanao, in the South; my family is from the provinces in the North, Ilocos Sur and Pangasinan). She is a prolific writer, and The Drone Outside is just one of her many masterpieces, a collection of spare dystopian stories that terrify, clarify, and renew all at once. Her prose is crisp and lucid yet shot through with wonder and dread in equal measure, and like the best science fiction and fantasy, the politics of her fiction feels inextricable from its ethics and aesthetics; she has a gift for showing us unreal worlds and alien situations that nevertheless begin to ring intimately, hauntingly, familiar.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 5, 2022

Eight zombie stories without any zombies

Malcolm Devlin’s stories have appeared in Black Static, Interzone, The Shadow Booth and Shadows and Tall Trees. His first collection, You Will Grow Into Them, was published by Unsung Stories in 2017 and shortlisted for the British Fantasy and Saboteur Awards.

Devlin's new novella is And Then I Woke Up.

At Electric Lit he shared "eight stories which largely aren’t zombie stories at all and I will now try and prove they are all zombie stories at heart and thus restore balance to the world." One title on the list:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

To me, many zombie stories feel like the third act of something larger. I’ve always felt that their natural shape is lines converging to a remorseless point and this is why I think they work best in the shorter form. Zombies—traditionally at least—are slow moving and, when encountered in low numbers, easy enough to avoid even at a brisk walk, but zombie stories aren’t really about surviving, they’re about sinking to any level to avoid the inevitability of death. The zombies are not only a threat, they serve as a shuffling momento mori. The inevitability of death has been superseded by the inevitability of undeath. While you might do your best to keep them out, you will make a mistake, your defences will be flawed, and when they fail they will be there, waiting.

Cormac McCarthy has been accused of nihilism before, so in a sense, The Road feels like a natural progression of his work. Here, the world has already ended and what remains is the lingering long tail before the lights are extinguished for good. There are no zombies here, so there’s nothing else to blame. There are no monsters to exacerbate matters except those that were here already. At risk of belittling the novel with such a lumpenly crass observation, this doesn’t mean the rest of McCarthy’s slim, devastating novel doesn’t tick almost every other checkbox on the zombie apocalypse list. Blasted landscape? Feral gangs? Cannibalism? All here, along with desperate survivors trying their best to cling to the map. That there’s beauty here too—in the spare, unsentimental prose and the desperate love between the father and son—that feels like the last magical dance of the pilot light before it goes out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Road appears on Michael Christie's list of ten novels to reconfigure our conception of nature for the better, Emily Temple's list of the ten books that defined the 2000s, Ceridwen Christensen's list of ten novels that end their apocalypses on a beach, Steph Post's top ten list of classic (and perhaps not so classic) road trip books, a list of five of the best climate change novels, Claire Fuller's top five list of extreme survival stories, Justin Cronin's top ten list of world-ending novels, Rose Tremain's six best books list, Ian McGuire's ten top list of adventure novels, Alastair Bruce's top ten list of books about forgetting, Jeff Somers's lists of five science fiction novels that really should be considered literary classics and eight good, bad, and weird dad/child pairs in science fiction and fantasy, Amelia Gray's ten best dark books list, Weston Williams's top fifteen list of books with memorable dads, ShortList's roundup of the twenty greatest dystopian novels, Mary Miller's top ten list of the best road books, Joel Cunningham's list of eleven "literary" novels that include elements of science fiction, fantasy or horror, Claire Cameron's list of five favorite stories about unlikely survivors, Isabel Allende's six favorite books list, the Telegraph's list of the 15 most depressing books, Joseph D’Lacey's top ten list of horror books, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five unforgettable fathers from fiction, Ken Jennings's list of eight top books about parents and kids, Anthony Horowitz's top ten list of apocalypse books, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five notable "What If?" books, John Mullan's list of ten of the top long walks in literature, Tony Bradman's top ten list of father and son stories, Ramin Karimloo's six favorite books list, Jon Krakauer's five best list of books about mortality and existential angst, William Skidelsky's list of the top ten most vivid accounts of being marooned in literature, Liz Jensen's top 10 list of environmental disaster stories, the Guardian's list of books to change the climate, David Nicholls' top ten list of literary tear jerkers, and the Times (of London) list of the 100 best books of the decade. In 2009 Sam Anderson of New York magazine claimed "that we'll still be talking about [The Road] in ten years."

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Top 10 books about cybercrime

Dan Malakin has twice been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and his debut novel, The Regret, was a Kindle bestseller.

When not writing thrillers, Malakin works as a data security consultant, teaching corporations how to protect themselves from hackers.

Malakin's new novel is The Box.

At the Guardian he tagged ten favorite "stories of our new era of ill online deeds," including:
Manipulated: Inside the Cyberwar to Hijack Elections and Distort the Truth by Theresa Payton

How do you police something you don’t know is a crime? Once upon a time the only way to rig an election was to steal enough votes from the recently deceased. Now you can drip-feed influence directly into people’s eyeballs without their noticing. AI viruses, deepfake videos and cyber troll farms mark the battleground in a war most people, including those protecting us, have no idea isgoing on. Can it be stopped before our political systems crumble?
Read about the other entries on the list at the Guardian.

--Marshal Zeringue