Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Ten top books for teens by indigenous authors

Angeline Boulley, an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a storyteller who writes about her Ojibwe community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She is a former Director of the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Boulley lives in southwest Michigan, but her home will always be on Sugar Island. Firekeeper's Daughter is her debut novel.

Boulley's second novel, Warrior Girl Unearthed, is due in May.

At Publishers Weekly she tagged ten "must-read books that set the bar for representing Indigenous characters authentically." One title on the list:
Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

When her boyfriend makes disparaging remarks about Native Americans, Muscogee teen Lou dumps his insensitive ass. The budding journalist regroups quickly and focuses on her high school newspaper. When a group of parents form Parents Against Revisionist Theater to protest the racially diverse casting decisions in the school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, Lou and fellow staffer Joey cover the big story. Sparks ensue. Leitich Smith’s story about first loves, missteps, and lessons learned is a delight.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 30, 2023

Eight titles with happy endings to brighten dark January days

Eva Carter is the author of How to Save a Life. Carter is a pseudonym for internationally bestselling nonfiction and rom-com writer Kate Harrison, who worked as a BBC reporter before becoming an author. She lives in Brighton on the English coast and loves Grey’s Anatomy and walking her own scruffy terrier, who regularly volunteers as a therapy dog at the local hospital.

Carter's new novel is Owner of a Lonely Heart.

At Lit Hub she tagged eight books with happy endings to brighten up dark January days. One title on the list:
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Talking of nostalgia, your childhood favorite must feature somewhere on the January shelf. This is mine. If you like Brit Lit, and haven’t discovered Noel Streatfeild, dive into the irresistible story of Pauline, Petrova and Posy, the talented young Fossil sisters…
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ballet Shoes is among Joanna Quinn's six top books set in & around the theatrical world.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Seven acts of betrayal in literature

Gabrielle Bates is the author of Judas Goat (2023), named by Vulture and the Chicago Review of Books as a "must-read" book of 2023. A Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship finalist, her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Ploughshares, and American Poetry Review, among other journals and anthologies.

At Electric Lit Bates tagged seven "titles [that] contend with the ugly facts of betrayal as a way to investigate, ultimately, what it means to be human, and what it means to love." One entry on the list:
The Sellout by Paul Beatty

In the frame story of this Booker Prize–winning novel, an African American man named Bonbon is standing trial for his attempt to restore slavery and segregation to the fictional town of Dickens, California, and the rest of the novel recounts how he got in this bizarre situation. Thought-provoking, darkly comic, and compulsively readable, the betrayals in this book are many and multilayered: the betrayal of a son by his father in the name of sociological experimentation and the betrayal of Black people by the United States, historically and today, just to name two.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Sellout is among Stephanie Soileau's nine books about homesickness for a place that doesn’t exist anymore.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Five mysteries & thrillers about returning to your hometown

Kate Alice Marshall is the author of multiple novels for younger readers. She lives outside of Seattle with her husband, a dog named Vonnegut, and her two kids.

What Lies in the Woods is her thriller debut.

At CrimeReads Marshall tagged five top mysteries and thrillers about returning to your hometown, including:
The Shadows – Alex North

Paul Adams hasn’t been back to his hometown in many years—after all, it was there that two of his friends murdered another in a bizarre, ritualistic killing they claimed was in service of an entity called Red Hands that dwells in dreams. One of the boys responsible was arrested, but the other, Charlie Crabtree, vanished without a trace. Now, with his mother in hospice, Paul returns only to discover that another pair of boys have committed a nearly identical murder. Faced with the prospect that Charlie somehow escaped to inspire a new generation, Paul begins to dig into the past to discover where Charlie went that after bloody day.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 27, 2023

Ten top works in American Indian history

Ned Blackhawk (Western Shoshone) is the Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University, where he is the faculty coordinator for the Yale Group for the Study of Native America. He is the author of Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West.

Blackhawk's forthcoming book is The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History.

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten essential works in American Indian history, including:
Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's War by Lisa Brooks

Brook's account challenges the most storied (and studied) of all English colonies: Puritan New England. Tracing the lives of Indigenous leaders—most notably Weetamoo (Wampanaog) and James Printer (Nipmuc)—throughout the 17th century, Brooks uncovers an astonishing degree of cultural continuity in Northeastern Native kinship systems, gender relations, and land-use patterns. Deploying a rich archive and understanding of Algonquian placenames, she re-writes the familiar teleology of Puritan expansion and Indigenous decline, revealing how even after the cataclysmic revolution brought by King Philip’s War, Indigenous diplomacy, confederations, and survival characterized the Native Northeast.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Top 10 novels about office jobs

Caroline Corcoran’s first novel, Through The Wall, came out in October 2019. It was a Sunday Times top 20 bestseller and translated into numerous foreign languages. Her second book, The Baby Group, published in September 2020.

As well as writing books, Corcoran is a freelance lifestyle and popular culture journalist who has written and edited for most of the top magazines, newspapers and websites in the UK.

Her newest novel is What Happened on Floor 34?.

At the Guardian Corcoran tagged ten books that put "the workplace front and central to the action." One title on the list:
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

Offices are places where great comedy can be found. Booker-shortlisted Joshua Ferris pins this humour down in this character-driven novel with a huge cast of eccentric characters; it is in equal turn tender and tragic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Then We Came to the End is on Jonathan Lee's list of the ten best office dramas and Alice-Azania Jarvis's reading list on unemployment.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Five titles with strong, spirited Southern ladies

Mimi Herman is the author of A Field Guide to Human Emotions and Logophilia. She codirects Writeaways writing workshops in the United States and abroad, and is a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist. Herman lives in a 1925 bungalow in Durham, North Carolina.

Her new novel is The Kudzu Queen.

At Lit Hub Herman tagged five books with strong, spirited Southern ladies. One title on the list:
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Lee Smith refers to Mattie as “the most appealing young heroine since Scout,” yet I didn’t even think about Scout until I’d finished writing The Kudzu Queen. But once she came into my head, I realized that Mattie is exactly what Scout might have grown into a few years down the road: sassy and fierce and perhaps too smart for her own good—certainly too smart for the good of anyone who aims to hurt people she cares about. She makes up her own mind about people, and while she’s stubborn, she changes her opinions as she learns new information. I like a narrator who runs on sass, pragmatism and wonder, so it makes sense that Scout feels like part of Mattie’s family.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that could serve as a primer on creating credible, complex and engaging characters. The language is extraordinary, both in the dialogue and in Scout’s monologues on the ways her world works. Harper Lee’s ear in writing and revising this book was pretty close to pitch-perfect. To Kill a Mockingbird is a relative’s house I recommend revisiting, for the family you’ll find there and the music of the narration.
Read about the other entries on the list.

To Kill a Mockingbird made Debbie Babitt's list of eight coming-of-age thrillers, Allison Pataki's top ten list of father figures in literature, Bonnie Kistler's list of four classic fictional trials that subverted the truth, Kathy Bates's ten desert island books list, Lavie Tidhar's list of five fantastical heroines in great children’s books, Sarah Ward's ten top list of brothers and sisters in fiction, Katy Guest's list of six top books for shy readers, Jeff Somers's top ten list of fictional characters based on actual people, Carol Wall's list of five books that changed her, John Bardinelli's list of five authors who became famous after publishing a single novel and never published another one, Ellie Irving's top ten list of quiet heroes and heroines, a list of five books that changed Richelle Mead, Robert Williams's top ten list of loners in fiction, Alyssa Bereznak's top ten list of literary heroes with weird names, Louise Doughty's top ten list of courtroom dramas, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epic epigraphs, the Telegraph's list of ten great meals in literature, Nicole Hill's list of fourteen characters their creators should have spared, Isla Blair's six best books list, Lauren Passell's list of ten pairs of books made better when read together, Charlie Fletcher's top ten list of adventure classics, Sheila Bair's 6 favorite books list, Kathryn Erskine's top ten list of first person narratives, Julia Donaldson's six best books list, TIME magazine's top 10 list of books you were forced to read in school, John Mullan's list of ten of the best lawyers in literature, John Cusack's list of books that made a difference to him, Lisa Scottoline's top ten list of books about justice, and Luke Leitch's list of ten literary one-hit wonders. It is one of Sanjeev Bhaskar's six best books and one of Alexandra Styron's five best stories of fathers and daughters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Six notable books with embedded narratives

Ana Reyes has an MFA from Louisiana State University and a BA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her work has appeared in Bodega, Pear Noir!, The New Delta Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and teaches creative writing to older adults at Santa Monica College.

The House in the Pines in her first novel.

At CrimeReads Reyes tagged six top stories within stories, including:
The Keep by Jennifer Egan

“My job is to show you a door you can open,” says Holly, a prison writing teacher and star of the outermost story in Jennifer Egan’s The Keep. The door Holly speaks of exists within our minds, accessed by the reading and creation of stories, a concept particularly tantalizing for her incarcerated students. Holly may enter and exit the jail at will, but she too is locked inside her own narrative of addiction and regret, echoing those of her students. The novel revolves around a seemingly autobiographical story written by one of them; a mind-bending tale about a troubled man tasked with helping his cousin renovate a creepy castle. Reading it, Holly can’t know what of it is “real” and what is fantasy, but by the end of the novel, this seems beside the point.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Keep is among Susan Choi's six books that overturn conventions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 23, 2023

Nine novels about losing / finding yourself in work

Josh Riedel was the first employee at Instagram, where he worked for several years before earning his MFA from the University of Arizona. His short stories have appeared in One Story, Passages North, and Sycamore Review.

Please Report Your Bug Here is his first novel.

He lives in San Francisco, California.

At Electric Lit Riedel tagged nine novels about losing (and finding) yourself in work, including:
Temporary by Hilary Leichter

At once hilarious and heartbreaking, this slim novel follows a temp worker as she takes on a series of increasingly absurd jobs, from an assassin’s assistant to the Chairman of the Board. At some point she even takes on a job as a barnacle—yes, a sea creature—and listens to her coworker’s dream of becoming “the barnacle that rides on the back of a whale. A special kind of breed.” It’s probably the one scene that’s clung in my memory more than any other in the last five years, because it highlights the very relatable absurdity of workplace aspirations.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Ten books that men love

Katie Hafner was on staff at The New York Times for ten years, where she remains a frequent contributor, writing on healthcare and technology. She has also worked at Newsweek and BusinessWeek, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, The New Republic, The Washington Post, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the author of five previous works of nonfiction covering a range of topics, including the origins of the Internet, computer hackers, German reunification, and the pianist Glenn Gould.

Her first novel, The Boys, was published in July 2022.

At Publishers Weekly Hafner tagged ten books "that feed and fray men’s souls," including:
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

For years I adored everything about this 1971 novel: the love story; the raw depiction of the American West; the elemental struggles. This, no doubt, is why so many men love it, too. In solidarity with Mary Foote, the woman from whom Stegner apparently stole entire swaths of prose, I recently banished this tome from my shelf. Still, I understand its enduring appeal: Stegner’s leaps of the imagination into the troubled marriage of Susan and Oliver Ward; their confrontations with the frontier and its perilous terrain; the American dream turned rancid, then tragic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Angle of Repose is among Jamie Lee Curtis's six favorite books, Monique Alice's seven top works of Western fiction, Paula Fredriksen's five best books on sin, and Andrea Wulf's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Nine of the best killer dolls and puppets in books

Grady Hendrix is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter living in New York City. He is the author of Horrorstör, My Best Friend’s Exorcism (which is being adapted into a feature film by Amazon Studios), We Sold Our Souls, and the New York Times bestseller The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (currently being adapted into a TV series). Hendrix also authored the Bram Stoker Award–winning nonfiction book Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the horror paperback boom of the seventies and eighties, and the non-fiction book These Fists Break Bricks: How Kung Fu Movies Swept America and Changed the World.

Hendix's new novel is How to Sell a Haunted House.

At CrimeReads he tagged nine of the fictional "dolls and puppets you should go out of your way to avoid," including:
Clothilde Dupont (The Witch Doll, Helen Morgan)

Despite being marketed to children, Helen Morgan’s The Witch Doll features one of the grossest dolls in Western Literature. Clothilde is cold, snobby, and criticizes the way other people dress, which seems on brand for a French governess. Where she goes wildly off the rails is her obsession with knitting tiny wigs out of people’s hair that she fits onto her wooden doll. As she combs the wig, its hair gets longer, the doll grows larger, and the hair donor’s body shrinks until they become a doll and the doll becomes them. That taste in your mouth? That’s your gorge hitting the back of your throat.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 20, 2023

Seven novels with real estate & urban planning as the heroes and villains

Oindrila Mukherjee grew up in India, where she worked as a journalist for the country's oldest English language newspaper The Statesman. She has attended university on three continents and now lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she teaches creative writing at Grand Valley State University.

Her debut novel is The Dream Builders.

At Electric Lit Mukherjee tagged seven city novels in which real estate and urban planning are the heroes and villains. One title on the list:
Mumbai: Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

In his second novel, the Booker Prize winning author once again takes on class divisions in contemporary India. The residents of Vishram Society, a venerable old apartment complex in a middle-class suburb of Mumbai, are suddenly confronted with an unexpected offer. Dharmen Shah, a powerful self-made real estate developer, offers to buy them out so he can demolish the crumbling structure to make way for the luxury high-rise of his dreams: the Shanghai. One by one we learn of the lives and struggles of the residents who have, until now, cohabited peacefully. Most of them agree to sell their flats for the fortune that is guaranteed to improve their lives. But a handful resist, including the retired schoolteacher, Masterji, who cherishes the memories of his late wife and daughter in the flat where he has lived for over three decades. But in this world of ruthless builders and redevelopment schemes, is resistance even possible?

The clock ticks for both Shah whose health is deteriorating fast, and for the residents of Vishram who must yield before October 3 or forever relinquish their dreams of a better life. The tensions between the neighbors rise, with loyalties and old friendships being put to the test. As the deadline looms and pressure mounts from Shah and his sinister associates, Masterji is left alone to make up his mind, in a world that has grown increasingly hostile. In this grittily realistic book, every character is human, even when they do monstrous things. In the backdrop is the maelstrom that is Mumbai. Where there are few degrees of separation between mafia, businessmen, movie producers, law enforcement officials, and politicians. Where everyone wants something, where everything can be bought. Or can it?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Top 10 books about family secrets

Jyoti Patel is the author of The Things That We Lost. Her debut novel is told from the perspectives of 18-year-old Nik and his British Indian mother Avani, flitting between the past and present as Nik searches for answers surrounding the circumstances of his father’s death.

Patel is a graduate of the University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing Prose Fiction MA and was selected as one of The Observer’s 10 Best New Novelists for 2023.

At the Guardian she tagged ten books that nicely capture "the negotiation that takes place between a narrator and reader when [family] secrets are involved, whether the two stand side by side in unearthing them, or the dramatic irony that charges through a story when truths are revealed to one but not the other." One title on the list:
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This novel follows the Lees, a Chinese American family living in Ohio in the 1970s. In the opening lines, the omniscient narrator declares: “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” Lydia is the middle child, the favourite, whose body is soon to be found in a nearby lake. The narrator moves between the perspectives of each family member, weaving together the secrets each holds, allowing the reader to see the misunderstandings and miscommunications between them as they grapple with their grief and the mystery of Lydia’s death.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Everything I Never Told You is among Kasim Ali's nine books about interracial relationships and Rachel Donohue's seven “coming-of-age” novels with elements of mystery or the supernatural.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Five top thrillers about secrets between spouses

Leah Konen is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism and English literature. She is the author of the new thriller, You Should Have Told Me. Her debut thriller, All the Broken People was a Rolling Stone, Marie Claire, She Reads, and Charlotte Observer best summer book pick.

At CrimeReads, Konen tagged "five nail-biting thrillers that revolve around the secrets we keep from those we’re supposed to love the most." One title on the list:
Bath Haus by PJ Vernon

A seemingly perfect marriage in a wealthy section of DC goes haywire when Oliver, a young man doing his best to live a sober life, visits a day bathhouse and what should be a casual fling turns into a vicious attack. Desperate to keep the secret from his husband, Nathan, a prominent surgeon, he concocts a series of lies to hide his indiscretion. But as this fast-paced novel progresses, we learn that Oliver might not be the only one keeping secrets—and the truth is more shocking and insidious than Oliver could have ever imagined.
Read about the other entries on the list at CrimeReads.

Bath Haus is among S.F. Kosa's ten best psychological thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Ten titles about combating far-right white nationalism through activism

Shane Burley is a journalist and filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End it (2017) and Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse (2021), and the editor of the forthcoming anthology No Pasaran: Antifascist Dispatches from a World in Crisis (2022). His work has been featured in places such as NBC News, The Daily Beast, The Baffler, Full Stop, Al Jazeera, The Independent, Xtra, and Bandcamp Daily.

At Electric Lit Burley tagged "ten books to add to your own antifascist reading list to help counter the despair that white nationalists hope to impart with a heavy dose of rebellion." One title on the list:
As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Liberation by William C. Anderson and Zoé Samudzi

This manifesto from William C. Anderson and Zoé Samudzi stands as one of the most important books of the last decade, situating a radical identity of Blackness at the heart of the rebellion against the structural white supremacy that drives our country’s politics and economy. Building on an earlier essay that looked at the inherent “anarchism of Blackness,” the experience of African-descended people’s exclusions from systems of privilege and protection, the book creates a subaltern vision for keeping communities safe from racist violence and building a new kind of society in the shell of the old one.
Read about the other entries on the list at Electric Lit.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 16, 2023

Ten of the best crime books by writers of color

Tracy Clark is the author of the highly acclaimed Cass Raines Chicago Mystery series, featuring Cassandra Raines, a hard-driving African American PI who works the mean streets of the Windy City dodging cops, cons, and killers. Clark received Anthony Award and Lefty Award nominations for her series debut, Broken Places, which was shortlisted for the American Library Association’s RUSA Reading List and named a CrimeReads Best New PI Book of 2018, a Midwest Connections Pick, and a Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Broken Places has since been optioned by Sony Pictures Television. Clark’s short story “For Services Rendered” appears in the anthology Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors. She is the winner of the 2020 and 2022 G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award, also receiving a 2022 nomination for the Edgar Award for best short story for “Lucky Thirteen,” which appears in the crime fiction anthology Midnight Hour.

Clark's new novel is Hide.

[Q&A with Tracy ClarkMy Book, The Movie: What You Don’t SeeWriters Read: Tracy Clark (July 2021)The Page 69 Test: RunnerThe Page 69 Test: Hide]

At CrimeReads she tagged "a few of the crime books by writers of color readers should not miss out on. I say a few because this list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. The bench is deep." One title on the list:
The Ninja Daughter, by Tori Eldridge

There is nothing not to like about this series featuring Lily Wong, a martial arts expert, a ninja for all intents and purposes, who works for a women’s refuge offering shelter to vulnerable women. Lily protects the women, fights for them, saves them. The action scenes in this fun series are killer, but the real meat is the heart and the family dynamic that plays out between Lily, her parents, and her tight circle of associates. Never knew what a karambit was before reading these books, now I do. Think I’ll leave it to Lily, though. I value my fingers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Ninja Daughter.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Five of the best winter mysteries

B.P. Walter is the author of A Version of the Truth (published in the US as The Couple's Secret) and Hold Your Breath.

He was born and raised in Essex and after spending his childhood and teenage years reading compulsively, he worked in bookshops then went to the University of Southampton to study Film and English followed by an MA in Film & Cultural Management.

Walter's new novel is The Locked Attic.

At the Waterstones blog he tagged five favorite page-turners for the winter season. One title on the list:
The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

For a police procedural slice of winter crime, Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman is a compelling choice. The Nordic chill of the surroundings is so beautifully observed and the plot pulls the reader along with a palpable sense of dread and threat.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Snowman is among Sarah Pearse's top five winter mysteries and thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Seven thrillers that explore the darker side of motherhood

Leah Konen is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism and English literature. She is the author of the new thriller, You Should Have Told Me. Her debut thriller, All the Broken People was a Rolling Stone, Marie Claire, She Reads, and Charlotte Observer best summer book pick.

At Electric Lit, Konen tagged seven of her "favorite thrillers that explore the darker side of motherhood," including:
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Yet another tome where a mother has an intuitive feeling about her child and is quickly dismissed by her husband, Baby Teeth is a modern nod to the horror classic, The Bad Seed. The novel follows Suzette and her seven-year-old daughter Hanna, and their strained and oftentimes scary relationship. Hanna has been expelled from nearly every school she’s attended, and while she’s sweet and largely silent around her father, during homeschooling with her mother, she engages in increasingly sadistic games, to the point that Suzette begins to question whether her child wants to actually get rid of her. Is Suzette dreaming this up, as her husband seems to think, or does her own child actually have it out for her? Baby Teeth forces us to confront pressures and challenges of motherhood when the mother-child dynamic is anything but beatific.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Baby Teeth is among Rebecca Kelley's nine books featuring female villains who lean into their wickedness, Amber Garza's five titles featuring (possibly) murderous children, Christina Dalcher's seven crime books that challenge notions of inherent female goodness, May Cobb's five psychological thrillers featuring single-minded villains & anti-heroes, Jae-Yeon Yoo's top ten books about the promise & perils of alternative schooling, Pamela Crane's five top novels featuring parenting gone wild, Damien Angelica Walters's five titles about the horror of girlhood, and Sally Hepworth's eight messed up fictional families.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 13, 2023

Nine top campus thrillers

Heather Darwent was raised in Yorkshire and moved to Scotland to study at the University of Edinburgh.

The Things We Do to Our Friends is her debut novel.

At CrimeReads Darwent tagged nine shining campus thrillers, including two titles under the theme "Friendships and relationships":
Enter the tragic misfit – the protagonist. Perhaps they want to be part of a compelling circle of friends, and toxic bonds abound. Often the characters are lonely, or at least yearning for something they can’t quite put their finger on, but it isn’t always about friendship when it comes to the campus thriller. Take
Loner by Teddy Wayne, where the obsessive narrator becomes confused about his relationship with a female student, resulting in a deeply fascinating and uncomfortable read.

There’s a similar unreciprocated relationship in Engleby by Sebastian Faulks. This dark literary thriller takes place at an English university and revolves around the disappearance of a vivacious theatre student. The first-person narration is comparable to Loner, and works perfectly to show the narrator’s spiralling preoccupations. It’s impossible to look away.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Top 10 books about California

Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and the Last Hundred Years Trilogy: Some Luck, Early Warning, and Golden Age. She is the author as well of several works of nonfiction and books for young adults. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she has also received the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in Northern California.

Smiley's newest book is A Dangerous Business.

At the Guardian she tagged ten books with "a vivid sense of the author’s love of California, along with a readiness to tell the truth and offer a critique." One title on the list:
Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley

Little Scarlet is part of a lengthy series of historical mysteries set in LA. The main character is investigator Easy Rawlins (and Easy always makes sure that no one pronounces it “Rawlings”). This one is set around the time of the 1965 riots in the Watts neighbourhood of LA. Easy’s job is not to uncover the deaths of the 34 African American citizens who were killed by the police, but to uncover the circumstances around the killing of a young woman who seems to have been murdered. The police hire Easy because they know that, given the riots, they would not be able to get any information themselves about the death from any of the African American citizens. The best thing about Easy as a detective is that he tells his own story and reveals what he’s feeling as well as thinking. He’s no imperturbable Holmes or Poirot – he’s a family man trying to navigate city life, family life, racism, and the complexity of life in LA.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Scarlet is among A.G. Lombardo's ten favorite novels about riots and rebellion.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Three novels in the new L.A. crime canon

Jordan Harper is the Edgar-Award winning author of She Rides Shotgun and Love and Other Wounds. Born and educated in Missouri, he now lives in Los Angeles, where he works as a writer and producer for television.

His new novel is Everybody Knows.

At CrimeReads Harper tagged "a multi-media list of works to help bring the LA Crime Canon up to date." One of three novels on the list:
The Damned Lovely by Adam Frost

The city of Glendale is the setting for perhaps the greatest film noir of all time, Double Indemnity. In Adam Frost’s terrific first novel The Damned Lovely, Glendale is a place of also-rans and good-enoughs, a place that is, like the titular bar, shabby and comfortable as an old t-shirt, far from the chafing high fashion of the Sunset Strip. Frost paints a portrait of the Los Angeles that most art ignores, lingering not in the gutters or the mansions but in the Los Angeles of strip malls and corner bars. Frost uses sharp prose to tell a tale about the one thing everyone in Los Angeles has: desire. Desire for truth, for justice, for love, or maybe just a place to call home.
Read about the other new crime classics on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Eight titles about the impact of Japanese imperialism during WWII

Cindy Fazzi is a Filipino American writer and former Associated Press reporter. Her debut thriller, Multo, will be published in June 2023.

She’s the author of a historical novel, My MacArthur (2018). The book was chosen as a quarterfinalist in the 2018 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition.

Fazzi was born and raised in the Philippines and educated in the Philippines (Ateneo de Manila University) and the United States (Ohio State University). She has worked as a journalist in the Philippines, Taiwan, and the United States.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight books about the "the depth and breadth of the horrors of Japanese imperialism," including:
The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

A family saga reminiscent of Pachinko, this story of four generations of the Tran family is told from the points of view of Huong and her grandmother, Dieu Lan. The family survives famine and the horrors of the Japanese occupation during World War II and later on, the Vietnam War. It’s both refreshing and illuminating to read a Vietnamese story from the perspective of Vietnamese women.

Huong escapes the bombing of Hanoi with her grandmother during Vietnam War. As bad as Huong’s experience is, her grandmother has experienced worse. Dieu Lan’s father was killed by the Japanese during World War II and her family’s land was taken by Ho Chi Minh’s communist regime during Vietnam’s land reform in the 1950s. In real life, the land reform occasioned mass executions, imprisonment, and torture of landowners in Vietnam.

The book’s title comes from a wooden carving of a bird—son ca, meaning “mountains sing”—that Huong’s father had given her. The Mountains Sing is the author’s first novel in English.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 9, 2023

Five top books about surviving war (or not)

Before becoming a full-time writer, Kevin McColley worked many jobs, including operating a nuclear reactor. He served in the U.S. Navy for six years, during which he traveled throughout the Caribbean pursuing drug runners. He also spent eight months in the Mediterranean recovering downed U.S. pilots, both dead and alive, and he patrolled Gaddafi’s “line of death.”

McColley is the author of several novels, including The Other Side: A Novel of the Civil War.

At Shepherd he tagged five of the best books about surviving war (or not), including:
The Iliad by Homer, Robert Fagles (translator)

The earliest and perhaps the greatest book about the psychology of war ever written. Perhaps nowhere in all of fiction is there a better description of a character who suffers trauma from violence, both in inflicting it and in receiving it, than Achilles. If you read no other, then read this.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Iliad also appears on Sarah Crossan's top ten list of verse novels, Maaza Mengiste's top ten list of books about the human cost of war, Ani Katz's top ten list of books about toxic masculinity, John Gittings's list of five top books on peace, Becky Ferreira's list of her seven favorite tales of revenge in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on the Olympians, Madeline Miller's list of ten favorite classical works, Bettany Hughes's six best books list, James Anderson Winn's five best list of works of war poetry, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best funerals in literature and ten of the best examples of ekphrasis. It is one of Karl Marlantes's top ten war stories.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Nine literary classics for the contemporary crime reader

Rebecca Kelley is an author and graphic designer whose first novel, Broken Homes and Gardens, was published in 2015.

Her second novel, No One Knows Us Here, is out this month from Lake Union Publishing.

"There is a point in my novel No One Knows Us Here when my heroine does a very, very bad thing, Kelley writes. "She doesn’t have to do the bad thing—it’s not one of those 'steal a loaf of bread to feed her starving family' situations. She has other options and chooses to go down the dark path anyway."

At CrimeReads Kelley tagged nine literary classics that "borrow elements from the crime writer’s toolkit: complex criminals, layered villains, criminal investigations, court cases, and even a few ghosts and violent psychopaths." One title on the list:
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez (1981)

Loosely based on real events, this novella tells the story of the murder of Santiago Nasar by the hand of the Vicaro twins, who commit the deed with the knives they used to slaughter pigs. The book isn’t a murder mystery, as the victim and the killers are known from the outset, but an exploration of why the death was inevitable: “There had never been a death so foretold.” Twenty-seven years later, the narrator returns to the town, searching for an answer to one central question: If everyone knew it was going to happen, why did no one put a stop to it?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold is on Juan Gabriel Vásquez's six favorite books list, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten list of wild parties in literature, and Dan Rhodes's top ten list of short books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Five notable books on cults

A former magazine editor and award-winning journalist, Janice Hallett has written speeches and articles for, among others, the UK's Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development.

In screenwriting, Hallett's first feature film Retreat was released by Sony Pictures (co-written and directed by Carl Tibbetts) which starred Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell.

Her novels are The Appeal, The Twyford Code, and The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels.

At the Waterstones blog Hallett tagged five favorite books that feature cults, including:
Terror, Love and Brainwashing by Alexandra Stein

Dr Alexandra Stein knows what she’s talking about. Now a social psychologist and Honorary Research Fellow at London South Bank University, she spent ten years in a political cult herself, and the 25 years since studying the phenomenon. This book is a captivating, if sobering, blend of personal experience, eye-witness accounts and academic study, as Stein drills down into the factors that make us more vulnerable at certain times in our lives than others. Her own theories and observations as to how brainwashing takes place are absolutely and terrifyingly spot on.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue