Sunday, April 30, 2023

Five top suspense novels set in the entertainment world

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson writes page-turning suspense novels that revolve around timely women’s issues, raising questions about justice, motherhood, career, class, and the thorny mechanics of redemption. She previously penned eight works of Southern fiction, all of which have a murder mystery or thriller lurking inside the family drama. Her critically acclaimed work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, and Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her family.

Her new novel is With My Little Eye.

[The Page 69 Test: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming; My Book, The Movie: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming; The Page 69 Test: Backseat Saints; The Page 69 Test: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty; The Page 69 Test: The Opposite of Everyone; My Book, The Movie: The Opposite of Everyone]

At CrimeReads Jackson tagged five "favorite mystery and suspense titles [that] unfold in the worlds of dance, broadcast news, high fashion, magic, and music." One title on the list:
Maddalena and the Dark by Julia Fine

Get this novel on your radar! While it is likely to be marketed as historical fiction, there is such palpable malice, such a growing sense of dread, that I kept finding myself holding my breath as I read. Set in lush, wild Venice at the beginning of the 18th century, it’s a violent and suspenseful tale of a young, ambitious violinist who meets the titular Maddelena at a prominent music school that is also a convent. Maddalena has been stored there to protect her “value” as a prospective bride, and as she plots a heist to steal back her life and gain control over her own future, their fates entwine. Envy and ambition and obsession drive the novel to a bloody conclusion that haunts me still.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Six top books on desire

Sophie Mackintosh is the author of novels The Water Cure (2018), Blue Ticket (2020), and Cursed Bread (2023). The Water Cure was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, Dazed, Guardian, and The Stinging Fly, among others. In 2020 she was picked as "a face set to define the decade ahead" by Vogue UK, alongside writers Jia Tolentino and Oyinkan Braithwaite.

At the Waterstones blog Mackintosh tagged six favorite "books that deal with themes of desire in all its manifold forms," including:
A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

Probably the sexiest book ever written, A Sport and a Pastime looks on the surface like a story of a doomed love affair in sixties France between a rich American and a working-class shop girl. But as they travel the country, and we travel with them, observing the most intimate moments in hotel after hotel, we realise we’re being let in on a stunning narrative trick: a projection of the loneliness and inadequacies of the narrator (an acquaintance of the American) as he imagines a love affair that he’s never truly involved in. It’s a beautifully written account of both the desires and discoveries of the central couple and the secret desires of the narrator himself, watching from a distance.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Sport and a Pastime is among Alex Christofi's top ten books on postwar France, Chris Killen's top ten novels about lost friendships, Emma Straub's top ten holidays in fiction, Thomas H. Cook's five must reads on the writing life, Adam Ross's favorite books under 200 pages, Lorin Stein's six Paris Review book picks, and Jeff Gordinier's list of five books that will make you question the wisdom of ever falling in love.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 28, 2023

Ten spy novels to read before you die

Patrick Worrall was educated in Worcestershire and King’s College, Cambridge, UK.

He has worked as a teacher in Eastern Europe and Asia, a newspaper journalist, a court reporter at the Old Bailey, and the head of Channel 4 News's FactCheck blog.

The Partisan is his first novel.

At Publishers Weekly he tagged ten spy novels to read before you die, including:
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (1953)

Fleming comes with a warning, too: for most of my life, I believed you really could murder someone by covering them with gold paint. "Skin suffocation," you see. I was also aghast when Sky Marshals, armed cops posing as airline passengers, became a thing in the early 2000s. A shootout on a plane, where a hole would depressurize the cabin and suck us all out into oblivion? Hadn't the authorities read Goldfinger?

The bad science of Bond is symbolic of the whole series: very silly, as soon as you stop to think about it, but utterly irresistible.

Imagine reading a first edition of Casino Royale in 1953, in smog-bound London, with wartime rationing still in force. The cocktails, the easy sex, the baccarat tables. The Taittinger ’45 with dinner, something called an “avocado pear” for dessert. Why Casino Royale and not the (demonstrably better) From Russia with Love? It's the brevity, the nastiness of the torture scene, and Bond's vulnerability and subsequent coldness, captured beautifully in the book’s brutal last line.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Casino Royale also made Henry Jeffreys's top ten books on booze, Jeff Somers's list of eight books or series that make great party themes, Alan Judd's list of five favorite spy novels, Maddie Crum's top ten fictional characters who just might be psychopaths, Lee Child's list of six favorite debut novels, Danny Wallace's six best books list, Mary Horlock's list of the five best psychos in fiction, John Mullan's list of ten of the best floggings in fiction, Meg Rosoff's top ten list of adult books for teenagers, and Peter Millar's critic's chart of top spy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Top 10 aunts in fiction

Annabelle Thorpe has been a travel and features journalist for over twenty years, spending six years on The Times Travel desk, before becoming deputy travel editor for Express Newspapers, and then taking the same role at the Observer. She was named one of the top 50 travel writers in the UK and has visited almost sixty countries, including crossing China by train, driving solo across the Omani desert, and nearly getting run over in Tripoli. Her first novel, The People We Were Before, was set in the Croatian civil war of the 1990s, her second, What Lies Within, is set in Marrakech. She has also written two travel books.

Thorne's latest novel is The Enemy of Love.

At the Guardian the author tagged ten top aunts in fiction, including:
Aunt March in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Never quite as hard-hearted as she likes to make out, Aunt March is a rich widow who disapproves of her daughter-in-law’s charitable work and the amiable poverty in which she and her four daughters live. But in spite of her disapproval she brings spectacular changes to two of the girls’ lives.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Women also appears among Kate Young's top ten fictional feasts for Christmas, Mary Sebag-Montefiore's ten classics every child should read before they are 10, Jeff Somers's five books that are arguably the first in their respective genres, Kate Kellaway's ten best Christmases in literature, Bea Davenport's top ten books about hair, nine notable unsung literary heroines, Sophie McKenzie's top ten mothers in children's books, John Dugdale's ten notable fictional works on winter sports, Melissa Albert's five favorite YA books that might make one cry, Anjelica Huston's seven favorite coming-of-age books, Bidisha's ten top books about women, Katherine Rundell's top ten descriptions of food in fiction, Gwyneth Rees's ten top books about siblings, Maya Angelou's 6 favorite books, Tim Lewis's ten best Christmas lunches in literature, and on the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Erin Blakemore's list of five gutsy heroines to channel on an off day, Kate Saunders' critic's chart of mothers and daughters in literature, and Zoë Heller's list of five memorable portraits of sisters. It is a book that disappointed Geraldine Brooks on re-reading.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Ten top books that feature twins

Becky Chalsen is a film/TV development executive at the production company Sunday Night. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and now lives in New York City. Chalsen is a quadruplet and married to her high school sweetheart — an identical twin — whose family has spent summers on Fire Island for more than three decades.

Kismet is her first novel.

At Lit Hub Chalsen tagged ten favorite books that feature twins, including:
Raymond Fleischmann, How Quickly She Disappears

Raymond Fleischmann’s debut, How Quickly She Disappears, is a fast-paced and instantly captivating literary mystery set in Alaska, in 1941. The novel follows a woman named Elisabeth whose twin sister Jacqueline disappeared twenty years ago.

Elisabeth has always sensed that Jacqueline was out there, that they’d be reunited one day, though no one else believed it. When an unexpected visitor arrives in her small town, claiming to know the truth about Jacqueline’s whereabouts—and confirming that her sister is still alive—Elisabeth is willing to do anything in exchange for his answers.

Told through present-day plot and flashbacks to the twin sisters’ childhood, How Quickly She Disappears is an atmospheric look at sacrifice, duty, grief, loneliness, and obsession.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Six crime titles that feature natural disasters

Samantha Jayne Allen is the author of the Annie McIntyre Mysteries. She has an MFA in fiction from Texas State University, and 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 and daughter in Atlanta.

The newest Annie McIntyre mystery is Hard Rain.

At CrimeReads Allen tagged six favorite crime novels that feature natural disasters, including:
The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke

Another portrayal of Hurricane Katrina in crime fiction, this powerful entry in the Dave Robicheaux series takes place right as the storm hits New Orleans and in its immediate aftermath, when the power grid is down across the city, looters have entered, and bodies are floating in the streets. It captures the disorientation of a disaster—what happens when an event like Katrina alters our foundations—and how in the absence of law and order, vigilantes will take advantage of the most vulnerable. This was the first James Lee Burke novel I read and what made me a fan. What I love about his work is on full display here, namely, what I think of as his intensity: vivid settings, electric and detail-heavy prose, and a way of writing the South with complexity and poignancy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Tin Roof Blowdown is among C.J. Box's top ten US crime novelists who "own" their territory.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 24, 2023

Ten of the best Indigenous suspense novels

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged ten "Indigenous novels will keep you on the edge of your seat," including:
Winter Counts: A Novel by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Winter Counts is an award-winning debut, equal parts gritty and thrilling crime novel and cutting social commentary about power and justice. Heroin addiction is spreading through the Rosebud Reservation. When it comes to his family, local vigilante Virgil Walking Bear takes it upon himself to hunt down the source, come hell or high water. Once you’ve finished, you will want to return to this unforgettably honest and lyrical look at Indigenous culture, power, and violence all over again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Winter Counts is among Tracy Clark's top ten crime books by writers of color, Erin E. Adams's seven novels that use mystery to examine race, S.F. Kosa's top ten psychological thrillers, Stephen Miller's favorite crime fiction of 2020, Molly Odintz's six favorite titles from the "new wave of thrillers where the oppressed get some well-earned revenge," and Jennifer Baker's top twelve mystery novels featuring BIPOC protagonists.

The Page 69 Test: Winter Counts.

My Book, The Movie: Winter Counts.

Q&A with David Heska Wanbli Weiden.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Seven novels about falling in (& out) love in London

Genevieve Wheeler is an American writer and communications director. Her bylines have appeared in publications like VICE, Cosmopolitan, Vogue Business, Teen Vogue, Elite Daily, Business Insider, MASHABLE, and POPSUGAR, with her work and words cited in The New York Times, Vox, the BBC World Service, Cheddar News, Jezebel, and beyond. She currently lives in London, holding an MA in Marketing Communications from the University of Westminster and a BS in Advertising from Boston University. Her debut novel is Adelaide.

At Electric Lit Wheeler tagged seven books with some "version of what it means to fall in and out of love in the British capital." One title on the list:
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

When Hornby’s 1995 novel High Fidelity opens, Rob Fleming—a 35-year-old record shop owner in London – is reflecting on his ‘all time, top five most memorable split-ups’
(his most recent split—from a woman named Laura – doesn’t make the list). We then join Rob as he revisits these past relationships, attempting to understand what’s led him to a rather lonesome present.

Like most of Hornby’s work, it’s full of charisma and self-effacing humor, seeking to understand the very nature of what it means to love and be loved.
Read about the other entries on the list.

High Fidelity also made Amazon Book Review's list of ten titles for fans of Daisy Jones & the Six, Glenn Dixon's top ten list of novels about fictional bands, Robert Haller's list of six top novels referencing pop music, Brian Boone's list of five classic books Hollywood should adapt into corny sitcoms, Lisa Jewell's six best books list, Jen Harper's list of seven top books to help you get through your divorce, Chris Moss's top 19 list of books on "how to be a man," Jeff Somers's lists of five of the best novels in which music is a character and six books that’ll make you glad you’re single, Chrissie Gruebel's top ten list of books set in London, Ted Gioia's list of ten of the best novels on music, Melissa Albert's top five list of books that inspire great mix tapes, Rob Reid's six favorite books list, Ashley Hamilton's list of 8 books to read with a broken heart, Tiffany Murray's top 10 list of rock'n'roll novels, Mark Hodkinson's critic's chart of rock music in fiction, and John Sutherland's list of the best books about listing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Ten espionage novels centering women’s stories

Kim Sherwood is an author and creative writing lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, where she lives in the city. Her first novel, Testament (2018), won the Bath Novel Award and Harper’s Bazaar Big Book Award. It was longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Pick. In 2019, she was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Her second book, Double or Nothing (2022), is the first in a trilogy commissioned by the Ian Fleming Estate to expand the world of James Bond. Sherwood's latest novel, A Wild & True Relation (2023), was described by Hilary Mantel as “a rarity – a novel as remarkable for the vigour of the storytelling as for its literary ambition. Kim Sherwood is a writer of capacity, potency and sophistication.”

At CrimeReads Sherwood tagged ten top espionage novels centering women’s stories, including:
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (2019)

Lauren Wilkinson’s debut novel interrogates what it means to be a spy for a system that is trying to preserve a national identity that excludes you. Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer for the FBI in 1968. As a black woman, her career is thwarted by the all-white boys’ club, until she’s sent on a mission that will change how she sees herself and her nation. A riveting exploration of belonging, race, gender and the Cold War, with another beguiling use of point of view.
Read about the other entries on the list.

American Spy is among Sarah Stewart Taylor's five mystery novels about characters searching for relatives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 21, 2023

Seven provocative titles of feminist history

Vanessa Wilkie is the William A. Moffett Curator of Medieval Manuscripts and British History at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. She earned her PhD in British history from the University of California at Riverside and was a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of Redlands before joining The Huntington in 2013. Wilkie has curated two exhibitions: "Magna Carta: Law & Legend" and "The Reformation: From the Word to the World." She has published on female editorial practices, patronage, and death rituals. Wilkie's new book is A Woman of Influence: The Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England.

At Lit Hub she tagged seven "provocative histories about women and their communities," including:
Mikki Kendall, Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

Books are often the tools for dialogues within feminist histories, and Beck and Mikki Kendall should be read in conversation with one another. Kendall writes, “[w]hen white feminism ignores history, ignores that the tears of white women have the power to get Black people killed while insisting that all women are on the same side, it doesn’t solve anything.”

Her book is a history of the devastating impact “white feminism” has had on communities of color and argues that issues that are central to the lives of women of color must also be central to feminist discourses.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Top 10 medical memoirs … by patients

In 2008, Rebecca Fogg walked away from her New York life and career in financial services to move to London, where she co-founded the Institute of Pre-Hospital Care at London’s Air Ambulance and continues to work, write and learn Scottish fiddle.

Fogg's new book is Beautiful Trauma: An Explosion, an Obsession, and a New Lease on Life.

At the Guardian Fogg tagged ten "books written by patients who, for their own unique and fascinating reasons, also chose to incorporate the science underlying their experiences of illness." One title on the list:
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

With keen insight and devastating clarity, Esmé Weijun Wang describes the delusions, hallucinations and panic attacks that characterise her experience of schizoaffective disorder; the disease’s influence on her identity and ambitions; and the medical establishment’s struggles to define, diagnose and treat the different kinds of schizophrenia. Eschewing a comfortingly false recovery arc, she instead meditates on what it means to live with our limitations, not despite them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Five novels with strong allusions to the Odyssey

Andrew Welsh-Huggins is the Shamus, Derringer, and International Thriller Writers-award-nominated author of the Andy Hayes Private Eye series, featuring a former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns quarterback turned investigator, and editor of Columbus Noir. His stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Magazine, the 2022 anthology Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon, and other magazines and anthologies. Kirkus calls his new crime novel, The End of the Road, "A crackerjack crime yarn chockablock with miscreants and a supersonic pace.”

[ My Book, The Movie: An Empty Grave; Q&A with Andrew Welsh-Huggins; The Page 69 Test: An Empty Grave]

At CrimeReads he tagged five "books that incorporate some elements of the Odyssey into modern stories," including:
This Tender Land, by William Kent Krueger

Author and mythology expert Joseph Campbell included Odysseus’ travels among several archetypal “hero journeys.” Krueger’s stand-alone novel is a masterful blend of such narratives, including Huckleberry Finn. But nods to the Odyssey abound. Rivers, including the Minnesota and Mississippi, take the place of the Aegean as Odysseus “Odie” O’Bannion and his companions paddle their way toward St. Louis and his aunt’s house on Ithaca Street. Other allusions include Odie and company’s encounter with Jack, a one-eyed farmer who imprisons them for a while in a shed a la the Odyssean cyclops. (In this telling, it’s Odie’s brother, Albert, who takes the name “Norman .. neither boy nor man,” a play on the name Odysseus uses—“No One”—to fool the cyclops.) Likewise, Odie struggles with the notion that he was cursed by an evil “Tornado God,” hearkening to Odysseus’s antagonistic relationship with Poseidon. That “vengeful spirit,” Odie laments, “had attached itself to me and had followed me everywhere.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Seven titles overgrown with plants

Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She is the author of the novels The Story of Land and Sea, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and one of Vogue’s Best Books of 2014; Free Men; and The Everlasting, a New York Times Best Historical Fiction Book of 2020. Her writing has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Paris Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Oxford American, Granta, and elsewhere. She received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is also the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835. She lives in New Orleans.

[Writers Read: Katy Simpson Smith (March 2020); My Book, The Movie: The Everlasting; The Page 69 Test: The Everlasting]

Her new novel is The Weeds.

At Electric Lit the author tagged seven "books where botany is part of the plot device," including:
The Nature Book by Tom Comitta

Admit it: you sometimes skip a novel’s nature descriptions to get to the action. The wind’s whistling through the beech leaves—yes, yes—but is the housemaid going to elope with the doctor? In their mind-bending compendium of just the nature parts from 300 novels, Comitta asks what makes narrative, what merits attention, and whether humans have any business in this literary world at all. This is the novel to read conspicuously in your garden so the plants know you’re on their side. It’s only a matter of time before the weeds shall inherit the earth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 17, 2023

Seven books with positive portrayals of educators

Alexandra Robbins, the author of five New York Times bestselling books, is an investigative reporter and a recipient of the prestigious John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism, given by the Medill School of Journalism. In 2022, she also was honored for “Distinguished Service to Public Education.”

Robbins’s books include The Overachievers, a New York Times Editors’ Choice and People magazine Critics’ Choice; the New York Times bestseller The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital; and The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth, which was voted Best Nonfiction Book of the Year in the Goodreads Choice Awards, the only people’s choice awards for books. The Geeks also won a Books for a Better Life Award.

Robbins’s latest book is The Teachers: A Year Inside America’s Most Vulnerable, Important Profession.

At Lit Hub she tagged seven books with positive portrayals of teachers, including:
Sara Nović, Tru Biz

Charlie Serrano is a rebellious, Deaf 15-year-old who enrolls in a school for the Deaf, where the other kids communicate in American Sign Language, a language she hasn’t yet learned. Tru Biz, an ASL term for “real talk,” hops among the viewpoints of Charlie, her classmate Austin, and the school’s hardworking headmistress, February Waters, a child of Deaf adults. February must fight to save both her school and her marriage to a hearing wife.

As Charlie’s history teacher, February is a central figure whose lessons and assignments teach Charlie the nuances of Deaf culture and the importance of honest communication and accepting communities. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the characters, and the lessons on ASL and Deaf culture that Nović, who is Deaf herself, scatters throughout the book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Five top dark novels that explore the sinister side of marriage

Azma Dar is an author and playwright. She has written three full-length theatre productions, several short plays, a radio play for BBC Asian Network and has a forthcoming play entitled NOOR at Southwark Playhouse in November 2022.

Her debut novel, The Secret Arts, was published in 2015. Her latest novel is Spider.

At CrimeReads Dar tagged "five deliciously dark novels that explore the sinister side of marriage," including:
Before I Go to Sleep by S J Watson

In this ingeniously constructed novel, Christine has a form of amnesia that means she can only store memories for twenty four hours. Every morning she wakes up “in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man”—her husband, Ben, with no sense of who she is and what’s happened in her life. Every day Ben tells her that her condition was caused by a car crash decades ago, only for her to forget this information again when she goes to sleep. But she has a secret journal, to which she is directed to on a daily basis by Dr Nash, a psychologist helping her with seemingly impossible task, of reconstructing and solving the puzzle of her past.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Seven books to up your vampire expertise

Jacqueline Holland is a recent graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Kansas. Her short fiction has been published in Hotel Amerika, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Big Fiction Magazine. She was selected as a top-twenty-five finalist for Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers, as well as Sequestrum Magazine's New Writers Award.

Her new novel is The God of Endings.

At Publishers Weekly Holland tagged seven books to expand your vampire horizons, including:
'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

How could anyone read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and not wonder, what if the count’s sinister plan to invade London and populate it with vampires had actually worked out? Or what if he picked up his operation and moved it somewhere more discreet, like, say, to a rural New England town already wasted away to nearly nothing? This is just the scenario King plays out in his second, and purportedly favorite, published novel. The thing I love about 'Salem's Lot is the way King uses a roving point of view and a playful temporal structure to make the town itself a character every bit as compelling as the nefarious invader bent on its destruction.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 14, 2023

Five angst-riddled, dual-POV YA fantasy novels

M. K. Lobb is a fantasy writer with a love of all things dark— be it literature, humour, or general aesthetic. She grew up in small-town Ontario and studied political science at both the University of Western Ontario and the University of Ottawa. She now lives by the lake with her partner and their cats. When not reading or writing, she can be found at the gym or contemplating the harsh realities of existence.

Her debut novel is Seven Faceless Saints.

At Lobb tagged five favorite angst-riddled, dual-POV YA fantasies, including:
The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew

Andrew’s eerily beautiful story combines fantasy, romance, and dark academia, but what really makes this a standout debut is the tension between the two POV characters. Delaney “Lane” Meyers-Petrov has always been unusual, even if she doesn’t quite know why. On her first day of classes at Godbole—an equally unusual school—she meets Colton Price, her frustrating and capricious TA. But their paths have crossed before. And although Lane doesn’t remember it, Colton certainly does. It’s hard to forget the girl who called you back from death.

As Lane and Colton work to solve a series of mysteries at Godbole, their relationship becomes increasingly complex. Lane knows Colton is hiding something, and as the reader, so do we. Having access to both perspectives, it’s intriguing to watch the characters form misconceptions about one another as a romance blossoms and the tension builds to a head. Lane immediately assumes Colton hates her, but from Colton’s POV you learn that couldn’t be further from the truth. Meanwhile, they’re both constantly intrigued by one another. It’s a classic example of “Character A is down bad, while Character B has no idea.” Combine that with all the secrets primed to come to light, the reader is steeped in anticipation from the start, which makes the resolution all the more sweet—and painful.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Top 10 badly behaved biographies

Catherine Lacey is the author of five books: Biography of X, Pew, The Answers, Nobody Is Ever Missing, and a short story collection, Certain American States.

Her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and the Young Lions Fiction Award from the New York Public Library.

She lives in New York and Mexico.

At the Guardian Lacey tagged ten favorite biographies by writers who discarded the rules, with thrilling results. One title on the list:
Sempre Susan by Sigrid Nunez

After Nunez was a hired to work as an assistant to Susan Sontag, she met and began dating Sontag’s son, David Rieff who, at that point, still lived with his mother. Soon all three of them lived together, and Nunez’s account of that time is at once loving and baffled and a little annoyed and a tiny bit awed. I could not put it down.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Twelve top descriptions of flowers in literature

Emily Temple is the author of The Lightness and the Managing Editor at Literary Hub. She earned her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was the recipient of a Henfield Prize.

[My Book, The Movie: The Lightness; The Page 69 Test: The Lightness]

At Lit Hub she tagged twelve of the best descriptions of imaginary flowers, including:
From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus:
It was early rainy season, and the frangipani trees planted next to the walls already filled the yard with the sickly-sweet scent of their flowers. A row of purple bougainvillea, cut smooth and straight as a buffet table, separated the gnarled trees from the driveway. Closer to the house, vibrant bushes of hibiscus reached out and touched one another as if they were exchanging their petals. The purple plants had started to push out sleepy buds, but most of the flowers were still on the red ones. They seemed to bloom so fast, those red hibiscuses, considering how often Mama cut them to decorate the church altar and how often visitors plucked them as they walked past to their parked cars.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Eight crime novels that blur the line into SciFi

Thomas Mullen is the internationally bestselling author of several novels, including Darktown, an NPR Best Book of 2016, which was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Southern Book Prize, the Indies Choice Book Award, and was nominated for or won prizes in France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The follow-up, Lightning Men, was named one of the Top Ten Crime Novels of 2017 by The New York Times and was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger Award. His debut, The Last Town on Earth, set during the 1918 flu pandemic, was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction. He lives in Atlanta.

Mullen's new novel is Blind Spots.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight favorite crime novels that blur the line into SciFi, including:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Okay, this one doesn’t so much combine crime and SF as add them, along with several other genres, into a kaleidoscopic storytelling structure. Mitchell’s magnum opus is comprised of six stories, all set in a different time period and written in a different style, each one a fast-paced tale that comments on power and subjugation. One story is an Erin Brokovich-like environmental thriller in which a journalist exposes wrongdoing and courts danger as a result; another, set in a futuristic city, features a protagonist who’s been genetically designed to be a servant, and whose attempt to break free of her proscribed role risks bringing the whole society down.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cloud Atlas is among C.A. Davids's top ten world-spanning novels, Sjón's ten top artificial humans in fiction, Naomi Klein's six favorite books, Jeff Somers's seven novels with chronologies that will break you, Christopher Priest’s top five science-fiction books that make use of music, Patrick Hemstreet's five top books for the psychonaut and the six books that changed Maile Meloy's idea of what’s possible in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 10, 2023

Eleven titles about women on the brink

Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, M. S. Coe is an American writer living in Guadalajara, Mexico. After she graduated with an MFA in creative writing from Cornell University, Clash Books published her first novel, New Veronia, in 2019. Coe’s stories have appeared in The Antioch Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Electric Literature, Nashville Review, Waxwing, and elsewhere. She has held residencies from the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, Petrified Forest National Park, and Ora Lerman Trust.

Coe's new novel is The Formation of Calcium.

At Electric Lit she tagged eleven books "about women who blow up their lives to get what they want," including:
The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith

Yeong-hye is a completely ordinary woman—that is, until she decides to become a vegetarian in a culture where every meal is meat. This decision is influenced by her violent dreams, where the “roof of [her] mouth, slick with crimson blood,” saturates her with a “vivid, strange, horribly uncanny feeling.” Soon the world inside her head becomes all-consuming, so much so that she feels she does not need to eat anything at all: perhaps she can turn into a plant and teach herself to photosynthesize. As Yeong-hye’s family tries to exert control over her body, she burrows deeper into her mind, where a startling transformation has taken root.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Vegetarian is among Amy Sackville's ten top novels about painters.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Five of the best medical thrillers

Jack Jordan is the global number one bestselling author of Anything for Her (2015), My Girl (2016), A Woman Scorned (2018), Before Her Eyes (2018), Night by Night (2019), and Do No Harm.

His forthcoming thriller is Conviction.

At the Waterstones blog Jordan tagged five top medical thrillers: "some reveal what happens when that trust between medical professional and civilian is tampered with, while others have the medical professionals as the heroes, racing to save humanity as we know it." One title on the list:
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

It would feel incredibly wrong not to include Michael Crichton in this list. Before embarking on his writing career, Crichton received an M.D from Harvard Medical School, which led to him creating one of the most infamous and longest running medical shows, ER. Steering away from the genetically-grown dinosaurs we all know and love him for, and returning to his literary breakout hit: The Andromeda Strain tells the story of a group of scientists in a race against time to discover what extra-terrestrial life force is killing people before the mysterious, allusive pathogens spread and become an unstoppable. One might say Crichton was one of the founding fathers of the high-concept medical thriller, and if you’ve yet to read a Crichton novel, The Andromeda Strain is a great place to start.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Andromeda Strain is among Daniel Kalla's eight top pandemic thrillers, Jim Al-Khalili's ten top end-of-the-world novels, Lydia Kang's nine great medical thrillers, Jeff Somer's' nine science fiction novels that imagine the future, Neil deGrasse Tyson's six favorite books, and Joel Cunningham's 11 fictional maladies that will keep you up at night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Seven titles about the scam of wellness

Ling Ling Huang is a writer and violinist. She plays with several ensembles, including the Oregon Symphony, Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, ProMusica, Chamber Orchestra, and the Experiential Orchestra, with whom she won a Grammy Award in 2021.

Natural Beauty is her first novel.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven "books that, together, begin to form a clear picture of what wellness is and what it isn’t, who it currently serves, and who it excludes." One title on the list:
Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey

An absolutely vital book that addresses and provides a real antidote to many of the ills of wellness. As a society, we’ve normalized and internalized exhaustion as a necessity. We are praised when we work ourselves to the bone. Hersey, the Nap Bishop, shares the small personal moments, the histories of her family and people, that led her to the solution and the gift of napping. She addresses the importance of resisting the frenzied pace of our culture and provides exercises and meditations for liberation practice so that we can “no longer be ravaged by this culture’s incessant need to keep going up matter what, to produce at all costs.”

This is a book about self-care that uses the term in the way Audre Lorde initially meant it. As someone who fully participates in so-called grind culture, this book was often difficult for me to read. I am thankful for the ways it has disrupted previous ways of thinking, pushing me to consider myself as someone who has value even when I am not producing, creating, or consuming.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 7, 2023

Six of the best historical mysteries

Harini Nagendra, the author of The Bangalore Detectives Club series, is a Professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India.

She received an Elinor Ostrom Senior Scholar Award and a Cozzarelli Prize with Elinor Ostrom from the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences for research on sustainability. She lives in Bangalore.

At CrimeReads Nagendra tagged six favorite historical mysteries, including:
Her Royal Spyness – Rhys Bowen

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie is thirty-fourth in line to the British Crown. But it’s 1932, and she is also penniless, having been evicted from her family home by her obnoxious sister-in-law, and secretly cleaning aristocratic homes in London order to survive. Still, when the Queen asks her to conduct a tiny little task for her – spy on someone – she can hardly refuse, can she? When she finds a dead body in a bathtub, and realizes someone wants her dead – Georgie is in trouble. This is a light hearted, entertaining series with a fresh premise. Bowen is the author of multiple historical mystery series and stand-alone mysteries, each of them a must-read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Ten of the best Easter picture books for kids

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged ten top Easter picture books for kids, including:
Big Easter Adventure (Pete the Cat Series) by Kimberly & James Dean

What’s Pete the Cat’s favorite candy? Jellybeans. But he’s going to have to work for his candy. One day, the Easter Bunny leaves Pete a note asking him to help out with his holiday chores. Pete diligently dons the rabbit ears the bunny left for him, gathers eggs, paints them, and hides them. Phew! What a day! Somebody get this cat some jellybeans.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top 10 first lines in fiction

Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theater, and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written critically acclaimed short stories both for children and adults, as well as the bestselling novels Unraveling Oliver, Lying in Wait, and Little Cruelties. She lives in Dublin and has won four Irish Book Awards, as well as the James Joyce Medal for Literature.

Nugent's new novel is Strange Sally Diamond.

At the Guardian she tagged ten favorite opening lines in fiction, including:
Perfume by Patrick Süskind
In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages.
France in this era, as represented in our art galleries, gave us female nudes, silk-clothed nobility in powdered wigs and pastoral images of the peasantry. The most notable books of the century were Les Liaisons Dangereuses, depicting a time of decadence when France loosened her stays for a moment and Candide, bitterly satirical, blasphemous and seditious. And into this time comes a man, at once gifted and abominable. Here we have two questions: What is his great gift and more thrillingly, what is his abomination? The answers do involve female nudes but not in a way you could possibly predict.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Perfume is among Liz Boulter's ten best novels about France, Glenn Skwerer's top ten real-life monsters in fiction, four books that changed Meg Keneally, four books that changed Katrina Lawrence, Karen Runge's five (damn-near) perfect (dark) novels, and Lara Feigel's top ten smelly books.

--Marshal Zeringue