Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Six thrillers in which the house hides a sordid past

Jaclyn Goldis is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and NYU Law. She practiced estate planning law at a large Chicago firm for seven years before leaving her job to travel the world and write novels. After culling her possessions into only what would fit in a backpack, she traveled for over a year until settling near the beach, where she can often be found writing from cafés.

Her new novel is The Chateau.

At CrimeReads Goldis tagged six thrillers in which the house hides a sinister past, including:
Curtain by Agatha Christie

Poirot’s final hurrah is one of my very favorite Christies, but best saved for readers who’ve already covered the breadth of the famed detective’s previous exploits. Christie ingeniously selects the rambling country house where Poirot and his sidekick solved their first mystery together for the site of their last. A mind-blowingly twisty plot makes use of the property’s gardens, windows from which suspicious acts are viewed, and bedrooms where the guests slumber—or don’t—in close quarters. In Curtain, Poirot may be old and relegated to a wheelchair, but his little gray cells are as sharp as ever.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Nine love stories for every decade of life

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 "nine love stories, each in a different decade of life," including:
80s: John and Jackie by T.J. Klune

At the age of eighty, it is rare and beautiful to love the person that you met at age twelve. In the last hours of John’s life, he and his husband Jackie recount their 70 years together within five stories, through hardships and happy times. John and Jackie by T.J. Klune is a window into a deep, meaningful, and long lasting relationship between two people who have become each other’s world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 29, 2023

Six top quiet apocalypse stories

Jane Hennigan was born and raised in Aldershot in Hampshire. After a decade working in E-commerce, she gained a degree in English Literature and Philosophy from Royal Holloway, and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey. She spent seven years teaching English literature undergraduates, before moving to the seaside to concentrate on writing.

She is the author of the dystopian speculative fiction titles Moths and Toxxic.

At Lit Hub Hennigan tagged "six titles, centering around personal, introspective aspects of the demise of humanity—who would you want there with you on that final day, what it might feel like to watch the final days unfold, and what if the hero can’t save us all?" One entry on the list:
The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

The apocalypse unfolds gradually, as a series of environmental disasters lead to societal collapse. The narrative follows Ruth, who seeks refuge in a beached whale carcass, and Nik, who joins her in this unconventional sanctuary. Nature figures highly, as you would expect in a book starting with a beached whale – the focus is on intimate physical aspects—flesh, touch, sex, birth—the reader is repeatedly reminded that we’re denizens of the natural world. A moving story about a woman’s escape from her old life and the strength she needs to forge a new one, emerging from the belly of a whale.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Five top thrillers about women getting revenge

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

Her new novel is The Hook.

At CrimeReads Stone tagged five favorite thrillers about women getting revenge, including:
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

This audiobook (narrated by Catherine Ho) was an absolute delight. A young college graduate moves back to Malaysia with her family, and three generations live together: daughter, mother, and grandmother. Except this grandma is a ghost. At first, the haunting feels almost cozy, but grandma isn’t back for a visit. She wants revenge… and she’s brought along a friend who wants a little payback for herself too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Eight titles centered around fractured families & relationships

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged eight books centered around fractured families and relationships, including:
All Adults Here by Emma Straub

A multigenerational story of the things we carry with us into adulthood, All Adults Here is a warm and witty tale filled with the ups and downs of one family’s reflections. After witnessing a tragedy, the matriarch reassesses her parenting and how it affected her now-adult children. Celebrating the messiness of those we hold dear, Emma Straub’s novel touches on family dynamics and forgiveness with the keen observations and charm she is known for.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 26, 2023

Eight books set in Hawai’i by local authors

Lisa Zhuang is an intern at Electric Literature. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Emory University and currently resides in mid-Missouri.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight novels, short stories and poetry collections set in Hawaii and written by local authors, including:
Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare by Megan Kamalei Kakimoto

In Megan Kamalei Kakimoto’s debut short story collection, superstitions come alive and turn into truths. Night Marchers wander the lands. Pele’s wrath is not to be trifled with. Characters refuse to whistle at night and do not sleep with their toes pointed towards the door. Though the ghosts of colonialism haunt the land, the cast of women in Kakimoto’s stories survive and thrive on generations of shared wisdom.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Top 10 cops in fiction

Alan Parks worked in the music industry for over twenty years before turning to crime writing. His debut novel Bloody January was shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, February’s Son was nominated for an Edgar Award, Bobby March Will Live Forever was picked as a Times Best Book of the Year, won a Prix Mystère de la Critique Award and won an Edgar Award. The April Dead was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and May God Forgive won the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2022. He lives and works in Glasgow.

To Die In June is the sixth Harry McCoy thriller.

At the Guardian Parks tagged his top ten cops in fiction, including:
John Rebus

Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh-based detective has aged in real time as the series goes on. Now he’s not in the best of health and retired. But he’s still sticking his nose in where it’s not wanted and long may he do so. Rankin manages to keep Rebus involved in the changing city, keeps him in the here and now, still vital.
Read about the other entries on the list.

John Rebus is among Euan Ferguson's ten best fictional sleuths.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Five titles that go beyond London’s WWII “Blitz Spirit”

Jo Baker was born in Lancashire and educated at Oxford University and Queen’s University Belfast. She is the author of the best-selling novel Longbourn, as well as The Body Lies; A Country Road, A Tree; The Undertow; The Telling; The Mermaid’s Child; and Offcomer.

Baker's new novel is The Midnight News.

At Lit Hub she tagged five top novels that "depict the [London] Blitz, and that whole era, without seeking to simplify or mythologize." One title on the list:
The Ministry of Fear, Graham Greene

There’s something at once seedy and epic about this novel—as one might expect from Graham Greene. Its protagonist is a damaged, morally compromised man, who stumbles into an intrigue and rises to its exigencies; it’s almost Hitchcockian in the ratcheting up of tension and unease (though the film was directed by Fritz Lang.) This is a cratered and carious London, where nothing is as it seems, and no-one can be trusted. The depiction of a bomb-blast—the impact, disorientation and devastation felt on a very immediate, physical level—is brilliant.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Six top novels about extra marital affairs

Jessica Hamilton was born in Australia but grew up in Canada. She has lived and worked in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, India and Japan. She studied writing at the Humber School for Writers as well as George Brown College. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, son, and daughter. Her debut novel is titled What You Never Knew.

Hamilton's new thriller is Don't You Dare.

[The Page 69 Test: Don't You Dare]

At CrimeReads she tagged six top novels about illicit marital affairs, including:
Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Even when a novel doesn’t centre solely around an affair, they make great subtexts, adding an extra layer of tension and emotion, revealing things about the characters who are being unfaithful and further complicating what may already be a very complicated situation. This is the case with this novel. At the heart of the story is a child who’s been missing for over a year. His already grieving mother is served a second painful blow when she finds out that her husband is having an affair. Now she’s fighting to find her child and save her marriage. Both story lines of Little Secrets keep the reader fully engaged and dying to find out how it will all end up—who will be saved and who will be sacrificed.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Secrets is among Lisa Regan's ten riveting reads filled with shocking secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 22, 2023

Seven top books featuring very complicated friendships

Ore Agbaje-Williams is a British Nigerian writer and book editor from London.

The Three of Us is her first novel.

At LitHub she shared a reading list of "books featuring very, very complicated friendships to make you and your friends feel like the normal, stable people you undoubtedly are." One title on the list:
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

This is cheating—a little—because this book is technically about a couple, but when I read it, I felt their connection more through their friendship than their romance. They grow apart in the most beautiful and natural way, realizing that their desires have become different but allowing them to change and not break their relationship to each other entirely. It’s a melancholy—in the best way—reminder of what happens to our friendships as we deal with the ebbs and flows of life, and how much they can change us.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Exit West is among Gian Sardar's eight of the best novels about war-torn love, C Pam Zhang's top ten novels about moving and Helen Phillips's six notable novels involving alternate realities.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Nine top novels about infatuations that are all consuming

Hanna Halperin is the author of two novels, Something Wild and I Could Live Here Forever. Something Wild won the 2021 Edward Lewis Wallant Award and was a finalist for the 2021 National Jewish Book Award for Debut Fiction. Her stories have been published in The Kenyon Review, n+1, New Ohio Review, and Joyland. She has taught fiction workshops at GrubStreet in Boston and worked as a domestic violence counselor.

At Electric Lit Halperin tagged nine novels about characters looking to be transformed by sex or love, including:
Another Marvelous Thing by Laurie Colwin

In Another Marvelous Thing, Frank and Billie fall into an affair, while they’re both married to other people. Their love story is chronicled through eight interlinking stories, each told through a different point of view. Even though Frank and Billie are unfaithful, their current marriages aren’t loveless. But the relationship they find with each other—Frank is much older and more traditional than Billie—is tender, undeniable, and unusual. Frank says about Billy: “She is an absolute fact of my life…I conduct a mental life with her when we are apart. Thinking about her is like entering a secret room to which only I have access.” Laurie Colwin, who died in 1992, writes beautifully about people falling in love. One thing I love about this story is how gently it ends. Not all obsession leads to a crash. Sometimes people are just finding their way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Ten novels about the drama of working for the family business

Olivia Wolfgang-Smith is a Brooklyn-based author of fiction and creative nonfiction. Her debut novel is Glassworks.

Wolfgang-Smith’s writing has appeared in Salamander, Ninth Letter, The Common, and elsewhere. Her work has been longlisted for Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers and DIAGRAM’s Innovative Fiction Contest, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology. She earned her MFA at Florida State University, and originally hails from Rhode Island.

At Electric Lit Wolfgang-Smith tagged ten of the best novels about the drama of working for the family business, including:
True Biz by Sara Nović

Among much else, this novel set at the River Valley School for the Deaf is about what happens when the boundaries collapse between work (or activism) and family. February, the headmistress at River Valley, lives on campus with her wife—an arrangement under threat on multiple fronts, both professional and domestic. The chronic simmer of their work/life tension lends dignity to the parallel dormitory dramas of their adolescent charges. Then there are the dynamics of Austin’s family—legends at River Valley, with Austin fifth-generation Deaf on his mother’s side. Austin’s hearing father works as an ASL interpreter, slipping between practiced neutrality in his role as a professional communicator, and full-blown participation in the emotional conflicts of their family life—particularly now that Austin’s newborn baby sister has just sent shockwaves through the house by passing her first hearing test.
Read about the other entries on the list.

True Biz is among Alexandra Robbins's seven books with positive portrayals of educators.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 19, 2023

Fifteen top books on the Vietnam war

George Black is the author of The Long Reckoning: A Story of War, Peace, and Redemption in Vietnam.

At LitHub he tagged six "foundational books" on the “Vietnam War,” then tagged a few more that "had an especially profound impact on my thinking as I wrote The Long Reckoning. One title on the list:
Vietnam-Perkasie: A Combat Marine Memoir by W.D. Ehrhart

There are many great memoirs of Vietnam by combat veterans, especially by Marines who had the misfortune to serve in I Corps, where much of my own book is set. But Erhart’s unsparing confessional of one Marine’s descent into hell is unique in the intensity of the moral questions it raises about what war does to young men. It shows how an ordinary 18-year-old from a small town in Pennsylvania could be transformed into someone who could gun down an unarmed old woman simply because she is wearing black pajamas and running away, or yuk it up with his buddies as they destroy an abandoned Buddhist temple just for the hell of it, or take his place in a line of Marines waiting for their turn with a starving woman trading her body for a can of C-rations. An unforgettable book by a man who went on to become the unrivaled poet of the war.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Top 10 strangest alien invasion novels

Nina Allan is a novelist and critic. Her novels have previously won the British Science Fiction Award, the Kitschies Red Tentacle and the Grand Prix de L'imaginaire. She has also been nominated as a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Hugo Award. Born in London, Nina now lives and works in Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute.

Allan's newest novel is Conquest.

At the Guardian she tagged she tagged ten favorite alien invasion novels "in which the divide between human and alien is not always clear cut." One title on the list:
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy charts the exploration of alien incursions in a remote, segregated area of wilderness that keeps expanding. The scientists who venture into Area X find it impossible to communicate the reality of their experiences there, a failure of language that makes the encounter all the more traumatic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Annihilation is among Martin MacInnes's top ten visionary books about scientists, John Searles's five novels set in abandoned places, Rin Chupeco's five top stories where nature does its best to kill you, and Nicholas Royle's ten top lighthouses in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Three dangerous affairs in literature

Zhanna Slor was born in Ukraine and moved to the Midwest in the early 1990s. Her debut novel, At the End of the World, Turn Left, was called "elegant and authentic" by NPR and named by Booklist as one of the "Top Ten Crime Debuts" of 2021. Her second novel, Breakfall, a domestic thriller surrounding a mysterious death at a close-knit Jiu Jitsu gym, came out last month.

At CrimeReads Slor tagged three novels "that explore the why’s and how’s of infidelity," including:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The literary gamut is filled with shamed women from across the ages; but Russian was my first language, so I can’t have a list about literary affairs without one of the most famous literary affairs—Tolstoy’s poor doomed heroine, Anna Karenina, who is so tormented by public humiliation she famously throws herself in front of a train. Set in late 19th-century Imperial Russia, Anna was rather doomed from the start, as it was not an easy time to be alive regardless of who she was bedding. (The same can be said for her French counterpart Madame Bovary, who poisons herself to death.) Here, too, Anna’s Count Alexei, who is at least equally responsible for the fallout of their relationship, manages to turn out just fine. One has to wonder why, across the centuries, only women are scorned for getting involved with the wrong guy. If it’s an issue of morality, then the man should get thrown under the bus too; and yet, generally, they’re not. Like Nietzsche once said, “fear is the mother of morality.” People fear what they don’t know or what they might not understand, and one of those things has always been female sexuality. Perhaps that’s why so many of the greatest novels featuring risqué behavior these days are written by women!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Anna Karenina also appears on Anna Orhanen's list of eleven of the very best literary evocations of winter, Cathy Rentzenbrink's top ten list of bookworms in fiction, Amanda Craig's list of ten of the best-dressed characters in fiction, Ceri Radford's list often of the finest literary romances ever told, Tessa Hadley's list of six favorite examinations of art in fiction, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite epic novels, Jane Corry's list of five of literature's more fearsome families, Neel Mukherjee's six favorite books list, Viv Groskop's top ten list of life lessons from Russian literature, Elizabeth Day's top ten list of parties in fiction, Grant Ginder's top ten list of the more loathsome people in literature, Louis De Berniéres's six best books list, Martin Seay's ten best long books list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten list of books about justice and redemption, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Five unconventional work novels

Tania Malik was born in New Delhi and raised in India, Africa, and the Middle East. She was educated in boarding schools in the foothills of the Himalayas and graduated from the University of Delhi with a degree in Geography. She has had a varied career in the travel marketing and non-profit industries. Her first novel Three Bargains received a Publishers Weekly starred review and a Booklist starred review.

[Coffee with a Canine: Tania Malik & Deuce]

At Lit Hub Malik tagged five "unconventional work novels that remind us of the way things once were, offer alternatives to the way we approach our jobs and, perhaps, spur us onward to new horizons." One title on the list:
Impostor Syndrome by Kathy Wang

The Silicon Valley COO of Tangerine, who has taken her company from tech start-up to powerful conglomerate is, unbeknownst to her husband and everyone else, a Russian spy. Disturbingly, millions use Tangerine for internet searches and messages, much like Google and Meta, and all that information is accessible to her and the Russians. A low-level tech worker at Tangerine discovers her secret, setting in motion a psychological thriller that builds on our justified fears over the misuse of our digital information. Through differing viewpoints that include the two women and a Russian handler, we are privy to what the American dream means to each of them and what they will sacrifice to achieve it, cleverly examining the generational differences between women in present-day workplaces.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 15, 2023

Eight taut thrillers set over three days or fewer

Anna Snoekstra is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She lives in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia, where she writes from an old football factory. She is the author of Only Daughter, Little Secrets, The Spite Game and, most recently, Out of Breath. Her novels have been published in over twenty languages and optioned for film and television.

At CrimeReads Snoekstra tagged eight thrillers "with pacing so rapid and relentless the fate of their protagonists seem to hang by the thinnest of threads." One title on the list:
The 25th Hour by David Benioff
Twenty-five hours

In twenty-five hours Monty is going to jail for seven years, so what’s he going to do with his last night of freedom? Set predominately in downtown Manhattan, Monty goes out clubbing with his two oldest friends. As they reminisce about the past, it is slowly revealed that Monty has a plan for the evening that we haven’t seen coming and is going to shock the two men who think they know him best. This one was made into a great film in 2002 by Spike Lee with Ed Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and, Mr. Logan Roy himself, Brian Cox.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Eight titles about the lives of single mothers

Kelly McMasters is an essayist, professor, mother, and former bookshop owner. She is the author of The Leaving Season: A Memoir-in-Essays (2023) and co-editor of the ABA national bestseller Wanting: Women Writing About Desire (2023). Her first book, Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town, was listed as one of Oprah's top 5 summer memoirs and is the basis for the documentary film The Atomic States of America, a 2012 Sundance selection, and the anthology she co-edited with Margot Kahn, This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home (2017), was a New York Times Editor’s Choice.

At Electric Lit McMasters tagged eight "books that delve into the life of single mothers, both fictional and real," including:
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

When this collection blazed onto the scene in 2020, it won every award possible, putting West Virginia University Press on the map. The nine stories in this shatteringly beautiful collection are all part of a loosely interconnected galaxy in which Black women and girls move through kitchens, bedrooms, and back parking lots, searching for, and often finding, desire, agency, religion, and care. In the “Peach Cobbler,” a single mother is observed through her teenage daughter’s eyes, handing down her family recipe for the dessert, as well as much more than she intends.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Nine terrible mothers in horror

Katrina Monroe is the author of They Drown Our Daughters and Graveyard of Lost Children.

A private investigator by day, she lives in Minnesota with her wife, two children, and Eddie, the ghost who haunts their bedroom closets.

At CrimeReads Monroe tagged a reading list of "books featuring bad moms, imperfect moms, moms whose sanity slips at the birth of their children. Books that walk the razor-edge of what it means to be good mother." One title on the list:
Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan

Rhea is a good mother. A good wife. A good neighbor. When a new family moves in disrupting the power balance, she will stop at nothing to right this egregious wrong. Except a sink hole has opened up at the center of her world and if she’s not careful, she may just fall in.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Good Neighbors is among Chris Cander's eight novels about dealing with difficult neighbors and Amelia Kahaney's six top coming-of-age mysteries & thrillers.

The Page 69 Test: Good Neighbors.

My Book, The Movie: Good Neighbors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 12, 2023

Ten contemporary novels inspired by art and artists

For the Royal Academy Connie Sjödin tagged ten top contemporary novels inspired by art and artists, including:
Girl Reading, Katie Ward (2011)

Stand in any gallery and you might find yourself wondering about the story behind a portrait. The thoughts of the sitter, their relationship with the artist — whether one of economy, friendship, or chance — are often left to the viewer to decipher or invent.

In her debut novel, Girl Reading, English writer Katie Ward fills in the stories of seven such portraits, all of women reading – from 14th-century Siena to Angelica Kauffman, and even an image created in the near future. The breadth of historical settings and careful research sit together under the wider question, what does it mean to read a portrait of a woman reading?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Top 10 novels about motherhood

Claire Kilroy is an author and reviews books for the Guardian.

Her novels include All Summer (2003), which won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and Tenderwire (2006), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award as well as the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award.

Kilroy's latest novel is Soldier Sailor.

At the Guardian she tagged ten "novels that capture motherhood in an interesting way," including:
Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Pity poor Toby Fleishman, the good doctor who has put saving lives above getting rich. His ex-wife has done a runner leaving him holding the kids. So far, so Great American Novel. But then, after Rachel Fleishman has been dealt a good sound judging, the writer flips the narrative to include the female perspective and a Greater American Novel is born.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Seven books that celebrate trees in all of their glory

Amazon Book Review editor Al Woodworth tagged seven books celebrating trees in all of their glory, including:
Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

We named Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree one of the Best Science Books of 2021, and let me just say, it transcends the category. Suzanne Simard has been studying trees her entire career and what she has discovered is nothing short of extraordinary: through their vast root networks, trees communicate with one another, they warn one another of threats, they learn and adapt their behaviors, they recognize their neighbors, and they sustain one another. Bringing in her own experiences of love and loss, connection and disconnection, Simard’s book is a resoundingly powerful portrait of what it means to live, to survive, and to learn—whether you’re human or a tree, because we’re really not that different, after all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Top 10 books about being poor in America

Monica Potts is a writer who returned to her hometown in northern Arkansas to work on her new book, The Forgotten Girls.

She is a senior politics reporter for the website FiveThirtyEight. Her previous work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The New Republic, among other publications, and on NPR. She was a 2015–16 New America Fellow and is a former senior writer with The American Prospect. She lives in Clinton, Arkansas.

At the Guardian Potts tagged ten top books about being poor in America, including:
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

This masterpiece about the US’s racial stratification is an essential book about the country’s poverty. It explains how the US was founded explicitly as a racist system designed to keep the descendants of slaves on the bottom of the social and economic hierarchy, and all of the ways this caste system is perpetuated.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 8, 2023

Nine top books about shipwrecks

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged nine "venerated tales of vessels succumbing to the sea," including:
The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann

When two groups of survivors give contradicting accounts of what happened to the shipwrecked crew, an inquest is launched to discover the truth. An incredible story of unruly behavior and unknowable facts, The Wager is a powerful and fast-paced narrative about the British warship and the tragic outcome of its voyage.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Six titles about spiritual disillusionment

Christiana Spens is a writer and artist based in London, with a background in academia. She has published several books in the past, including Shooting Hipsters (2016), The Portrayal and Punishment of Terrorists in Western Media: Playing the Villain (2019) and The Fear (2023), generously supported by The Society of Authors. She has written for Glamour, Stylist, LitHub, The London Magazine, The Irish Times, Architectural Design, Byline Times, Art Quarterly, Prospect, Aeon + Psyche, Flux, Dazed & Confused, The Quietus, and Studio International. Spens wrote her PhD thesis on visual portrayals of terrorists and other political villains in media and fine art, before turning to practicing art herself.

At Lit Hub Spens shared a reading list of her spiritual disillusionment. One title on the list:
Matt Rowland Hill, Original Sins

When I had broken up with my first love at university, the betrayal and disillusionment was so crushing that it felt I had lost my religion; it felt that Earth-shattering. More recently, echoes of that feeling returned, reminding me of that sense of total loss and desolation.

And then I picked up Original Sins by Matt Rowland Hill—about the author’s loss of faith and then addiction after a childhood in a fundamentalist family—and found in it a kind of lifeline. When we are brought up in controlling, precarious, chaotic situations, whether it is in a cult, or through being left for one, or in some other way, we have to deal with this crushing loss of faith and love, from the youngest age, before we are remotely equipped to deal with it.

What are the repercussions of this sort of childhood, this philosophical and emotional framework—and how, as individuals, do we find ways to rebuild our lives with true freedom? In these memoirs, each author found reading, or writing, or love, or some combination; the key was in painstakingly creating a new faith and everyday stability despite the ever-present absence of the one we were brought up to want for.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Five top spine-chilling space books

Jenny Hamilton reads the end before she reads the middle. She reviews for Strange Horizons and Lady Business. At she tagged five "books set in space that might or might not be very, very, very full of ghosts," including:
Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji

Adam Oyebanji’s debut SF novel combines two of my favorite things: ghosts in space, and biting depictions of the many ills that arise from the unjust distribution of resources. Our protagonist, Ravi Macleod, is slated to be the first member of his family to attain respectability, just on the eve of what his generation ship calls Braking Day: their arrival at the ship’s final destination of Tau Ceti. To become an officer, all Ravi has to do is keep his nose clean for one more semester—except that he starts to see visions of a girl with unbound blonde hair floating helmetless outside the ship. Nobody who spends any time in zero-g keeps their hair loose around their shoulders, and more importantly, space will for sure kill you if you’re not wearing a helmet. [Unless you are General Leia Organa.]

Ravi’s haunted not only by the impossible floating girl, but by the specter of the all-powerful AIs the Archimedes fled Earth to avoid. AIs are super illegal on board the Archimedes, and the ruling class have no plans to change that when they reach Tau Ceti. Except that if Ravi wants to find out what’s going on with his ghost girl, he’ll have to make use of his cousin Boz’s illegally created AI. Braking Day has some debut novel–typical pacing problems, but it’s a fun read that left me eager for more books by this author.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 5, 2023

Ten top books featuring English & British monarchs

At the Waterstones blog Mark Skinner tagged "ten titles featuring English and British monarchs from authors who are themselves national institutions," including:
The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

Murder and intrigue abound in the shadow of the Great Fire of London in the gripping first Marwood and Lovett mystery, as Taylor masterfully evokes the seventeenth-century capital through period detail and walk-on parts for Christopher Wren and King Charles II.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Seven historical novels with mysteries at their core

Chanel Cleeton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick Next Year in Havana, When We Left Cuba, The Last Train to Key West, The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba, and Our Last Days in Barcelona.

Her new novel is The Cuban Heiress.

At CrimeReads she tagged "seven historical novels feature page-turning mysteries that will transport you to the past and keep you guessing until the end." One title on the list:
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

When Alexandra Boyd travels to Bulgaria and discovers an urn filled with human ashes, she embarks on a quest to return the ashes to the deceased man’s family and becomes embroiled in a mystery that takes her back through the country’s dangerous history. Richly detailed and filled with haunting prose, The Shadow Land proves that sometimes untangling the events of the past can be the greatest mystery of all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Five top books for tree-lovers

At the Amazon Book Review Chris Schluep tagged five favorite books about trees, including:
Barkskins by Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx’s Barkskins is an epic, multigenerational novel of dynasty building and, ultimately, ecological and cultural destruction. It’s really quite a work of art—big, sprawling, and a little heartbreaking. Beginning in the 1600s, the book tracks the lineage of two French immigrants, Charles Duquet and Rene Sel, who arrive in the Canadian region of New France looking for a better life. Sel marries a Mi’kmaq woman and they have children. Duquet founds the beginnings of a vast timber empire. The book follows generations of Sels and Dukes (nee Duquets), eventually concluding in 2013. The vast forests of North America are the key to both families’ futures, and the forest itself becomes a character in the novel, bringing wealth, taking lives, and slowly dwindling. While the book’s length and character count require much from the reader, it remains taut and compelling throughout. Barkskins a book lover’s book. And, apparently, also a tree lover’s book.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Seven haunting ghost stories by Black women writers

Soraya Palmer is a Flatbush-born-and-raised writer and licensed social worker who advocates for survivors of gender-based violence who are facing criminal charges related to their abuse. She has been interviewed for her work against police brutality, gentrification, and violence in The New York Times and BuzzFeed News. She has been awarded a residency at Blue Mountain Center. She lives in New York. The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts is her debut novel.

At Electric Lit she tagged "seven contemporary Black women authors who have continued [the] long tradition of Black ghost storytelling," including:
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

In Zinzi Clemmons’ novel, Thandi and her father grieve their mother, who has died of cancer. Clemmons weaves seamlessly between moving anecdotes of grieving her dead mother, meditations on racism, and original chartings of the seven stages of grief.

At one point, Thandi tells us that “The most important aspect of the ghost is the need that creates it.” The protagonist makes the decision to create a ghost out of her mother in order to help herself grieve, showing us that loneliness can create the feeling of haunting, whether it physically exists or not.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue