Thursday, August 31, 2023

Top 10 books about solitary living

Daniel Schreiber is the author of Susan Sontag, the first complete biography of the intellectual icon, as well as the highly praised and bestselling German-language literary essays Nüchtern and Zuhause. He lives in Berlin.

Schreiber's newest book is Alone: Reflections on Solitary Living.

At the Guardian he tagged ten top titles about solitary living, including:
The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff

Due out next month, this novel follows an unnamed girl who flees from a colonial settlement in 1600s Virginia to make her way through the forests and rivers of North America. Groff turns the ideological underpinnings of classic Robinsonades deftly on their head. During her fight for survival the girl comes to an understanding of the natural world and her life within it which is a rare testament to the spiritual upsides of loneliness that we can only experience when we are alone.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Eight campus novels set in grad school

K.D. Walker is a Turkish and Creole writer born and raised in Los Angeles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Pomona College and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Electric Literature, Cultbytes, the Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. In 2023, she was selected as a Tin House Summer Workshop Scholar and a Periplus Collective Fellow.

At Electric Lit she tagged eight novels that "promise to immerse you in the esoteric bubble of graduate programs, the 'dark academia' mood, and that hazy, never-ending desire for 'purpose,'” including:
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi’s second novel, Transcendent Kingdom, follows a family of Ghanaian immigrants while focusing on Gifty, the narrator in her fifth year of graduate school, studying Neuroscience at the Stanford School of Medicine. Gifty specifically researches the neural patterns of reward-seeking mice with the hopes of unlocking a secret cure to both addiction and depression. After her brother, Nana, passes away from an overdose and her mother retreats to Gifty’s bed in bouts of suicidal thoughts, Gifty retreats into her studies and searches endlessly for answers. This is a novel that can be read, or it can be experienced—through spiritual and religious exploration, scientific explanation, and the overarching goal of transformation, Gyasi outdoes herself yet again with a phenomenal 264 pages of intellectual expansion.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Transcendent Kingdom is among Matt Rowland Hill's top to books about losing faith and Blake Sanz's seven top books about immigrants encountering the American South.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Ten top books to understand conspiracy thinking

Colin Dickey is the author of five books of nonfiction: Under the Eye of Power: How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy; The Unidentified: Mythical Monsters, Alien Encounters, and Our Obsession with the Unexplained; Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places; Afterlives of the Saints: Stories from the Ends of Faith; and Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius. He is also the co-editor (with Joanna Ebenstein) of The Morbid Anatomy Anthology.

At Publishers Weekly Dickey tagged ten of the best books to understand conspiracy thinking, including:
The Resonance of Unseen Things: Poetics, Power, Captivity, and UFOs in the American Uncanny by Susan Lepselter

Lepselter blends the genres of academic monograph and memoir in ways that make for a fascinating read. She spends time out in the desert near Area 51, hanging out with believers looking for aliens and trying to understand their deeper motivations, in the process tracing the metaphors and stories that conservative Americans tell themselves to make sense of a changing world. Literary in style and beautifully written, it’s not like any other book you’ve read, and definitely one I’ve returned to again and again.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 28, 2023

Four crime novels featuring powerful female characters

Christopher Swann is a bestselling novelist and teacher. A graduate of Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, he earned his Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University. He has been a Townsend Prize finalist, longlisted for the Southern Book Prize, and a winner of the Georgia Author of the Year award. He lives with his wife and two sons in Atlanta, where he is the English department chair at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.

[The Page 69 Test: Never Go HomeMy Book, The Movie: Never Go HomeQ&A with Christopher Swann]

Swann's new novel is Never Back Down.

At CrimeReads Swann tagged four crime novels featuring powerful female characters, including:
Cop Town by Karin Slaughter (2014)

Slaughter’s standalone is set in 1970s Atlanta. Kate Murphy is a brand-new police officer on a force that recently hired women but doesn’t want them there; being an attractive blond makes her harassment worse. On the surface Kate seems like a pretty, rich girl playing cop, and before her first day is over she wants to quit. But she is also a recent widow and Jewish, both of which deepen her character and her fortitude—most of her white male co-workers are misogynistic racists who are also suspicious of Jews, and an openly antisemitic cop killer roams the city streets. Kate gets partnered with Maggie Lawson, whose brother and uncle are also cops, although unhappy that Maggie wants to continue the family tradition. Both women must contend with colleagues who despise their presence, the aforementioned cop killer, and a shifting social and cultural landscape. Details like the uniforms the women are given—all deliberately too big, even the shoes—ground the story in a gritty realism. Cop Town is as much about Kate and Maggie’s growth and acceptance of themselves as police officers as it is a gripping thriller, and Kate’s journey especially makes for compelling reading.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Six great books on the rise and impact of hip-hop

Lindsay Powers is a book lover, writer (bylines include The New York Times and The Washington Post), and author of You Can’t F*ck Up Your Kids: A Judgment-Free Guide to Stress-Free Parenting. At the Amazon Book Review she tagged six great books with which to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. One title on the list:
Tupac Shakur by Staci Robinson

This biography—the only one authorized by the artist’s family—has been 20 years in the making. Staci Robinson wrote her first draft decades ago, then put it aside for her other book and screenwriting projects, before returning to the story she always wanted to tell. Robinson is closely connected to Tupac’s family—he crashed on her couch when he was a teenager with big dreams who was trying to launch his career, and his activist mother, Afeni, a famous member of the Black Panther party, was a mentor. And this memoir is worth the wait: It includes handwritten notes from Tupac that give readers insight into his poetic, wise mind; details from intimate conversations; and insight into the experiences that shaped his worldview. This biography, due out in October, paints a rich portrait of a young man who was shot and killed at just age 25, leaving readers pondering how his legacy could have been even greater if only he lived longer.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Seven of the best comeback books

Mark Dent is a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Texas Monthly, Vox, Wired, The Kansas City Star, and elsewhere. He is also a senior writer at The Hustle, a business and tech newsletter. His work has been cited as a notable mention in The Best American Sports Writing, and he has also been named Texas Sportswriter of the Year. Dent grew up in the Kansas City area and lives in Dallas.

Rustin Dodd is a senior writer at The Athletic. He previously worked as a sportswriter at The Kansas City Star from 2010 to 2017. His work has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Dodd grew up in the Kansas City area and lives in Brooklyn. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas.

Dent and Dodd are co-authors of Kingdom Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs, and How a Once Swingin' Cow Town Chased the Ultimate Comeback.

At Lit Hub they tagged seven of their favorite “comeback” books, including:
Eli Saslow, Rising out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist

This is the story of Derek Black—the so-called prince of the white nationalist movement in the United States. Saslow poignantly chronicles the transformation of an enthusiastic college student who arrives on campus in Florida, maintains his role as the host of a racist radio show, meets a group of close friends, and ultimately chooses to renounce his family’s past and his belief system.

Through detailed reporting and spare prose, the book offers a gripping portrait of a young person that you cannot put down. One of the reasons this “comeback” story is so illuminating is that it’s not neat and tidy—it’s complicated…but ultimately hopeful.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 25, 2023

Five academic novels that won’t make you want to return to school

Akemi C. Brodsky is the author of The Brill Pill. She graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a bachelor of science, then moved to the UK to do a master’s in engineering at Imperial College London. She currently lives in the Bay Area and spends most of her spare time traveling, cooking, seeing family and friends, and watching TV.

At Brodsky tagged five academic novels that won’t make you want to go back to school, including:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go is a classic that had to be included on this list because it is full of precious memories of school days gone by, and it is also dark AF. I didn’t go to boarding school, but I assume that each of the inane yet all-important social constructions adolescents create are magnified here. Ishiguro has an amazing way of authentically recreating all of those uncomfortable and unforgiving coming-of-age feelings which on their own pull at my younger self and yet make me recoil at the idea of returning to such a time. But, of course, there are other reasons you’d rather not be a student at Hailsham…
Read about another entry on the list.

Never Let Me Go is on Claire Fuller's list of seven top dystopian mysteries, Elizabeth Brooks's list of ten great novels with unreliable narrators, Lincoln Michel's top ten list of strange sci-fi dystopias, Amelia Morris's lits of ten of the most captivating fictional frenemies, Edward Ashton's eight titles about what it means to be human, Bethany Ball's list of the seven weirdest high schools in literature, Zak Salih's eight books about childhood pals—and the adults they become, Rachel Donohue's list of seven coming-of-age novels with elements of mystery or the supernatural, Chris Mooney's list of six top intelligent, page-turning, genre-bending classics, James Scudamore's top ten list of books about boarding school, Caroline Zancan's list of eight novels about students and teachers behaving badly, LitHub's list of the ten books that defined the 2000s, Meg Wolitzer's ten favorite books list, Jeff Somers's lists of nine science fiction novels that imagine the future of healthcare and "five pairs of books that have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other" and eight tales of technology run amok and top seven speculative works for those who think they hate speculative fiction, a list of five books that shaped Jason Gurley's Eleanor, Anne Charnock's list of five favorite books with fictitious works of art, Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of nine great science fiction books for people who don't like science fiction, Sabrina Rojas Weiss's list of ten favorite boarding school novels, Allegra Frazier's top four list of great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, James Browning's top ten list of boarding school books, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Top 10 female spies in fiction

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. Her latest novel, A Wild & True Relation (2023), was described by Dame 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 the Guardian Sherwood tagged her top ten female spies in fiction, including:
American Spy, Lauren Wilkinson (2019)

As a black FBI agent in the 1960s, Marie Mitchell’s career is thwarted by the all-white boys’ club until she is handed a mission to seduce and undermine the revolutionary president of Burkina Faso. Lauren Wilkinson illuminates the untold stories of the cold war in a searing exploration of belonging, race and gender.
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

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Eight top books about missing persons

Una Mannion’s debut novel is A Crooked Tree.

Her new novel, Tell Me What I Am, is due out in the US in August 2023.

At CrimeReads Mannion tagged eight great books about missing persons. One title on the list:
The Last Stone by Mark Bowden

In 1975 Mark Bowden author of Black Hawk Down was a cub reporter for a paper in Baltimore Maryland when two sisters Katherine (10) and Shelia (12) Lyons disappeared from a shopping mall outside Washington DC. He reported on it for two weeks but there were no answers and for almost forty years the case was cold. In 2013 an investigator came across a statement given by a Lloyd Welch (18 years old). Welch had gone to police to say he’d seen the girls being forced into a car by a middle-aged man in a suit but failed a polygraph. The investigator noted that a mug shot picture of Welch from 1977 resembled the police sketch of a suspect at the mall. The Last Stone focuses on the extended interrogation sessions with detectives in which Welch fabricates and lies but ultimately confesses. Gripping and a tribute to the tenacity of the detectives who literally turned every last stone.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Eight books about life after the collapse of the USSR

Irina Zhorov was born in Uzbekistan, in the Soviet Union, and moved to Philadelphia on the eve of its dissolution. After failing to make use of a geology degree she received an MFA from the University of Wyoming. She’s worked as a journalist for more than a decade, reporting primarily on environmental issues.

Her new novel is Lost Believers.

At Electric Lit Zhorov tagged eight books that reckon with the complicated legacy of the USSR, including:
Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov, translated by Boris Dralyuk

Sergey Sergeyich is a beekeeper living in a conflict zone in the Donbas region of Ukraine, where electricity has been off for years but shelling is relentless. When he decides to flee his home with his bees, he ends up in another conflict area, in Crimea. Along the way, he gets an education on Russian aggression, ethnic persecution and the cruelties of human nature. Russian violence in Ukraine has been a post-Soviet constant and this novel shows its effects on just a few lives.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Grey Bees is among Kalani Pickhart's eight books to better understand Ukraine, past & present.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 21, 2023

Eight books about intelligent sea creatures

James Sturz grew up in New York City, snorkeling in his bathtub and pretending the living room shag carpet was finger coral. Now based in Hawaii, he has covered the underwater world for The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, Outside, and Men’s Journal, among many publications. His fiction and journalism have been published in 18 countries and translated into nine languages. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Cornell University and is a PADI Divemaster, free diver, and Explorers Club Fellow. His first novel, Sasso, was set in the caves of Basilicata, Italy, very far from the water.

Sturz's new novel is Underjungle.

At Lit Hub he tagged eight books that "feature intelligent sea creatures who become part of our world, or else we enter theirs." One title on the list:
Ned Beauman, Venomous Lumpsucker

Behold the venomous lumpsucker: five-inches-long, greyish, googly-eyed, bumpy—and one of the most intelligent creatures on Beauman’s near-future version of the planet. Far nerdier than dangerous as individuals, they’re capable of killing out of revenge in schools, just because it makes them feel better. Now enter Karin Resaint, a Swiss-German animal-cognition scientist who has figured out how smart these little fish are and is determined to keep them alive as their habitat is threatened with destruction, while the Powers That Be speculate on the price of World Commission on Species Extinction credits and simultaneously try to rig that market. Which leads us to wonder who the real bottom-feeders are, and how any of us are to confront existential grief, in this rollicking, high-tech, and insidiously profound tale.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Five novels in which love conquers and sometimes destroys

T.M. Dunn is the author of three novels, Her Father's Daughter (2023), Last Stop On The 6 (2021,) and Rebels By Accident (2014). She has served as Senior Director of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, where she holds a MFA in creative writing, and currently coaches aspiring and established writers and teaches creative writing workshops.

At CrimeReads Dunn tagged five "novels where love drives characters to dangerous extremes," including:
Last, but many stuffed bookshelves from least, is The Dead Season, the first in the Shana Merchant series by Tessa Wegert. Shana’s love for her family, her work, and the need for justice to prevail, gives her the strength to conquer her severe PTSD, return to her hometown with its terrifying secrets, and confront the many demons of her past. This conquering-love that gives her the courage to do whatever it takes to take down a serial killer also leads to damaging choices that threaten to destroy her family, her career, and her mental state. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to say the serial killer’s love (in the way he can love) for Shana is the reason he survives his past and his psychotic state. There’s no question this love destroys—kills.

When asked the question of the day, “Does love conquer all but sometimes destroys, in Shana Merchant’s story, Wegert’s response was, “You might say that Shana sabotages her own life in order to save others over the course of every book in the series — and I agree that, in Shana’s case, love both conquers and destroys.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Dead Season.

The Page 69 Test: The Dead Season.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Ten novels about mad scientists

Akemi C. Brodsky is the author of The Brill Pill. She graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a bachelor of science, then moved to the UK to do a master’s in engineering at Imperial College London. She currently lives in the Bay Area and spends most of her spare time traveling, cooking, seeing family and friends, and watching TV.

At Electric Lit Brodsky tagged ten novels about mad scientists, including:
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Marina, a researcher for a pharmaceutical company, is sent from her quiet life in Minnesota to a remote village in the Amazon. She’s on a quest to uncover the mystery of a colleague who has died in the jungle and to track down her elusive former med school professor who is now in charge of the drug her company is developing. The premise is a lot! But it unwinds slowly and carefully and lets you in a little bit at a time, keeping you hooked on discovering what piece of the plot will unfold next. Scientists make up half of the cast and most of them have gone a little bit mad living in the Amazon, but the longer Marina stays, the more life there begins to make sense to her. This is a winding tale in the best sense, because you will never guess how it ends.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 18, 2023

Six top titles about historical heroines in fiction

Elizabeth Fremantle is the critically acclaimed author of four Tudor historical novels: Queen's Gambit (soon to be the feature film, Firebrand), Sisters of Treason, Watch the Lady, and The Girl in the Glass Tower. As E.C. Fremantle she has written two gripping historical thrillers: The Poison Bed and The Honey and the Sting.

Fremantle's newest novel, Disobedient, about the artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

At Lit Hub the author tagged six books about her "favorite historical heroines in fiction," including:
Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls

The Silence of the Girls tells the story of The Iliad from the perspective of the women of Troy, ripped from their homes to be enslaved by the besieging enemy. They are made to live in the soldiers’ encampment as the concubines of the warriors made famous by Homer. These women, mere shadows in that text, are brought to vivid life here—particularly Barker’s primary narrator, Briseis, won by Achilles as a prize, then stolen from him by Agamemnon, causing fatal conflict in the Greek camp.

Barker never balks from depicting the extreme violence of war. She weaves her narrative along Homeric lines yet shapes the conflict through the suffering and courage of the women, rather than the heroism of the men. Through Briseis’ story we are forced to face the grim fact that, even now, women continue to be used as the spoils of war.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Silence of the Girls is among Susan Stokes-Chapman's top ten novels inspired by Greek myths, Elodie Harper's six notable novels set in the ancient world, Abbie Greaves's ten top books about silence, and Kris Waldherr's ten favorite books inspired by mythology.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Top 10 books set in Cornwall

Emylia Hall lives in Bristol with her husband and son where she writes from a hut in the garden and dreams of the sea. The Shell House Detectives is the first novel in her new crime series, following the exploits of sleuthing duo Ally and Jayden and the people in and around the fictional village of Porthpella. The Harbour Lights Mystery – the second book in The Shell House Mystery series – will be published in October 2023, with the third to follow in Spring 2024. Described as Contemporary Cosy Crime, the series is inspired by her love of Cornwall’s wild landscape.

At the Guardian Hall tagged ten top books set in Cornwall, including:
The Lighthouse by PD James

Combe – a make-believe island off the Cornish coast – offers a secluded retreat for VIPs and the perfect setting for a locked-room mystery. While the crime here is far from cosy, I find this classy piece of detective fiction very comforting. James’s prose is cool and crisp, with the topography of the island as exactingly described as the interiors of the scattered cottages or the psychology of the suspects. The coastal stay proves transformational for Commander Dalgliesh and his city-dwelling team, despite the horrors that unfold: “gently and quietly Combe exerted its mysterious power.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Five top mysteries for performing arts lovers

Lynn Slaughter is addicted to chocolate, the arts, and her husband’s cooking. After a long career as a professional dancer and dance educator, she earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

Her award-winning novels include Deadly Setup and Leisha’s Song. She is also the author of It Should Have Been You, a Silver Falchion finalist, and While I Danced, an EPIC finalist.

The ridiculously proud mother of two sons and grandmother of five, she lives in Louisville, Kentucky where she is at work on her next novel and is an active member and former president of Derby Rotten Scoundrels, her local Sisters in Crime chapter.

Slaughter's new novel is Missed Cue.

At CrimeReads she tagged five memorable mysteries for performing arts lovers, including:
The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

Slocumb masterfully draws on his own background as a violinist to pen this page-turner about Ray McMillan, a determined young violinist who not only overcomes an unsupportive family but relentless racism and prejudice endemic to the classical music world. When Ray discovers that the family fiddle given to his great-great grandfather by his slave-holding master is actually a priceless Stradivarius, he and his violin take the concert world by storm. But shortly before the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, Ray’s violin is stolen. Heartbroken, Ray is determined to recover his treasured instrument and launches his own investigation. Suspects abound, but the truth about what happened to Ray’s violin is something he never expected.

I could not put this book down, not only because of its twists and turns as a mystery, but for its insider’s view of the devastating impact of racism. Moreover, Slocumb’s lyrical, poetic descriptions of Ray’s experiences playing music are unforgettable. A genuinely remarkable debut!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Ten titles portraying a search for truth

Babak Lakghomi is the author of South (2023) and Floating Notes (2018). His fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, NOON, Ninth Letter, New York Tyrant, The Adroit Journal, and Green Mountains Review, and has been translated into Italian and Farsi.

Lakghomi was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives and writes in Toronto.

At Electric Lit he tagged ten "stories that play with form to portray the difficulty of accessing reality." One title on the list:
Missing Person by Patrick Modiano

The winner of the Prix Goncourt, Missing Person is the story of an amnesiac detective, Guy Roland, who starts a search for his identity and his past after his boss shuts down the detective agency he has been working at for the last eight years. Following elements of a typical detective thriller, the novel is at once an investigation of the nature of self, and a reflection on collective erasure and amnesia in the aftermath of the French occupation.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 14, 2023

Five top thriller & horror books with “House” in the title

Sara Flannery Murphy is the author of the novels The Possessions and Girl One. She grew up in Arkansas, studied library science in British Columbia, and received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in Utah with her husband and their two sons.

Her newest novel is The Wonder State.

[My Book, The Movie: The Possessions; The Page 69 Test: The Possessions; Writers Read: Sara Flannery Murphy (March 2017); Q&A with Sara Flannery Murphy]

At Shepherd Murphy tagged five of the best thriller and horror books with “House” in the title, including:
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

If you’ve ever explored an abandoned building, you know what it feels like to approach House of Leaves. This book clocks in at over 700 pages, and it took me a while to work up the courage to dive in.

Danielewski’s groundbreaking horror novel strips away the safety of just reading a story by dragging you right across the book’s threshold. House of Leaves is a difficult book to summarize, but one of the chief plotlines follows The Navidson Record, a documentary about a family’s increasingly strange experiences in their house. The structure has dimensions that don’t add up, including ominous hallways and staircases.

Just like the house in the book takes on unexpected shapes, the book in your hands also defies expectations. For me, this created a deeply unnerving, immersive reading experience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

House of Leaves is among Michael J. Seidlinger's eight most genuinely terrifying novels ever written.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Twelve titles on the dark side of the Jazz Age

Born in Chicago and a graduate of the University of Michigan, Nancy Bilyeau moved to New York City to work in the magazine business as a writer and editor. After working for publications ranging from Rolling Stone to Good Housekeeping, she turned to fiction. She wrote the Joanna Stafford trilogy, a trio of thrillers set in Henry VIII’s England, for Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. Her fourth novel is The Blue, an 18th-century thriller revolving around the art & porcelain world. Her latest novel, The Orchid Hour, returns to the early 20th century New York City of her novel Dreamland to once again tell a story of suspense revolving around a compelling heroine.

[My Book, The Movie: The Tapestry; Writers Read: Nancy Bilyeau (February 2012)]

At CrimeReads Bilyeau tagged twelve "books that look at the grit beneath the glamour of the 1920s," including:
Shrines of Gaiety, by Kate Atkinson

While there was no Prohibition in Great Britain, nightclubs flourished and set the scene for the country’s own version of the Jazz Age, with celebrants desperate to escape their memories of the Great War. The most fascinating character is nightlife queen Nellie Coker–inspired by the famed 1920s club owner Kate Meyrick—but there are many other compelling characters in this gorgeously written novel that some critics have dubbed “Dickensian.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Seven titles with a dark playfulness

Arianna Reiche is a Bay Area-born writer living in east London. Her award-winning fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Ambit magazine, Joyland, and Popshot, and her features have been published by New Scientist, USA Today, VICE, The Wall Street Journal, and Vogue. She researches metafiction and lectures in interactive media at City, University of London.

Reiche's new novel is At the End of Every Day.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven "books with a dark playfulness, with settings of strange innocence or nostalgia," including:
Maeve Fly by CJ Leede

Books hyped by HorrorTok that manage to exceed expectations are few and far between— but CJ Leede’s Easton Ellis-esque debut about a deranged flâneuse who moonlights as a theme park princess is a triumph. Maeve Fly—the emotionally bereft granddaughter of a former Hollywood starlet who finds herself navigating friendships and nemeses as she grapples with some, shall we say, troubling compulsions—is a heroine whose hellish laissez faire brings to mind Brand New Cherry Flavor’s Lisa Nova or one of Evelyn Waugh’s eponymous vile bodies—cool and unmoored, the perfect lens through which to view the gorey acid trip that is Leede’s Los Angeles—mouse ears and all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Maeve Fly is among Molly Odintz's six novels featuring female psycho serial killers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 11, 2023

Five top suburban thrillers

Kia Abdullah is a bestselling author and travel writer. Her novels include Take It Back, a Guardian and Telegraph thriller of the year, Truth Be Told, which was shortlisted for a Diverse Book Award, and Next of Kin which was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and won the Adult Fiction Diverse Book Award 2022.

Her new novel, Those People Next Door [US title: Perfectly Nice Neighbors], is out now.

At the Waterstones blog Abdullah tagged five favorite suburban thrillers, including:
All That's Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

Journalist Ky Tran receives a phone call that breaks her life apart. Her brother, Denny – smart, sweet, guileless Denny – has been brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta. There were plenty of witnesses, so surely the killer will be easily collared. When Ky returns home for the funeral, however, she learns that the police are at a loss. Each of the diners in the restaurant that night claims that they saw nothing. Who are they all protecting and why? This suburb isn’t upscale like the others but is just as cloistered, and Ky struggles to find any answers. Part gripping mystery, part portrait of trauma and displacement, All That's Left Unsaid was my book of the year in 2022.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Top 10 locked-room thrillers

Will Dean, author of The Last Thing to Burn, which was shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, grew up in the East Midlands of the United Kingdom. After studying law at the London School of Economics and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden where he built a wooden house in a vast forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes. His debut novel, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball’s book club on ITV, shortlisted for the National Book Award (UK), The Guardian’s Not the Booker prize, and was named a Telegraph book of the year. His latest thriller is The Last One.

At CrimeReads Dean tagged ten top locked-room thrillers, including:

If you haven’t read the Sean Duffy books yet… why not? One of my favourite series, these detective novels have it all: atmospheric tension (they are set in Belfast during The Troubles), humour, warmth, and superb writing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Alice Feeney's seven top locked room mysteries, Tom Mead's ten best locked-room mysteries, Jeff Somers's six best locked-room mysteries and ten best sci-fi locked-room mysteries, and Adrian McKinty's ten top locked-room mysteries.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Seven titles about men breaking hearts & acting despicably

Hannah Sloane was born and raised in England. She read history at the University of Bristol. She moved to New York in her twenties and she lives in Brooklyn with her partner, Sam.

The Freedom Clause is her debut novel.

At Electric Lit Sloane tagged seven novels "about men breaking hearts and acting despicably," including:
Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Poor Jane. Initially, Mr. Rochester seems like a total catch (they always do). He’s intelligent and affluent and he treats her as an equal. He only asks that she ignore the strange noises coming from the top floor of his home. But on their wedding day, Jane learns Mr. Rochester is married and—it gets worse—he keeps Bertha, his wife, in the attic. He tries to pass this off with a simple explanation (Bertha is mad!) and proposes a new plan (Jane move to France as his mistress!) but Jane doesn’t find this compelling, and neither do we. Oh sure, Bertha is “mad.” Is she also “shrill” and “hysterical,” Mr. Rochester?

In wonderfully karmic news, Mr. Rochester does pay a price for his behavior, losing an arm and an eye in a fire started by Bertha, making him the lesser known and rarely seen of all the f boys: the reformed f boy. He learned his lesson to treat people nicely the hard way which is why Jane eventually does marry him. He is, at last, worthy of her.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Jane Eyre also made Aidan Cottrell-Boyce's top ten list of novels and stories about prophets, Jane Shemilt's list of five books that trace the portrayal of mental disorders in literature, Lucy Ellmann's top ten list of gripes in literature, Elizabeth Brooks’s list of ten of the creepiest gothic novels, Kate Kellaway's list of the best romantic novels that aren’t riddled with cliches, Julia Spiro's list of seven titles told from the perspective of domestic workers, Jane Healey's list of five favorite gothic romances, Annaleese Jochems's list of the great third wheels of literature, Sara Collins's list of six of fiction's best bad women, Sophie Hannah's list of fifteen top books with a twist, E. Lockhart's list of five favorite stories about women labeled “difficult,” Sophie Hannah's top ten list of twists in fiction, Gail Honeyman's list of five of her favorite idiosyncratic characters, Kate Hamer's top ten list of books about adopted children, a list of four books that changed Vivian Gornick, Meredith Borders's list of ten of the scariest gothic romances, Esther Inglis-Arkell's top ten list of the most horribly mistreated first wives in Gothic fiction, Martine Bailey’s top six list of the best marriage plots in novels, Radhika Sanghani's top ten list of books to make sure you've read before graduating college, Lauren Passell's top five list of Gothic novels, Molly Schoemann-McCann's lists of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance and five of the best--and more familiar--tropes in fiction, Becky Ferreira's lists of seven of the best fictional depictions of female friendship and the top six most momentous weddings in fiction, Julia Sawalha's six best books list, Honeysuckle Weeks's six best books list, Kathryn Harrison's list of six favorite books with parentless protagonists, Megan Abbott's top ten list of novels of teenage friendship, a list of Bettany Hughes's six best books, the Guardian's top 10 lists of "outsider books" and "romantic fiction;" it appears on Lorraine Kelly's six best books list, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, and Jessica Duchen's top ten list of literary Gypsies, and on John Mullan's lists of ten of the best governesses in literature, ten of the best men dressed as women, ten of the best weddings in literature, ten of the best locked rooms in literature, ten of the best pianos in literature, ten of the best breakfasts in literature, ten of the best smokes in fiction, and ten of the best cases of blindness in literature. It is one of Kate Kellaway's ten best love stories in fiction.

The Page 99 Test: Jane Eyre.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Five books exploring twisted mother/daughter relationships

Sarah Pekkanen is the #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of four novels of suspense including The Golden Couple and The Wife Between Us, and the solo author of the thriller Gone Tonight. A passionate volunteer for rescue animals, she serves as an Ambassador for RRSA India and works hands-on in India to heal and vaccinate street dogs. She lives just outside of Washington, D.C., with her family.

Pekkanen's new novel is Gone Tonight.

At CrimeReads she tagged five "creepy, scary or just plain strange mother-daughter stories," including:
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

This isn’t your typical mother-daughter story, but I had to include it because the relationship is so beautifully crafted. Hannah Hall’s new husband Owen has a teenage daughter from a previous marriage—and despite Hannah’s best efforts, her stepdaughter completely rejects her. That is, until Owen goes missing and the two women who love him most team up together to find answers. The scare factor in this book comes from the outside, but the inner heart is the story of the slowly developing relationship between Hannah and her new stepdaughter, Baily.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 7, 2023

Seven books where animal companions steal the show

Holly James holds a PhD in psychology and has worked in both academia and the tech industry. She loves telling stories with big hearts and a touch of magic. She currently lives in Southern California with her husband and dog.

Her debut Nothing But The Truth published in 2022.

James's new novel is The Déjà Glitch.

At Lit Hub she tagged seven "books with memorable [four-legged] sidekicks that nosed their way into my heart." One title on the list:
Kate Clayborn, Georgie All Along

After years as a personal assistant in Hollywood, Georgie Mulcahy finds herself unemployed and moving back to her small hometown in Virginia when her boss retires. Used to putting everyone else first and suddenly at a loss for what she wants in life, she stumbles upon a journal she wrote as a teenager with all the plans she had for an exciting future.

Using the journal as a guide, she sets out on a new path until she hits an unexpected detour when she meets Levi Fanning, the once town bad boy and current brooding recluse. When Levi offers to help Georgie with her quest, and after seeing him interact with his equally misunderstood but lovable rescue pit bull Hank, she realizes there is much more to him than his reputation, and he might be what she’s been looking for all along.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Nine titles to read after watching "Oppenheimer"

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged nine books to read after watching Oppenheimer, including:
Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Pick up this graphic book that gives you a new perspective on the history of the atomic bomb. Taking readers directly into a nuclear reaction and the process of building the weapon, this is a powerful rendering of the events leading up to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and lingering effects of the invention.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Eight titles about friendships with wealth disparities

Julia Fine is the author of The Upstairs House, winner of the Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, and What Should Be Wild, which was
shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior First Novel.

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

Fine's third novel, Maddalena and the Dark, was released in June 2023. She teaches writing in Chicago, where she lives with her family.

At Electric Lit Fine tagged eight books about friendships with wealth disparities, including:
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Sometimes your friend is also your boyfriend, who unbeknownst to you just so happens to be from an obscenely wealthy family. As Rachel follows Nick home to Singapore and the previously undisclosed family palace, she fends off skeptical mothers and snobby friends, navigating wild opulence and old-seated rivalries. Luckily she has Peik Lin, her best friend from college, who might be “unsophisticated” New Money but knows how to shower Rachel with expensive clothing. While Nick’s family sends Rachel on a rollercoaster ride, her bond with Peik Lin stays steady.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Crazy Rich Asians is among Joseph Finder's seven best books about dysfunctional rich families.

--Marshal Zeringue