Saturday, September 30, 2023

Eight books revolving around a historical collective trauma

Etaf Rum was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, by Palestinian immigrants. She lives in North Carolina with her two children.

Rum also runs the Instagram account @booksandbeans.

A Woman Is No Man is her first novel. Her new novel is Evil Eye.

At Lit Hub she tagged eight books in which "trauma is a central theme that shapes the lives of the characters and influences their choices, relationships, and identities." One title on the list:
Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Trauma is portrayed through the lens of family dynamics and the long-lasting effects of childhood experiences. The novel explores how the trauma of a dysfunctional family affects the choices and emotional well-being of its members throughout their lives.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is among Julie Myerson's six top family gatherings from literature, four books that changed Stephen Giles, and Peggy Frew’s top ten books about "bad" mothers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 29, 2023

Five notable novels about war

Audrey Gale long dreamed of being a writer, but never anticipated the circuitous road she’d take to get there. After twenty-plus years in the banking industry, she grew tired of corporate gamesmanship and pursued her master’s in fiction writing at the University of Southern California. Her first novel, a legal thriller entitled The Sausage Maker’s Daughters, was published under the name A.G.S. Johnson. Her second, The Human Trial, is the first book in a medical-thriller trilogy inspired by Gale’s own experiences with the gap between traditional medicine and approaches based on the findings of the great physicists of the 20th Century, like Einstein and Bohr.

At CrimeReads Gale tagged "five novels centered around war, mostly the Second World War, that focus on the crimes of the millions, both victims and perpetrators/accessories, into the small personal stories of individuals caught in the rip currents." One title on the list:
The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

It might be obvious that I love large, sweeping epics that carry one through time and lots of geographical space. All great books to me are a vacation. This novel’s view of invading and retaking Italy during WWII is gloriously portrayed in the unexpected romance between a nurse and a bomb-defusing specialist. While the nurse cares for a terminal (English) patient, the couple attempts to eek out life amid the chaos, danger, and ruins, knowing any moment could be the last. Thus, each moment they have becomes precious to the reader as well, in their terror and utter beauty.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The English Patient also made Emily Mitchell's list of five top historical novels to remind you how strange the past really was, Cathy Rentzenbrink's list of the top ten bookworms in fiction, Eli Goldstone's ten top list of secrets in fiction, Sarah Moss's top ten list of hospital novels, Robert Allison's top ten list of novels of desert war, Joel Cunningham's list of sixteen book-to-movie adaptations that won Academy Awards, Pico Iyer's top five list of books on crossing cultures, John Mullan's list of ten of the best deserts in literature and Jane Ciabattari's list of five masterpiece stories that worked as films.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Eight titles using television as a plot device

Nora Fussner has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from CUNY Brooklyn College. Prior to moving to western Pennsylvania, she lived in Brooklyn and taught for eight years for CUNY Start, an intensive developmental reading and writing program at Kingsborough Community College. Since moving to Pittsburgh in 2018, she has taught for the University of Pittsburgh.

The Invisible World was partially inspired by a freelance job she held while pursuing her MFA, working as a logger on several reality shows including The Haunted on Animal Planet and Psychic Kids on A&E.

Fussner grew up in a 200+ year old house but, sadly, never found evidence of a haunting.

She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their senior dog, Karly.

At Electric Lit Fussner tagged "eight novels about characters who are on TV, want to be on TV, or use television to in some way figure themselves out." One title on the list:
Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

A highly anticipated release of 2023, Adjei-Brenyah’s novel takes place in a near-future in which the most popular form of entertainment is “hard action-sports”: literal death-matches between incarcerated individuals who trade in the remainders of their sentences for the chance at freedom, purchased in Blood Points accumulated by killing one another in gladiator-style battles. Participants, known as Links, team up in Chains named after prisons to fight Chains from other prisons. The matches themselves are ticketed events, only viewed live. But the Links spend days marching between Battlegrounds, trips that are livestreamed via small, floating drone-like cameras/microphones, so that conversations, meals, even baths are captured and viewed by millions. The novel is layered with chapters from the perspectives not only of Links but also those of viewers, protestors who believe that action-sports are inhumane, and board members who oversee the regulations of matches. The narration is sprinkled throughout by footnotes that provide facts and statistics on the prison system, reminding readers of the very real human costs of entertainment.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Five books that reckon with illness and time

Maria Smilios's new book is The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis. She learned about the Black Angels while working as a science book editor at Springer Publishing. As a native New Yorker and lover of history, medicine, and women’s narratives, she became determined to tell their story. In addition to interviewing historians, archivists, and medical professionals, she spent years immersed in the lives and stories of those close to these extraordinary women. Smilios holds a master of arts in religion and literature from Boston University, where she was a Luce scholar and taught in the religion and writing program.

At Lit Hub Smilios tagged "five books [that] reckon with time and mortality in different ways," including:
Elizabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Elizabeth Tova Bailey’s memoir The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, is a gorgeous meditation on finding meaning while suffering from a punishing illness. This slim 120-page book opens with a fantastic scene in which her friend brings a snail to put in the violet plant on her nightstand. Bedridden with a bacterial infection, Bailey is confused by the gift as she has little interest in snails. There she is, stuck with a body that’s gone haywire, a tiny snail, her mind, which “runs like a bloodhound,” and the daunting task of finding ways to “get through each moment.”

To her surprise, as the snail settles in and she continues contemplating her life, she develops a fascination with the tiny nocturnal creature who “moved leisurely,” who pondered “its circumstances,” “waved its tentacles,” and could even be heard as it ate! Soon it becomes her companion, a guide releasing her from the tedium of human visitors and leading her from the white walls of her room into another world: “If life mattered to the snail and the snail mattered to me, it meant something in my life mattered, so I kept on…”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Five crime titles featuring law enforcement professionals who aren't detectives

Brooke Robinson is professional playwright who has had her work produced at London’s Vault Festival and the Old Vic, among others. She grew up in Sydney, Australia, and has worked as a bookseller, university administrator, and playwright there and in the UK. She started writing The Interpreter, her first novel, when the pandemic ground the theatre world to a halt, and is currently working on her second novel.

[Q&A with Brooke Robinson; The Page 69 Test: The Interpreter]

At CrimeReads Robinson tagged five crime novels featuring interpreters, transcribers, and other invisible law enforcement professionals, including:
Like [Hannah] Morrissey, author Sheila Lowe is a graphologist who brings her unique professional experience to her books. In Poison Pen, the death of a Hollywood publicist is ruled a suicide, but the victim’s partner is convinced it was murder. In most crime fiction novels, this is the point at which a private investigator would be hired to look around, but in Lowe’s book, it’s forensic handwriting expert Claudia Rose who gets the job, and she starts by analysing the scrawl of the apparent suicide note.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 25, 2023

Seven dark & thrilling novels about women who kill

Laura Picklesimer is the author of the novel Kill for Love by Unnamed Press. The book was the winner of the Launch Pad Prose Competition 2021 Top Book Prize and the Book Pipeline 2020 Grand Prize for Best Thriller/Mystery. Picklesimer’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, the Arkansas International, the Santa Ana River Review, and Gold Man Review, among other publications. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from UCLA and an MFA in Fiction from Cal State Long Beach.

At Electric Lit Picklesimer tagged seven books that "feature women who kill, some for revenge and many just for the hell of it." One title on the list:
#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar

A fiendish blend of The Devil Wears Prada, Heathers and Scream Queens, Akhtar’s novel revels in satirizing the fashion industry and its impossible, Westernized beauty standards. The plot delivers pulpy, gory camp as narrator and fashion editor Anya St. Clair stops at nothing to rise amid the fashion ranks at the fictional New York magazine La Vie. She quickly sets her sights on her colleague Sarah, and Anya’s increasingly unhinged obsession with befriending her work rival sets in motion a succession of elaborately staged and hilarious murders that involve everything from spiked heels to poisoned tampons.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Twenty-five of the best & scariest horror books ever

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged twenty-five "must-read, truly bone-chilling" horror books, including:
The Changeling by Victor LaValle

A dark fairytale for modern audiences, this is Victor LaValle (Lone Women) at his storytelling best. The Changeling pulls you into Apollo and Emma’s world, weaving themes of corruption with ancient folklore, preternatural love and an undercurrent of facing our monsters. Read it before the TV series. Read it after the TV series. Read it if you’ve read it before. It’s a story worth staying lost in.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Changeling is among Nat Cassidy's eight top unconventional coming-of-age horror novels, Benjamin Percy's top five novels about dangerous plants, James Han Mattson's five top dark and disturbing reads, A.K. Larkwood's five tense books that blend sci-fi and horror, Leah Schnelbach's ten sci-fi and fantasy must-reads from the 2010s, T. Marie Vandelly's top ten suspenseful horror novels featuring domestic terrors and C.J. Tudor's six thrillers featuring missing, mistaken, or "changed" children.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Five titles to awaken your inner ballerina

Charley Burlock writes for Oprah Daily about authors, writing, and reading. Her work has been featured in the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Review, Agni, and on the Apple News Today podcast. She is currently completing an MFA in creative nonfiction at NYU and working on an book about the intersection of grief, landscape, and urban design.

At Oprah Daily she tagged five ballet-themed "books that range from a steamy page-turner to a raw memoir to a searing investigation." One title on the list:
The Wind at My Back, by Misty Copeland

When Misty Copeland became the first Black principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theatre’s history, she opened a door for countless others to chassé in behind her. In her latest memoir, Copeland introduces us to the woman in whose satin footsteps she followed: Raven Wilkinson. In 1955, Wilkinson became the first Black woman to sign with a major ballet company. But only in 2010 does Copeland stumble across a short interview with her, slipped into a documentary like an “interesting footnote.” The younger dancer had never heard Wilkinson’s name; Wilkinson didn’t have so much as a Wikipedia entry. Eventually, Copeland tracked down this trailblazer, and the two formed a decades-long mentorship relationship that transformed both of their lives and the history of the art form. With startling humility and intense tenderness, Copeland pushes back on the myth of individual achievement in a culture of mass discrimination: “Because there are so many barriers left to break, we are completely dependent on one another and the person on whose shoulders we stand owns our ‘firsts’ as much as we do.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 22, 2023

Ten titles with twists you won’t see coming

Maggie Giles is the Canadian author of The Things We Lost. Her writing interests span across a variety of genres, but she focuses on women’s fiction with suspense elements. A member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, she enjoys creating new connections and experiencing new opportunities.

Giles's new novel is Twisted.

At CrimeReads she tagged ten books in which the "authors masterfully leave clues and hints that cause the reader to look another way while subtly hiding the truth behind excellent prose and well-drawn characters." One title on the list:
You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon

A man wakes up on a beach but can’t remember a thing. He has no idea who he is or where he came from. In the same town, Lily’s boyfriend Jack goes for a late-night swim and never comes home. Nearby another woman, Maya, has been searching for her brother for two years. Both women believe the man to be the one they are looking for. He only wants to know what really happened.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: You Will Remember Me.

The Page 69 Test: You Will Remember Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Eight ghostly short novels in translation

Nghiem Tran was born in Vietnam and raised in Kansas. He is a Kundiman fellow, and he has received degrees from Vassar College and Syracuse University.

We’re Safe When We’re Alone is his debut novella.

At Electric Lit he tagged eight short books in which "grief, violence, death, and loneliness transform realistic settings from all around the world into dreamlike, haunting landscapes." One title on the list:
Space Invaders by Nona Fernández, Translated by Natasha Wimmer

A group of childhood friends grow up under the Pinochet dictatorship in 1980s Chile. One day a new classmate, Estrella González arrives at their school, and they quickly grow fond of her and bring her into the group. However, her father is a government officer in the regime and ends up committing violent crimes against members of the opposition. Afterward, Estrella withdraws from school and disappears with her family from her friends’ lives.

As the children turn into adults, they are haunted by dreams and questions about Estrella’s fate. The constant threat of violence from the dictatorship pervades the atmosphere, but what makes this book remarkable is the friends’ insistence on remembering the innocence of their childhood bonds. No matter how much their environment tries to crush their humanity, they speak in a lucid, dreamlike language that strengthens their devotion to one another.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Ten top books on climate change

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged ten books to read to better understand climate change, including:
Of Time and Turtles: Mending the World, Shell by Shattered Shell by Sy Montgomery, illustrator Matt Patterson

Never give up on a turtle. This motto of the Turtle Rescue League’s founders might have you asking: what is it about turtles that inspires such devotion? Bestselling author Sy Montgomery (The Soul of an Octopus) answers that question in this compassionate and curious blend of memoir and natural science....
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Nine thrillers set in remote island locations

Anna Porter’s most recent book is Gull Island, a haunting psychological suspense novel. She is the author of five non-fiction books, including In Other Words: How I Fell in Love with Canada One Book at a Time, Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy, The Ghosts of Europe, winner of the Shaughnessey Cohen Prize for Political Writing, Kasztner’s Train: The True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust, winner of the 2007 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Award and of the Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction, and the The Storyteller: A Memoir of Secrets, Magic and Lies. She has also written five other novels: The Appraisal, Hidden Agenda, Mortal Sins, and Bookfair Murders, which was made into a feature film.

At CrimeReads Porter tagged nine "thrillers that take advantage of remote island settings to build suspense," including:
J. T. Ellison, Her Dark Lies

A beautiful island in the Mediterranean, warm summer breezes, an elegant villa built high on the rocks overlooking the azure ocean, must be the perfect setting for a dream wedding. Or for a murder. The groom’s wealthy family and the wedding guests are not alone. Some ghastly menace inhabits island. Clare and Jack are in love. She is ready to ignore the mysterious death of his first wife and he is ready to accept a rebel-artist into his more traditional life. They have everything to look forward to. Or do they? As a storm moves in and the tension mounts, readers will be propelled to the shocking end.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Her Dark Lies is among Anna Snoekstra's eEight top taut thrillers set over three days or fewer and Amanda Jayatissa's seven best thrillers set at weddings.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 18, 2023

Nine titles about women’s loneliness

Cleo Qian (she/her) is a fiction writer and poet from California. She received her MFA from NYU. Her work has appeared in over 20 outlets; was a winner of the Zoetrope: All Story Short Fiction Competition; has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, twice longlisted for the DISQUIET Prize, and supported by Sundress Academy for the Arts. By day, she works at a nonprofit and reads self-help articles on how to be happy.

Her debut short story collection is Let's Go Let's Go Let's Go.

At Electric Lit Qian tagged nine books about women’s loneliness and the search for connection, including:
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

Katie Kitamura is an expert at subtle affect and building tension under a minimalist surface: sparse sentences, spare plot. Intimacies, following a woman who moves to The Hague to work as a court interpreter during a trial for a prominent war criminal, is laden with the knowledge of separation between self and others that so often creates alienation. This includes her relationship with Aidan, a married man with whom she begins an affair that she suspects can go nowhere. This narrator, however, is more accepting of this alienation than other protagonists on this list—and it is with this clinical detachment and self-awareness of the boundaries between which we can connect to others that the murky, sometimes sinister intimacies of this novel plays out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Thirteen notable wilderness novels

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged thirteen "gritty stories of survival and ambition [to] take you on sometimes harrowing — and often exhilarating — journeys," including:
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

The inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film, this desolate and sprawling book matches the landscape in which it’s set — the Texas border. In the wake of a drug deal gone wrong, the lives of three men are tied together in a dangerous web. This book is violent and unrelenting, but readers will be drawn into the book’s web right along with the characters. 
Learn about the other entries on the list.

No Country For Old Men is among Paula Hawkins's five novels with criminal acts at their core, Lou Berney's top ten fugitive stories that master survival and suspense, Chris Ewan's top ten chases in literature, Mark Watson's ten top hotel novels, Matt Kraus's top six famous books with extremely faithful film adaptations, Allegra Frazier's five favorite fictional gold diggers, Kimberly Turner's ten most disturbing sociopaths in literature, and Elmore Leonard's ten favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Five notable international action thrillers

Tori Eldridge is the national bestselling author of the Lily Wong mystery thriller series including The Ninja Daughter, The Ninja's Blade, and The Ninja Betrayed.

[The Page 69 Test: The Ninja Daughter]

She is a two-time Anthony Award nominee, Lefty and Macavity Awards finalist, and winner of the 2021 Crimson Scribe Award for Best Book of the Year.

The latest Lily Wong thriller is The Ninja's Oath.

At CrimeReads Eldridge tagged five favorite international action thrillers, including:
Cave 13 by Jonathan Maberry (Rogue Team International, Book 3)

The Rogue Team International series takes Mayberry’s hero, Joe Ledger, a former Baltimore cop and Echo Team leader, away from the U.S. Department of Military Science into an international team of troubleshooters led by Mr. Church. Having penned the ten-book Joe Ledger Series and numerous short stories and anthologies centered around Joe Ledger’s world, all of Maberry’s characters run deep. He’s known for his science-based fiction, heart-wrenching emotion, and hard-driving action. In CAVE 13, Joe Ledger and his RTI team plunge into a deadly arms race between Middle East terrorist groups and multinational corporations out to use ancient magic found along with the Dead Sea Scrolls as a 21st Century WMD. Readers can dive straight into CAVE 13, but the first two books in this series, RAGE and RELENTLESS, are too good to miss.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 15, 2023

Seven titles about women committing acts of violence

A queer writer and Irish-American dual citizen, Francesca McDonnell Capossela grew up in New York City and holds an M. Phil from Trinity College Dublin. Her publication credits include the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Point Magazine, Banshee, Columbia Journal, Guesthouse (forthcoming), and two anthologies: Dark Matter Presents: Human Monsters (2022) and Teaching Nabokov’s Lolita in the #MeToo Era (2021).

Her first novel, Trouble the Living, is out now. She lives in Brooklyn with her dog, Lyra.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books "in which women have twisted desires or commit acts of vengeance in the name of some greater cause. These are books that flip the paradigm we’ve learned—bad man, battered woman—on its head, and show women as devastatingly powerful and wonderfully, frighteningly violent." One title on the list:
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

It’s hard to fully express the ingenuity of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead without spoiling anything. The novel follows an elderly woman living alone in a rural Polish town and a string of strange murders. Filled with allusions to Blake (like the title), tongue-in-cheek astrological interpretations, and a deep love for animals—especially the narrator’s dog—the book would be delightful even without the final, delicious twist. Ultimately, this is a book about how we treat each other and what we each deserve. And, of course, it’s a book about what women are capable of, how they exert autonomy, how they are seen by their neighbors, and what darkness lives inside them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Seven crime novels set in Las Vegas

Robert Swartwood is the USA Today bestselling author of The Serial Killer’s Wife, The Calling, Man of Wax, and several other novels. His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, The Daily Beast, ChiZine, Space and Time, Postscripts, and PANK. He created the term “hint fiction” and is the editor of Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer. He lives with his wife in Pennsylvania.

Swartwood's new novel is The Killing Room

[Q&A with Robert Swartwood; The Page 69 Test: The Killing Room]

At CrimeReads he tagged seven crime novels set in Sin City, including:
Skim Deep by Max Allan Collins

Retired world-class thief Nolan is living the straight life, running a restaurant and night club, and when he proposes to his longtime girlfriend, they head to Vegas for a quick wedding and honeymoon. But the honeymoon is short-lived when Nolan is grabbed by men at a casino because they think he’s casing the joint—and that’s just the start of the couple’s troubles.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Nine top books about the American frontier

Peter Stark is an adventure and exploration writer and historian. Born in Wisconsin, he studied English and anthropology at Dartmouth College, took a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, and headed off to the remote spots of the world writing magazine articles and books.

His book Astoria was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for a PEN USA literary award, and was adapted into an epic, two-part play by Portland Center Stage in Portland, Oregon. His Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged the Founding Father was a finalist for the 2019 George Washington Book Prize.

Stark's newest book is Gallop Toward the Sun: Tecumseh and William Henry Harrison's Struggle for the Destiny of a Nation.

At Lit Hub he tagged nine essential books about the American frontier, including:
James Welch, Fools Crow

As a counterpoint to this world of struggling white “sodbusters” on the Great Plains that recently had supported millions of buffalos and tribes who hunted them, one could read James Welch’s novel Fools Crow (1986). As a member of the Blackfeet Nation (located in today’s Montana), Welch immerses the reader in the world of a young Blackfeet male coming of age in the years around the Civil War as white hunters, soldiers, and settlers press in around his traditional way of life. The late Welch’s work generally, and his Fools Crow in particular, have inspired a new generation of younger Native writers.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Ten books that portray educators with nuance

Sarah Beddow is a poet, essayist, and mother. She is the author of the memoir-in-poems Dispatches from Frontier Schools and the chapbook What's pink & shiny/what's dark & hard. Her poems and essays have appeared in Bone Bouquet, Birdcoat Quarterly, Rogue Agent, Lunch Ticket, and elsewhere, and she is on the board of Awesome Pittsburgh, which grants money — cold hard cash with no strings attached - to fund awesome projects in the Pittsburgh area.

At Electric Lit Beddow tagged ten books that "portray educators with nuance, demystifying the job and demonstrating that it is a deeply human endeavor." One title on the list:
Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West

From the emotional-support Nalgene bottle and handouts hot from the photocopier to the student who knocks on the door the moment a teacher settles in to get her grading done, Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes nails the details of teachers’ daily lives. I was hardly surprised to learn that author Kathleen West is a veteran teacher. The novel tells the story of how Isobel Johnson, an English teacher with a social justice mission, and Julia Abbott, a theatre mom who simply cannot keep her nose out of her kid’s life, both find themselves targets in the gossipy, politicking world of a high-achieving, suburban school district. Both Isobel and Julia make mistakes—some of them quite disastrous—but the story makes clear that their aim is always what is best for the kids.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 11, 2023

Eight mysteries & thrillers set in the wellness industry

Jamie Lee Sogn is a Filipina American author who grew up in Olympia, Washington, studied Anthropology and Psychology at the University of Washington and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Oregon School of Law. She lives in Seattle with her husband, son, and Boston Terrier.

Sogn's new novel is Salthouse Place.

At CrimeReads she tagged eight mysteries and thrillers that take a look at the dark side of wellness. One title on the list.
Goddess by Deborah Hemming

A perfect end of summer read, this novel takes the reader to a remote Greek isle where the main character, Agnes, has been invited to a summit for a popular lifestyle and wellness brand. The founder is an actress, now guru, who promises self-care and transformation through her program. Never mind the therapy is controversial and wildly expensive. When Agnes begins to witness unexplainable things, she digs deeper to find out the shocking secret behind who her guru really is and what she really has in store for Agnes and the other summit guests.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Five titles with devilishly dangerous fairy deals

Trip Galey was born in the United States but has now lived in the United Kingdom for over half a decade. He has a Masters from the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon and a doctorate in Creative Writing, and is a lecturer on the subject in Cambridge, with a focus on sci-fi and fantasy. He has had short stories and articles published in numerous places, such as a multi-award-nominated queer SFF anthology from Neon Hemlock Press, and his first interactive novel came out in 2021 from Choice of Games. He lives in London with his partner.

Galey's new novel is A Market of Dreams and Destiny.

At he tagged five "favourite modern fantasies prominently featuring fairy bargains of one kind or another," including:
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly — Featuring The Crooked Man

After David loses his mother to a terrible wasting disease, she is replaced by both a new stepmother and a new half-brother. But David can still hear his mother’s voice, and one day he wriggles through a hole in the brickwork of his stepmother’s home and finds himself in a strange fairyland.

Getting back might be easy, and getting back with his mother at his side, alive and well once more, might be easier still, provided David is willing to make a simple deal with The Crooked Man (a terrifying fey figure known for stealing children). All he would need to do is speak his little half-brother’s name aloud to The Crooked Man. Simple.

But David is well-read in fairy stories (boy, can I relate to that!). He knows how dangerous bargains like this can be. And so he chooses to try and fight his way home the hard way. Remember that, should you yourself ever have dealings with the darker of the Good Folk: sometimes the wisest deal is not striking any bargain at all.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Seven realistic portraits of mothers & daughters in literature

Jill Talbot is the author of The Last Year: Essays (2023). She’s also the author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir (2015) and Loaded: Women and Addiction (2007), the co-editor of The Art of Friction: Where (Non)Fictions Come Together (2008), and the editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction (2012). Her craft book, The Essay Form(s), will be published in 2024.

At Lit Hub Talbot tagged seven realistic portraits of mothers and daughters in literature, including:
The opening chapter of Sarah Perry’s After the Eclipse: A Memoir begins, “I want to tell you about my mother.” The memoir alternates between chapters labeled “before” and “after,” a reference to the night Perry’s mother was murdered in their home as young Sarah, only twelve, hid in her bedroom. The memoir subverts the true crime genre by focusing on the life of the victim, rather than the perpetrator or the details of the crime—casting a glow on the relationship between Perry and her single mother. In the first chapter, across six pages, Perry explains:
My mother was full of energy and passion. She believed in the soul of housecats and in the melancholy of rainy days. She believed in hard work, and the energy she poured into her job—hand-sewing shoes at a factory—seemed boundless . . . She was graced with bright red hair, a golden tone of red I’ve seen only a handful of times….In the short Maine summer, she sunbathed for hours . . we would drive to the ocean just south of Portland. Her favorite thing to collect from the beach was sand dollars, and I loved walking up and down the yellow sand and finding them for her….The clicking of her high heels on our kitchen floor meant happiness to me. . . In her romantic selections, she could have done better, and she could have done worse. She was often imperfect in her own love….Because of her, I will always believe love is possible.
When we write about those we have lost, we have to show readers what has been lost, and Perry’s memoir achieves this in a way that drew out an ache in my chest as I read it through her elegant elegy, not only to her mother, but to the loss of beach walks and car dancing, shared salon visits and sunbathing, the living and the laughter once shared by mother and daughter.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 8, 2023

Five of the best books inspired by Dickens's classics

At B&N Reads Brittany Bunzey tagged five of the best books inspired by Charles Dickens's classics, including:
Jack Maggs by Peter Carey

Largely inspired by Great Expectations, Booker Prize-winning author Peter Carey’s post-colonial Dickens novel adds his own twist to its characters. Jack Maggs returns to London from the prison island of Australia with a heart set on vengeance, and he quickly finds himself at the center of an eclectic range of individuals as all their schemes converge around Maggs’ own plan. Blending mystery and romance, this sharp and witty story has more nods to Charles’ Dickens’ work than we can count — with one of the characters resembling a young Dickens himself.
Learn about the other entries on the list.

Jack Maggs is among Adrian Van Young's ten gothic gems of historical fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Five psychological thrillers featuring toxic friendships

Jilly Gagnon is currently based in Salem, Massachusetts, but is originally from Minnesota, a fact she’ll likely inform you of within minutes of meeting you. In addition to her adult fiction, she has authored both young adult and comedy novels.

Gagnon's new novel is Scenes of the Crime.

At CrimeReads she tagged five psychological thrillers in which "best friends" are the biggest threat, including:
You’re Invited – Amanda Jayatissa

When you learn that your glamorous childhood best friend is hosting a lavish wedding in your mutual hometown in Sri Lanka, there’s really only one thing you can do: fly halfway around the world to try to stop the marriage from happening.

At least that’s Amaya’s plan; things quickly spin out of control once she arrives in Colombo, intent on keeping her friend Kaavi from walking down the aisle with her ex, Spencer. From that delightfully messy start, things only get more complicated. No one seems to have actually invited Amaya, for one thing. When the bride goes missing on her wedding day, Kaavi’s presumed-jealous ex-bestie is the prime suspect… but as this twisty narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that anyone could be behind the disappearance.

With a fabulously luxurious setting, class tension, an insightful exploration of the cultural tug-of-war between Sri Lankan tradition and modern western life, and a huge dose of the quicksilver ‘reality’ that appears on social media, this book is both thoughtful and bingeable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Eight titles featuring likable murderers

C. J. Washington is a data scientist and writer. He has a master’s degree in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and daughter.

Washington's new novel is Imperfect Lives.

At Electric Lit he tagged eight books featuring "bad guys doing bad things, but we're still rooting for them." One title on the list:
Infinite by Brian Freeman

Dylan Moran is not a murderer. Of course, if he was, that would explain the untimely death of his beloved wife. In fact, in a parallel universe, Dylan Moran is a murderer. There are many Dylan Moran’s in many universes, and the one who lost his wife wants his life back. Traversing universes is a dangerous game and a thrilling one in this mind-boggling sci-fi novel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see Laura Benedict's nine "unlikeable" protagonists in literature and Claire Legrand's five books about girls who don’t care if you like them or not.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Six great novels about old friends & "old" friends

Bobby Finger is the author of The Old Place, and co-host of the popular celebrity and entertainment podcast, Who? Weekly.

A Texas native, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

At Lit Hub Finger tagged seven "novels about 'old friends' that I’ve found myself repeatedly recommending to some of my closest friends." One title on the list:
Mattie Lubchansky, Boys Weekend

In the newest book on this list, Sammie is attending her old friend Adam’s bachelor party at a wretched and mysterious–not to mention ooze-filled–Vegas-esque island destination, but her transfemme identity is not a topic Adam or his friends are capable of processing, or even discussing. Mattie Lubchansky’s graphic novel is hysterical and profound, tackling the often ruinous tensions that arise between old pals who share little more than pasts, as well as a kind of friendship that’s considerably more complex: the one between the person we once thought we were, and the person we’ve come to realize we’ve been all along. Since finishing it earlier this summer, it’s been hard to stop thinking about a particularly stunning frame in its closing section. How can you form meaningful friendships until you’ve tackled the relationship with yourself?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 4, 2023

Seven top crime novels set in Harlem

Louise Hare is the London-based author of Harlem After Midnight and Miss Aldridge Regrets. Her debut novel, This Lovely City, was published in the UK to wide acclaim, and was a Between the Covers Book Club Pick on BBC Two.

She has an MA in creative writing from the University of London.

At CrimeReads Hare tagged seven of her favorite "books that capture the essence of Harlem and combine it with compelling stories and vivid characters that will stay with you long after you close the cover," including:
Jazz – Toni Morrison

Jazz has one of literature’s most memorable openings. After Joe, a fifty something year old salesman, shoots dead his teenage lover, his wife Violet goes to the funeral ready to cut her dead rival’s face. It begins with the aftermath of this crime, but the novel is wide-ranging. From how Joe and Violet came to New York, through his affair and the events that led him to murder, Morrison shows the history of Jazz Age Harlem through these vividly realised characters.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Toni Morrison's Jazz is among Robin Coste Lewis's six favorite booksMohsin Hamid's most influential book, and Reggie Nadelson's top ten jazz books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Eleven books about misunderstood women in history & mythology

Megan Barnard writes upmarket historical fiction. She has worked as a literary agent, editor, and copywriter, but writing fiction is where her heart truly lies. When she’s not writing she drinks coffee and travels widely. Her favorite places to read across the globe are Île Saint-Louis in Paris, Pacific Grove, CA, and Portmagee, Ireland.

Barnard's latest novel is Jezebel.

At Electric Lit the author tagged eleven brilliant books about "misunderstood women in our most famous histories and mythologies." One title on the list:
Circe by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller gives Circe a ringing and powerful voice, in her retelling of this ancient goddess. Instead of a maniacal villain who turns men into pigs for nothing more than pleasure, in Miller’s story, Circe is a goddess with little power, banished to the island of Aeaea for daring to speak against her father, the sun god Helios. Circe learns pharmaka, a magic that gives her power equal to the other gods. This power, of course, draws the ire of gods and mortals alike, and Circe stands against them all to fight for what she loves. A stunning story about the emptiness of godhood, about the joy and horror of being a mortal, Circe turns an ancient story on its head in a resounding way.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Circe is among Rita Chang-Eppig's ten top books with irresistible anti-heroines, Emilia Hart's five novels featuring witchcraft, Brittany Bunzey's top ten books centering women in mythology, Mark Skinner's twenty top books in witch lit, Hannah Kaner's five best novels featuring gods, the B&N Reads editors' twenty-four best mythological retellings, Ashleigh Bell Pedersen's eight novels of wonder and darkness by women writers, Kelly Barnhill's eight books about women's rage, Sascha Rothchild's most captivating literary antiheroes, Rachel Kapelke-Dale's eleven top unexpected thrillers about female rage, Kat Sarfas's thirteen enchanted reads for spooky season, Fire Lyte's nine current classics in magic and covens and spellsElodie Harper's six top novels set in the ancient world, Kiran Millwood Hargrave's seven best books about islands, Zen Cho's six SFF titles about gods and pantheons, Jennifer Saint's ten top books inspired by Greek myth, Adrienne Westenfeld's fifteen feminist books that will inspire, enrage, & educate you, Ali Benjamin's top ten classic stories retold, Lucile Scott's eight books about hexing the patriarchy, E. Foley and B. Coates's top ten goddesses in fiction, Jordan Ifueko's five fantasy titles driven by traumatic family bonds, Eleanor Porter's top ten books about witch-hunts, Emily B. Martin's six stunning fantasies for nature lovers, Allison Pataki's top six books that feature strong female voices, Pam Grossman's thirteen stories about strong women with magical powers, Kris Waldherr's nine top books inspired by mythology, Katharine Duckett's eight novels that reexamine literature from the margins, and Steph Posts's thirteen top novels set in the world of myth.

--Marshal Zeringue