Sunday, June 30, 2024

Five top books about Turkey

Sami Kent is a Turkish-British writer and radio producer based between London and Istanbul, and has reported on Turkey for The Guardian, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, From Our Own Correspondent, Al Jazeera, The London Review of Books, Vice and many others.

His new book is The Endless Country: A Personal Journey Through Turkey’s First Hundred Years.

At the Guardian Kent tagged "five of the best books to understand [Turkey]’s first 100 years." One title on the list:
Portrait of a Turkish Family by Irfan Orga

Reflecting on his childhood, Orga remembers eating melon, on ice, on a silver plate when he first heard the drums of war – those that announced, all over Istanbul, that the first world war had begun. For him and others in Turkey, nearly a decade of violence would follow. This memoir captures the founding years of the Turkish republic and the pain of those who lived through it, as Orga describes his wealthy Ottoman family’s descent into poverty and humiliation. It is intimately and beautifully written, though make sure to read the epilogue for the twist about who the author really was …
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Five top Neo-Westerns

Kent Wascom was born in New Orleans and raised in Pensacola, Florida. His first novel, The Blood of Heaven, was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and NPR. It was a semifinalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan Award for First Fiction. Wascom was awarded the 2012 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize for Fiction and selected as one of Gambit‘s 40 Under 40. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where he directs the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University.

Wascom's new novel is The Great State of West Florida.

At Lit Hub he tagged five favorite Neo-Westerns, including:
Anna Burns, Little Constructions

“There are no differences between men and women. No differences. Except one. Men want to know what sort of gun it is. Women just want the gun.” So opens the funniest book I’ve read this side of Charles Portis’ Norwood or the stories of Helen DeWitt.

But Anna Burns’ second novel is also one of the nastiest, most upsetting revenge stories in contemporary fiction. And with its archetypal figures, themselves influenced by the depictions of the violent American West, and an iconoclastic spirit, this is a Neo-Western to me, even if it’s set in Ireland.

The Western revenge story, by rights, tends to build to a showdown, and from the moment Jetty Doe, scion of a criminal family, bursts into a local gunshop and carries off an AK-74, Little Constructions goes from one showdown to the next at furious speed, borne along by some of my favorite sentences anywhere. There are showdowns not only with the brutal men who’ve warped generations of a Northern Irish family, but with the past of the entire country and the nature of male violence.

More than anything, or at least most exciting to me, this book is a showdown with the English language itself. Burns builds rhythmic and rhetorical structures that sometimes puzzle before they explode into dazzling perfection. Character names repeat and refract until we have Does such as Johnjoe and JanineJoshuatine bouncing off the page.

I could see the latter move striking some readers as cute or ridiculous, but as a member of a formerly criminal family (though no way near as lousy as the Does) with six siblings all of whose first names start with the same letter, my credulity remained unstrained.

I love Milkman, which won Anna Burns the acclaim she so rightfully deserves, but I adore Little Constructions. It’s hilarious, frequently horrifying, and utterly humiliates the very macho gun culture that the Western often embraces.
Read about the other titles on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 28, 2024

Eight top workplace thrillers

Mary Keliikoa is the author of Hidden Pieces, a Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Finalist and Ippy Silver Award Winning mystery, and Deadly Tides, the first two books in the Misty Pines Series featuring small-town Sheriff Jax Turner, and the Shamus Finalist and Lefty, Agatha & Anthony nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series.

Keliikoa's new book is Don't Ask, Don't Follow, is her first domestic suspense novel.

At CrimeReads she tagged eight novels "in an office and workplace setting that will have you side-eying your own colleagues," including:
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books so is thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. But when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, Nella is left in the dust. Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk telling her to leave. Now as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career. A smart and dynamic thriller, this one is not to be missed!
Read about the other books on the list.

The Other Black Girl is among Tania Malik's five unconventional office novels, Stephanie Feldman's seven novels featuring ambitious women, Caitlin Barasch’s seven novels set in the literary world, and Ashley Winstead's seven titles that explore collective guilt & individual complicity.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Five top books about math

Matt Parker is a stand-up comedian and a YouTuber with over one hundred million views. He is the author of the international bestseller Humble Pi and Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. Parker is also frequently seen, heard, and read on the Science Channel, on BBC radio, and in The Guardian, in that order. He has previously held world records for both the Rubik’s Cube and Space Invaders. In the pursuit of math, Parker has: flipped a coin 10,000 times, traveled to Antarctica, memorized π to hundreds of digits, and been bitten by a bullet ant in the Amazon rainforest. He has given math lectures at Cambridge University, Oxford University, Harvard University, and Lake Monger Primary School.

Parker's new book is Love Triangle: How Trigonometry Shapes the World.

At the Guardian he tagged five of the best books about maths (or math, as Americans call it). One title on the list:
Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

The other side of the AI coin is big data. Caroline Criado Perez’s book is about two different modern aspects of data. Its primary thesis is that, much like algorithms, data sets are not some objective reservoir of potential insight but rather they can have massive oversights: notably in the case of women, half the population. Moreover Perez shows the power of data by backing up every step of her argument with facts and stats. It’s both a cautionary tale and a field guide to using data.
Read about the other books on Parker's list.

Also see: Ian Stewart's top ten popular mathematics books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Nine experimental works that break narrative norms

Alana Saab is a literary writer and screenwriter. She holds a master of fine arts in fiction from The New School, a master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, and her bachelor’s from New York University in the phenomenology of storytelling. She lives in New York with her partner.

Please Stop Trying to Leave Me is her first novel.

At Electric Lit Saab tagged "nine literary works [that] show how talented writers break narrative norms in service to something greater." One title on the list:
Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes

Fiction that highlights the tension between author, narrator, and character.

Like [Calvino's] Invisible Cities, you may be scared to dive into this classic, especially since it’s a long one, but I see Don Quixote as a critical forefather to the canon of experimental literature. Don Quixote is split into two parts. Part One follows a man who has read too many tales of knights, and he’s trying, much to the reader’s humor, to play the part alongside Sancho Panza. He calls himself Don Quixote de La Mancha. Part Two gets even more interesting when characters in the novel have read Part One of the story. They see the wanna-be knight as famous, and each character messes with the plot, hoping to become part of the novel, which infuriates and frustrates the wanna-be knight.

But Miguel de Cervantes adds another layer of experimentation: there’s a character in the novel named Cide Hamete, the Arab historian responsible for writing the original biography of Don Quixote. There’s also another author, the narrator of this book, which is, one guesses, Cervantes. The two authors have different ways of telling the knight’s story, and the second author often comments on the first’s improper narration of events. But I remind you: they’re just characters! I know, it gets confusing, but it’s so good.

If you start reading, just promise me you’ll stick it out until Part Two which is where I think the magic of this book is most palpable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Don Quixote is Declan Burke's favorite funny novel. It was the second most popular book among prisoners at the U.S. base at Guantánamo Bay. It is on Jeff Tweedy's list of six favorite books, Ben Okri's six best books list, Bruce Wagner's six favorite books list, Panayiota Kuvetakis's top ten list of fictional best friends we'd like to have as nonfictional best friends, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best literary women dressed as men and ten of the best books written in prison.

Paul Auster always returns to Don Quixote; Claire Messud hasn't read it.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The five best books to better understand and enjoy sport history

Gerald Gems is professor emeritus at North Central College and past president of the North American Society for Sport History.

His new book is Mental Health, Gender, and the Rise of Sport. It argues that in the latter nineteenth century
Sports such as baseball, boxing, cycling, and football offered psychological relief from the stresses of a rapidly changing economic and social order. Cycling, in particular, provided women with the means to challenge the prescribed gender order of female domesticity, male hegemony, and the dictates of physically restrictive fashion. In the process, sport became a key component in the rise of feminism and a prescription for the epidemics that followed over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
At Shepherd Gems tagged five top books to better understand and enjoy sport history, including:
From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports by Allen Guttmann

This book is the classic and foundational book in which the author designates the requisite characteristics of modern sports: secularization, equality, specialization, rationalization, and bureaucracy.

Secularization distanced sport from the association with religious rituals such as the ancient Olympic Games. Distinct rules and regulations relative to participants designated equal opportunities for success. The sport's perceived physical, social, and moral benefits provided a rational reason for their practice. Specialized events required specialized practice, furthering the advent of professionalism.

The greater profusion and practice of sport led to the creation of associations to administer and regulate the activities. Melvin Adelman, A Sporting Time: New York City and the Rise of Modern Athletics, 1820-70, later added commercialization and urbanization as a feature of modernity.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 24, 2024

Six top stories of folk horror

Lucy Foley studied English literature at Durham University and University College London and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry. She is the author of five novels including The Paris Apartment and The Guest List. She lives in London.

Foley's newest novel is The Midnight Feast.

At CrimeReads the author tagged six favorite stories of folk horror, including:
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

For me there’s a True Detective-esque feel to the atmosphere of this small-town-America set thriller. There’s much made of a local “Woman in White” folktale: supposedly this witchlike figure is responsible for the deaths of a couple of Wind Gap’s children. As Gillian Flynn said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, this was inspired by “the original Slender Man sort of idea, how that came to be”. There’s a horrifying hunting shack in the woods, the source of much of the protagonist Camille’s past trauma (this trauma being far worse than anything supernaturally-inflicted) and a very folk horror sense of tradition and the fear of breaking tradition, alongside a creeping dread and unease throughout in which nothing and no-one is really what they seem.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Sharp Objects is among Katherine Higgs-Coulthard's top six crime-in-the-family thrillers, Zach Vasquez's seven dark novels about motherhood, Christina Dalcher's seven crime books that challenge the idea of inherent female goodness, Nicole Trope's six domestic suspense novels where nothing is really ever what it seems, Heather Gudenkauf's ten great thrillers centered on psychology, and Peter Swanson's ten top thrillers that explore mental health.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Eight top hitman titles

At B&N Reads Isabelle McConville tagged eight assassin stories you don’t want to miss, including:
The Gray Man by Mark Greaney

The source material for the hit film starring Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans and more, The Gray Man follows a skilled CIA-operative-turned-hitman. Even with the world’s most unforgiving powers working against him, the Gray Man will stop at nothing to survive.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Gray Man.

My Book, The Movie: The Gray Man.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Eight adventure-filled titles set on trains

Sarah Brooks is the author of The Cautious Traveller's Guide to the Wastelands. She won the Lucy Cavendish Prize in 2019 and a Northern Debut Award from New Writing North in 2021. She works in East Asian Studies at the University of Leeds, where she helps run the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing. She is coeditor of Samovar, a bilingual online magazine for translated speculative fiction. She lives in Leeds, England.

At Electric Lit Brooks tagged eight books that have "a sense of adventure, and an exploration of the sometimes contradictory promises of escape and of connection that the railway offers." One title on the list:
The Circus Train by Amita Parikh

The ‘World of Wonders’ is a luxury steam train which is home to a travelling circus. Lena, the daughter of the troupe’s illusionist, uses a wheelchair after contracting polio as a child, and feels isolated from the bright, physical world of the circus. When a Jewish orphan, Alexandre, is discovered on board, Lena finally begins to find friendship — and something more — but her growing happiness is threatened by the outbreak of war. The novel paints a glorious picture of the circus train, but doesn’t shy away from the darkness closing in around it, leaving the reader to confront the changing meanings of the train in 1940s Europe. But it is at its core a hopeful story, and the rails carry its protagonists into a brighter future.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 21, 2024

Five jailhouse confessional novels

Carol LaHines’s debut novel, Someday Everything Will All Make Sense, was a finalist for the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel and an American Fiction Award. Her fiction has appeared in literary journals including Fence, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Denver Quarterly, Cimarron Review, The Literary Review, The Laurel Review, North Dakota Quarterly, South Dakota Review, The South Carolina Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Sycamore Review, Permafrost, redivider, Literary Orphans, and Literal Latte.

LaHines’s new novel is The Vixen Amber Halloway.

At CrimeReads the author tagged five jailhouse confessional novels, including:
Schroder, by Amity Gaige

Schroder, by Amity Gaige, is narrated by an unsavory, unreliable narrator who has kidnapped his daughter and who we understand to have a checkered past—details that are woven into the present narration of the father and daughter road trip. Though he, like Humbert Humbert [in Lolita], is in many ways monstrous, we sympathize with his plight as a father. Gaige shows us, through flashes, how diabolical he really is. The destabilizing dynamic between the character as he portrays himself and the character as he actually is—inherent in the jailhouse confessional/dual storyline structure—keeps the reader in a state of suspense: believing, disbelieving, reconsidering, reevaluating, reinventing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Five of the best memoirs from the world of fashion

Chloe Mac Donnell is the Guardian's deputy fashion and lifestyle editor.

She tagged five of the most memorable memoirs from the world of fashion, including:
The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley

“I dreamed of meeting Naomi Sims and Pat Cleveland, and living a life like the ones I saw in the pages of Vogue, where bad things never happened,” writes Talley in the opening chapter. The larger-than-life editor, who died in 2022, documents his journey from growing up black and poor in North Carolina to becoming a firm fashion fixture with stints at Andy Warhol’s Interview and Vogue, until Anna Wintour as he reveals, froze him out leaving him with “huge emotional and psychological scars”. There are tales of clubbing with Karl Lagerfeld and flying private jets with Naomi Campbell which he describes as “the seventh circle of hell”.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Five titles that explore female friendship & adolescence

Maggie Nye is the author of The Curators. She is a writer and teacher whose work has been supported by MacDowell, Tin House, and the St. Albans Writer in Residence program.

The short story from which The Curators grew was published in Pleiades.

At Lit Hub Nye tagged five books
that center on women, too, on bodies that share the intimacy of aging, of heat and change, of infirmity. What is common to all of them is a propulsive and generous knowing and loving so strong and terrible that it transcends the individual and absorbs the girls and women in its orbit into shared rapture.
One title on the list:
Lauren Groff, Matrix

This novel, set in the twelfth century, follows historical poet and proto-feminist, Marie de France through an entire lifetime. In Groff’s imagining, Marie is sent away from French court by the (unrequited) love of her young life, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to become the prioress—against her will and at the age of seventeen—of an English abbey on the brink of starvation and collapse.

Initially repulsed by the austerity of the abbey and by what she perceives as the ignorance of its inhabitants, over time Marie uses her cunning and skill to turn the abbey from a place of poverty and suffering to one of abundance and community. She finds deep connection, intellectual and physical, with the women whose lives are, like hers, devoted to God and to the health of the abbey.

Unlike many of the books on this list, Matrix centers the communion of aging bodies. In one radiant passage, Groff writes of “a great sympathetic shining” which originates from Marie’s body with the sudden fever of a hot flash and “pours outward” as it “descends upon each of the other nuns one by one in a luminous rush.” It is this kind of body-sharing baptism that earns Matrix its place in girl-church.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Ten feminist crime novels subverting the Dead Girl trope

Kat Davis has an MFA in fiction from Washington University in Saint Louis and currently resides in the Boston area. Her fiction has been published in Wigleaf, Juked, Cosmonauts Avenue, New Orleans Review, and Monkeybicycle. Her work has also appeared on the longlist for Wigleaf’s Top 50, and her essays and literary criticism have been featured in the Chicago Review of Books and on the Ploughshares blog. Davis’s most recent piece of flash fiction, “The Babysitter,” was selected as a finalist for the Mythic Picnic Prize for Fiction and appears in The Best Small Fictions 2022.

In A Dark Mirror is her debut novel.

At Electric Lit Davis tagged ten feminist crime novels subverting the Dead Girl trope, including:
Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Unlikesome of the books on this list, Toews novel has no surprise twists or sudden reveals. It is, almost entirely, a book about women talking—and it is riveting. The novel is based on the case of so-called “ghost rapes” among women in a Mennonite community in Bolivia, who woke up to find their bodies bruised, their sheets stained with blood and semen—and no memory of what had happened to them. At the beginning of Women Talking, the men responsible—who used horse tranquilizers to knock out their victims—are about to be released and to return to the community. Within the patriarchal structure of their traditional community, the women’s choices are limited: do they stay and forgive these men, stay and fight, or do they leave? The women themselves are illiterate and their conversation is recorded by a sympathetic young man who was spent some time outside of the colony. Toews’s examines the aftermath of sexual assault and questions of justice in an understated literary style that is also, at times, surprisingly funny.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Women Talking is among Sarah Davis-Goff's six books about women working together, Amanda Montei's seven novels that explore consent and coercion, and Anjanette Delgado's seven books for when your life has radically changed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 17, 2024

Six top expat thrillers

Kimberly Belle's new novel, The Paris Widow, “continues the author’s winning streak” according to Publishers Weekly. Her previous novels include The Marriage Lie, a Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Mystery & Thriller, and the co-authored #1 Audible Original, Young Rich Widows. Belle’s novels have been optioned for film and television and selected by LibraryReads and Amazon & Apple Books Editors as Best Books of the Month, and the International Thriller Writers as nominee for best book of the year. She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

[The Page 69 Test: Dear Wife; Q&A with Kimberly Belle; The Page 69 Test: My Darling Husband; The Page 69 Test: The Paris Widow]

At CrimeReads Belle shared a list of six favorite expat thrillers, including:
The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger

The Banker’s Wife begins with a literal bang, a plane explosion that takes an expat’s husband, leaving the new widow to sort through the conflicting stories around her husband’s death. London, Paris, Geneva, the South of France…they all get plenty of page time, and Cristina captures the glamour of the settings perfectly, contrasting them with the dark underbelly of billionaire banking.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Banker’s Wife is among Chris Pavone's ten outstanding international thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Nine top books with nonhuman characters

Simon Van Booy has written more than a dozen works of fiction (including Night Came with Many Stars and The Presence of Absence) and is the editor of three volumes of philosophy. Raised in rural North Wales, Van Booy currently lives between London and New York, where he is a volunteer EMT for Central Park Medical Unit and RVAC. In early 2020, he rescued his first mouse.

His new novel is Sipsworth.

At Publishers Weekly Van Booy tagged
nine of my favorite books that feature animals as characters. The emotion between humans and animals in these titles feels so true that each book serves as a reminder for readers never to mistake a pigeon or a donkey or a mouse for just a pigeon, a donkey, or a mouse.
One title on the list:
Horse Crazy by Sarah Maslin Nir

This book is unique in how it weaves the author’s love of horses into a social history that is interesting, original, and at times moving—especially when the author writes about her father’s experience of surviving the Holocaust.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Eight top books about New York City fraudsters

Cally Fiedorek is the winner of a Pushcart Prize and an Emerging Writer Fellowship from the Center for Fiction. She lives in New York City.

Her new novel is Atta Boy.

At Electric Lit Fiedorek tagged eight
great books, including one play, that cut to the complicated heart of fraud and white-collar criminality, unflinching in how they examine human greed while evading facile definitions of good and evil, and keenly attuned to how razor-thin the defining line can be—between spin and lies, between corner-cutting and malfeasance, between good old-fashioned entrepreneurship and dangerous hucksterism.
One title on the list:
The Darlings by Cristina Alger

This tightly plotted debut follows the spectacular fall of the family-owned Delphic financial firm over Thanksgiving weekend, 2008, after one of its principal partners commits suicide. The event has grave implications for the Darling family, patriarch Carter, daughter Merrill, and Merrill’s husband, Paul Ross, a lawyer who’s increasingly concerned the family wealth he’s married into is founded on a smoke-and-mirrors Ponzi scheme. Upon its release, in 2011, The Darlings was one of the first novels to address the financial crisis head-on. A page-turner, for sure, but there’s a nicely metafictional element to the proceedings, too; Alger seems particularly sensitive to how high finance, like literature, is essentially a form of fantasy, an imaginative world beyond the nuts and bolts of the economy, where financiers and lawyers can bend reality itself to their rhetorical whims.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Darlings is among Joseph Finder's seven top books about dysfunctional rich families.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 14, 2024

Twelve of the worst dads in literature

Garth Risk Hallberg’s first novel, City on Fire, was a New York Times and international best seller and was selected as one of the best books of 2015 by The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Vogue. It was the basis for the Apple TV+ series of the same name. He is also the author of the novella A Field Guide to the North American Family. In 2017, Granta named him one of the Best of Young American Novelists. His work has been translated into seventeen languages.

Hallberg's new novel is The Second Coming.

At Lit Hub he tagged the worst fathers in literature, including:
Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, Finnegans Wake (1939)

What crime, exactly, precipitated the fall that starts the Wake? Rumors abound, palimpsest-style, but they point persistently to either Earwicker’s inappropriate interest in his daughter or his fear that such an interest exists. The novel is, of course, a dream, so it would be a mistake to read any of this straight. Still, it’s possible to say this much for certain: If Earwicker is the “allfather,” the state of the next generation, what with its warring twin brothers and their dissociative sister, suggests something’s gone seriously wrong.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Five books to show you the versatility of the assassin genre

Rob Hart is the author of The Paradox Hotel, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award that was named one of the best books of 2022 by Kirkus and NPR.

He also wrote The Warehouse, which sold in more than 20 languages around the world.

He is also the author of the Ash McKenna crime series, the short story collection Take-Out, the novella Scott Free with James Patterson, and the comic book Blood Oath with Alex Segura.

[My Book, The Movie: Potter's FieldThe Page 69 Test: Potter's FieldThe Page 69 Test: The WarehouseThe Page 69 Test: The Paradox Hotel]

Hart's new novel is Assassins Anonymous.

At Shepherd he tagged five of the best books to show you the versatility of the assassin genre. One title on the list:
Killers Of A Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

This book is a unique spin on the classic assassin story. It follows four women in their 60s, retired from their careers as killers, who are now targeted and trying to survive.

Raybourn’s book is funny and action-packed, but it does incredible work with the characters. It explores a traditionally macho genre from a female perspective, which offers a whole host of new opportunities and insights.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Killers Of A Certain Age is among Victoria Helen Stone's five great thrillers about women getting revenge.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Five crime titles that tackle the trappings of fame

Lori Roy is the two-time Edgar award-winning author of six novels of suspense. Her work has been twice named a New York Times Notable Crime Book, named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and included on various “best of” and summer reading lists.

Roy’s new book, Lake County, has been called a “…sensual speculative thriller” by Booklist and “…one of this year’s most gripping novels” by Deadly Pleasures magazine.

At CrimeReads Roy tagged four crime novels and one short story that tackle the trappings of fame, including:
Halley Sutton, The Hurricane Blonde

The Hurricane Blonde, Tawney, was a rising Hollywood star when she was found murdered at her home. Twenty years later, no arrests have been made, her death remains a mystery, and everyone has moved on except her sister, Salma. Salma’s own hopes for fame were cut short by the struggles she faced following her sister’s death. Now, as she battles daily to stay sober, she hosts a Hollywood tour that showcases the spots around town where various starlets died. When a dead body turns up at the same house where her sister was murdered two decades earlier, Salma is catapulted back into the seediest part of Hollywood, and she’s forced to grapple with how far someone will go to achieve fame.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Seven books about people accused of being witches

J. Nicole Jones received an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Columbia University in 2012. She has held editorial positions at VICE magazine and Her essays and writing have appeared in VICE,, the Harper's magazine website, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, the Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere.

Her first book, Low Country: A Memoir, was published in 2021.

Jones's new novel is The Witches of Bellinas.

At Electric Lit she tagged seven books that "are not just about being a witch—they’re about people who have been accused of being witches—and what that happens afterward." One title on the list:
Circe by Madeline Miller

Told from the perspective of one of literature’s oldest and most famous witches, Circe narrates her life story as an immortal sorceress: From growing up in the house of her father, the sun god and Titan, to life as an exile on the island where she’s been confined. A celebration of the magic in nature and in life as a solitary woman, we also get cameos by heavy-hitters from Greek mythology, including Circe’s setting the record straight on what happened when Odysseus invaded her island and why his men deserved to be transformed into pigs.
Read about the other titles on the list.

Circe is among Diana Helmuth's seven top books about modern witchcraft, Megan Barnard's eleven books about misunderstood women in history & mythology, 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

Monday, June 10, 2024

Thirty-nine top LGBTQ books for Pride month

In 2021 the BuzzFeed Books team tagged some of their favorite LGBTQ books across all genres for reading during Pride month. One title on the list:
Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman

17-year-old Aidan finds himself in New York City for a night and spontaneously decides to hook up with a guy named Benoit. But the next morning, Benoit is dead beside him, and Aidan receives a mysterious call telling him to flee. Caught up in a huge case of mistaken identity, Aidan is on the run from everyone, including federal agents and a cyberterrorist group. Once Aidan discovers the object they want returned, he'll have to find a way to deliver it before being caught — or killed. Milman’s action-packed thriller isn’t one to miss.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Swipe Right for Murder.

My Book, The Movie: Swipe Right for Murder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Nine icy thrillers to get you through the sweltering summer

Victoria Helen Stone, author of the runaway best seller Jane Doe, writes critically acclaimed novels of dark intrigue and emotional suspense. Aside from Follow Her Down, 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.

At CrimeReads Stone tagged nine "thrillers featuring cold weather to help endure the sweltering months ahead," including:
We Used to Live Here by Marcus Kliewer

The inescapable sense of foreboding steeped in these pages led me to tossing and turning all night after starting this book in bed at 11PM. A delightfully spooky mistake on my part. We Used to Live Here is an original and ghastly tale of an old house, its new owners, and a young father who stops by asking to take his family on a trip down memory lane. Mr. Kliewer perfectly tapped into my introvert anxiety about weird people in my house… or any people at all, really.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Thirteen top queer thrillers and mystery novels

John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning, won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery. His second novel, The Savage Kind, won the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Mystery. He cohosts on the House of Mystery Radio Show, is the six-time recipient of Artist Fellowships from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and for years, wrote a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight.”

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

Copenhaver teaches fiction writing and literature at Virginia Commonwealth University and is a faculty mentor in the University of Nebraska’s Low-Residency MFA program.

His new novel is Hall of Mirrors.

At Electric Lit Copenhaver tagged thirteen novels by queer writers with queer characters and "speak to the history of queer mysteries and thrillers, tell us something about crime fiction today, and of course, because they are great books." One title on the list:
Bath Haus by P. J. Vernon

One of the most commercially successful queer thrillers in recent years, Vernon’s Bath Haus, explores the dark side of contemporary gay relationships. Oliver Park has everything that should make him happy: his partner, Nathan, a handsome, attentive, and wealthy trauma surgeon; a sprawling townhouse in Washington, D.C.; and, after years of struggling with addiction, his sobriety. So, when he seeks out anonymous sex at a local bathhouse and nearly dies at the hands of his hook-up partner, his life begins to unravel in dangerous and unsettling ways. This novel struck a nerve in part because of its titillating subject matter, in part because of its clever twists, and in part because of its complicated and sympathetic central character, a flawed queer man fighting for agency in his life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Bath Haus is among Leah Konen's five top thrillers about secrets between spouses and S.F. Kosa's ten best psychological thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, June 7, 2024

Five top books about fatherhood

Tom Lamont is an award-winning journalist and one of the founding writers for the Guardian’s Long Reads.

He is the interviewer of choice for Adele and Harry Styles, having written in depth about both of these musicians since they first emerged to fame in the 2010s.

Lamont's debut novel is Going Home: A Novel of Boys, Mistakes, and Second Chances.

At the Guardian the writer tagged five favorite books about fatherhood. One title on the list:
Home by Marilynne Robinson

The second book in Robinson’s Ames-Boughton sequence, Home makes a close study of a father, Robert Boughton, who is nearing the end of his life. His children have grown up and moved away from the family home in Iowa – all except one, Robert’s youngest daughter, Glory, who cares for him. So enormous is the sacrifice that Glory has made, Robert can hardly see it. Instead he obsesses over his most wayward and least dutiful child, Jack. A quiet masterpiece of fatherly complacency.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Home is among six books recommended by Colm Tóibín, Nick Lake's top ten liars in fiction, Richard Zimler's five best books featuring pariahs, and Diana Quick's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Five top thrillers about terrorism

Abir Mukherjee is the bestselling author of the award-winning Wyndham & Banerjee series of crime novels set in 1920s Colonial India. He is a two-time winner of the CWA Historical Dagger and has won the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing. His books have also been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and the HWA Gold Crown. His novels, A Rising Man and Smoke and Ashes were both selected as Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Smoke and Ashes was also chosen as one of The Times' Best Crime and Thriller novels since 1945.

Mukherjee's new novel is Hunted.

At the Waterstones blog the author tagged five favorite thrillers about terrorism, including:
The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth

A masterpiece of suspense and espionage that has captivated readers for decades. Set against the end of French rule in Algeria and a backdrop of political intrigue and international espionage, it follows an English assassin known only as the Jackal as he meticulously plans to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle.

Forsyth takes readers on a thrilling journey through the world of covert operations and high-stakes espionage, and his meticulous research and attention to detail lend authenticity to the novel's political backdrop, while his ability to ratchet up the tension with each passing chapter ensures you’re always on the edge of your seat. Whether you're a fan of espionage thrillers or simply enjoy a well-crafted tale of cat-and-mouse suspense, The Day of the Jackal is a must-read that continues to stand the test of time as a classic of the genre.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Day of the Jackal is among Patrick Worrall's ten top spy novels to read before you die, Deborah Lawrenson's nine mysteries that will take you on a journey from Paris to the south of France, Daniel Palmer's seven best conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s, Jeff Somers's five thrillers that resist easy fixes, Sam Bourne's five favorite classic thrillers, and Christopher Timothy's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Five top books about Maine

Thomas E. Ricks is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including the #1 bestseller Fiasco, a history of the beginning of the Iraq War. As a reporter at the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, he was a member of two teams that won the Pulitzer Prize. He worked in the Maine woods in his youth and trapped lobsters when living on an island in Penobscot Bay. He now divides his time between Texas and Maine.

Ricks's debut crime novel is Everyone Knows But You: A Tale of Murder on the Maine Coast.

At CrimeReads the author tagged "five books that helped me understand [Maine,] this beautiful and unique part of the country." One title on the list:
The Lobster Coast by Colin Woodward (2004)

An encyclopedic tour de force that covers everything from “lobster war” turf battles to the influence on American culture of Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper. Probably the single best book to read about Maine, its history, and its myths.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see ten top mysteries set in Maine.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Seven novels that give you hope, then devastate you

Sadi Muktadir is a writer from Toronto. His debut novel is Land of No Regrets. His short stories have appeared in Joyland Magazine, the Humber Literary Review, Blank Spaces, The New Quarterly and other places.

Muktadir is a two-time finalist for the Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence and twice shortlisted for the Malahat Open Season Awards for best short fiction.

At Electric Lit he tagged seven novels where things go from bad to worse, including:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

Books where things end in a painful, awkward, stunted manner are my favorite. They force us to wrestle and sit with a writer’s decision to tell us something we were not expecting. In The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy weaves this masterful narrative of caste discrimination and class conflict, through the eyes of children. Rebellion can barely be afforded, and so one of the protagonists, a single mother, acts out through an affair with an Untouchable, the lowest caste of humanity in southern India. Communism is rising as the middle class family responds to it with alarm and opposition. One of the elder matriarchs of the family, Baby Kochamma, is an absolute piece of shit, a brown Auntie on hate roids, and manipulates events to bring about destruction and see everyone as miserable as her in life. I loved it. More than anything, Roy showed a true-to-life depiction of what happens every day, how people struggle and fail and die despite holding onto sad hope for a better life. I loved it.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The God of Small Things is among Etaf Rum's eight top books revolving around a historical collective trauma, Fatin Abbas's eight top books on borders concrete & intangible, Rebecca Wait's top ten books about twins, Alex Hyde's top ten mirrored lives in fiction, Saumya Roy's seven unlikely love stories in literature, and Miranda Doyle's top ten books about lies.

--Marshal Zeringue