Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What is Brent Hartinger reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brent Hartinger, author of Three Truths and a Lie.

His entry begins:
I'm always juggling a combination of books. It's usually some books by friends of mine, soon to be published; books that I've read before and I know I'll love; and new books that intrigue me that I hope I'll like.

Lately, books by friends have included the 2017 YA novels Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg, and Deacon Locke Went to Prom by Brian Katcher. I don't always love books by my writer-friends, but I happened to love both of these. And do like reading advanced readers' copies, because they come with no preconceptions. There are no reviews yet, no "buzz," nothing to bias the jury, so I feel like my judgment is somehow a little more pure. Except, of course, the writers are my friends, so I'm probably never going to be too critical!

Books that I've read before that I'd thought I'd love include We Need to Talk About Kevin. While I really did like it when I read it years ago, this time I found it very heavy-handed and over-written. It was quite shocking how bad I thought it was, actually. But I also read Ursula le Guin's classic Earthsea Trilogy, and...[read on]
About Three Truths and a Lie, from the publisher:
A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.

Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.

Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.

Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.

Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.

Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.

One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.
Visit Brent Hartinger's website.

The Page 69 Test: Three Truths and a Lie.

Writers Read: Brent Hartinger.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: K.V. Johansen's "Gods of Nabban"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Gods of Nabban by K. V. Johansen.

About the book, from the publisher:
The fugitive slave Ghu has ended the assassin Ahjvar’s century-long possession by a murderous and hungry ghost, but at great cost. Heir of the dying gods of Nabban, he is drawn back to the empire he fled as a boy, journeying east on the caravan road with Ahjvar at his side.

Haunted by memory of those he has slain, Ahjvar is ill in mind and body, a danger to those about him and to the man who loves him most of all. Tortured by violent nightmares, he believes himself mad. Only his determination not to leave Ghu to face his fate alone keeps Ahjvar from asking to be freed at last from his unnatural life.

Innocent and madman, god and assassin—two men to seize an empire from the tyrannical descendants of the devil Yeh-Lin. But in war-torn Nabban, enemies of gods and humans stir in the shadows. Yeh-Lin herself meddles with the heir of her enemies and his soul-shattered companion, as the fate of the empire rests on their shoulders.
Visit K. V. Johansen's website.

Coffee with a Canine: K.V. Johansen & Ivan.

The Page 69 Test: The Leopard.

The Page 69 Test: The Lady.

The Page 69 Test: Gods of Nabban.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable novels about freaky cults

Brian Evenson's latest book is The Warren.

One of his six favorite "weird cult novels—which is to say, cult novels that don’t follow the typical tropes that cult novels do," as shared at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Sway, by Zachary Lazar

This year everybody is talking about Emma Cline’s novel The Girls for its portrayal of a Manson-like cult, but for my money, Lazar’s Sway is the more interesting Manson novel—partly because it does more than reassert what I already knew about the Manson Family. Sway is a novel that moves between the films of Kenneth Anger, the early days of the Rolling Stones, and the Manson family, using those three lenses to give a picture of the period that’s vivid and illuminating, particularly at the moments when the lenses slide over one another. Sway understands that cults are always part of a broader culture and that they express the subconscious of that culture.
Read about another entry on the list.

Sway is on the list of forty-six essential rock reads.

My Book, The Movie: Sway.

The Page 69 Test: Sway.

--Marshal Zeringue

David O. Stewart's "The Babe Ruth Deception," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Babe Ruth Deception by David O. Stewart.

The entry begins:
Since this is the third book in my Jamie Fraser/Speed Cook series of historical mysteries, I’m already on record that William Hurt is a natural for Dr. Fraser and Denzel Washington would kill in the juicy Speed Cook role as a washed-up ballplayer with an attitude.

But what about the Babe? In two major movies featuring the Babe, he was portrayed wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. William Bendix in The Babe Ruth Story was clueless and unathletic, while John Goodman in The Babe was obese and twenty years too old.

In The Babe Ruth Deception, Babe is 25 years old, a prime physical specimen, arguably the finest athlete to play baseball for a couple of generations. No more fat, dopey actors playing the Babe.

In his younger days, Joe Don Baker would have been a great Babe Ruth – large and powerful, with a broad face that could be intimidating or charming. But Joe Don’s eighty years old.

My best candidate today is...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at David O. Stewart's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: The Wilson Deception.

The Page 69 Test: The Wilson Deception.

My Book, The Movie: The Babe Ruth Deception.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 26, 2016

What is Judy Fogarty reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Judy Fogarty, author of Breaking and Holding: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
The Yellow Birds

I've just finished The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, a 2012 National Book Award finalist. At only 226 pages, I expected a quick read but didn't get it. The author is a poet. His prose is mesmerizing and begs to be read slowly. Every time I opened The Yellow Birds, I found myself rereading the opening paragraphs. Throughout the novel, the beauty of the language is juxtaposed against a raw, harrowing story of the friendship of two young men fighting in the Iraq war. Powers served in the US army in 2004-05, so...[read on]
About Breaking and Holding, from the publisher:
For Patricia Curren, the summer of 1978 begins with a devastating discovery: an unfamiliar black pearl button in the bed she shares with her controlling husband, Jack. Seeking the courage to end her desolate marriage, Patricia spends a quiet summer alone on beautiful Kiawah Island. But when she meets Terry Sloan, a collegiate tennis player trying to go pro, their physical attraction sparks a slow burn toward obsession.

Once Patricia and Terry share closely guarded secrets from their pasts, they want more than a summer together. But their love soon fractures, as a potential sponsor takes an unusually keen interest in Terry—both on court and off. And when single, career-driven Lynn Hewitt arrives, other secrets must surface, including the one Patricia has kept from Terry all summer.

An intimate portrait of the folly of the human heart, Breaking and Holding explores buried truths that are startlingly unveiled. What’s left in their wake has the power not only to shatter lives…but to redeem them.
Visit Judy Fogarty's website.

Writers Read: Judy Fogarty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Neil deGrasse Tyson's six favorite books

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the author of ten books, including StarTalk, a new companion volume to his podcast and cable show of the same name.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

A reminder that space is dangerous — not only because of what we know can kill us, but especially because of all that we have yet to learn can kill us.
Read about another book on the list.

The Andromeda Strain is among Joel Cunningham's 11 fictional maladies that will keep you up at night.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Caroline Leavitt's "Cruel Beautiful World"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel by Caroline Leavitt.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sixteen-year-old Lucy Gold is about to run away with a much older man to live off the grid in rural Pennsylvania, a rash act that will have vicious repercussions for both her and her older sister, Charlotte. As Lucy’s default parent for most of their lives, Charlotte has seen her youth marked by the burden of responsibility, but never more so than when Lucy’s dream of a rural paradise turns into a nightmare.

Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty, chaos and control, as it explores what happens when you’re responsible for things you cannot make right.

Set against a backdrop of peace, love, and the Manson murders, the novel is a reflection of the era: exuberant, defiant, and precarious all at once. And Caroline Leavitt is at her mesmerizing best in this haunting, nuanced portrait of love, sisters, and the impossible legacy of family.
Learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

The Page 69 Test: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Cruel Beautiful World.

The Page 69 Test: Cruel Beautiful World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Brett J. Esaki's "Enfolding Silence"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Enfolding Silence: The Transformation of Japanese American Religion and Art under Oppression by Brett Esaki.

About the book, from the publisher:
This book demonstrates how Japanese Americans have developed traditions of complex silences to survive historic moments of racial and religious oppression and how they continue to adapt these traditions today. Brett Esaki offers four case studies of Japanese American art-gardening, origami, jazz, and monuments-and examines how each artistic practice has responded to a historic moment of oppression. He finds that these artistic silences incorporate and convey obfuscated and hybridized religious ideas from Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Shinto, indigenous religions, and contemporary spirituality.

While silence is often thought of as the binary opposite and absence of sound, Esaki offers a theory of non-binary silence that articulates how multidimensional silences are formed and how they function. He argues that non-binary silences have allowed Japanese Americans to disguise, adapt, and innovate religious resources in order to negotiate racism and oppressive ideologies from both the United States and Japan. Drawing from the fields of religious studies, ethnic studies, theology, anthropology, art, music, history, and psychoanalysis, this book highlights the ways in which silence has been used to communicate the complex emotions of historical survival, religious experience, and artistic inspiration.
Learn more about Enfolding Silence at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Enfolding Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: SJ Goslee & Chewy and Guster

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: SJ Goslee & Chewy and Guster.

The author, on how she and her dogs were united:
We were actually puppy-sitting Chewy for a friend who had rescued her from a neighbor nearly 10 years ago and fell in love with her. We asked if we could keep her and she’s been by my side (and under my covers) ever since. Guster came along the same year we had my oldest son. We thought it would be neat to...[read on]
About S.J. Goslee's Whatever.: Or How Junior Year Became Totally F$@cked, from the publisher:
It's like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin' cheerleaders.

Junior year is about to start. Here's what Mike Tate knows:

His friends are awesome and their crappy garage band is a great excuse to drink cheap beer. Rook Wallace is the devil. The Lemonheads rock. And his girlfriend Lisa is the coolest. Then Lisa breaks up with him, which makes Mike only a little sad, because they'll stay friends and he never knew what to do with her boobs anyway. But when Mike finds out why Lisa dumped him, it blows his mind. And worse—he gets elected to homecoming court.

With a standout voice, a hilariously honest view on sex and sexuality, and enough f-bombs to make your mom blush, this debut YA novel is a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story.
Visit S.J. Goslee's website.

Coffee with a Canine: SJ Goslee & Chewy and Guster.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, September 25, 2016

What is Angela Palm reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Angela Palm, author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here.

Her entry begins:
I’m usually reading a few books at once: one purely for pleasure, one that informs my writing in some way, and one that’s been personally recommended to me.

I just finished How to Start a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball. I bought this book because I’d read an article about Jesse Ball that painted him as unconventional, unpredictable. My impression of him is that he is one of those mad genius types who might give an off the cuff, potentially off putting answer in an interview. I liked that authenticity, the way it disrupts the expected course of literary publicity a little bit. Literature needs more punk. This book has it. It’s about a teenage anarchist whose father has died, leaving behind only his Zippo lighter. The precocious, if somewhat misguided, girl is shuffled to an impoverished aunt’s house and to an alternative school after being expelled for stabbing a boy with a...[read on]
About Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here, from the publisher:
Angela Palm grew up in a place not marked on the map, in a house set on the banks of a river that had been straightened to make way for farmland. Every year, the Kankakee River in rural Indiana flooded and returned to its old course while the residents sandbagged their homes against the rising water. From her bedroom window, Palm watched the neighbor boy and loved him in secret, imagining a life with him even as she longed for a future that held more than a job at the neighborhood bar. For Palm, caught in this landscape of flood and drought, escape was a continually receding hope.

Though she did escape, as an adult Palm finds herself drawn back, like the river, to her origins. But this means more than just recalling vibrant, complicated memories of the place that shaped her, or trying to understand the family that raised her. It means visiting the prison where the boy she loved is serving a life sentence for a brutal murder. It means trying to chart, through the mesmerizing, interconnected essays of Riverine, what happens when a single event forces the path of her life off course.
Visit Angela Palm's website.

Writers Read: Angela Palm.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Don Bruns's "Casting Bones"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Casting Bones by Don Bruns.

About the book, from the publisher:
When a New Orleans judge is brutally murdered, former Detroit cop Quentin Archer is handed the case. But it's only when he encounters a beautiful young voodoo practitioner that he starts to make headway in the investigation - and enters the world of darkness and mysticism which underpins the carefree atmosphere of the Big Easy.
Learn more about the book and author at Don Bruns's website.

The Page 99 Test: Stuff to Die For.

My Book, The Movie: Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.

The Page 69 Test: Stuff to Spy For.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

My Book, The Movie: Casting Bones.

The Page 69 Test: Casting Bones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six romance novels that break the mold

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and semi-professional nerd.

At the B&N Reads blog she tagged six romances with unexpected twists on the genre, including:
Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay
Twist: Epistolary Format

Written mostly in one-sided epistolarly form, Dear Mr. Knightly is a modern re-telling of Jean Webster’s classic, Daddy-Long-Legs. An unknown donor dubbed “Mr. Knightly” offers to pay Samantha Moore’s way through graduate school on the condition that Sam write him regular letters updating him on her progress. The more Sam writes, the more her letters start to sound like a diary, and we see her journey from scared foster child into an adult who can no longer hide behind her fictional favorite characters. Eventually she starts to allow people into her life, including getting into a relationship with successful novelist Alex Powell, all of which readers learn about through Sam’s letters to Mr. Knightly. If you’re interested in other romances that unfold through an epistolary format, pick up Meg Cabot’s The Boy Next Door, which takes place exclusively through e-mail communication, and Ceclia Ahern’s Love, Rosie.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Michelle Brafman's "Bertrand Court," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Bertrand Court by Michelle Brafman.

The entry begins:
Of course, I’d be thrilled to see Bertrand Court made into a movie, but I’d be equally happy to for Netflix or Amazon to morph these linked stories into something delicious and binge-worthy. Think of a series with the tension and emotional complexity of The Americans and the premise of Knots Landing or Melrose Place, where all of the characters are connected via a common space, in this case a suburban Washington, DC cul-de-sac.

Bertrand Court will only work as an ensemble series with a large cast, so I’ll tackle the bigger parts first. I’ll start with Hannah, the volatile, hormonally challenged, emerging matriarch of the Solonsky family. Lizzy Caplan would make a heck of a Hannah Solonsky because they share a strength and crazy intensity that ripples beneath their perfect diction and birdlike frames. Hannah’s husband Danny calls for an actor with...[read on]
Visit Michelle Brafman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Bertrand Court.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What is Teddy Wayne reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Teddy Wayne, author of Loner.

His entry begins:
I recently reread Rebecca Schiff's debut story collection, The Bed Moved. The stories are funny without being slapsticky, weird but not precious, moving yet not sentimental. They would be great models for...[read on]
About Loner, from the publisher:
David Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity.

Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem.

Loner turns the traditional campus novel on its head as it explores ambition, class, and gender politics. It is a stunning and timely literary achievement from one of the rising stars of American fiction.
Learn more about the book and author at Teddy Wayne's website.

The Page 69 Test: Kapitoil.

Writers Read: Teddy Wayne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kenneth D. Ackerman's "Trotsky in New York, 1917"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Trotsky in New York, 1917: Portrait of a Radical on the Eve of Revolution by Kenneth D. Ackerman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Leon Trotsky burst onto the world stage in November 1917 as co-leader of a Marxist revolution seizing power in Russia. It made him one of the most recognized personalities of the Twentieth Century, a global icon of radical change. Yet just months earlier, this same Trotsky was a nobody, a refugee expelled from Europe, writing obscure pamphlets and speeches, barely noticed outside a small circle of fellow travelers. Where had he come from to topple Russia and change the world? Where else? New York City.

Between January and March 1917, Trotsky found refuge in the United States. America had kept itself out of the European Great War, leaving New York an open-minded and vital city. During his time there — just over ten weeks — Trotsky immersed himself in the local scene. He settled his family in the Bronx, edited a radical left wing tabloid in Greenwich Village, sampled the lifestyle, and plunged headlong into local politics. His clashes with leading New York socialists over the question of U.S. entry into World War I would reshape the American left for the next fifty years. His frantic attempt to return to Russia to lead the revolution there, and the attempt by British intelligence to stop him, was the stuff of thrillers.

Trotsky’s sojourn in New York City is a story rarely told, and never with such fullness and verve. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it presents a portrait not only of a towering yet all-too-human political figure on the cusp of history, but also of the city itself at a special moment in our collective memory.
Visit Kenneth Ackerman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Trotsky in New York, 1917.

The Page 99 Test: Trotsky in New York, 1917.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best books where insanity is normalized

Brian Evenson's latest book is The Warren.

One of his five favorite books where insane characters come to be taken for or treated as normal, as shared at Tor.com:
Magnus Mills, The Restraint of Beasts

A brilliant comic novel about three hapless comic fencing installers who keep having things go wrong. When someone is accidentally killed, they react to the death in an absurd manner and quickly are back to installing their fences. When another accident happens when their boss is there, the reaction, as in Gray’s story, is completely other than what we expect.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 23, 2016

What is Amanda I. Seligman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Amanda I. Seligman, author of Chicago's Block Clubs: How Neighbors Shape the City.

Her entry begins:
When I was in graduate school in the mid-1990s, writing my dissertation, working two academic jobs, and abstaining from fiction, I dreamed of the day when I would have tenure and work on just one work of scholarship at a time, in an orderly, sequential, and logical fashion, without the constant sense that I was behind in everything. That fantasy was nothing more than an illusion, as I seem always to have several projects going at the same time. Two decades on, I have surrendered to my natural condition. The tendency to multitask turns out to infect my reading habits as well. The books I am pretty sure I am currently reading more or less actively include:

Robert C. Ellickson, Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes (1991): I have been poking around in legal research lately and stumbled across this book, which resonates very strongly Chicago’s Block Clubs’ emphasis on how urban dwellers cooperate with their neighbors. In the first few chapters, Ellickson argues that neighboring cattle ranchers resolve their disputes without resorting to legal remedies. I can’t decide yet whether this argument is completely banal or a brilliant execution of...[read on]
About Chicago’s Block Clubs, from the publisher:
What do you do if your alley is strewn with garbage after the sanitation truck comes through? Or if you’re tired of the rowdy teenagers next door keeping you up all night? Is there a vacant lot on your block accumulating weeds, needles, and litter? For a century, Chicagoans have joined block clubs to address problems like these that make daily life in the city a nuisance. When neighbors work together in block clubs, playgrounds get built, local crime is monitored, streets are cleaned up, and every summer is marked by the festivities of day-long block parties.

In Chicago’s Block Clubs, Amanda I. Seligman uncovers the history of the block club in Chicago—from its origins in the Urban League in the early 1900s through to the Chicago Police Department’s twenty-first-century community policing program. Recognizing that many neighborhood problems are too big for one resident to handle—but too small for the city to keep up with—city residents have for more than a century created clubs to establish and maintain their neighborhood’s particular social dynamics, quality of life, and appearance. Omnipresent yet evanescent, block clubs are sometimes the major outlets for community organizing in the city—especially in neighborhoods otherwise lacking in political strength and clout. Drawing on the stories of hundreds of these groups from across the city, Seligman vividly illustrates what neighbors can—and cannot—accomplish when they work together.
Learn more about Chicago's Block Clubs at the University of Chicago Press website.

Writers Read: Amanda Seligman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books that take place over one school year

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories.

At the B&N Reads blog he tagged five books that are more or less set during one school year, including:
Election, by Tom Perrotta

Perrotta’s second novel is likely best-remembered today for its film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon, but the book is better. Aside from its epilogue, the story takes place entirely during one school year, detailing the battle for Student Council President between irritatingly ambitious Tracy Flick and laid-back popular jock Paul Warren—an election increasingly (and incompetently) manipulated by popular teacher Mr. M simple because he dislikes Tracy. Anyone who has ever suspected that their teachers were no more mature and “together” than the students will find validation in this dark but hilarious story, but ultimately Perrotta’s message is that children have the excuse of being children for their bad behavior, while adults do not.
Read about another entry on the list.

Election is among Ellen Wehle's four top novels featuring bad teacher-student behavior and Don Calame's top ten funny teen boy books.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Marina Budhos's "Watched"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Watched by Marina Budhos.

About the book, from the publisher:
Marina Budhos’s extraordinary and timely novel examines what it’s like to grow up under surveillance, something many Americans experience and most Muslim Americans know.

Naeem is far from the “model teen.” Moving fast in his immigrant neighborhood in Queens is the only way he can outrun the eyes of his hardworking Bangladeshi parents and their gossipy neighbors. Even worse, they’re not the only ones watching. Cameras on poles. Mosques infiltrated. Everyone knows: Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Anyone might be a watcher.

Naeem thinks he can charm his way through anything, until his mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer a dark deal. Naeem sees a way to be a hero—a protector—like the guys in his brother’s comic books. Yet what is a hero? What is a traitor? And where does Naeem belong?

Acclaimed author Marina Budhos delivers a riveting story that’s as vivid and involving as today’s headlines.
Visit Marina Budhos's website.

My Book, The Movie: Watched.

The Page 69 Test: Watched.

--Marshal Zeringue

Don Bruns's "Casting Bones," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Casting Bones by Don Bruns.

His entry begins:
The protagonist in Casting Bones is Quentin Archer. Q is a homicide detective who is forced out of the Detroit Police force. His wife has been murdered, and the baggage he carries is sizable. Drawing a high-profile murder of a judge as one of his first assignments he finds himself under immense pressure to solve the murder in record time. He is helped by a young, attractive voodoo queen.

The actor I had in mind to play the detective is John...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Don Bruns's website.

The Page 99 Test: Stuff to Die For.

My Book, The Movie: Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.

The Page 69 Test: Stuff to Spy For.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

My Book, The Movie: Casting Bones.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What is Craig Johnson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Craig Johnson, author of An Obvious Fact (A Walt Longmire Mystery).

His entry begins:
I’m catching up on a lot of things, but the top of the nightstand is Scott Phillips’s Rake, I like to check in with him periodically just because his books and voice are so damn funny. Then I’ve got Miracle Boy and Other Stories by Pinckney Benedict who wrote Dogs of God and who I consider to be one of the unsung godfathers of the current rural, tough-guy clan of authors out there like Donald Ray Pollock, Frank Bill, Benjamin Whitmer, and...[read on]
About An Obvious Fact, from the publisher:
In the 12th novel in the New York Times bestselling Longmire series, Walt, Henry, and Vic discover much more than they bargained for when they are called in to investigate a hit-and-run accident involving a young motorcyclist near Devils Tower

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend Henry Standing Bear are called to Hulett, Wyoming—the nearest town to America’s first national monument, Devils Tower—to investigate, things start getting complicated. As competing biker gangs; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur; and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry’s ’59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt’s granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won’t stop quoting, ”There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
Learn more about the author and his work at Craig Johnson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Page 69 Test: Kindness Goes Unpunished.

My Book, The Movie: The Cold Dish.

The Page 69 Test: The Dark Horse.

The Page 69 Test: Junkyard Dogs.

The Page 69 Test: Hell Is Empty.

Writers Read: Craig Johnson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books on corruption

John Sweeney is a writer and broadcaster, currently working for BBC Newsnight. His latest book is Cold.

One of Sweeney's top ten books on corruption, as shared at the Guardian:
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Into the city with no more personality than a paper cup, Chandler’s genius was to place a knight in battered armour, a heavy-drinking, chess-playing Sir Galahad transposed to 1940s LA. In this reworking of the Knights of the Round Table, Mordred is the city’s immoral rich, his thanes bent cops and smooth-talking, grey-suited mobsters. A corrupt city has never been so skilfully drawn.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Big Sleep also appears on the Telegraph's top 23 list of amazing--and short--classic books, Lucy Worsley's ten best list of fictional detectives, Becky Ferreira's list of seven of the best books set in Los Angeles, Ian Rankin's list of five perfect mysteries, Kathryn Williams's reading list on greed, Gigi Levangie Grazer's list of six favorite books that became movies, Megan Wasson's list of five top books on Los Angeles, Greil Marcus's six recommended books list, Barry Forshaw's critic's chart of six American noir masters, David Nicholls' list of favorite film adaptations, and the Guardian's list of ten of the best smokes in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Philip C. Almond's "Afterlife"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Afterlife: A History of Life after Death by Philip C. Almond.

About the book, from the publisher:
The end of life has never meant the extinction of hope. People have always yearned for, and often been terrified by, continuance beyond the horizon of mortality. Over many centuries various imaginative and sometimes macabre ideas have been devised to explain what happens to human beings after death. As Philip C. Almond reveals in his new and zestful history of the hereafter, whichever image or metaphor has been employed by visionaries, writers, philosophers, or theologians, it has tended to oscillate between two contrary poles: the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the soul. This pendulum movement of ideas and language reflects the contending influence of the Hebrew Bible and of ancient Greek thought and the often tense encounters, skirmishes, and compromises between them.

Exploring this polarity, and boldly ranging across time and space, Almond takes his readers on a remarkable journey to worlds of both torment and delight. He travels to the banks of the Styx, where Charon the grizzled boatman ferries a departing spirit across the river only if a coin is first placed for payment on the tongue of its corpse. He transports us to the legendary Isles of the Blessed, walks the hallowed ground of the Elysian Fields, and plumbs the murky depths of Tartarus, primordial dungeon of the Titans. The pitiable souls of the damned are seen to clog the soot-filled caverns of Lucifer's domain even as the elect ascend to Paradise. Including medieval fears for the fate of those consumed by cannibals, early modern ideas about the Last Day, and modern scientific explorations of the domains of the dead, this first full treatment of the afterlife in Western thought evokes many rich imaginings of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Limbo.
Learn more about Afterlife at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Afterlife: A History of Life after Death.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Stephanie Gangi & Enzo

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Stephanie Gangi & Enzo.

The author, on how she and Enzo were united:
I got Enzo during the end days of a love affair when I knew in my heart that it was truly over. I hadn’t had a dog in a couple of years, and I thought it would be a healthy diversion. Considering his size and personality, he’s kind of turned into my rebound man. In...[read on]
About Gangi's The Next, from the publisher:
Is there a right way to die? If so, Joanna DeAngelis has it all wrong. She’s consumed by betrayal, spending her numbered days obsessing over Ned McGowan, her much younger ex, and watching him thrive in the spotlight with someone new, while she wastes away. She’s every woman scorned, fantasizing about revenge … except she’s out of time.

Joanna falls from her life, from the love of her daughters and devoted dog, into an otherworldly landscape, a bleak infinity she can’t escape until she rises up and returns and sets it right—makes Ned pay—so she can truly move on.

From the other side into right this minute, Jo embarks on a sexy, spiritual odyssey. As she travels beyond memory, beyond desire, she is transformed into a fierce female force of life, determined to know how to die, happily ever after.
Visit Stephanie Gangi's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Stephanie Gangi & Enzo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What is James R. Benn reading?

Featured at Writers Read: James R. Benn, author of Blue Madonna.

His entry begins:
I’m currently caught up in research reading, so my current stack is all non-fiction.

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

A terrific and well-written story of the early years of the American Revolution, when Benedict Arnold was one of our bravest and most gifted generals. Philbrick makes him come alive, and breaks through the image of the vile traitor (although that he was) to show a more rounded, and quite sad, view of the man for whom life’s bounties were never enough, and every slight was a...[read on]
About Blue Madonna, from the publisher:
Billy Boyle, US Army detective and ex-Boston cop, faces his toughest investigation yet: infiltrating enemy lines in France as the Allies invade Normandy.

It’s late May 1944. Captain Billy Boyle is court-martialed on spurious charges of black market dealings. Stripped of his officer’s rank, reduced to private, and sentenced to three months’ hard labor, Billy is given an opportunity: he can avoid his punishment if he goes behind enemy lines to rescue a high-value Allied soldier.

A secret chamber and tunnels, once used by escaping Huguenots in the 17th century, has since been taken over by the Allies. But this “safe house” on the outskirts of Chaumont turns out to be anything but—two downed airmen, one Canadian and the other American, have been murdered.

Billy is flown in as part of a three-man team on June 5, 1944, the night before the Normandy invasion, and must solve the mystery of who is behind the murders before then leading a group escape back to England, with both the Germans and a killer hot on their heels.
Learn more about the Billy Boyle WWII Mystery Series at James R. Benn's website.

The Page 99 Test: The First Wave.

The Page 69 Test: Evil for Evil.

The Page 69 Test: Rag and Bone.

My Book, The Movie: Death's Door.

The Page 69 Test: The White Ghost.

The Page 69 Test: Blue Madonna.

Writers Read: James R. Benn.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Augusta Scattergood's "Making Friends with Billy Wong"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Making Friends with Billy Wong by Augusta Scattergood.

About the book, from the publisher:
Azalea is not happy about being dropped off to look after Grandmother Clark. Even if she didn't care that much about meeting the new sixth graders in her Texas hometown, those strangers seem much preferable to the ones in Paris Junction. Talk about troubled Willis DeLoach or gossipy Melinda Bowman. Who needs friends like these!

And then there's Billy Wong, a Chinese-American boy who shows up to help in her grandmother's garden. Billy's great-aunt and uncle own the Lucky Foods grocery store, where days are long and some folks aren't friendly. For Azalea, whose family and experiences seem different from most everybody she knows, friendship has never been easy. Maybe this time, it will be.

Inspired by the true accounts of Chinese immigrants who lived in the American South during the civil rights era, these side by side stories — one in Azalea's prose, the other in Billy's poetic narrative — create a poignant novel and reminds us that friends can come to us in the most unexpected ways.
Learn more about the book and author at Augusta Scattergood's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Way to Stay in Destiny.

The Page 69 Test: Making Friends with Billy Wong.

--Marshal Zeringue

Caroline Leavitt's "Cruel Beautiful World," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel by Caroline Leavitt.

The entry begins:
When I start to write a novel, I always tape up photos of people I think would be the characters. Mostly I use ordinary photos, from Humans of New York, usually. While I was writing Cruel Beautiful World, set in the 60s and the 70s, I thought of one actress for Lucy, the wild young 17-year-old who runs off with her older English teacher to a supposed back-to-the-land paradise which turns into a nightmare, I put up a shot of actress Julie Garner (Julie, I hope you are listening!) because she has the exact right vulnerability and impulsiveness. And she looks like a child of the sixties! For Iris, who thinks her life is over when...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Caroline Leavitt's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Pictures of You.

My Book, the Movie: Pictures of You.

The Page 69 Test: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Is This Tomorrow.

My Book, The Movie: Cruel Beautiful World.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of the best reads featuring creepy ass water

Kendare Blake's newest novel is Three Dark Crowns. One of his favorite reads that somehow star creepy water, as shared at Tor.com:
The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan

That’s far more relaxed than I’d look drowning. This novel is a fictionalized memoir of India Morgan Phelps (Imp, to her friends) an artist struggling with mental illness, whose already complicated life takes a strange turn when she picks up hitchhiker Eva Canning, sole survivor of a cult whose members walked into the sea. Is Eva a ghost? A selkie-like sea creature in human form? As Imp delves into the mysterious woman’s history, there is plenty to question, including the reliability of Imp’s own accounting.

For lovers of unreliable narrators this book is a must. And there’s plenty of creepy ass water to be found, particularly the cold waves of the Atlantic along the coasts of Rhode Island.
Learn about another entry on the list.

The Drowning Girl is among Peter Straub's six favorite books.

My Book, The Movie: The Drowning Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue