Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pg. 69: Jessica Brockmole's "Woman Enters Left"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Woman Enters Left by Jessica Brockmole.

About the book, from the publisher:
In the 1950s, movie star Louise Wilde is caught between an unfulfilling acting career and a shaky marriage when she receives an out-of-the-blue phone call: She has inherited the estate of Florence “Florrie” Daniels, a Hollywood screenwriter she barely recalls meeting. Among Florrie’s possessions are several unproduced screenplays, personal journals, and—inexplicably—old photographs of Louise’s mother, Ethel. On an impulse, Louise leaves a film shoot in Las Vegas and sets off for her father’s house on the East Coast, hoping for answers about the curious inheritance and, perhaps, about her own troubled marriage.

Nearly thirty years earlier, Florrie takes off on an adventure of her own, driving her Model T westward from New Jersey in pursuit of broader horizons. She has the promise of a Hollywood job and, in the passenger seat, Ethel, her best friend since childhood. Florrie will do anything for Ethel, who is desperate to reach Nevada in time to reconcile with her husband and reunite with her daughter. Ethel fears the loss of her marriage; Florrie, with long-held secrets confided only in her journal, fears its survival.

In parallel tales, the three women—Louise, Florrie, Ethel—discover that not all journeys follow a map. As they rediscover their carefree selves on the road, they learn that sometimes the paths we follow are shaped more by our traveling companions than by our destinations.
Learn more about the book and author at Jessica Brockmole's website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Letters from Skye.

My Book, The Movie: Letters from Skye.

My Book, The Movie: Woman Enters Left.

The Page 69 Test: Woman Enters Left.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight books that capture the spirit of Hanukkah

At Bustle, Melissa Ragsdale tagged eight books that "go right along with the spirit of [Hanukkah]," including:
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

In this wonderful novel, Kadish imagines what it would have taken for a Jewish woman to have become a writer in the 16th century. She tells the story of a young woman who posed as a man in order to be a scholar, and the historians tracking her down centuries later. It's particularly fascinating because there are very little records of Jewish women in history, and Kadish delivers a wonderful exploration of how identity and history intertwine.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Weight of Ink.

The Page 69 Test: The Weight of Ink.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David Clary's "Gangsters to Governors"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America by David Clary.

About the book, from the publisher:
Generations ago, gambling in America was an illicit activity, dominated by gangsters like Benny Binion and Bugsy Siegel. Today, forty-eight out of fifty states permit some form of legal gambling, and America’s governors sit at the head of the gaming table. But have states become addicted to the revenue gambling can bring? And does the potential of increased revenue lead them to place risky bets on new casinos, lotteries, and online games?

In Gangsters to Governors, journalist David Clary investigates the pros and cons of the shift toward state-run gambling. Unearthing the sordid history of America’s gaming underground, he demonstrates the problems with prohibiting gambling while revealing how today’s governors, all competing for a piece of the action, promise their citizens payouts that are rarely delivered.

Clary introduces us to a rogue’s gallery of colorful characters, from John “Old Smoke” Morrissey, the Irish-born gangster who built Saratoga into a gambling haven in the nineteenth century, to Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who has furiously lobbied against online betting. By exploring the controversial histories of legal and illegal gambling in America, he offers a fresh perspective on current controversies, including bans on sports and online betting. Entertaining and thought-provoking, Gangsters to Governors considers the past, present, and future of our gambling nation.
Visit David Clary's website.

My Book, The Movie: Gangsters to Governors.

The Page 99 Test: Gangsters to Governors.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ten top books about growing old

Christopher Matthews is the author of The Old Man and the Knee: How to Be a Golden Oldie. One of his top ten books about growing old, as shared at the Guardian:
I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron never made it to old age: she died aged 71, from pneumonia brought on by acute myeloid leukaemia. Yet the screenwriter and author knew as well anyone what it feels like to grow older and – as her title declaims – some of the annoying and often absurd failings that the advancing years bring with them. Not being able to remember a damned thing is only one; she cheerfully lists almost a dozen people she met who she can’t remember anything about (Groucho Marx, Cary Grant, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Peter Ustinov).
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Michael Wiley reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Michael Wiley, author of Monument Road.

His entry begins:
Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress is as fresh and powerful today as when it first was published in 1990. Set in 1948 Los Angeles, it also speaks straight to our current American moment. I’ve just reread it for the fourth time.

The first of Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels—and the winner of the 1990 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. novel—Devil at once operates within and upends the detective fiction genre. Mosley knows and loves his Raymond Chandler, but Easy Rawlins is no Philip Marlowe. He’s...[read on]
About Monument Road, from the publisher:
Introducing former death-row inmate turned private investigator Franky Dast in the first of an intriguing new crime noir series.

Having spent eight years on death row for a crime he didn't commit, Franky Dast now helps others in the same situation. But when he learns that Bill Higby, the detective whose testimony helped convict him, is facing his own murder charge, Franky must decide whether to help the man he loathes, the man who remains convinced of Franky's guilt.
Learn more about the book and author at Michael Wiley's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Last Striptease.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Striptease.

The Page 69 Test: A Bad Night's Sleep.

Writers Read: Michael Wiley.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best retellings of "Alice in Wonderland"

At Tor.com Natalie Zutter tagged seven top retellings of Alice in Wonderland, including:
After Alice by Gregory Maguire

The moment that Alice tumbles down the rabbit-hole, she leaves the real, logical world behind. But that world doesn’t stop spinning—so how did 1860s Oxford react to her disappearance? Indifference, mostly. In Gregory Maguire’s imagining, Alice’s fifteen-year-old sister Lydia is too busy serving as the lady of the house after their mother’s death to notice her curious younger sister has slipped away. Alice’s playmate Ada does find the rabbit-hole, but she’s late enough that she must navigate Wonderland on her own, acting as the Orpheus to Alice’s Eurydice in her attempts to drag her friend back to the light.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Irene Radford's "A Spoonful of Magic"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford.

About A Spoonful of Magic, from the publisher:
A delightful new urban fantasy about a kitchen witch and her magical family

Daphne “Daffy” Rose Wallace Deschants has an ideal suburban life—three wonderful and talented children; a coffee shop and bakery, owned and run with her best friend; a nearly perfect husband, Gabriel, or “G” to his friends and family. Life could hardly be better.

But G’s perfection hides dangerous secrets. When Daffy uncovers evidence of his infidelity, her perfect life seems to be in ruins. On their wedding anniversary, Daffy prepares to confront him, only to be stopped in her tracks when he foils a mugging attempt using wizard-level magic.

Suddenly, Daphne is part of a world she never imagined–where her husband is not a traveling troubleshooter for a software company, but the sheriff of the International Guild of Wizards, and her brilliant children are also budding magicians. Even she herself is not just a great baker and barista—she’s actually a kitchen witch. And her discovery of her powers is only just beginning.

But even the midst of her chaotic new life, another problem is brewing. G’s ex-wife, a dangerous witch, has escaped from her magical prison. Revenge-bent and blind, she needs the eyes of her son to restore her sight—the son Daffy has raised as her own since he was a year old. Now Daphne must find a way to harness her new powers and protect her family—or risk losing everything she holds dear.
Visit Irene Radford's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Broken Dragon.

The Page 69 Test: The Broken Dragon.

My Book, The Movie: A Spoonful of Magic.

Writers Read: Irene Radford.

The Page 69 Test: A Spoonful of Magic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Three of the best books about Ethiopia

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka tagged three top books on Ethiopia. One title on the list:
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

In 1954, a young Indian nun working at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa dies while giving birth to identical twins. Their father, a well-respected British surgeon, disappears, abandoning the boys. Fortunately for the twins, the two doctors who deliver them become their loving, adoptive parents.

This big, bittersweet, beautifully written novel, set mostly around the hospital, follows the family’s fortunes over five decades. As the boys come of age, Ethiopia’s turbulent politics – executions, rebellions, coups – play out sometimes on the periphery of their personal story and sometimes at its very centre.

The “elder” twin, Marion, narrates the tale, at the heart of which is an act of betrayal that breaks the strong bond between him and his brother Shiva.

When political events take a dangerous turn, forcing Marion to flee to New York, he finds himself becoming entangled with his past and forced to come to terms with it.

Verghese, an acute observer, vividly evokes life at the hospital and in the bustling capital. He delivers a page-turning, emotionally absorbing tale – despite a surfeit of medical detail (the book’s title is a phrase from the Hippocratic oath).

The Ethiopian-born author is a doctor who lives, writes and teaches medicine in the US. This, his first novel, has sold more than a million copies.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: G.R.F. Ferrari's "The Messages We Send"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Messages We Send: Social Signals and Storytelling by G. R. F. Ferrari.

About the book, from the publisher:
G. R. F. Ferrari offers a new framework for understanding different ways in which we communicate with each other. He explores the idea of "intimations": social interactions that approach outright communication but do not quite reach it. The metaphor from which he starts is that of a communicative scale or switch, which goes from "off" (no communication intended) to fully "on" (outright communication). Intimations lie in between. Three intermediate positions are identified: quarter-on, half-on, and three-quarters-on. Progression along the communicative scale is determined by the extent to which what comes across in the transmission is required to come across by recognition of the intention of the transmitting party. At a quarter-on, it is required not to; at half-on, it is neither required to nor required not to; at three-quarters-on, it is required to, but only partially; at full-on, it is required to, and the recognition is complete. The half-on intimation is primarily used for impression-management in social life. To illustrate it, the book concentrates on fashion and the "messages" we send with our clothes. With the quarter-on and three-quarters-on intimation, the focus of argument is on the fact that transmissions at the same position of the communicative scale have the same underlying structure, whether they are made in the formal arts or in daily life outside the arts. For the quarter-on intimation, the formal art is lyric poetry; for the three-quarters-on intimation, it is storytelling. The book discusses storytelling at length, and at the end investigates its connection to situational irony.
Learn more about The Messages We Send at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Messages We Send.

--Marshal Zeringue

"Smithsonian" magazine's 10 best history books of 2017

One of Smithsonian magazine's ten best history books of 2017:
Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics by Marjorie J. Spruill.

Thirty years ago, long before the Women’s Marches of 2017, women like Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King and Coretta Scott King tried to put feminist issues on the national agenda. Ms. Magazine famous dubbed the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston “Four Days That Changed the World,” but the changes were complicated, as Spruill describes over the course of her book. “Women’s libbers” sparked a countermovement led by Phyllis Schlafly, which held a “Pro-Life, Pro-Family Rally” in Houston at the same time as the conference. Spruill is a professor of women’s, Southern and recent American history at the University of South Carolina, and she brings her unique academic perspective to explain why feminist initiatives like the Equal Rights Amendment never saw the light of day.
Learn about another entry on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Divided We Stand.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Shelley Tougas reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Shelley Tougas, author of Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life.

Her entry begins:
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rose Howard loves her homonyms—so much that she names a dog found lost in a storm “Rain” (rein, reign). Rose, who has autism, is pushed to her limits when Rain disappears again, and she has to make the toughest decision of her life. This tugs at your heart but never goes over the top with sentimentality. Lovely....[read on]
About Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life, from the publisher:
A life on the prairie is not all its cracked up to be for one girl whose mom takes her love of the Little House series just a bit too far.

Charlotte’s mom has just moved the family across the country to live in Walnut Grove, “childhood home of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Mom’s idea is that the spirit of Laura Ingalls will help her write a bestselling book. But Charlotte knows better: Walnut Grove is just another town where Mom can avoid responsibility. And this place is worse than everywhere else the family has lived—it’s freezing in the winter, it’s small with nothing to do, and the people talk about Laura Ingalls all the time. Charlotte’s convinced her family will not be able to make a life on the prairie—until the spirit of Laura Ingalls starts getting to her, too.
Visit Shelley Tougas's website.

Writers Read: Shelley Tougas.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 11, 2017

Six top books about self-deception

Emily Fridlund is the author of the story collection Catapult and History of Wolves, a debut novel that was a finalist for the Man Booker Award. One of her six favorite books about self-deception, as shared at The Week magazine:
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

I first read this collection of brutal Vietnam War stories as a teenager. It has never left me. It is the book I return to whenever I need to think through again how the stories we tell can obscure truths, yes, but also — crucially and sometimes despite ourselves — expose them.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Things They Carried is among Janine di Giovanni's top ten books of war reportage, The American Scholar editors' eleven best sentences in literature, Simon Mawer's five top war novels, Olen Steinhauer's six favorite books, and is one of Roger “R.J.” Ellory's five favorite human dramas. Melinda L. Pash, author of In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation: The Americans Who Fought the Korean War, says The Things They Carried changed her life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Steven Cooper's "Desert Remains," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Desert Remains by Steven Cooper.

The entry begins:
I never cast my characters while writing a book. They come to me organically, appearing as strangers I’ve never seen before. They’re not unlike the new, unfamiliar faces that pop up in dreams. After a while, once the book is out, once I’m not so close to these people, I might then see an actor or actress who appears very close to the characters I imagined. Recently I watched a series on Hulu called Casual and it occurred to me that the male lead, Tommy Dewey, would make a convincing Gus Parker. The role must be authentic surfer dude, not a spoof or a caricature. When Gus makes me laugh, I...[read on]
Visit Steven Cooper's website.

My Book, The Movie: Desert Remains.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Tara Goedjen's "The Breathless"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Breathless by Tara Goedjen.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/548795/the-breathless-by-tara-goedjen/About the book, from the publisher:
For fans of the dark family secrets of We Were Liars and the page-turning suspense of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Breathless is a haunting tale of deeply buried secrets, forbidden love, and how far some will go to bring back what’s long dead.

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.

Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.

And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.

And maybe there are secrets so dark, they should never see the light of day.
Visit Tara Goedjen's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Breathless.

Writers Read: Tara Goedjen.

The Page 69 Test: The Breathless.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seventeen books for "Jane Eyre" fans

At Bustle, Kristian Wilson tagged seventeen books for Jane Eyre lovers, including:
Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

In Lena Coakley's novel, the Brontë siblings bring the fantastic worlds of Gondal and Verdopolis to life with their pens, providing an escape from the banalities of everyday life. But when Branwell's mind begins to slip, his sisters must reconsider their relationship with the lands they have created.
Read about the another entry on the list.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow is among Melissa Albert's  six magically weird YA fantasy books.

The Page 69 Test: Worlds of Ink and Shadow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pg. 99: Maria Belodubrovskaya's "Not According to Plan"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Not According to Plan: Filmmaking under Stalin by Maria Belodubrovskaya.

About the book, from the publisher:
In Not According to Plan, Maria Belodubrovskaya reveals the limits on the power of even the most repressive totalitarian regimes to create and control propaganda. Belodubrovskaya’s revisionist account of Soviet filmmaking between 1930 and 1953 highlights the extent to which the Soviet film industry remained stubbornly artisanal in its methods, especially in contrast to the more industrial approach of the Hollywood studio system. Not According to Plan shows that even though Josef Stalin recognized cinema as a "mighty instrument of mass agitation and propaganda" and strove to harness the Soviet film industry to serve the state, directors such as Eisenstein, Alexandrov, and Pudovkin had far more creative control than did party-appointed executives and censors.

The Stalinist party-state, despite explicit intent and grandiose plans to build a "Soviet Hollywood" that would release a thousand features per year, failed to construct even a modest mass propaganda cinema. Belodubrovskaya’s wealth of evidence shows that the regime’s desire to disseminate propaganda on a vast scale was consistently at odds with its compulsion to control quality and with Stalin’s intolerance of imperfection. Not According to Plan is a landmark in Soviet cultural history and the global history of cinema.
Learn more about Not According to Plan at the Cornell University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Not According to Plan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of the best middle grade mysteries

At the BN Kids Blog Maria Burel tagged "seven middle grade mysteries to cozy up with on dreary days," including:
Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko

In 1900 San Francisco, 13-year-old Lizzie is stuck in a girls’ finishing school, when she’d much rather be studying science. It’s while on house call visits with her physician father that she discovers the underbelly of the city, a world as far removed from finishing school as one can get. When Chinatown is quarantined amidst rumors of the plague, Lizzie breaks all social class rules and befriends Noah, their Chinese cook’s son, who has been hiding in the servant’s quarters. Together, the two attempt to unravel the medical mystery that has taken over San Francisco. If you’re looking for a fast-paced blend of historical fiction, medical drama, and mystery, this one is for you.
Read about another entry on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Gennifer Choldenko & Sasha.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Irene Radford reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Irene Radford, author of A Spoonful of Magic.

Her entry begins:
When I am writing Urban Fanatsy I cannot read Urban Fantasy. When I’m writing Historical Fantasy, after I’ve done the initial research, I cannot read a similar genre. My default popcorn books are cozy mysteries, with or without ghosts and paranormal elements as long as the mystery is the core of the story. Rhys Bowen and Carola Dunn are current favorites in...[read on]
About A Spoonful of Magic, from the publisher:
A delightful new urban fantasy about a kitchen witch and her magical family

Daphne “Daffy” Rose Wallace Deschants has an ideal suburban life—three wonderful and talented children; a coffee shop and bakery, owned and run with her best friend; a nearly perfect husband, Gabriel, or “G” to his friends and family. Life could hardly be better.

But G’s perfection hides dangerous secrets. When Daffy uncovers evidence of his infidelity, her perfect life seems to be in ruins. On their wedding anniversary, Daffy prepares to confront him, only to be stopped in her tracks when he foils a mugging attempt using wizard-level magic.

Suddenly, Daphne is part of a world she never imagined–where her husband is not a traveling troubleshooter for a software company, but the sheriff of the International Guild of Wizards, and her brilliant children are also budding magicians. Even she herself is not just a great baker and barista—she’s actually a kitchen witch. And her discovery of her powers is only just beginning.

But even the midst of her chaotic new life, another problem is brewing. G’s ex-wife, a dangerous witch, has escaped from her magical prison. Revenge-bent and blind, she needs the eyes of her son to restore her sight—the son Daffy has raised as her own since he was a year old. Now Daphne must find a way to harness her new powers and protect her family—or risk losing everything she holds dear.
Visit Irene Radford's website and Facebook page.

My Book, The Movie: The Broken Dragon.

The Page 69 Test: The Broken Dragon.

My Book, The Movie: A Spoonful of Magic.

Writers Read: Irene Radford.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four books that changed Jesse Blackadder

Jesse Blackadder is an author and screenwriter. She has published seven books for adults and children. Her latest novel, Sixty Seconds, is about a family's journey to forgiveness after their toddler son drowns. One of four books that changed the author, as shared at the Sydney Morning Herald:
THE PASSION - Jeanette Winterson

Dazzling, inventive and boundary-pushing, The Passion blew my undergraduate mind by showing me what was possible in a novel. The story of a Venetian boatman's daughter and a soldier in Napoleon's army turned everything I knew about writing on its head, and inspired me to become a writer.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Pg. 69: Janet Fitch's "The Revolution of Marina M."

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the mega-bestselling author of White Oleander and Paint It Black, a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman

St. Petersburg, New Year's Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers' rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.

As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina's own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times. This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman's journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century.
Visit Janet Fitch's website.

The Page 99 Test: Janet Fitch's Paint It Black.

The Page 69 Test: The Revolution of Marina M..

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top food books for history buffs

At B&N Reads Madina Papadopoulos tagged five top food history books, including:
Beans: A History, by Ken Albala

Eminent food historian and Professor of History at University of the Pacific, Ken Albala, has written copious amounts of texts on the subject of culinary history. With a plant-based movement taking root in the food world, it is intriguing to take a look at the history of the bean. Looking at societies and change through the lens of this food, Albala tells captivating tales of cuisines and culture.
Read about another entry on the list.

Writers Read: Ken Albala (September 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: David N. Schwartz's "The Last Man Who Knew Everything"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age by David N. Schwartz.

About the book, from the publisher:
In 1942, a team at the University of Chicago achieved what no one had before: a nuclear chain reaction. At the forefront of this breakthrough stood Enrico Fermi. Straddling the ages of classical physics and quantum mechanics, equally at ease with theory and experiment, Fermi truly was the last man who knew everything-at least about physics. But he was also a complex figure who was a part of both the Italian Fascist Party and the Manhattan Project, and a less-than-ideal father and husband who nevertheless remained one of history's greatest mentors. Based on new archival material and exclusive interviews, The Last Man Who Knew Everything lays bare the enigmatic life of a colossus of twentieth century physics.
Visit David N. Schwartz's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Last Man Who Knew Everything.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 08, 2017

Ten top books of the American West

Alex Higley's new novel is Old Open.

One of the author's ten favorite books about the American West, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams

On the wrinkled soft quarter-sheet of paper I used as a bookmark while rereading The Quick and the Dead some years back there are 17 words written down. Most of them are illegible. I can make out the following: “rusk,” “telluric,” “decedent,” “descanso,” “Fleetwood Brougham,” “ischemic.” Here’s a portion from the introduction of my favorite character: “Ray didn’t drink or do drugs but various ischemic incidents had given him an eager, erratic nature and a variety of facial contortions that allowed permanent employment to elude him. He hated selling shoes. He wanted to sell boots, but the manager disliked him.” This is my favorite Joy Williams novel, but who cares, read every word she writes.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tara Goedjen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tara Goedjen, author of The Breathless.

Her entry begins:
I’ve been touring for The Breathless and have just gotten the chance to pick up a book by a writer friend, Amanda Searcy, called The Truth Beneath the Lies. Since I write within the mystery/thriller genre, I tend to reach for those books first, and the cover of Searcy’s novel makes me want to read it: the jagged streaks of color hint at the darkness and danger within. Karen McManus, another writer I admire, described it as “A smart, suspenseful, and unpredictable thriller that will keep readers turning pages until every last lie is revealed.” These are the sorts of books I...[read on]
About The Breathless, from the publisher:
For fans of the dark family secrets of We Were Liars and the page-turning suspense of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Breathless is a haunting tale of deeply buried secrets, forbidden love, and how far some will go to bring back what’s long dead.

No one knows what really happened on the beach where Roxanne Cole’s body was found, but her boyfriend, Cage, took off that night and hasn’t https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/548795/the-breathless-by-tara-goedjen/been seen since. Until now. One year—almost to the day—from Ro’s death, when he knocks on the door of Blue Gate Manor and asks where she is.

Cage has no memory of the past twelve months. According to him, Ro was alive only the day before. Ro’s sister Mae wouldn’t believe him, except that something’s not right. Nothing’s been right in the house since Ro died.

And then Mae finds the little green book. The one hidden in Ro’s room. It’s filled with secrets—dangerous secrets—about her family, and about Ro. And if what it says is true, then maybe, just maybe, Ro isn’t lost forever.

And maybe there are secrets so dark, they should never see the light of day.
Visit Tara Goedjen's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Breathless.

Writers Read: Tara Goedjen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten highly unlikely SFF love stories

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten times sci-fi & fantasy went looking for love outside our species, including:
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke

At the core of this heartbreaking, low-key sci-fi gem is an unusual romance between a human woman and a robot. Catarina is five years old the day her father returns home with an android named Finn, the first of his kind. There have been automata and AI in this scorched, rebuilding world, but Finn is unique—more and less human than anything that came before. As Cat grows, her relationship with Finn shifts from guardianship to friendship to something resembling love, though a love that strictly violates social norms and creates emotional upheaval for both woman and robot. We already emotionally invest in digital avatars, virtual pets, and entire virtual communities, so once we have robots that resemble humans physically and emotionally, it’ll only be a matter of time before we start falling in love with them, right? After all, we already have an official robot citizen.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke.

--Marshal Zeringue

Catherine Reef's "Victoria: Portrait of a Queen," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen by Catherine Reef.

The entry begins:
It is autumn 1861, and Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, is a student at Cambridge. Away from his parents and palace life, the future king, then called Bertie, is happy. He has been enjoying love—or at least sex—with an actress named Nellie Clifden. Suddenly he is confronted by his father, Prince Albert. It seems word of Bertie’s romance has reached Buckingham Palace, and the prince consort has come to admonish. The two take a long walk in the rain, and Albert informs Bertie that the affair must end, and that he must marry a suitable woman. This is Albert’s decision as well as the queen’s. So the film begins.

Bertie resists, and Prince Albert—well, Albert gets sick. As happened often in nineteenth-century literature and lore, exposure to wet weather has given him a cold. Albert, however, was already ill with an unknown ailment, and on December 13, Bertie is summoned to his father’s bedside. Prince Albert...[read on]
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