Monday, January 22, 2018

Five addicting & appealing Prohibition-era romances

At B&N Reads Amanda Diehl tagged five favorite Prohibition-era romances, including:
It Stings So Sweet, by Stephanie Draven

For a bit of variety and a more erotic take on a historically-set romance, It Stings So Sweet is a wonderful book with three heroines finding romance. Nora is a socialite, desperate to revive her marriage before it heads to ruin. Silent film actress Clara falls for a mysterious WWI pilot, who is surprisingly adventurous in the bedroom. Sophie is part of the working class and feels she will always stay there, until her wealthy boss and heir to a grand family fortune takes an interest in her. With three stories, It Stings So Sweet will appeal to all types of romance lovers.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What is James Anderson reading?

Featured at Writers Read: James Anderson, author of Lullaby Road: A Novel.

His entry begins:
My taste in reading is extremely varied, everything from biographies, philosophy, neuroscience, physics, history, as well as fiction, nonfiction and a fair amount of poetry. Right now I am reading the newest from someone I feel is one of our most gifted novelists—Steve Yarbrough—The Unmade World. Yarbrough’s stories are complex, as are his characters, and his ability to elevate a seemingly conversational style into a quite extraordinary intricate use of language. Every page of a Yarbrough novel is...[read on]
About Lullaby Road, from the publisher:
Winter has come to Route 117, a remote road through the high desert of Utah trafficked only by eccentrics, fugitives, and those looking to escape the world. Local truck driver Ben Jones, still in mourning over a heartbreaking loss, is just trying to get through another season of treacherous roads and sudden snowfall without an accident. But then he finds a mute Hispanic child who has been abandoned at a seedy truck stop along his route, far from civilization and bearing a note that simply reads “Please Ben. Watch my son. His name is Juan” And then at the bottom, a few more hastily scribbled words. “Bad Trouble. Tell no one.”.

Despite deep misgivings, and without any hint of who this child is or the grave danger he’s facing, Ben takes the child with him in his truck and sets out into an environment that is as dangerous as it is beautiful and silent. From that moment forward, nothing will ever be the same. Not for Ben. Not for the child. And not for anyone along the seemingly empty stretch of road known as Route 117.
Visit James Anderson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Never-Open Desert Diner.

The Page 69 Test: Lullaby Road.

Writers Read: James Anderson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Four top novels for crime lovers

Joseph Knox's new novel is Sirens.

One of four top books for crime lovers he tagged at the Waterstones blog:
Black and Blue
Ian Rankin

What a writer, what a series, what a book. Black and Blue is the 8th Rebus novel, Rankin’s favourite of his own works, and a great starting point for new readers overwhelmed by a large backlist. I remember reading it so clearly, in the boozy drizzle of a Mancunian winter. Absolutely freezing cold with a broken boiler and not a penny to my name, wrapped in a bed sheet, watching my breath in the air, TEARING through the pages.

Rankin tells a serial killer story here like no other and, in a move that perhaps predicted and ensured his longevity, absolutely never takes the obvious, easy route. Sometimes cinematic is a word which, when applied to novels, can feel belittling. In this case it seems only fitting. As we race through four intersecting plotlines, as Rebus’s own past and temper catches up with him, and as he begins to get some sense of quite what he’s up against, the book becomes thrilling in a very special way. It feels vital and new, forcing itself into the back of your brain like a bullet to the head.
Read about another entry on the list.

Euan Ferguson called Black and Blue, the eighth Rebus novel, Rankin's finest book and put John Rebus on his list of the ten best fictional sleuths; it is one of the ten most popular Scottish novels of the last 50 years.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Dara Horn's "Eternal Life"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Eternal Life: A Novel by Dara Horn.

About the book, from the publisher:
What would it really mean to live forever? Rachel is a woman with a problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles—widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, and hundreds of children. In the 2,000 years since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she’s tried everything to free herself, and only one other person in the world understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever.But as the twenty-first century begins and her children and grandchildren—consumed with immortality in their own ways, from the frontiers of digital currency to genetic engineering—develop new technologies that could change her fate and theirs, Rachel knows she must find a way out. Gripping, hilarious, and profoundly moving, Eternal Life celebrates the bonds between generations, the power of faith, the purpose of death, and the reasons for being alive.
Learn more about the author and her work at Dara Horn's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 99 Test: The World to Come.

The Page 99 Test: All Other Nights.

The Page 69 Test: A Guide for the Perplexed.

The Page 69 Test: Eternal Life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Coffee with a canine: J.D. Horn & Kirby

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: J.D. Horn & Kirby.

The author, on Kirby's favorite outdoor destination:
We live half the year in San Francisco, and Kirby adores Huntington Park on Nob Hill. It's a small park, but there's usually a dog or twelve to meet there. Every Friday evening from 5 to 7, people bring wine or beer and gather in the park with the dogs for "Yappy Hour." Some of the people who come aren't in the position to have a dog, so...[read on]
About J.D. Horn's The King of Bones and Ashes, from the publisher:
Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.
Visit J.D. Horn's website.

Coffee with a Canine: J.D. Horn & Kirby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Michael J. Ryan's "A Taste for the Beautiful"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: A Taste for the Beautiful: The Evolution of Attraction by Michael J. Ryan.

About the book, from the publisher:
From one of the world's leading authorities on animal behavior, the astonishing story of how the female brain drives the evolution of beauty in animals and humans

Darwin developed the theory of sexual selection to explain why the animal world abounds in stunning beauty, from the brilliant colors of butterflies and fishes to the songs of birds and frogs. He argued that animals have “a taste for the beautiful” that drives their potential mates to evolve features that make them more sexually attractive and reproductively successful. But if Darwin explained why sexual beauty evolved in animals, he struggled to understand how. In A Taste for the Beautiful, Michael Ryan, one of the world’s leading authorities on animal behavior, tells the remarkable story of how he and other scientists have taken up where Darwin left off and transformed our understanding of sexual selection, shedding new light on human behavior in the process.

Drawing on cutting-edge work in neuroscience and evolutionary biology, as well as his own important studies of the tiny Túngara frog deep in the jungles of Panama, Ryan explores the key questions: Why do animals perceive certain traits as beautiful and others not? Do animals have an inherent sexual aesthetic and, if so, where is it rooted? Ryan argues that the answers to these questions lie in the brain—particularly of females, who act as biological puppeteers, spurring the development of beautiful traits in males. This theory of how sexual beauty evolves explains its astonishing diversity and provides new insights about the degree to which our own perception of beauty resembles that of other animals.

Vividly written and filled with fascinating stories, A Taste for the Beautiful will change how you think about beauty and attraction.
Learn more about A Taste for the Beautiful at the Princeton University Press website. 

The Page 99 Test: A Taste for the Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Graham McTavish's six best books

Graham McTavish is a Scottish television, and film actor best known for his roles as Dougal Mackenzie in the popular TV series Outlander, as Dwalin in the The Hobbit trilogy, and as the Saint of Killers in AMC's series Preacher. One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy

A hard read but a masterpiece. I've got a high tolerance for descriptions of violence but there were moments when I had to put this down.

It's set in the American West about guys going around scalping Indians.
Read about another entry on the list.

Blood Meridian is one authority's pick for the Great Texas novel; it is among ShortList's roundup of literature's forty greatest villains, Brian Boone's five great novels that will probably never be made into movies, Sarah Porter's five best books with unusual demons and devils, Chet Williamson's top ten novels about deranged killers, Callan Wink's ten best books set in the American West, Simon Sebag Montefiore's six favorite books, Richard Kadrey's five books about awful, awful people, Jason Sizemore's top five books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair, Robert Allison's top ten novels of desert war, Alexandra Silverman's top fourteen wrathful stories, James Franco's six favorite books, Philipp Meyer's five best books that explain America, Peter Murphy's top ten literary preachers, David Vann's six favorite books, Robert Olmstead's six favorite books, Michael Crummey's top ten literary feuds, Philip Connors's top ten wilderness books, six books that made a difference to Kazuo Ishiguro, Clive Sinclair's top 10 westerns, Maile Meloy's six best books, and David Foster Wallace's five direly underappreciated post-1960 U.S. novels. It appears on the New York Times list of the best American fiction of the last 25 years and among the top ten works of literature according to Stephen King.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Brian Freeman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Brian Freeman, author of The Voice Inside (Frost Easton Series #2).

From his entry:
What have I been reading in the nonfiction world recently? It’s a mix, from the upcoming book Bringing Columbia Home about the 2003 space shuttle disaster to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci and Doris Goodwin’s biography of Lyndon Johnson. I’m a big fan of historians like...[read on]
About The Voice Inside, from the publisher:
One cop’s lie has set a killer free.

Four years after serial killer Rudy Cutter was sent away for life, San Francisco homicide inspector Frost Easton uncovers a terrible lie: his closest friend planted false evidence to put Cutter behind bars. When he’s forced to reveal the truth, his sister’s killer is back on the streets.

Desperate to take Cutter down again, the detective finds a new ally in Eden Shay. She wrote a book about Cutter and knows more about him than anyone. And she’s terrified. Because for four years, Cutter has been nursing revenge day after stolen day.

Staying ahead of the game of a killer who’s determined to strike again is not going to be easy. Not when Frost is battling his own demons. Not when the game is becoming so personal. And not when the killer’s next move is unlike anything Frost expected.
Visit Brian Freeman's official website, and follow the author's new radio show.

The Page 69 Test: Stripped.

My Book, The Movie: Stripped.

The Page 69 Test: Stalked.

My Book, The Movie: Spilled Blood.

The Page 69 Test: The Cold Nowhere.

My Book, The Movie: Season of Fear.

Writers Read: Brian Freeman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 19, 2018

Five top books about kickass warrior women

One of "five books starring women who are ready to kick ass and take names," as shared at the Tor Teen blog:
Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

This retelling of the legend of Spartacus tells the story of a young woman who dares to rebel against the seemingly all-powerful Roman Empire. Sold into slavery after her people are conquered, Attia finds herself bonding with Xanthus, the preeminent gladiator who entertains the people of Rome. That bond will spark a rebellion.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: James Anderson's "Lullaby Road"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Lullaby Road: A Novel by James Anderson.

About the book, from the publisher:
Winter has come to Route 117, a remote road through the high desert of Utah trafficked only by eccentrics, fugitives, and those looking to escape the world. Local truck driver Ben Jones, still in mourning over a heartbreaking loss, is just trying to get through another season of treacherous roads and sudden snowfall without an accident. But then he finds a mute Hispanic child who has been abandoned at a seedy truck stop along his route, far from civilization and bearing a note that simply reads “Please Ben. Watch my son. His name is Juan” And then at the bottom, a few more hastily scribbled words. “Bad Trouble. Tell no one.”.

Despite deep misgivings, and without any hint of who this child is or the grave danger he’s facing, Ben takes the child with him in his truck and sets out into an environment that is as dangerous as it is beautiful and silent. From that moment forward, nothing will ever be the same. Not for Ben. Not for the child. And not for anyone along the seemingly empty stretch of road known as Route 117.
Visit James Anderson's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Never-Open Desert Diner.

The Page 69 Test: Lullaby Road.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ellie Alexander's "Another One Bites the Crust," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Another One Bites the Crust: A Bakeshop Mystery (Volume 7) by Ellie Alexander.

The entry begins:
One of my favorite things about writing a series is getting to develop the characters over time. Not just the lead heroine, but also the supporting cast. In the 7th installment of the Bakeshop Mysteries, Another One Bites the Crust, one of the secondary characters, Lance, gets to take center stage. Lance is the artistic director at my fictional version of the real-life Oregon Shakespeare Festival in the charming hamlet of Ashland, Oregon. Lance has a penchant for dramatics. He and Juliet (aka Jules) have become fast friends and sleuthing partners over the course of the series. He tends to take a flippant approach to murder. However, in this book that changes when he becomes the prime suspect.

Jules and Lance have such a natural rapport and witty chemistry that I would love to see them fleshed out on the screen.

In my mind Lance can be played by none other than Robbie Williams. He’s debonair, devilishly handsome, impish, a singer (why yes, of course he would belt out Oklahoma at random), and can pull off an ascot. He and Jennifer...[read on]
Visit Ellie Alexander's website.

My Book, The Movie: Fudge and Jury.

The Page 69 Test: Fudge and Jury.

The Page 69 Test: Death on Tap.

My Book, The Movie: Another One Bites the Crust.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-one books for dog and cat lovers

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 Reads blog he tagged twenty-one books for dog and cat lovers, including:
Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson

Warning: if you love dogs and you’ve never read this one, be prepared to feel things. The classic story of a faithful pup who spends his life defending and helping his beloved family, only for tragedy to occur, is heart-wrenching. It will make you want to give your own dog friend an extra hug and be happy you won’t have to make any terrible decisions regarding them any time soon. At the same time, the book reminds dog lovers exactly why they are considered to be man’s best friend.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What is Jody Gehrman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Jody Gehrman, author of Watch Me: A Gripping Psychological Thriller.

Her entry begins:
Early this morning I finished A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis. When I say “early this morning” I mean 3 a.m. This was one of those books I devoured in one sitting, something I don’t get to do very often these days. I’ve been plagued by a cold and indulged myself with a lazy day of reading.

As it turns out, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a cold, wintry day. It won an Edgar Award for Best YA Mystery, and with good reason. It takes place in the 1800s in a couple of different insane asylums, one in Boston and another in rural Ohio. Madness, incest, rape—it’s full of dark subjects—but somehow it’s not the slightest bit depressing and it’s compulsively readable. The characters are vivid, the setting richly detailed, and the...[read on]
About Watch Me, from the publisher:
For fans of dark and twisty psychological thrillers, Watch Me is a riveting novel of suspense about how far obsession can go.

Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood college, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.

Except one.

Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.

As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?

A gripping novel exploring intense obsession and illicit attraction, Jody Gehrman introduces a world where what you desire most may be the most dangerous thing of all.
Visit Jody Gehrman's website.

Writers Read: Jody Gehrman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Karen Rose Smith's "Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes: A Daisy's Tea Garden Mystery #1 by Karen Rose Smith.

About the book, from the publisher:
In an old Victorian in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson and her aunt Iris serve soups, scones, and soothing teas to tourists and locals—but a murder in their garden has them in hot water...

Daisy, a widowed mom of two teenagers, is used to feeling protective—so when Iris started dating the wealthy and not-quite-divorced Harvey Fitz, she worried . . . especially after his bitter ex stormed in and caused a scene at the party Daisy’s Tea Garden was catering. Then there was the gossip she overheard about Harvey’s grown children being cut out of his will. Daisy didn’t want her aunt to wind up with a broken heart—but she never expected Iris to wind up a suspect in Harvey’s murder.

Now the apple bread and orange pekoe is on the back burner while the cops treat the shop like a crime scene—and Daisy hopes that Jonas Groft, a former detective from Philadelphia, can help her clear her aunt’s name and bag the real killer before things boil over...
Visit Karen Rose Smith's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Karen Rose Smith & Hope and Riley.

The Page 69 Test: Staged to Death.

The Page 69 Test: Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top conspiracy theories in fiction

James Miller's new novel is UnAmerican Activities. At the Guardian, he tagged ten novels that "explore conspiracy theories both 'real' and fictional, showing how history blends with fiction and speculation can supplement fact." One entry on the list:
Libra by Don DeLillo (1988)

The image of heat and light is woven through DeLillo’s fictional account of JFK’s assassination, standing for the sheer volume of material about the event, the overwhelming, dazzling accumulation of information. At one point a character asks: “What are they holding back? How much more is there?” still searching for that final detail that will explain what happened. DeLillo’s novel dramatises the extent to which a surplus of information does not always lead to clarity or understanding.
Read about another title on the list.

Libra is among Allen Barra's five essential JFK assassination books and Joseph Finder's five best books on political conspiracy.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Kenny Fries's "In the Province of the Gods"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: In the Province of the Gods by Kenny Fries.

About the book, from the publisher:
A beguiling adventure in Japan

Kenny Fries embarks on a journey of profound self-discovery as a disabled foreigner in Japan, a society historically hostile to difference. As he visits gardens, experiences Noh and butoh, and meets artists and scholars, he also discovers disabled gods, one-eyed samurai, blind chanting priests, and A-bomb survivors. When he is diagnosed as HIV positive, all his assumptions about Japan, the body, and mortality are shaken, and he must find a way to reenter life on new terms.
Visit Kenny Fries's website.

The Page 99 Test: In the Province of the Gods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What is Melanie Benjamin reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Melanie Benjamin, author of The Girls in the Picture.

Her entry begins:
I'm currently finishing up season 2 of The Crown on Netflix, indulging my passion for all things British. So I'm also reading some biographies of the royal family: Princess Margaret, a Biography, by Theo Aronson, and The Queen Mother by William Shawcross, which is quite extensive! If you want to know every detail of every meal she ate, this is the biography for you. There is...[read on]
About The Girls in the Picture, from the publisher:
A fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Alice I Have Been.

The Page 69 Test: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

My Book, The Movie: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

The Page 69 Test: The Aviator's Wife.

The Page 69 Test: The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

The Page 69 Test: The Girls in the Picture.

Writers Read: Melanie Benjamin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Martha Freeman's "Zap"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Zap by Martha Freeman.

About the book, from the publisher:
Eleven-year-old Luis is left looking for answers after a city-wide blackout leads him to an electrifying mystery in this edge-of-your-seat thriller from Martha Freeman.

Luis Cardenal is toasting a Pop-Tart when a power outage strikes Hampton, New Jersey. Elevators and gas pumps fail right away; soon cell phones die and grocery shelves empty. Cold and in the dark, people begin to get desperate.

Luis likes to know how things work, and the blackout gets him wondering: Where does the city’s electricity come from? What would cause it to shut down?


No one seems to have answers, and rumors are flying. Then a slip of the tongue gives Luis and his ex best friend Maura a clue. Brushed off by the busy police, the two sixth graders determine they are on their own. To get to the bottom of the mystery, they know they need to brave the abandoned houses of Luis’s poor neighborhood and find the homeless teen legend known as Computer Genius. What they don’t know is that someone suspects they know too much, someone who wants to keep Hampton in the dark.

In this electrifying mystery, two can-do sleuths embark on a high-tech urban adventure to answer an age-old question: Who turned out the lights?
Visit Martha Freeman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Strudel's Forever Home.

The Page 69 Test: Strudel's Forever Home.

Writers Read: Martha Freeman.

The Page 69 Test: Zap.

--Marshal Zeringue

Steph Post's "Walk in the Fire," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Walk in the Fire by Steph Post.

The entry begins:
Walk in the Fire is the sequel to my 2017 novel Lightwood and therefor many of the casting choices are the same as the list I created for that book. I will stand by Margo Martindale playing Sister Tulah until the day I die…

As with any new story, however, there are additions to the line-up and so here are my actor choices for the characters new to the Cannon saga.

Clive Grant- Seth Gilliam

Gilliam might not be the most well-known actor, but you’d recognize him for sure if you’ve ever seen The Wire (Sgt. Carver) or The Walking Dead (Father Gabriel). I actually had Gilliam’s earnest smile in my head as I writing Clive’s character, so...[read on]
Visit Steph Post's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Steph Post & Juno.

My Book, The Movie: Lightwood.

The Page 69 Test: Lightwood.

My Book, The Movie: Walk in the Fire.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top Japanese novels

Junko Takekawa is the Senior Arts Programme Officer at The Japan Foundation in London. One of five essential Japanese crime novels she tagged for the Waterstones blog:
Six Four - Hideo Yokoyama

I am a devoted reader of his work and I have read almost every single book by him. Unlike other best-selling novelists, he is far from prolific but every piece of work is like a gem. I am so thrilled to know that one of his works has been translated into English so he can gain the readership outside Japan that he deserves. Some may label his books “macho” as quite often the stories are set in male society in Japan. Six Four is a human story of the Japanese police force, a recurrent theme of his books. Although there is a crime there, it is not, strictly speaking, a crime novel in my opinion, but a novel about human behavior and conflict between individuals in a rigid and impersonal organisation. You may be able to see your mirror image in this book.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What is Hermione Hoby reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Hermione Hoby, author of Neon in Daylight.

Her entry begins:
I've been reading Marilynne Robinson's forthcoming book of essays, which goes by the appropriately plain and colossal question of: What Are We Doing Here? In this moment of extreme absurdity - tragic absurdity! - by which I mean, an America run by a terrible and unstable infant, I'm craving steady, grown-up voices. We're so lucky to have a mind like hers. She is truly a...[read on]
About Neon in Daylight, from the publisher:
New York City in 2012, the sweltering summer before Hurricane Sandy hits. Kate, a young woman newly arrived from England, is staying in a Manhattan apartment while she tries to figure out her future. She has two unfortunate responsibilities during her time in America: to make regular Skype calls to her miserable boyfriend back home, and to cat-sit an indifferent feline named Joni Mitchell.

The city has other plans for her. In New York's parks and bodegas, its galleries and performance spaces, its bars and clubs crowded with bodies, Kate encounters two strangers who will transform her stay: Bill, a charismatic but embittered writer made famous by the movie version of his only novel; and Inez, his daughter, a recent high school graduate who supplements her Bushwick cafe salary by enacting the fantasies of men she meets on Craigslist. Unmoored from her old life, Kate falls into an infatuation with both of them.

Set in a heatwave that feels like it will never break, Neon In Daylight marries deep intelligence with captivating characters to offer us a joyful, unflinching exploration of desire, solitude, and the thin line between life and art.
Visit Hermione Hoby's website.

Writers Read: Hermione Hoby.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Melanie Benjamin's "The Girls in the Picture"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin.

About the book, from the publisher:
A fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife

It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.
Learn more about the book and author at Melanie Benjamin's website.

The Page 69 Test: Alice I Have Been.

The Page 69 Test: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

My Book, The Movie: The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

The Page 69 Test: The Aviator's Wife.

The Page 69 Test: The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

The Page 69 Test: The Girls in the Picture.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Catherine Reef's "Victoria"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen by Catherine Reef.

About the book, from the publisher:
Catherine Reef brings history vividly to life in this sumptuously illustrated account of a confident, strong-minded, and influential woman.

Victoria woke one morning at the age of eighteen to discover that her uncle had died and she was now queen. She went on to rule for sixty-three years, with an influence so far-reaching that the decades of her reign now bear her name—the Victorian period. Victoria is filled with the exciting comings and goings of royal life: intrigue and innuendo, scheming advisors, and assassination attempts, not to mention plenty of passion and discord. Includes bibliography, notes, British royal family tree, index.
Visit Catherine Reef's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Catherine Reef & Nandi.

The Page 69 Test: Frida & Diego.

My Book, The Movie: Noah Webster.

The Page 99 Test: Florence Nightingale.

My Book, The Movie: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen.

Writers Read: Catherine Reef.

The Page 99 Test: Victoria: Portrait of a Queen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven SF&F books with a powerful message of social justice

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged 11 sci-fi & fantasy books or series with a powerful message of social justice, including:
The Broken Earth trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, The Stone Sky)

Jemisin’s Hugo-winning Broken Earth trilogy is a ragged scream of rage at the injustice that racism and inequality brings.In the opening chapter, a man uses magic to break the world because the world has shown him it has no cause to treat him like a human. A woman cradles the broken body of her son, murdered because of what he is, and what he represents, rather than anything he did. A government treats immensely powerful but subjugated magic users, who have the innate power to move the earth, as animals, little better than tools, breaking their will and their bones in order to keep them compliant and ensure the continuity of the society that oppresses them. That some of these people, so-abused, choose to destroy everything in their anger, perhaps we can forgive them for lashing out. That some of them still see beauty in the broken earth speaks to their humanity more than anything else.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 15, 2018

What is Mark Pryor reading?

Featured at Writers Reads: Mark Pryor, author of Dominic: A Hollow Man Novel.

His entry begins:
The Christmas period is one of the few times I can really spend time with a book or two, and I've just started one I can't wait to get home to. It was given to me by a friend who enjoys my Paris-based novels, and it's called The Paris Enigma, by Pablo De Santis. The premise is delightful: in the City of Light, just as it is about to be illuminated by the 1889 World’s Fair, a series of murders baffles an international band of detectives. I'm not very far in, but the voice (the protagonist is an assistant to one of the detectives) is so original and appealing that I'm hooked, and...[read on]
About Dominic, from the publisher:
Only two other people know that Dominic, a charming Englishman, prosecutor, and musician in Austin, Texas, is also a psychopath. They also know that a year ago he got away with murder.

One of those people is his “special lady,” and the other is her brother, a teenager and fellow psychopath called Bobby. When a wily homicide detective starts digging up that past murder, little Bobby offers to take care of the problem–permanently. Dominic tries to dissuade him, but as he himself knows, psychopaths aren’t good with following instructions. Or impulse control.

As Detective Megan Ledsome circles closer, Dominic knows his life depends on keeping his secrets hidden, from her and the rest of the world. And when his annoying office-mate declares his interest in a judicial position, one he himself would like, Dominic realizes that one of his carefully-orchestrated plans could kill two birds with one stone.

Of course, that means some sleight of hand and a sacrifice or two. But if there’s one thing a psychopath doesn’t mind, it’s sacrificing other people.
Visit Mark Pryor's website.

My Book, The Movie: Dominic.

Writers Reads: Mark Pryor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kylie Brant's "Pretty Girls Dancing"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant.

About the book, from the publisher:
Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.
Watch the trailer for Pretty Girls Dancing.

Read more about Kylie Brant's work at her website.

Writers Read: Kylie Brant.

The Page 69 Test: Pretty Girls Dancing.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jennifer Fronc's "Monitoring the Movies," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Monitoring the Movies: The Fight over Film Censorship in Early Twentieth-Century Urban America by Jennifer Fronc.

The entry begins:
Monitoring the Movies: The Fight over Film Censorship in Early Twentieth Century Urban America doesn’t sound like it would make the most exciting movie. But after sitting with the idea for while, I am now convinced that it could work—given a huge budget and the directorial talents of Oliver Stone. Monitoring the Movies would be a period political drama, set in the early 1920s, and the main characters would be the women hired to travel the southern United States, speaking to audiences about the danger that government censorship of motion pictures posed to democracy.

In 1915, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Ohio censorship law; because motion pictures were not considered part of the nation’s press, they were not entitled to First Amendment protections. Following that decision, dozens of state legislatures introduced motion picture censorship legislation, which was largely supported by women, who had recently won the right to vote. In response, a group of activists and organizers in New York City—the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures—set out to fight censorship of movies. W.D. McGuire headed the National Board, and he was passionate about “free speech for the movies.” Liam Neeson will star as McGuire, who was often impatient with the people he was trying to win over. For example, he once asked an audience, “Are we going to say to D.W. Griffith because little Mrs. Smith hasn’t any brains and doesn’t know how to bring up her children, you must present only fairy tales?” Thus, the National Board hired women to speak to audiences of women’s clubs, religious leaders, and local Chambers of Commerce about the wisdom of local, voluntary motion picture regulation. Mary Mason Speed was one of those organizers. She was...[read on]
Learn more about Monitoring the Movies.

My Book, The Movie: Monitoring the Movies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Freddie Fox's six best books

Freddie Fox is a British actor, known for The Three Musketeers (2011), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and Victor Frankenstein (2015). One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:
FLASHMAN AT THE CHARGE by George MacDonald Fraser

This is the Flashman book I’veenjoyed most, set in the Crimean war.

Fraser’s pinpointing of 19th-century history is fascinating and done with style and humour.

I would love to write and star in an update of Flashman. He’s a great anti-hero.
Read about another book on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 14, 2018

What is Martha Freeman reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Martha Freeman, author of Zap.

One title she mentions:
Grant by Ron Chernow. I was gratified to see this on Barack Obama’s reading list for 2017, too. Did you know Ulysses S. Grant was a saint? He was, at least as depicted by Chernow, and in these troubled times, let me tell you it is a pleasure to read about a public servant who was a saint. Also, you talk about your fun facts: Three of Grant’s groomsmen eventually...[read on]
About Zap, from the publisher:
Eleven-year-old Luis is left looking for answers after a city-wide blackout leads him to an electrifying mystery in this edge-of-your-seat thriller from Martha Freeman.

Luis Cardenal is toasting a Pop-Tart when a power outage strikes Hampton, New Jersey. Elevators and gas pumps fail right away; soon cell phones die and grocery shelves empty. Cold and in the dark, people begin to get desperate.

Luis likes to know how things work, and the blackout gets him wondering: Where does the city’s electricity come from? What would cause it to shut down?


No one seems to have answers, and rumors are flying. Then a slip of the tongue gives Luis and his ex best friend Maura a clue. Brushed off by the busy police, the two sixth graders determine they are on their own. To get to the bottom of the mystery, they know they need to brave the abandoned houses of Luis’s poor neighborhood and find the homeless teen legend known as Computer Genius. What they don’t know is that someone suspects they know too much, someone who wants to keep Hampton in the dark.

In this electrifying mystery, two can-do sleuths embark on a high-tech urban adventure to answer an age-old question: Who turned out the lights?
Visit Martha Freeman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Strudel's Forever Home.

The Page 69 Test: Strudel's Forever Home.

Writers Read: Martha Freeman.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven top books for talking to kids about Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the BN Kids Blog Lindsay Barrett tagged seven helpful books for talking to kids about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including:
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream and You, by Carole Boston Weatherford and James E. Ransome

This artful book intersperses images depicting important events in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s own life with illustrations of children carrying out Dr. King’s messages today. While many books indirectly inspire conversations about the continued relevance of Dr. King’s work, this is the first one I’ve seen to make such a clear connection to the lives of today’s children. This is the perfect book to purchase when your children are young, and revisit in increasingly complex ways as they mature.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: C.J. Janovy's "No Place Like Home"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas by C.J. Janovy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Far from the coastal centers of culture and politics, Kansas stands at the very center of American stereotypes about red states. In the American imagination, it is a place LGBT people leave. No Place Like Home is about why they stay. The book tells the epic story of how a few disorganized and politically naïve Kansans, realizing they were unfairly under attack, rolled up their sleeves, went looking for fights, and ended up making friends in one of the country’s most hostile states.

The LGBT civil rights movement’s history in California and in big cities such as New York and Washington, DC, has been well documented. But what is it like for LGBT activists in a place like Kansas, where they face much stiffer headwinds? How do they win hearts and minds in the shadow of the Westboro Baptist Church (̶Christian” motto: “God Hates Fags”)? Traveling the state in search of answers—from city to suburb to farm—journalist C. J. Janovy encounters LGBT activists who have fought, in ways big and small, for the acceptance and respect of their neighbors, their communities, and their government. Her book tells the story of these twenty-first-century citizen activists—the issues that unite them, the actions they take, and the personal and larger consequences of their efforts, however successful they might be.

With its close-up view of the lives and work behind LGBT activism in Kansas, No Place Like Home fills a prairie-sized gap in the narrative of civil rights in America. The book also looks forward, as an inspiring guide for progressives concerned about the future of any vilified minority in an increasingly polarized nation.
Visit C.J. Janovy's website.

The Page 99 Test: No Place Like Home.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five faerie books for people who hate faeries

Holly Black's latest novel is The Cruel Prince. One of her five favorite faerie books for people who say they hate faeries, as shared at Tor.com:
For the literary fiction reader, Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce uses Faerie as metaphor yet never shies away from the idea that it might also be entirely real. Missing for twenty years, Tara Martin appears one day on the doorstep of her parents’ house, looking disheveled and not much older than she did when she disappeared. This leaves her family, particularly her brother, Peter, to puzzle through her story of a trip to a fantastical realm that sounds occasionally like an erotic dream. Has she really been there or is she hiding a part of her past she doesn’t want to confront? Is she even his sister?
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Some Kind of Fairy Tale.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 13, 2018

What is Kylie Brant reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Kylie Brant, author of Pretty Girls Dancing.

Her entry begins:
There's nothing I love talking about more than books! And I've been reading some stellar ones recently.

Right now I'm in the middle of Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher novel, The Midnight Line. For those unfamiliar with Child, all his books feature the same character, an ex-military cop who is best described as a nomad. Putting down roots is not in his DNA, so he travels about the country, invariably getting caught up in dangerous situations encountered while he attempts to help someone. The Midnight Line is not Child's most action-packed novel, but it's vintage Reacher. The man sees a woman's West Point ring in a pawn shop and is immediately intrigued. As a former West Point graduate himself, he...[read on]
About Pretty Girls Dancing, from the publisher:
Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.

Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.
Read more about Kylie Brant's work at her website.

Writers Read: Kylie Brant.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven YA books from the South Asian diaspora

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. At the BN Teen blog she tagged eleven YA books about South Asian "brown girls dreaming (and scheming!)," including:
Chainbreaker, by Tara Sim

This sequel to Sim’s clockstopping debut fantasy, Timekeeper, takes clock mechanic Danny further into unknown territory as the clocks in India begin to fail, requiring an intervention of epic proportions. Here, Sim explores more about identity and culture, putting a strain on Danny and Colton’s budding relationship, and letting Maya connect with her Indian roots as they undergo a perilous journey. Vivid worldbuilding, rich mythology and deep emotional conflicts mark this satisfying sequel.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Barry Wolverton's "The Sea of the Dead"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Sea of the Dead by Barry Wolverton.

About the book, from the publisher:
An engrossing fantasy, a high-seas adventure, an alternate history epic—this is the richly imagined and gorgeously realized third book in acclaimed author Barry Wolverton’s Chronicles of the Black Tulip, perfect for fans of The Glass Sentence and the Books of Beginning series.

After the harrowing and life-changing events at the Dragon’s Gate, Bren wants nothing more than to make his way back to England. Finding the answers to the great mysteries he’d been chasing only found him questioning why he’d ever pursued them in the first place, and now he’s lost his best friend, forever. There’s nothing left for him but to return home and hope his father hasn’t given up on him.

But just because Bren is done with adventure does not mean adventure is done with him. On his way to escape from China, Bren is gifted a rare artifact, with a connection to a place no one has set foot upon. Soon he’s fallen in with a mysterious Indian noblewoman bent on discovering an ancient power and leading her country against colonial rule.

The only way home, it seems, is through helping her—and as Bren wonders what she’s willing to sacrifice in order to return home a hero, he must ask himself the same questions.
Visit Barry Wolverton's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Vanishing Island.

My Book, The Movie: The Sea of the Dead.

Writers Read: Barry Wolverton.

The Page 69 Test: The Sea of the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 12, 2018

What is Randall Silvis reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Randall Silvis, author of Only the Rain.

His entry begins:
Although I write mostly fiction these days, I read very little of it, mainly because I can find so little that excites me. That might be because I have been reading for over sixty years, though I think it is also because something has been lost, for writers and their readers, in the modern process of writing. When I first began, the process involved composing an initial draft in longhand, then banging out the first revision on a typewriter, then making handwritten notes on that version, then repeating the last two steps over and over until the manuscript was ready to send out.

The auditory, tactile, visual and olfactory pleasures of writing are absent from today’s process, or at least much diminished. Most of the thousand or so young writers I’ve taught never touch paper or ink. They are enamored of several software programs that promise to guide and correct one’s prose. Consequently...[read on]
About Only the Rain, from the publisher:
When family man and war veteran Russell loses his job as a quarry worker, his life suddenly seems more like a waking nightmare than a chance to finally live the American dream. Facing bills, a new baby, and a bone-dry bank account, he’s got nothing left to lose. Russell comes to the rescue of a naked stranger dancing in the rain, and what was supposed to be a straightforward good deed turns into a spiral of danger. When Russell finds an enticing stash of money in the woman’s house, he knows the cash could be his only hope. Taking just a handful will save his family’s future.

His “victimless crime” seems to be anything but risky—until the criminals he robbed come looking for their dirty money. Russell’s ready to surrender it, but then his daughter gets sick…and he must choose between saving her or giving the devils their due. Someone’s going to pay. The question is, how much?
Learn more about the book and author at Randall Silvis's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Boy Who Shoots Crows.

My Book, The Movie: The Boy Who Shoots Crows.

My Book, The Movie: Only the Rain.

The Page 69 Test: Only the Rain.

Writers Read: Randall Silvis.

--Marshal Zeringue