Saturday, February 17, 2018

Ten top novels about novelists

Lisa Halliday grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts and currently lives in Milan, Italy. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review and she is the recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award for Fiction. Asymmetry is her first novel.

One of ten novels about novelists the author tagged at Publishers Weekly:
The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth

The first of Philip Roth’s novels narrated by Nathan Zuckerman, The Ghost Writer also features established novelist E.I. Lonoff, whom young Zuckerman visits in the country during a snowstorm and stays the night. “…I was twenty-three, writing and publishing my first short stories, and like many a Bildungsroman hero before me, already contemplating my own massive Bildungsroman…” By Zuckerman Unbound, Zuckerman is suffering his fame for having written the Portnoy-like novel Carnovsky; ominously, the epigraph to the second Zuckerman book is a line spoken by Lonoff to his wife in the first: “Let Nathan see what it is to be lifted from obscurity. Let him not come hammering at our door to tell us that he wasn’t warned.”
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Tom Sweterlitsch reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Tom Sweterlitsch, author of The Gone World.

One title he tagged:
Three by Flannery O’Connor is an older “Signet Classic” paperback that collects Flannery O’Connor’s three novels: Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, and Everything That Rises Must Converge. I’ve long been a fan of Flannery O’Connor’s writing, both her brilliant short stories and these challenging novels. Wise Blood is a novel of deep religious searching, with charlatan preachers and...[read on]
About The Gone World, from the publisher:
Inception meets True Detective in this science fiction thriller of spellbinding tension and staggering scope that follows a special agent into a savage murder case with grave implications for the fate of mankind…

Shannon Moss is part of a clandestine division within the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In western Pennsylvania, 1997, she is assigned to solve the murder of a Navy SEAL’s family–and to locate his vanished teenage daughter. Though she can’t share the information with conventional law enforcement, Moss discovers that the missing SEAL was an astronaut aboard the spaceship U.S.S. Libra–a ship assumed lost to the currents of Deep Time. Moss knows first-hand the mental trauma of time-travel and believes the SEAL’s experience with the future has triggered this violence.

Determined to find the missing girl and driven by a troubling connection from her own past, Moss travels ahead in time to explore possible versions of the future, seeking evidence to crack the present-day case. To her horror, the future reveals that it’s not only the fate of a family that hinges on her work, for what she witnesses rising over time’s horizon and hurtling toward the present is the Terminus: the terrifying and cataclysmic end of humanity itself.

Luminous and unsettling, The Gone World bristles with world-shattering ideas yet remains at its heart an intensely human story.
Visit Tom Sweterlitsch's website.

Writers Read: Tom Sweterlitsch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rebecca Ross's "The Queen’s Rising"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross.

About the book, from the publisher:
Grave Mercy meets Red Queen in this epic debut fantasy, inspired by Renaissance France, about an outcast who finds herself bound to a disgraced lord and entangled in his plot to overthrow the current king.

Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

And now, with war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.
Visit Rebecca Ross's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Queen's Rising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top picture books for Presidents' Day

In honor of Presidents' Day, at the BN Kids Blog Angie Brown tagged six picture books penned by a former President, First Lady, or First Daughter, including:
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, by Barack Obama and Loren Long

Inspiring and educational, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, captures President Obama’s love for his two daughters as well as stories of people in our nation’s history. President Obama highlights attributes of his daughters while also featuring prominent historical figures, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Helen Keller, Billie Holiday, George Washington, and many more, and the impact these people had on our country and the world.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 16, 2018

Pg. 99: Sunaina Maira's "Boycott! The Academy and Justice for Palestine"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Boycott!: The Academy and Justice for Palestine by Sunaina Maira.

About the book, from the publisher:
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) has expanded rapidly though controversially in the United States in the last five years. The academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions is a key component of this movement. What is this boycott? Why does it make sense? And why is this an American Studies issue? In this short essential book, Sunaina Maira addresses these key questions. Boycott! situates the academic boycott in the broader history of boycotts in the United States as well as in Palestine and shows how it has evolved into a transnational social movement that has spurred profound intellectual and political shifts. It explores the movement’s implications for antiracist, feminist, queer, and academic labor organizing and examines the boycott in the context of debates about Palestine, Zionism, race, rights-based politics, academic freedom, decolonization, and neoliberal capitalism.
Sunaina Maira is the author of Boycott! The Academy and Justice for Palestine and a founding organizer of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

Learn more about Boycott!: The Academy and Justice for Palestine at the University of California Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Boycott!: The Academy and Justice for Palestine.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Susan Meissner reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Susan Meissner, author of As Bright as Heaven.

Her entry begins:
One of the delights of having fellow authors for friends is getting to read their newest books early. I just finished I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon and my first response when I read the last page was, “Wow!” Most of us have probably heard what happened to the royal Romanov family during the Russian revolution, and perhaps even the mystery surrounding one of the daughters, Anastasia, when a woman named Anna Anderson claimed to be her. Anderson spent her lifetime claiming she had survived the brutal execution of the rest of her family. Lawhon has constructed a cleverly engaging look at both Anastasia Romanov of history and the woman who claimed until her dying day to be the sole surviving daughter of the last tsar of Russia. It is a...[read on]
About As Bright as Heaven, from the publisher:
From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.
Visit Susan Meissner's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Susan Meissner & Bella.

My Book, The Movie: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard.

My Book, The Movie: A Bridge Across the Ocean.

The Page 69 Test: A Bridge Across the Ocean.

Writers Read: Susan Meissner.

--Marshal Zeringue

R. E. Stearns's "Barbary Station," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Barbary Station by R. E. Stearns.

The entry begins:
People keep talking about how cinematic Barbary Station is, but I never thought about it that way while I was writing it. When I'm thinking of how characters look I reference images of non-celebrities, like pictures I stumble across on Instagram while I'm looking for something else, or hair models for cosmetology students. It reminds me that I'm writing about people who have neither the time nor the money for professional physical training.

Of course, one point-of-view character would rather be running than walking in any given situation (that's Iridian,) so somebody like Dominique Tipper, Florence Faivre, or Freema Agyeman could play her easily. It helps that we already know from Sense8 that Ms. Agyeman doesn't mind kissing women on screen.

Casting Iridian's girlfriend Adda would be harder. She's curvy in a different way than....[read on]
Visit R. E. Stearns's website and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: R. E. Stearns.

My Book, The Movie: Barbary Station.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books with strong female characters and no romance

At Cultura Colectiva, María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards tagged five books with female protagonists you'll love if you hate romances. One title on the list:
Hour of the Rat by Lisa Brackmann (2013)

As the second part of her saga based in the life of Ellie McEnroe, a war veteran who fought in Iraq, the story focuses on Ellie's life in Beijing, working as the representative of a highly controversial dissident artist. However, even when her life in China hasn’t been calmed, things will get even more complicated when she decides to help an old friend from the Army to search for his missing brother. Their quest will get her involved in a secret and dangerous conspiracy involving a biotech company and a group of ecological terrorists. Definitely a great example of women taking over parts and roles that were saved for men in the past.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: Hour of the Rat.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Pg. 69: Steven Parlato's "The Precious Dreadful"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Precious Dreadful: A Novel by Steven Parlato.

About the book, from the publisher:
Combining romance and humor with elements of the paranormal, this is a profound novel about one teenage girl’s decision to redefine her life in the wake of supernatural events.

Teddi Alder is just trying to figure out her life.

When she joins SUMMERTEENS, a library writing group, she’s only looking to keep herself busy, not go digging around in her subconscious. But as she writes, disturbing memories of her lost childhood friend Corey bubble to the surface, and Teddi begins to question everything: her friendship with her BFF Willa, how much her mom really knows, and even her own memories. Teddi fears she’s losing her grip on reality—as evidenced by that mysterious ghost-girl who emerges from the park pool one night, the one who won’t leave Teddi alone. To top it all off, she finds herself juggling two guys with potential, a quirky new boy named Joy and her handsome barista crush Aidan, who has some issues of his own.

As the summer unfolds, Teddi is determined to get to the bottom of everything—her feelings, the mysterious ghost-girl, and the memories of Corey that refuse to be ignored.
Visit Steven Parlato's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Precious Dreadful.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is R. E. Stearns reading?

Featured at Writers Read: R. E. Stearns, author of Barbary Station.

Her entry begins:
I recently read Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys, and I adore it! Its original appeal was "Lovecraftian story written by a queer woman," which I always hope will result in a story that gets away from Lovecraft's well-known sexism and racism. Winter Tide plainly addresses those issues, and more. It doesn't shy away from a single difficult topic, including how racial minorities and gay folks were treated in the U.S. during the late '40s. Did I mention it's a period piece? It's a....[read on]
About Barbary Station, from the publisher:
Two engineers hijack a spaceship to join some space pirates—only to discover the pirates are hiding from a malevolent AI. Now they have to outwit the AI if they want to join the pirate crew—and survive long enough to enjoy it.

Adda and Iridian are newly minted engineers, but aren’t able to find any work in a solar system ruined by economic collapse after an interplanetary war. Desperate for employment, they hijack a colony ship and plan to join a famed pirate crew living in luxury at Barbary Station, an abandoned shipbreaking station in deep space.

But when they arrive there, nothing is as expected. The pirates aren’t living in luxury—they’re hiding in a makeshift base welded onto the station’s exterior hull. The artificial intelligence controlling the station’s security system has gone mad, trying to kill all station residents and shooting down any ship that attempts to leave—so there’s no way out.

Adda and Iridian have one chance to earn a place on the pirate crew: destroy the artificial intelligence. The last engineer who went up against the AI met an untimely end, and the pirates are taking bets on how the newcomers will die. But Adda and Iridian plan to beat the odds.

There’s a glorious future in piracy...if only they can survive long enough
Visit R. E. Stearns's website and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: R. E. Stearns.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Daniel R. DeNicola's "Understanding Ignorance"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Understanding Ignorance: The Surprising Impact of What We Don't Know by Daniel R. DeNicola.

About the book, from the publisher:
Ignorance is trending. Politicians boast, “I’m not a scientist.” Angry citizens object to a proposed state motto because it is in Latin, and “This is America, not Mexico or Latin America.” Lack of experience, not expertise, becomes a credential. Fake news and repeated falsehoods are accepted and shape firm belief. Ignorance about American government and history is so alarming that the ideal of an informed citizenry now seems quaint. Conspiracy theories and false knowledge thrive. This may be the Information Age, but we do not seem to be well informed. In this book, philosopher Daniel DeNicola explores ignorance—its abundance, its endurance, and its consequences.

DeNicola aims to understand ignorance, which seems at first paradoxical. How can the unknown become known—and still be unknown? But he argues that ignorance is more than a lack or a void, and that it has dynamic and complex interactions with knowledge. Taking a broadly philosophical approach, DeNicola examines many forms of ignorance, using the metaphors of ignorance as place, boundary, limit, and horizon. He treats willful ignorance and describes the culture in which ignorance becomes an ideological stance. He discusses the ethics of ignorance, including the right not to know, considers the supposed virtues of ignorance, and concludes that there are situations in which ignorance is morally good.

Ignorance is neither pure nor simple. It is both an accusation and a defense (“You are ignorant!” “Yes, but I didn’t know!”). Its practical effects range from the inconsequential to the momentous. It is a scourge, but, DeNicola argues daringly, it may also be a refuge, a value, even an accompaniment to virtue.
Learn more about Understanding Ignorance at The MIT Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Understanding Ignorance.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top books about South Korea

An American author of Korean descent living in London, Mary Lynn Bracht grew up in a large ex-pat community of women who came of age in postwar South Korea. In 2002, she visited her mother’s childhood village, and it was during this trip she first learned of the “comfort women.” Her debut novel is White Chrysanthemum.

One of the author's top ten books about South Korea, as shared at the Guardian:
The Guest by Hwang Sok-Yong (2005), translated by Kyung-Ja Chun and Maya West

Hwang’s fascinating life reads like a novel. Born in Chinese Manchuria, his family moved to South Korea at the end of the Korean war. He reluctantly fought for the US in Vietnam, and later became a writer and political activist. He was jailed twice for his political beliefs, all the while writing and publishing novels, short stories, and plays. The Guest tells the story of a preacher visiting his childhood village in North Korea, and powerfully reveals that a massacre historically attributed to American soldiers was in fact perpetrated by Korean Christians from his village.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pg. 69: Elizabeth Crook's "The Which Way Tree"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook.

About the book, from the publisher:
Early one morning in the remote hill country of Texas, a panther savagely attacks a family of homesteaders, mauling a young girl named Samantha and killing her mother, whose final act is to save her daughter’s life. Samantha and her half brother, Benjamin, survive, but she is left traumatized, her face horribly scarred.

Narrated in Benjamin’s beguilingly plainspoken voice, The Which Way Tree is the story of Samantha’s unshakeable resolve to stalk and kill the infamous panther, rumored across the Rio Grande to be a demon, and avenge her mother’s death. In their quest she and Benjamin, now orphaned, enlist a charismatic Tejano outlaw and a haunted, compassionate preacher with an aging but relentless tracking dog. As the members of this unlikely posse hunt the panther, they are in turn pursued by a hapless but sadistic Confederate soldier with troubled family ties to the preacher and a score to settle.

In the tradition of the great pursuit narratives, The Which Way Tree is a breathtaking saga of one steadfast girl’s revenge against an implacable and unknowable beast. Yet with the comedic undertones of Benjamin’s storytelling, it is also a timeless tale full of warmth and humor, and a testament to the enduring love that carries a sister and brother through a perilous adventure with all the dimensions of a legend.
Visit Elizabeth Crook's website.

The Page 69 Test: Monday, Monday.

The Page 69 Test: The Which Way Tree.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Lisa Black reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lisa Black, author of Perish: A Gardiner and Renner Novel.

Her entry begins:
I read Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—And Themselves, by Andrew Ross Sorkin. That I read it at all is something of a bizzarity because business has never interested me. Numbers make my eyes cross. Too many times to count, my husband has asked me what my cousin or nephew or sister-in-law does for a living any my answer was: ‘Something to do with business.’ I read out the entire true crime section at the Cleveland Public Library except for the books dealing with organized crime because gangsters tend to function like a business…booooooring.

But quite some time back I listened to critics who said Barbarians at the Gate was a fascinating tale, tried it, liked it and discovered that non-fiction can be interesting, even when no one gets murdered. And thus I read Too Big To Fail. It explains, step by step...[read on]
About Perish, from the publisher:
Bestselling author Lisa Black takes readers on a nailbiting journey to the dark side of justice as forensic expert Maggie Gardiner discovers troubling new details about her colleague Jack Renner, a homicide detective with a brutal approach to law and order...

The scene of the crime is lavish but gruesome. In a luxurious mansion on the outskirts of Cleveland, a woman’s body lies gutted in a pool of blood on the marble floor. The victim is Joanna Moorehouse, founder of Sterling Financial. The killer could be any one of her associates.

Maggie knows that to crack the case, she and Jack will have to infiltrate the cutthroat world of high-stakes finance. But the offices of Sterling Financial seethe with potential suspects, every employee hellbent on making a killing. When another officer uncovers disturbing evidence in a series of unrelated murders, the investigation takes a surprising detour.

Only Maggie recognizes the blood-soaked handiwork of a killer who has committed the most heinous of crimes—and will continue killing until he is stopped. Burdened with unbearable secrets, Maggie must make an agonizing choice, while her conscience keeps telling her: she’s next.
Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Black's website.

The Page 69 Test: That Darkness.

My Book, The Movie: Unpunished.

The Page 69 Test: Unpunished.

My Book, The Movie: Perish.

Writers Read: Lisa Black.

--Marshal Zeringue

Laura Madeleine's "Where the Wild Cherries Grow," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Where the Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine.

The entry begins:
Oh, I always find these things really tricky. I never have a particular actor in mind while writing, or an image, other than a photograph or portrait. In Emeline’s case (one of the lead characters in Where the Wild Cherries Grow) the closest I ever came looks-wise was the Italian photographer, actor and activist Tina Mondotti.

But I’ll give a casting list a go. It’s made easier by the fact there are some brilliant young actors out there…

Emeline Vane: I think Rooney Mara is a captivating actor, and that she could capture some of Emeline’s inner life, and the emotional changes she undergoes. Or perhaps...[read on]
Visit Laura Madeleine's website.

The Page 69 Test: Where the Wild Cherries Grow.

Writers Read: Laura Madeleine.

My Book, The Movie: Where the Wild Cherries Grow.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five of literature's more fearsome families

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist and has spent time as the writer in residence of a high-security prison for men–an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her suspense debut.

Corry's latest novel is Blood Sisters.

One of five fearsome fictional families the author tagged at The Strand Magazine:
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This opening line is said to sum up the plot. But I think it does something else, too. Fearsome families are often born from fear. We’re frightened of getting it wrong. Or we’re frightened of being vanquished. We’re apprehensive in case we don’t get it right when we have kids ourselves. Or maybe we’re scared because we were born that way. All this can make you do terrible things. It’s worth noting that many a writer comes from a dysfunctional family. I hold my hand up. Proudly.
Read about another entry on the list.

Anna Karenina also appears on Neel Mukherjee's six favorite books list, Viv Groskop's top ten list of life lessons from Russian literature, Elizabeth Day's top ten list of parties in fiction, Grant Ginder's top ten list of the more loathsome people in literature, Louis De Berniéres's six best books list, Martin Seay's ten best long books list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten list of books about justice and redemption, Bethan Roberts's top ten list of novels about childbirth, Hannah Jane Parkinson's list of the ten worst couples in literature, Hanna McGrath's top fifteen list of epigraphs, Amelia Schonbek's list of three classic novels that pass the Bechdel test, Rachel Thompson's top ten list of the greatest deaths in fiction, Melissa Albert's recommended reading list for eight villains, Alison MacLeod's top ten list of stories about infidelity, David Denby's six favorite books list, Howard Jacobson's list of his five favorite literary heroines, Eleanor Birne's top ten list of books on motherhood, Esther Freud's top ten list of love stories, Chika Unigwe's six favorite books list, Elizabeth Kostova's list of favorite books, James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best erotic dreams in literature, ten of the best coups de foudre in literature, ten of the best births in literature, ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature, and ten of the best balls in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pg. 69: Gloria Chao's "American Panda"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: American Panda by Gloria Chao.

About the book, from the publisher:
An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

From debut author Gloria Chao comes a hilarious, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn’t always so black and white.
Visit Gloria Chao's website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: American Panda.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Laura Madeleine reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Laura Madeleine, author of Where the Wild Cherries Grow.

Her entry begins:
I’m in full research mode for my next novel right now, so all of my reading is on a theme. I’ve just finished two books by Mohamed Choukri, a Moroccan writer who taught himself how to read and write in his twenties after a childhood of poverty, abuse and crime. His For Bread Alone was a startlingly honest and fascinating account of growing up on-and-off the streets in Tangier and...[read on]
About Where the Wild Cherries Grow, from the publisher:
How far must you run to leave the past behind in order to find love?

In Where the Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine, it is 1919, and the end of the war has not brought peace for Emeline Vane. Lost in grief, she is suddenly alone at the heart of a depleted family. And just as everything seems to be slipping beyond her control, in a moment of desperation, she boards a train and runs away.

Her journey leads her to a tiny seaside village in the South of France. Taken in by café owner Maman and her twenty-year-old son, Emeline discovers a world completely new to her: of oranges, olives and wild herbs, the raw, rich tastes of the land. But soon secrets from home begin blowing in on the sea waves.

Fifty years later, Bill Perch, a young solicitor on his first case, finds Emeline’s diary, and begins to trace an anguished story of betrayal and love that will send him on a journey to discover the truth.

What really happened to Emeline all those years ago?
Visit Laura Madeleine's website.

The Page 69 Test: Where the Wild Cherries Grow.

Writers Read: Laura Madeleine.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-five top unhappy books for Valentine’s Day

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged twenty-five unhappy books for Valentine’s Day. One entry on the list:
My Husband’s Wife, by Jane Corry

Lily loves Ed, and wants nothing more than to be a wife and a lawyer. That is, until she meets Joe: a convicted murderer, and a man she finds herself drawn to. Carla is just a kid, but she knows a liar when she spots one. Years later, their paths collide, and nothing will be the same.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: My Husband's Wife.

The Page 69 Test: My Husband's Wife.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Peter B. Levy's "The Great Uprising"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Great Uprising: Race Riots in Urban America during the 1960s by Peter B. Levy.

About the book, from the publisher:
Between 1963 and 1972 America experienced over 750 urban revolts. Considered collectively, they comprise what Peter Levy terms a 'Great Uprising'. Levy examines these uprisings over the arc of the entire decade, in various cities across America. He challenges both conservative and liberal interpretations, emphasizing that these riots must be placed within historical context to be properly understood. By focusing on three specific cities as case studies - Cambridge and Baltimore, Maryland, and York, Pennsylvania - Levy demonstrates the impact which these uprisings had on millions of ordinary Americans. He shows how conservatives profited politically by constructing a misleading narrative of their causes, and also suggests that the riots did not represent a sharp break or rupture from the civil rights movement. Finally, Levy presents a cautionary tale by challenging us to consider if the conditions that produced this 'Great Uprising' are still predominant in American culture today.
Visit Peter. B. Levy's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Great Uprising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 12, 2018

Coffee with a canine: Rhiannon Navin & Oscar Wilde

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Rhiannon Navin & Oscar Wilde.

The author, on how Oscar Wilde got his name:
We wanted an Irish name and from the shortlist, the kids picked Oscar. I added the middle name Wilde. I don’t know if he’ll ever learn his actual name though, because...[read on]
About Rhiannon Navin's Only Child, from the publisher:
Readers of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty will also like this tenderhearted debut about healing and family, narrated by an unforgettable six-year-old boy who reminds us that sometimes the littlest bodies hold the biggest hearts and the quietest voices speak the loudest.

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.
Visit Rhiannon Navin's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Rhiannon Navin & Oscar Wilde.

--Marshal Zeringue

Mira T. Lee's "Everything Here Is Beautiful," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee.

The entry begins:
My novel, Everything Here Is Beautiful, is a messy cross-cultural family drama starring two Chinese-American sisters, a one-armed Israeli, a Swiss urologist, and a young Ecuadorian immigrant. Sometimes it still amazes me that the story was published in written form, never mind dreams of having it made into a movie (a long shot, given the cast, says my film agent. But… I have a film agent, how ridiculous is that?!).

There are still relatively few prominent Asian/Asian-American actresses today, and even fewer leading roles for them, though it’s hard to say which is supposed to come first. Miranda, the older, more strait-laced sister, possesses an ingrained sense of responsibility that bumps up against her desires for freedom and self-fulfillment. The inimitable Sandra Oh, or Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu, or Downsizing’s luminous newcomer, Hong Chau, might fit the bill. Lucia, the younger sister, struggles with a serious mental illness, making hers the more challenging role. She’s quirky, free-spirited, bursting with life — until...[read on]
Visit Mira T. Lee's website.

My Book, The Movie: Everything Here Is Beautiful.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Susan Meissner's "As Bright As Heaven"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner.

About the book, from the publisher:
From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.
Visit Susan Meissner's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Susan Meissner & Bella.

My Book, The Movie: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard.

My Book, The Movie: A Bridge Across the Ocean.

The Page 69 Test: A Bridge Across the Ocean.

The Page 69 Test: As Bright as Heaven.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sigrid Nunez's six favorite books that feature animals

Sigrid Nunez's new novel is The Friend.

One of her six favorite books that feature animals, as shared at The Week magazine:
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

This enthralling and inventive book was born out of grief. As part of her response to the sudden death of her father, Macdonald threw herself into the famously difficult undertaking of training a goshawk. Part nature writing, part personal history, part literary criticism, it's an utterly original work — almost a new genre.
Read about another entry on the list.

H Is for Hawk is among Sam Miller's top ten books about fathers, Barack Obama's summer 2016 reading list, Jeffrey Lent's top ten books about justice and redemption, and Alex Hourston’s ten top unlikely friendships in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Nina Sadowsky's "The Burial Society," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Burial Society by Nina Sadowsky.

The entry begins:
It’s not fair to ask me to play this game. I became a writer after a 25-year career as a film and television producer. In my prior incarnation, one of my customary tasks was to create lists of potential cast for every project on my slate. I rarely even took a script on if I didn’t understand its casting potential from both a creative and an economic standpoint.

Because of this history, it’s impossible for me to have a dreamy-eyed vision of my perfect cast. Of course I think first about creative fit. But past that, I inevitably weigh a litany of other factors, starting with box office appeal, both domestic and foreign. For example, if I’m trying to fund a project through the pre-sale of foreign distribution rights (a typical practice in independent filmmaking), I have to gauge an actor’s appeal in each individual market. How an actor performed in past movies or television shows of a similar genre is one consideration in the determination of that appeal. I also have to look at the balance of the value of one actor to the ensemble as a whole, and then those relative values must be weighed with respect to the budget. While spending extra for a star director or “name” cast certainly happens (it’s called “breakage” because it “breaks” the budget), every project...[read on]
Visit Nina Sadowsky's website.

Writers Read: Nina Sadowsky.

The Page 69 Test: The Burial Society.

My Book, The Movie: The Burial Society.

--Marshal Zeringue

Twenty-five notable fictional presidents

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged twenty-five fictional presidents. One entry on the list:
The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth

An Alternative history where FDR loses the 1940 election to isolationist Charles Lindbergh…who strikes a deal with Hitler to stay out of his way. But tensions rise, along with anti-Semitism, and the consequences are seen through the eyes of one boy.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Plot Against America is on James Miller's top ten list of conspiracy theories in fiction, Jeff Somers's six best list of insane presidents, D.J. Taylor's top ten list of counter-factual novelsKatharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's top ten list of epic power struggles, Steven Amsterdam's list of five top books on worry, Stephen L. Carter's list of five top presidential thrillers, and David Daw's list of five American presidents in alternate history.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Cheryl Reid reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Cheryl Reid, author of As Good as True.

Her entry begins:
I love books that employ imagery in specific and meaningful ways to deepen the narrative. So when I finished The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott, I was in awe. Throughout the novel, I felt as if I were in the room or on the street or on the train with the characters. The real treasure of the book is the weaving of narrative between and among characters. McDermott takes us close-up, offering internal glimpses into each character, their vulnerabilities and hopes, but also pulls out, so that each character can be seen through the others’ points of view. The novel has a cinematic feel, exploring each person’s desires and conflicts, and though a reader might not expect to find such deep longing, hope, bitterness and jealousy in a cast of nuns, a young widow and her daughter, McDermott...[read on]
About As Good as True, from the publisher:
A powerful and haunting novel of a woman’s broken past and the painful choices she must make to keep her family and her home.

August 1956. After a night of rage and terror, Anna Nassad wakes to find her abusive husband dead and instinctively hides her bruises and her relief. As the daughter of Syrian immigrants living in segregated Alabama, Anna has never belonged, and now her world is about to erupt.

Days before, Anna set in motion an explosive chain of events by allowing the first black postman to deliver the mail to her house. But it’s her impulsive act of inviting him inside for a glass of water that raises doubts about Anna’s role in her husband’s death.

As threats and suspicions arise in the angry community, Anna must confront her secrets in the face of devastating turmoil and reconcile her anguished relationship with her daughter. Will she discover the strength to fight for those she loves most, even if it means losing all she’s ever known?
Learn more about As Good as True by Cheryl Reid.

Coffee with a Canine: Cheryl Reid & Django.

The Page 69 Test: As Good as True.

Writers Read: Cheryl Reid.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Japonica Brown-Saracino's "How Places Make Us"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities by Japonica Brown-Saracino.

About the book, from the publisher:
We like to think of ourselves as possessing an essential self, a core identity that is who we really are, regardless of where we live, work, or play. But places actually make us much more than we might think, argues Japonica Brown-Saracino in this novel ethnographic study of lesbian, bisexual, and queer individuals in four small cities across the United States.

Taking us into communities in Ithaca, New York; San Luis Obispo, California; Greenfield, Massachusetts; and Portland, Maine; Brown-Saracino shows how LBQ migrants craft a unique sense of self that corresponds to their new homes. How Places Make Us demonstrates that sexual identities are responsive to city ecology. Despite the fact that the LBQ residents share many demographic and cultural traits, their approaches to sexual identity politics and to ties with other LBQ individuals and heterosexual residents vary markedly by where they live. Subtly distinct local ecologies shape what it feels like to be a sexual minority, including the degree to which one feels accepted, how many other LBQ individuals one encounters in daily life, and how often a city declares its embrace of difference. In short, city ecology shapes how one “does” LBQ in a specific place. Ultimately, Brown-Saracino shows that there isn’t one general way of approaching sexual identity because humans are not only social but fundamentally local creatures. Even in a globalized world, the most personal of questions—who am I?—is in fact answered collectively by the city in which we live.
Learn more about How Places Make Us at the University of Chicago Press website.

The Page 99 Test: A Neighborhood That Never Changes.

The Page 99 Test: How Places Make Us.

--Marshal Zeringue