Saturday, August 27, 2016

Six modern adaptations of classic novels

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged six modern adaptations of classic stories, including:
Re-Jane, by Patricia Park

This retelling of Jane Eyre is truly modern: Jane Re is a Korean-American orphan trying rise above her circumstances (living with a strict uncle and working in his grocery store) in Queens. When she becomes the au pair for a Brooklyn couple—Ed and Beth Mazer-Farley—and their adopted daughter, Jane thinks she’s hit the jackpot. In this version, the mysterious Bertha Mason is reincarnated as Ed’s very-much-alive wife, Beth—and when he and Jane start to have an affair, the consequences are more than she might be able to bear.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Wendy Sand Eckel reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Wendy Sand Eckel, author of Death at the Day Lily Cafe.

Her entry begins:
Although I write mystery, I’m an eclectic reader. I love a tale well told in any genre. And beautiful writing stimulates my own creative drive. In the past year I’ve read some fabulous novels, such as The Goldfinch, All the Light We Cannot See, even a reread of The Poisonwood Bible. I also love nonfiction when told as a story and Ashley’s War and Dead Wake definitely met that requirement. Another book that really stuck with me is Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot.

There are good books. And then there are books you can’t put down. Books that keep you up into the late hours of the night or cause you to remain in bed longer than you should. Or both. This was one of those books for me.

In What Alice Forgot, Moriarty weaves a compelling story about a harried, compulsive mother who is so stressed she is snapping at her children and close to the breaking point in her marriage. But after being struck by a car while scolding the teenage drivers ahead of her, she loses the memory of the most recent years of her life. When she wakes up in the hospital, her mind is back at the time in her life when she was a happy go lucky mom and madly in love with her husband. All the years that followed are...[read on]
About Death at the Day Lily Cafe, from the publisher:
Rosalie Hart has finally opened the café of her dreams. Decked out with ochre-tinted walls and stuffed with delicious organic fare, the Day Lily Café is everything Rosalie could have hoped for. But not five minutes into the grand opening, Doris Bird, a dear and trusted friend, cashes in on a favor--to help clear her little sister Lori of a first degree murder charge.

With the help of her best friend and head waiter Glenn, Rosalie is on the case. But it's not going to be easy. Unlikable and provocative, murder victim Carl James Fiddler seems to have insulted nearly everyone in town, and the suspect list grows daily. And when Rosalie's daughter Annie gets caught in the crossfire, the search for the killer becomes personal in this charming cozy perfect for fans of Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke.
Visit Wendy Sand Eckel's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at Barclay Meadow.

The Page 69 Test: Death at the Day Lily Café.

Writers Read: Wendy Sand Eckel.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 26, 2016

Seven of the best angry YA protagonists

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the BN Teen blog she tagged seven of the best angry YA protagonists, including:
Tessa in Before I Die, by Jenny Downham

“Buttons ping across the room as I slash my coats…I lacerate every pair of trousers. I line my shoes up on the window ledge and cut off their tongues. It’s good. I feel alive.” Feeling alive is important to Tessa, because it’s increasingly rare. She’s been fighting leukemia since she was 12 and now, at 16, the leukemia’s winning. In a fit of rage against the hand she’s been dealt, she rips apart and tosses out the window every item she owns—clothes, books, CDs, a television set—prompting her heartbroken dad to ask, “What happens if anger takes you over, Tessa? Who will you be then? What will be left of you?” An achingly realistic, beautiful book, whose heavy subject matter manages to provide love and even laughter in equal measure.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Lara Vapnyar's "Still Here"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Still Here: A Novel by Lara Vapnyar.

About the book, from the publisher:
A profound and dazzlingly entertaining novel from the writer Louis Menand calls “Jane Austen with a Russian soul”

In her warm, absorbing and keenly observed new novel, Lara Vapnyar follows the intertwined lives of four immigrants in New York City as they grapple with love and tumult, the challenges of a new home, and the absurdities of the digital age.

Vica, Vadik, Sergey and Regina met in Russia in their school days, but remained in touch and now have very different American lives. Sergey cycles through jobs as an analyst, hoping his idea for an app will finally bring him success. His wife Vica, a medical technician struggling to keep her family afloat, hungers for a better life. Sergey’s former girlfriend Regina, once a famous translator is married to a wealthy startup owner, spends her days at home grieving over a recent loss. Sergey’s best friend Vadik, a programmer ever in search of perfection, keeps trying on different women and different neighborhoods, all while pining for the one who got away.

As Sergey develops his app—calling it “Virtual Grave,” a program to preserve a person’s online presence after death—a formidable debate begins in the group, spurring questions about the changing perception of death in the modern world and the future of our virtual selves. How do our online personas define us in our daily lives, and what will they say about us when we’re gone?
Visit Lara Vapnyar's Facebook page.

Writers Read: Lara Vapnyar.

The Page 69 Test: Still Here.

--Marshal Zeringue

James E. Campbell's "Polarized"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Polarized: Making Sense of a Divided America by James E. Campbell.

About the book, from the publisher:
Many continue to believe that the United States is a nation of political moderates. In fact, it is a nation divided. It has been so for some time and has grown more so. This book provides a new and historically grounded perspective on the polarization of America, systematically documenting how and why it happened.

Polarized presents commonsense benchmarks to measure polarization, draws data from a wide range of historical sources, and carefully assesses the quality of the evidence. Through an innovative and insightful use of circumstantial evidence, it provides a much-needed reality check to claims about polarization. This rigorous yet engaging and accessible book examines how polarization displaced pluralism and how this affected American democracy and civil society.

Polarized challenges the widely held belief that polarization is the product of party and media elites, revealing instead how the American public in the 1960s set in motion the increase of polarization. American politics became highly polarized from the bottom up, not the top down, and this began much earlier than often thought. The Democrats and the Republicans are now ideologically distant from each other and about equally distant from the political center. Polarized also explains why the parties are polarized at all, despite their battle for the decisive median voter. No subject is more central to understanding American politics than political polarization, and no other book offers a more in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the subject than this one.
Learn more about Polarized at the Princeton University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Polarized.

--Marshal Zeringue

Erik Storey's "Nothing Short of Dying," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey.

The entry begins:
If I were ever lucky enough to have a movie made of the book, the actor chosen for Clyde would depend greatly on the casting director’s mental image of him. I left his physical descriptions rather vague in order to let the readers become more involved. But, if I were to choose, I would go with Anson Mount, of Hell on Wheels fame, first. Next would either be Jason Momoa or Joe Manganiello.

My first pick for Allie would be Mila Kunis, especially after watching her performance in The Book of Eli. Next would either be Michelle...[read on]
Visit Erik Storey's website.

My Book, The Movie: Nothing Short of Dying.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ten top books about The Beatles

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged ten essential books about The Beatles, including:
A Cellarfull of Noise, by Brian Epstein

Although ghostwritten by his assistant, this account of the early days of the band is packed with insights from memories of their long-time manager, Brian Epstein. While a bit self-serving and lacking any mention of the more controversial aspects of The Beatles’ early history, it’s a fascinating document that manages to encapsulate what it was like to be there to experience the band’s completely unexpected, improbable rise.
Read about another entry on the list.

Also see: Philip Norman's ten top books about The Beatles and five top books on The Beatles.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Wendy Sand Eckel's "Death at the Day Lily Café"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Death at the Day Lily Café: A Mystery by Wendy Sand Eckel.

About the book, from the publisher:
Rosalie Hart has finally opened the café of her dreams. Decked out with ochre-tinted walls and stuffed with delicious organic fare, the Day Lily Café is everything Rosalie could have hoped for. But not five minutes into the grand opening, Doris Bird, a dear and trusted friend, cashes in on a favor--to help clear her little sister Lori of a first degree murder charge.

With the help of her best friend and head waiter Glenn, Rosalie is on the case. But it's not going to be easy. Unlikable and provocative, murder victim Carl James Fiddler seems to have insulted nearly everyone in town, and the suspect list grows daily. And when Rosalie's daughter Annie gets caught in the crossfire, the search for the killer becomes personal in this charming cozy perfect for fans of Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke.
Visit Wendy Sand Eckel's website and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Murder at Barclay Meadow.

The Page 69 Test: Death at the Day Lily Café.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top seaside novels

Alison Moore's first novel, The Lighthouse, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Awards (New Writer of the Year), winning the McKitterick Prize. Both The Lighthouse and her second novel, He Wants, were Observer Books of the Year. Moore's new novel is Death and the Seaside. One of the author's top ten seaside novels, as shared at the Guardian:
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (1978)

In an abandoned old house in the fictional Suffolk seaside town of Hardborough, widow Florence Green opens a bookshop. She is challenged by rising damp, a poltergeist and local opposition. Hardborough exemplifies insularity: “The town itself was an island between sea and river, muttering and drawing into itself as soon as it felt the cold. Every 50 years or so it had lost, as though careless or indifferent to such things, another means of communication.” As David Nicholls says in an introduction to this witty and tragic novel, the final sentence is “one of the saddest I’ve ever read”.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Barbara J. Taylor reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Barbara J. Taylor, author of All Waiting Is Long.

Her entry begins:
I just finished reading Adam Cohen’s Imbeciles about the American eugenics movement and found it fascinating. While researching my novel, All Waiting Is Long, I kept coming across medical books written by the American Eugenics Society in the 20s and 30s. Since my novel opens at the Good Shepherd Infant Asylum, a catholic home for unwed pregnant girls, I delved into eugenics as it pertained to women deemed morally unfit. In reading Cohen’s book, I realized just how...[read on]
About All Waiting Is Long, from the publisher:
All Waiting Is Long tells the stories of the Morgan sisters, a study in contrasts. In 1930, twenty-five-year-old Violet travels with her sixteen-year-old sister Lily from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to the Good Shepherd Infant Asylum in Philadelphia, so Lily can deliver her illegitimate child in secret. In doing so, Violet jeopardizes her engagement to her longtime sweetheart, Stanley Adamski. Meanwhile, Mother Mary Joseph, who runs the Good Shepherd, has no idea the asylum’s physician, Dr. Peters, is involved in eugenics and experimenting on the girls with various sterilization techniques.

Five years later, Lily and Violet are back home in Scranton, one married, one about to be, each finding her own way in a place where a woman’s worth is tied to her virtue. Against the backdrop of the sweeping eugenics movement and rogue coal mine strikes, the Morgan sisters must choose between duty and desire. Either way, they risk losing their marriages and each other.

The novel picks up sixteen years after the close of Barbara J. Taylor’s debut novel, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night—a Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book of 2014—and continues her Dickensian exploration of the Morgan sisters and other characters of Scranton in the early twentieth century.
Learn more about All Waiting Is Long, and visit Barbara J. Taylor's website.

My Book, The Movie: Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night.

Writers Read: Barbara J. Taylor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pg. 69: Jeff Somers's "The Stringer"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: The Stringer by Jeff Somers.

About the story, from the publisher:
Learn the Words. Get the blood. Rule the world. A stand-alone short story in the Ustari Cycle.

Most people never learn what a Stringer is—and their lives are better for it. Lem, however, gets to learn about them and possession by alien intelligences the hard way. A must-read in the gritty supernatural series that includes We Are Not Good People from the "exhilarating, powerful, and entertaining" (Guardian) storyteller of the Avery Cates series.

For blood mages, the twenty-first century means hiding in the shadows, keeping society unaware of their incredible powers. The power-hungry sort plot quietly to manufacture tragedies bloody enough to give them the gas they need to cast something monumental. Lem and Mags, down-and-out bosom buddies to the end, try to be good, bleeding nobody but themselves, skating by on small Cantrips, cons, and charms.

So when the siren song of easy money comes their way in the form of helping out a friend, clearly no good will come of it. Blood mages are not good people. And neither are Stringers—alien intelligences that can take over a body and run it ragged. Stringers: they aren’t subtle, aren’t content to skulk in the shadows, and aren’t a houseguest anyone wants. Lem is about to learn what a possession hangover feels like—if Mags and his more tentative allies can figure out how to stop the demon without killing him.
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: We Are Not Good People.

My Book, The Movie: We Are Not Good People.

My Book, The Movie: The Stringer.

The Page 69 Test: The Stringer.

--Marshal Zeringue

David Haven Blake's "Liking Ike," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: Liking Ike: Eisenhower, Advertising, and the Rise of Celebrity Politics by David Haven Blake.

The entry begins:
Liking Ike centers on the personalities who helped promote Dwight Eisenhower’s campaigns for the presidency and his own ambivalence about the new worlds of television, advertising, and celebrity. The story lies in the remarkable set of characters, which makes casting especially fun:

Dwight Eisenhower – A general so conflicted about politics that he wants to be drafted to the Republican nomination rather than enter the race himself. Wary of the publicity machine and celebrities who campaign on his behalf, he nonetheless adjusts to the expectations of his Madison Avenue advisers. Intoxicated by the magical power of television, they boast that they want to “merchandise” Ike’s warm smile and personality. Ed Harris

Helen Hayes – “The first lady of American theater,” a former Democrat who became an ardent Eisenhower supporter and GOP activist. Dramatic and glamorous, she regularly politicizes American motherhood on the campaign trail and in her films. Meryl Streep

Jimmy Stewart – Reedy and self-effacing, a man who rarely talks about the combat missions he flew in World War II. A devout Republican who remains popular with Democratic presidents: Truman said that if he had a son, he’d want him to be just like...[read on]
Visit David Haven Blake's website.

My Book, The Movie: Liking Ike.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top novels about art and artists

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five terrific novels about art and artists, including:
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

Nora Eldridge, the narrator of Messud’s incandescent novel, once dreamed of being an artist, a wife, and a mother. Instead, due to caring for her aging parents and other concerns, she has ended up a single, middle-aged woman with a career as an elementary school teacher. Then she becomes enamored of the family of one of her students, Reza Shahid. His mother is Sirena, an Italian artist who invites Nora to share her studio space and return to her work as an artist, and his father is a Lebanese professor in Boston on a fellowship. Nora is drawn in, wanting to be a part of the Shahids’ lives, but finding Sirena respects no boundaries between art and life.
Read about another book on the list.

The Woman Upstairs is among Joyce Maynard's six favorite books and Alex Hourston’s top ten unlikely friendships in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Steven G. Marks's "The Information Nexus"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: The Information Nexus: Global Capitalism from the Renaissance to the Present by Steven G. Marks.

About the book, from the publisher:
Capitalism is central to our understanding of contemporary economic and political life and yet what does it really mean? If, as has now been shown to be the case, capital and property rights existed in pre-modern and pre-capitalist societies, what is left of our understanding of capitalism? Steven Marks' provocative new book calls into question everything we thought we knew about capitalism, from the word's very origins and development to the drivers of Western economic growth. Ranging from the Middle Ages to the present, The Information Nexus reveals that the truly distinctive feature of capitalism is business's drive to acquire and analyze information, supported by governments that allow unfettered access to public data. This new interpretation of capitalism helps to explain the rise of the West, puts our current information age into historical perspective, and provides a benchmark for the comparative assessment of economic systems in today's globalized environment.
Learn more about The Information Nexus at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: The Information Nexus.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What is Lydia Pyne reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Lydia Pyne, author of Seven Skeletons: The Evolution of the World's Most Famous Human Fossils.

Her entry begins:
I find that I read many books simultaneously, leaving them scattered around the house. Every place to sit and read has a book next to it. Overall, I enjoying reading a mix of fiction and nonfiction and, looking through the books on my bookshelves, I think that the list of what I’m currently reading definitely reflects my eclectic taste and reading habits.

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich

I recently finished Svetlana Alexievich’s brilliantly poignant oral history of post-Soviet society. This book is one of the most powerful that I’ve ever read – Alexievich’s unique style of weaving together multiple individual monologues creates an...[read on]
About Seven Skeletons, from the publisher:
An irresistible journey of discovery, science, history, and myth making, told through the lives and afterlives of seven famous human ancestors

Over the last century, the search for human ancestors has spanned four continents and resulted in the discovery of hundreds of fossils. While most of these discoveries live quietly in museum collections, there are a few that have become world-renowned celebrity personas—ambassadors of science that speak to public audiences. In Seven Skeletons, historian of science Lydia Pyne explores how seven such famous fossils of our ancestors have the social cachet they enjoy today.

Drawing from archives, museums, and interviews, Pyne builds a cultural history for each celebrity fossil—from its discovery to its afterlife in museum exhibits to its legacy in popular culture. These seven include the three-foot tall “hobbit” from Flores, the Neanderthal of La Chapelle, the Taung Child, the Piltdown Man hoax, Peking Man, Australopithecus sediba, and Lucy—each embraced and celebrated by generations, and vivid examples of how discoveries of how our ancestors have been received, remembered, and immortalized.

With wit and insight, Pyne brings to life each fossil, and how it is described, put on display, and shared among scientific communities and the broader public. This fascinating, endlessly entertaining book puts the impact of paleoanthropology into new context, a reminder of how our past as a species continues to affect, in astounding ways, our present culture and imagination.
Visit Lydia Pyne's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Last Lost World.

Writers Read: Lydia Pyne.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eight top speculative works narrated by dead people

Jeff Somers is the author of the Avery Cates series, The Ustari Cycle, Lifers, and Chum (among many other books) and numerous short stories. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog he tagged eight speculative works with dead narrators, including:
Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion

Marion’s narrator and protagonist is, of course, a zombie, which is a modern twist on the dead narrator angle. R is an unusual zombie, at first, able to think semi-coherently and still retaining some spark of his living humanity. When his appetites drive him to kill a young man and eat his brain, R experiences the man’s memories—which include his girlfriend, Julie. R saves Julie and protects her, continuing to consume her boyfriend’s brain in order to experience more memories—and slowly, along with some of his fellow zombies, evolving into something more. A surprisingly touching story that found a surprising new angle for the zombie apocalypse, not to mention a new angle for a posthumous narrator.
Read about another entry on the list.

Warm Bodies is among Sarah Skilton's six most unusual YA narrators, Rachel Paxton-Gillilan's five funniest YA zombie novels, Nick Harkaway's six favorite holiday books, and Nicole Hill's seven favorite literary oddballs.

The Page 69 Test: Warm Bodies.

My Book, The Movie: Warm Bodies.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Kodi Scheer's "Midair"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: Midair by Kodi Scheer.

About Midair, from the publisher:
For four young women abroad in Paris, a game of Truth or Dare turns life-and-death.

“I had a secret: I wanted to leave the earth in a spectacular fashion. Specifically, by leaping from the Eiffel Tower.” So begins this provocative coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl bent on self-destruction and revenge, set in the City of Light.

It’s the summer of 1999, the end of a millennium. In the mind of Nessa Baxter, a girl from rural Illinois, Paris is the remedy for all of her woes. The death of her beloved brother and the betrayal by her classmate Kat has left Nessa bereft and doubtful about her future. She plans to exact revenge on Kat during their renegade French Club trip. Along with classmates Whitney and Kiran, the four girls embark on a series of misadventures in Paris. As part of her plan, Nessa starts a game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control.

A suspenseful psychological drama, Midair is the story of a young girl’s descent into darkness and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves.
Visit Kodi Scheer's website.

My Book, The Movie: Midair by Kodi Scheer.

Writers Read: Kodi Scheer.

The Page 69 Test: Midair.

--Marshal Zeringue

Coffee with a canine: Bruce DeSilva & Brady and Rondo

Featured at Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Brady and Rondo.

The author, on how the fictional Brady and Rondo in his new novel compare to the real-life dogs of the same name:
The dogs that Liam Mulligan, the hero of my novels, adopts in The Dread Line not only have the same names as mine but have almost exactly the same personalities—something I consider a remarkable coincidence. Mulligan’s two dogs, like mine, are the best of friends, so inseparable that neither will go for a walk without the other. Both Rondos are protective, displaying a suspicion of strangers by barking incessantly at them. Both Bradys are gregarious and affectionate with everyone they meet. Both Rondos are eager to please, constantly studying their masters for clues about what they should do next. Both Bradys are stubborn and independent, obeying commands to come or stay only when it suits them. Both Brady’s refuse to fetch, watching balls sail over their heads with a look that says, “You expect me to get that?” But the fictional Rondo...[read on]
About DeSilva's new novel, The Dread Line, from the publisher:
The Dread Line: the latest Liam Mulligan novel from award winning author Bruce DeSilva.

Since he got fired in spectacular fashion from his newspaper job last year, former investigative reporter Liam Mulligan has been piecing together a new life--one that straddles both sides of the law. He's getting some part-time work with his friend McCracken's detective agency. He's picking up beer money by freelancing for a local news website. And he's looking after his semi-retired mobster-friend's bookmaking business.

But Mulligan still manages to find trouble. He's feuding with a cat that keeps leaving its kills on his porch. He's obsessed with a baffling jewelry heist. And he's enraged that someone in town is torturing animals. All this keeps distracting him from a big case that needs his full attention. The New England Patriots, shaken by a series of murder charges against a star player, have hired Mulligan and McCracken to investigate the background of a college athlete they're thinking of drafting. At first, the job seems routine, but as soon as they begin asking questions, they get push-back. The player, it seems, has something to hide--and someone is willing to kill to make sure it remains secret.
Visit Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva and Brady (November 2010).

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Rondo and Brady (June 2012).

The Page 69 Test: A Scourge of Vipers.

My Book, The Movie: A Scourge of Vipers.

Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva & Brady and Rondo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 22, 2016

Seven of the unlikeliest platonic pairings in YA lit

At the BN Teen Blog Sarah Hannah Gómez tagged seven of the most unlikely platonic pairings in YA lit, including:
Noa and Peter (Don’t Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon)

There’s no reason these two should meet. Noa is a girl who grew up in the foster system, and she’s on the run after waking up on a gurney in what is definitely not a hospital. Peter, on the other hand, is a bored rich kid who hacks into his father’s company’s servers just to prove he can. But Noa is a hacker, too, and they’ll find that where she woke up is connected to what Peter may have just found on one of his hacking sprees.
Read about another entry on the list.

Don’t Turn Around is among Michael Waters's top six YA books for Mr. Robot fans.

The Page 69 Test: Don't Turn Around.

My Book, The Movie: Don't Turn Around.

--Marshal Zeringue

Jeff Somers's "The Stringer," the movie

Featured at My Book, The Movie: The Stringer by Jeff Somers.

The entry begins:
I don’t think about my books as films while writing; in fact it never occurs to me until someone approaches me at a reading or a convention or something, and then I have to scramble mentally to come up with a decent answer, or, sometimes, run drunkenly away, because running away is my go-to response to any stressful situation, which explains why I am always sweaty when you see me.

The Stringer is about magicians who use blood—fresh and spurting from a wound—to fuel magic spells. The more blood you shed, the more powerful your spell can be, but the use of language matters as well—skilled wordsmiths can fashion spells that use less blood for the same effect because of the efficiency of their writing. There’s action and desperation, but you also need actors who can believably convey a sort of low-rent literacy while mumbling a made-up string of words. So, here’s who I think should play the characters in The Stringer.

Lem Vonnegan: Karl Urban. Lem is a grifter at heart—a grifter with magical spells, but a grubby con man nonetheless, and Urban has the physicality for the role.

Pitr Mags: If we could genetically combine...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Jeff Somers's website.

My Book, The Movie: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: Chum.

The Page 69 Test: We Are Not Good People.

My Book, The Movie: We Are Not Good People.

My Book, The Movie: The Stringer.

--Marshal Zeringue

What is Bill Crider reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Bill Crider, author of Survivors Will Be Shot Again: Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries (Volume 23).

His entry begins:
What am I reading? I’m glad you asked. I’m reading the January 1958 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Why am I reading it? Because I was looking through a stack of paperbacks, and there it was. It’s a digest magazine, so I don’t know what it was doing in the stack.

The fact that it was there is not the only reason I’m reading it, though, or even the main one. The real reason is that I read the entire issue back in 1958 when I bought it off the rack in The Corner Book Store in Mexia, Texas, and I wanted to see if I remembered any of the stories and to see how they held up for me.

Let me tell you about two of them. The first is “Remembrance and Reflection” by Mark Clifton. I didn’t remember the story, but what I did remember is that it’s the fourth and final story in a group based on a couplet from Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man: “Remembrance and reflection how allied! / What thin partitions sense from thought divide!” The three previous stories had appeared in a different magazine, Astounding Science Fiction, and I don’t know why the fourth one turned up in F&SF. I’m sure that would be a good story in itself. What I do know is that while I wasn’t at all familiar with Alexander Pope when I started reading the stories, I did like the couplet. I memorized it at the time, and I’ve thought of it often in the years since. The story, like the others in the series, is about a personnel director who works for a company called Computer Research and who finds himself hiring people with psychic powers. In this final story he discovers that he can’t quite sort out his thinking about those powers and about science and fit his thoughts into new framework. His life is changed, and he suffers...[read on]
About Survivors Will Be Shot Again, from the publisher:
Life is never easy for Sheriff Dan Rhodes. Even in a small Texas county, there's always something going on for a sheriff to look into, whether it's an attempted robbery, a marijuana patch guarded by an alligator, or a murder. This time the murdered man seems to be connected to a string of recent burglaries, but just how isn't easy to figure out. It takes some time and another murder before Sheriff Rhodes discovers the answers.

Survivors Will Be Shot Again, Bill Crider's latest installment in the critically-acclaimed Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, finds Rhodes dealing with murders, thefts, marijuana, and gators in Clearview, a small Texas town where secrets are easier to keep than you might think.
Learn more about the book and author at Bill Crider's website and blog.

Read the Page 69 Test entries for Crider's A Mammoth Murder, Murder Among the OWLS, Of All Sad Words, Murder in Four Parts, Murder in the Air, The Wild Hog Murders, Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen, Compound Murder, Half in Love with Artful Death, and Between the Living and the Dead.

Learn about Crider's choice of actors to portray Dan Rhodes and Seepy Benton on the big screen.

The Page 69 Test: Survivors Will Be Shot Again.

Writers Read: Bill Crider.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 99: Barry Hankins's "Woodrow Wilson"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President by Barry Hankins.

About the book, from the publisher:
When Woodrow Wilson was elected as a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in 1897, his preacher father allegedly remarked, "I would rather that he held that position than be president of the United States." Fifteen years later he was both. Easily one of the most religious presidents in American history, almost all of Wilson's policies and important speeches were infused with religious concepts. The son, grandson, and nephew of southern Presbyterian divines, with six consecutive generations of preachers on his mother's side, Wilson viewed his political career as a sacred calling. As he remarked to a Democratic Party leader just before his inauguration in 1913, "God ordained that I should be the next president of the United States."

As a scholar, Princeton University president, governor of New Jersey, then president, Wilson spent his entire career trying to further the cause of public righteousness. In 1905, he uttered his life's credo: "There is a mighty task before us and it welds us together. It is to make the United States a mighty Christian nation and to Christianize the World." Nonetheless, the 28th president was not principally a religious figure, and he didn't fit comfortably in any religious camp, either in his own time or today. In Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President, Barry Hankins tells the story of Wilson's religion as he moved from the Calvinist orthodoxy of his youth to a progressive, spiritualized religion short on doctrine and long on morality.
Learn more about Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President at the Oxford University Press website.

Writers Read: Barry Hankins.

My Book, The Movie: Woodrow Wilson.

The Page 99 Test: Woodrow Wilson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Five fantasy books not shelved in the fantasy section

Michael Swanwick has received the Hugo, Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards for his work. His newest collection of short fiction is Not So Much, Said the Cat. One of Swanwick's top five fantasy books you won’t find in the fantasy section, as shared at Tor.com:
Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace

Edward Bloom, traveling salesman and absentee father, is dying and his son desperately wants to connect with and understand him. But the old man is a compulsive storyteller, and the entire book is told in the voice of the American tall tale. Wonderfully unreliable incidents involving a giant, a two-headed geisha, a magical glass eye, an underwater town, and of course a tremendous catfish overwhelm the inherent sadness of an old man’s death, and ultimately the facts must bow before the superiority of a good lie well told.

Big Fish was made into a movie which I could watch with pleasure every day of the week but the novel is much, much better.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Pg. 69: Rae Meadows's "I Will Send Rain"

Featured at the Page 69 Test: I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows.

About the book, from the publisher:
A luminous, tenderly rendered novel of a woman fighting for her family's survival in the early years of the Dust Bowl; from the acclaimed and award-winning Rae Meadows.

Annie Bell can't escape the dust. It's in her hair, covering the windowsills, coating the animals in the barn, in the corners of her children's dry, cracked lips. It's 1934 and the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma is struggling as the earliest storms of The Dust Bowl descend. All around them the wheat harvests are drying out and people are packing up their belongings as storms lay waste to the Great Plains. As the Bells wait for the rains to come, Annie and each member of her family are pulled in different directions. Annie's fragile young son, Fred, suffers from dust pneumonia; her headstrong daughter, Birdie, flush with first love, is choosing a dangerous path out of Mulehead; and Samuel, her husband, is plagued by disturbing dreams of rain.

As Annie, desperate for an escape of her own, flirts with the affections of an unlikely admirer, she must choose who she is going to become. With her warm storytelling and beautiful prose, Rae Meadows brings to life an unforgettable family that faces hardship with rare grit and determination. Rich in detail and epic in scope, I Will Send Rain is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, filled with hope, morality, and love.
Learn more about the book and author at Rae Meadows's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mothers and Daughters.

The Page 69 Test: I Will Send Rain.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top works of fiction for musicians

At B&N Reads Jenny Shank tagged five fabulous works of fiction for musicians, including:
Music for Wartime, by Rebecca Makkai

Makkai’s brilliant story collection is filled with tales of people for whom music is lifeblood. Sometimes Makkai takes this in a playful direction—in “Couple of Lovers on a Red Background,” a divorced woman who yearns to become a mother discovers that Johann Bach has appeared in her apartment. She sets out to seduce the father of 22, in the hopes of producing a prodigy. In other stories, music is a matter of life and death, as in “The Worst You’ll Ever Feel,” in which the son of a Romanian musician can intuit the story a musician is expressing through his music, and he learns from a Jewish violinist’s song about his suffering in Romania during World War II.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue