Sunday, October 23, 2016

Five top YA books inspired by not-so-fictional murderers

At the BN Teen blog Sarah Hannah Gómez tagged five top YA books inspired by real-life murderers, including:
Erzebet Bathory in The Blood Confession, by Alisa M. Libby

In the late 16th century, a vain countess began to fear that one day her looks would fade. She noticed a lot of her maids were gorgeous, and got the idea that maybe their blood would keep her looking forever young. As with any slippery slope, it started with simple bloodletting akin to “medical practices” of yore (albeit with cosmetic intentions, not health ones), and then oops! It became serial murders. This is a chilling fictionalized account that will make you think the Evil Queen from Snow White was really not that bad.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

The ten best bachelors

At the Guardian Michael Hogan came up with a list of the ten best bachelors. Most of the entries are actual men; among the fictional characters to make the list:
Sherlock Holmes

It’s a running joke in the current BBC reboot starring Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones that everyone assumes the Baker Street detective is gay. The only female to take Holmes’s interest was Irene Adler, his adversary in A Scandal in Bohemia and referred to as “the woman”. The opposite sex remain a mystery to Holmes, who says: “Their motives are so inscrutable. How can you build on such quicksand? Their most trivial actions may mean volumes, their most extraordinary conduct may depend upon a hairpin.” His creator, Conan Doyle, added: “Holmes is as inhuman as Babbage’s calculating machine and just as likely to fall in love.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Seven of the best weird westerns

Sam Reader is a writer and conventions editor for The Geek Initiative. He also writes literary criticism and reviews at One of seven weird westerns he tagged at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog:
Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear

Bear’s steampunk adventure is set in the city of Seattle at a time when the streets were still being raised up and travelers found themselves passing through on their way to the gold territories of Alaska. The main character, Karen Memery, works as a “seamstress” in the house of Madame Damnable, until the night a strange man with a mind control device and a wounded young woman find their way into the parlor. The plot is plenty weird, with Karen tangling with enough mad science, serial killers, and outsize threats to give even Jonah Hex a headache. Through it all, the novel’s defining feature is Karen herself, a resourceful heroine with an unforgettable voice.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 21, 2016

Six YA novels featuring teens with strange abilities

Parker Peevyhouse is the author of the acclaimed debut novel Where Futures End. One of her six favorite YAs centering on teens with unusual abilities, as shared at the BN Teen blog:
The Ghosts of Heaven, by Marcus Sedgwick

The young prehistoric girl at the center of the first story in this four-part book discovers a powerful ability previously unknown in her time: she writes. Undertaking this skill leads to an encounter with a mysterious spiral that links the girl to gifted individuals from other time periods: a persecuted young witch, a madman with terrifying visions, and an astronaut lost in time. But are these characters truly gifted, or is the world we live in simply stranger than we know?
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Ghosts of Heaven.

--Marshal Zeringue

Eleven science fiction books regularly taught in college classes

At io9 Abhimanyu Das and Gordon Jackson tagged eleven science fiction books that are often taught in college, including:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Dick’s post-apocalyptic novel explores the essence of humanity, and is taught in courses on biotechnology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and even ecology at the University of Wisconsin. Famously adapted into the Ridley Scott film, Blade Runner, the novel by Philip K. Dick is far stranger than its counterpart.

Bounty hunter Rick Deckard chases escaped androids in a quest to purchase the ultimate status symbol—namely, a giraffe. The novel explores the arbitrary values we assign natural and synthetic lives, be they androids, human beings, or Deckard’s electric sheep of the title (the original died of tetanus) and is ripe for analysis—and thus many a freshman 10-page paper.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? also appears on Robert Kroese's list of five science fiction novels about sheep, Ceridwen Christensen's list of eleven stories of love and robots, Ryan Britt's list of six of the best detectives from science fiction literature, Weston Williams's list of fifteen classic science fiction books, Allegra Frazier's list of four great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, Ryan Menezes's list of five movies that improved the book, Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the twelve most unfaithful movie versions of science fiction and fantasy books, Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, John Mullan's list of ten of the best titles in the form of questions, Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of ten classic sci-fi books that were originally considered failures and Robert Collins's top ten list of dystopian novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Six of the scariest ghosts in middle grade lit

At the BN Kids blog Melissa Sarno tagged six of the scariest ghosts in middle grade literature, including:
Shadowed Summer, by Saundra Mitchell

When summer vacation begins, Iris expects the usual boring few months, hanging out at the grocery store with her best friend and telling ghost stories at the old cemetery. But, this summer, a real ghost begins to haunt her, the legendary Elijah Landry, whose mysterious death still plagues her small town. Iris must learn what really happened to him and why he chose her to haunt.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about borders

Marcus Sedgwick's books have won and been shortlisted for many awards; most notably, he has been shortlisted for Britain’s Carnegie Medal six times, has received two Printz Honors, for Revolver and Ghosts of Heaven, and in 2013 won the Printz Award for Midwinterblood.

His new YA novel is Saint Death.

One of Sedgwick's ten top books about borders, as shared at the Guardian:
Stamboul Train by Graham Greene

Greene’s self-confessed attempt to “write a book to please” uses the old writers’ trick of the world in microcosm as he outlines the fates of a group of passengers aboard the Orient Express. Borders aplenty are swiftly crossed, but this is an uneasy journey, full of tension and suspicion, and antisemitism is never far away. It’s here, too, that we see someone actually question the notion of borders, as Dr Czinner, teacher and revolutionary, cries out: “How old fashioned you are with your frontiers and your patriotism!” But this is Europe in the mid-1930s, and the world was about to see the ultimate dark face of such concepts.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ten of the best noir novels

Ken Bruen is one of the most prominent Irish crime writers of the last two decades. One of his ten favorite noir novels, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Dark Passage by David Goodis

Of special interest is how Goodis in 1946 sold the rights of this classic to Hollywood before it was even published. The movie tends to deflect from the remaining power of the novel, which is as fresh and dark today as then. Dark Passage has the same essential noir nucleus that would underwrite the noir template, a man unjustly imprisoned for the murder of his wife. If noir can be encapsulated within the narrow definition of bad things happening to a man and continuing to spiral down, then protagonist Vincent Parry is the very personification of this.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six notable memoirs by defectors from closed societies

At the B&N Reads blog Kat Rosenfield tagged six incredible memoirs by defectors from closed societies, including:
Troublemaker, by Leah Remini

After being indoctrinated as a child into the church of Scientology, Remini made a highly public split with the organization after being declared a “Suppressive Person”—the Scientologist’s version of persona non grata, disavowed and disconnected from the church and everyone in it, including her own family. Remini’s memoir of her path to intellectual freedom contains plenty of juicy gossip about Scientology’s famous adherents (she was a guest at Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes in 2006), but it’s her funny, poignant journey from indoctrination to independence that makes this a truly gripping read.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ten of the best fantasy novels

P.C. Cast’s newest epic fantasy novel is Moon Chosen. One of her ten all-time favorite reads for fantasy fans, as shared at the BN Teen blog:
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

The fantastic fantasy filled my third-grade year with adventure and discovery. I’ll never forget how mesmerized I was as my teacher began reading this book to us during story time. I understood and identified with Meg Murry, and adored her little brother, Charles Wallace. As a girl who has always been very close to her father (and believed him superhuman—a lot like Meg does her father), I instantly fell for this book. It’s particularly outstanding because L’Engle masterfully moves the children through dangerous and difficult situations by allowing them to discover their own bravery and intelligence, and use their own strengths to come together against evil. This classic opens a universe of wonder to people of all ages. Yes, it can certainly be read as an allegory, but it’s also just a damn good story.
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Wrinkle in Time is among Melissa Albert's top ten grade-school classics you’ll never be too old to reread, Cressida Cowell's list of ten top mythical creatures, and Steve Cole's top ten space books for kids of all ages.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 17, 2016

Five good liars in literature

Nicholas Searle grew up in the southwest of England and studied languages at the University of Bath. He spent more years than he cares to remember in public service before deciding in 2011 to leave and begin writing fiction. He lives in the north of England.

Searle's debut novel is The Good Liar.

One of his five favorite deceivers in fiction, as shared at the Waterstone's blog:
Thomas Ripley (the five Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith)
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Talented Mr Ripley is on Chris Ewan's list of the ten top chases in literature, Meave Gallagher's top twenty list of gripping page-turners every twentysomething woman should read, Sophia Bennett's top ten list of books set in the Mediterranean, Emma Straub's top ten list of holidays in fiction, E. Lockhart's list of favorite suspense novels, Sally O'Reilly's top ten list of novels inspired by Shakespeare, Walter Kirn's top six list of books on deception, Stephen May's top ten list of impostors in fiction, Simon Mason's top ten list of chilling fictional crimes, Melissa Albert's list of eight books to change a villain, Koren Zailckas's list of eleven of literature's more evil characters, Alex Berenson's five best list of books about Americans abroad John Mullan's list of ten of the best examples of rowing in literature, Tana French's top ten maverick mysteries list, the Guardian's list of the 50 best summer reads ever, the Telegraph's ultimate reading list, and Francesca Simon's top ten list of antiheroes.

The Page 69 Test: The Good Liar.

My Book, The Movie: The Good Liar.

Writers Read: Nicholas Searle.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six top YA books for fans of John Hughes's movies

At the BN Teen blog Sona Charaipotra tagged six YA novels for fans of John Hughes's old school teen classic movies like Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club, including:
Paper Towns, by John Green

I know, I know! Too obvious. But you can’t deny that this “last few days of high school” romp, complete with Midwestern setting, everyguy protagonist, manic pixie dream girl love interest, heart-of-gold popular beauty hooking up with geektastic sidekick, and a road trip, doesn’t hit the John Hughes sweet spot. Bonus? It’s already a movie, too, so you can read then watch!
Read about the other entries on the list.

Paper Towns is among Eric Smith's five top YA reads in which poetry is part of the plot.

--Marshal Zeringue