Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Eight fictional beach reads for foodies

At B&N Reads Madina Papadopoulos tagged "eight works of fiction that are an escapist trip for both the heart and the stomach," including:
The Belly of Paris, by Emile Zola

Those who like hefty beach reads should reach for The Belly of Paris, which tells the tale of a wrongfully imprisoned Parisian man, Florent Quenu, who escapes his sentence and returns to Paris. But, as it is an ever changing city, the Paris he finds is not the Paris he left. He finds work in Les Halles, the city’s famous 19th-century food market, making the title both figurative and literal. As the tale unfolds, the protagonist gives detailed descriptions of food—lards, sausages, fish—and offers unforgettable descriptions in which he likens characters to cheese, such as a sick nobleman who resembles a piece of Roquefort.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 24, 2017

Eleven creepy books set in summer

At Bustle Emma Oulton tagged eleven "scorchingly scary novels set in the summer heat," including:
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

Helena was born in captivity, in the cabin where her teenage mother was held for years against her will by Helena's father, a man she loved and feared in equal parts throughout her childhood. Years later, Helena is free and living under a false name — until her father escapes from prison, drawing Helena into a scavenger hunt that only she can solve.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Six books about losing treasured stuffed animals

At the BN Kids Blog Erin Jones tagged six of the best books about losing treasured stuffed animals, including:
I Lost My Bear, by Jules Feiffer

Drama ensues when a little girl loses her bear. She cries, she whines, and she has no sympathy from her parents. Big sister encourages her to throw another stuffed animal to see where it lands and a slew of lost items are discovered. She gladly plays with these toys until bedtime, when she suddenly remembers that her beloved Bearsy is still missing. She scorns her mother for not helping her, continues howling, and when she gets into bed discovers her bear tucked between her sheets. This story will ring all too true for many parents out there!
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven stone-cold classics about cycling

Bella Bathurst is a writer and photojournalist. Her books include The Lighthouse Stevensons, which won the 1999 Somerset Maugham Award, The Wreckers, which became a BBC Timewatch documentary, and The Bicycle Book, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011.

For the Guardian she tagged seven of the best books about cycling, including:
Dervla Murphy: Wheels Within Wheels

Less about cycling, more about puncture repair. Back in the 1950s, Murphy took her old steel-framed tourer and rode away from an almost unendurable situation at home. She went from Ireland to India, and in doing so wheeled herself back to life and to sanity.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Six YA novels with rich and real urban settings

Darren Croucher writes YA novels with a partner, under the name A.D. Croucher. At the BN Teen blog he tagged six YA novels "that make particularly evocative use of their rich—and very real—urban settings," including:
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Although Thomas’s outstanding debut isn’t set in a named city, it deserves to be on this list, because it feels so viscerally real in its representation of neighborhoods and cities across the country. It could be New York, LA, Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta. The place where Starr grew up is crafted in great depth and detail, down to street names, stores, local eccentrics, rival gangs, while the upscale locations and exclusive school she attends are similarly detailed and specific. By avoiding any one specific place, Thomas gives us a city that could easily be (and probably is) the one we live in, which helps make this a true American city in a true American novel. Her powerful and grounded storytelling puts us right in the middle of the action, however (necessarily) uncomfortable it might make us feel. The most crucial of all YA city stories, right here.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 21, 2017

Five SFF books written collaboratively

Andrew Neil Gray and J. S. Herbison are partners in life as well as in writing. The Ghost Line is their first fiction collaboration. One of their five best SFF books written collaboratively, as shared at Tor.com:
The Difference Engine by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson

What happens when two masters of the cyberpunk genre put their heads together? Surprisingly, not more cyberpunk. Instead, what emerged was this unusual novel that posited an alternate version of Victorian England. Here, experiments by Charles Babbage resulted in a successful early mechanical computer and a very different industrial revolution. Starring airships, spies, courtesans and even Ada Lovelace, the dense and complex story revolves around the search for a set of powerful computer punch cards.

Sound familiar? Not surprising: this collaboration helped bring the relatively obscure steampunk genre to wider popular notice and launched a thousand steam-powered airships and clockwork monsters.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six robots too smart for their own good

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog Nicole Hill tagged six robots too smart for their own good, including:
Murderbot (All Systems Red, by Martha Wells)

Despite its chosen appellation, Murderbot is not actually a mass-murdering mechanical psychopath. No, it’s a security bot with a binge-watching addiction and a wit as dry as the Sahara. Who among us, after deftly hacking our governor modules, wouldn’t use our newfound freedom to endlessly stream soap operas? That’s the biggest evidence of sentience there is. That Murderbot holds humans at arm’s length—and would frankly prefer to be left alone—doesn’t stop it from protecting the humans in its charge when a threat strikes their scientific research outpost. It just makes their interactions awkward and complex in ways no episode of Sanctuary Moon could quite capture.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Top ten opening scenes in books

Catherine Lacey's most recent novel is The Answers.

One of her ten top opening scenes in books, as shared at The Guardian:
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

“We are on our way to Budapest. Bastard and Chipo and Godknows and Sbho and Stina and me. We are going even though we are not allowed to cross Mizilikazi Road, even though Bastard is supposed to be watching his sister Fraction, even though Mother would kill me dead if she found out; we are just going.”

All I thought when I read this was, I’m going too.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fifty of the funniest books ever written

Whitney Collins is the author of The Hamster Won't Die: A Treasury of Feral Humor, creator of the website The Zen of Gen X. At B&N Reads she tagged fifty of the funniest books ever written:
Under the Frog, by Tibor Fischer

An audacious and daring black comedy that was the first debut novel ever to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Under the Frog tells the dark but surprisingly funny story of two Hungarian basketball players, Pataki and Gyuri, between the end of World War II and the anti-Soviet uprising of 1956. Determined to flee their pointless factory work, the two athletes travel to every corner of Hungary, oftentimes in the nude, on an epic search for food, women, and meaning.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Five books that resemble science fiction

Karen Heuler’s stories have appeared in over 100 literary and speculative magazines and anthologies. She has published four novels and three story collections with university and small presses, and a recent collection was chosen for Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2013 list. She has received an O. Henry award, been shortlisted for a Pushcart prize, for the Iowa short fiction award, the Bellwether award, and twice for the Shirley Jackson award for short fiction. Her new novella, In Search of Lost Time, is about a woman who can steal time.

One of Heuler's five favorite books that "stand at the doorway between realistic and speculative," as shared at Tor.com:
The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen

Ostensibly a story about a doctor who went off to the Boer War and wrote back to his family describing what he saw, it amounts to a fantastic journey to a land where the Platonic ideals of things exist, and where if you destroy the original spoon, then spoons themselves cease to have any meaning. In fact, the journey is about enlightenment and death. The stories that are important to me are, indeed, all about journeys, whether interior or exterior, and the best ones unite these aspects. The Platonic spoon, the ability to destroy the idea of an object, has stayed with me a long time. We understand things only on the basis of the ideas we have about them. Give me something out of context and what will I do with it? Take away context, that’s what interests me. There’s a one- or two-page scene in this book where someone opens up the spigot of darkness, and can’t turn it off. Journeys in fantastic fiction turn the obstacles into metaphors, and in many cases, the goal as well.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 17, 2017

Six top books with remote settings

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the bestselling author of twelve critically acclaimed novels, including Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband and Evenings at Five. She is also the author of The Making of a Writer, her journal in two volumes (ed. Rob Neufeld). She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Godwin's new novel is Grief Cottage.

One of the author's six favorite books with remote settings, as shared at The Week magazine:
Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

A compressed, intensified masterpiece about living in extreme poverty on a London houseboat. When the novel won 1979's Booker Prize, the literary establishment was livid.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: Grief Cottage.

The Page 69 Test: Grief Cottage.

Writers Read: Gail Godwin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Five (damn-near) perfect (dark) novels

Karen Runge is an author and visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the author of the short story collection Seven Sins and the novel Seeing Double. One of her five (damn-near) perfect (dark) novels:
PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER, by Patrick Süskind

“And suddenly solitude fell across his heart like a dusty reflection. He closed his eyes. The dark doors within him opened and he entered. The next performance in the theater of Grenouille’s soul was beginning.”

This is a story about a serial killer such as it has never been told before. What’s so magic about it is that the protagonist is utterly despicable, but… we like him? Despite his sad beginnings, he has exactly zero redeeming features—and yet… and yet… we admire him? Alright, we don’t like him—but we root for him. We don’t understand him—but we feel for him. It’s like falling in love with a narcissist. He makes us furious and desperate and sometimes downright disgusted, but we follow him around like a tortured puppy anyway.

I still cannot figure how Süskind got that right.

Grenouille is a hideous little creature with an extraordinarily refined sense of smell. There is no beauty in his world except for that gifted by fragrance, which he pursues heartlessly, almost in direct contrast to the beauty of the scents themselves. There is nothing admirable in him, except for his keen intelligence (he’s no fool) and this remarkable gift of his. When he discovers a way to capture the scent of human, feminine beauty, he goes from sociopath to psychopath, and there are no limits to what he’ll do to achieve his goal: create the greatest perfume the world has ever known.

I won’t embarrass myself by trying to pick this apart any further. It’s just too layered, too intense, too intricate. This novel stands alone, and has to be experienced first-hand by the reader.

Kudos to the translator. It can’t have been easy, working with words as full and dense as this.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Perfume is among Lara Feigel's top ten smelly books.

--Marshal Zeringue