Monday, May 22, 2017

Six YA stories about life-changing summers

At the BN Teen blog Natalie Zutter tagged six YA books about life-changing summers, including:
Proof of Forever, by Lexa Hillyer

Hillyer’s debut has been called “The Sisterhood of the (Time) Traveling Pants for a new generation,” because instead of a magical pair of formfitting jeans, you’ve got a photo booth that transports four former best friends back to a summer camp session two years prior. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe must mine the past two years to discover where they went wrong, and what made Joy walk away from their friendships with no explanation. As they retrace their steps during the week they spent at Camp Okahatchee, taking care not to change the past, they stumble upon the dark secret that divided them.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Five of the best books on Southeast Asian travel literature

Cat Barton is a correspondent for the Agence France Presse in Hong Kong. At Five Books she tagged five top titles on Southeast Asian travel literature, including:
The Quiet American by Graham Greene

It’s a fantastic novel, which is set in Saigon in the early 1950s and foreshadows the Vietnam War. It’s particularly nice to read when you’re in Ho Chi Minh now because Greene describes the city extraordinarily well. It’s obviously set in a very different time, but many of the buildings he writes about can still be seen today.

The plot involves an embittered British journalist, Fowler, who is living in Saigon. Fowler, an opium addict, is in love with a young, beautiful Vietnamese woman called Phuong. Fowler then meets Pyle, ‘a quiet American’, and he initially feels an almost paternal instinct towards him. Later he realises that Pyle has fallen in love with Phuong and steals her away from him. Phuong wanted to marry Fowler but he couldn’t get a divorce from his Catholic wife. When Pyle makes all sorts of promises to marry Phuong and take her to the United States, Phuong accepts – before everything then changes. Fowler gradually realises that Pyle is in Vietnam as a passionate advocate of a ‘third force’, which then stirs up a local uprising to win the war. This involves tactics such as planting bombs in public places, which kills innocent people.

Fowler’s relationship with Phuong in particular is beautifully described and it’s a very careful and insightful portrait of the nature of some relationships between Western men and young Southeast Asian women, which still has much resonance today.
Read about the other entries at Five Books.

The Quiet American is among Richard Haass's six top books for understanding global politics, Sara Jonsson's seven best literary treatments of envy, Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones's top ten classic spy novels, Tom Rachman's top ten journalist's tales, John Mullan's ten best journalists in literature, Charles Glass's five best books on Americans abroad, Robert McCrum's books to inspire busy public figures, Malcolm Pryce's top ten expatriate tales, Catherine Sampson's top ten Asian crime fiction, and Pauline Melville's top 10 revolutionary tales.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Ten of the best true crime books

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir. One of her ten favorite true crime books, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Killings by Calvin Trillin

How many ways does murder occur? Killings—an odd, addictive little book that was recently reissued—lives up to its title with a collection of brief, strange, brilliantly written murder vignettes, all originally published in The New Yorker. Follow this one up with Reporting at Wit’s End: Tales from the New Yorker, a collection of St. Clair McKelway’s crime beat reporting for the magazine through the 1930s and 1940s, that features witty and drily delivered portraits of murderous gangsters and clever counterfeiters.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 19, 2017

Five great YA novels about dangerous games

At the BN Teen Blog Eric Smith tagged five top YA novels about dangerous games, including:
The Gauntlet, by Karuna Riazi

Though The Gauntlet is middle grade, it has major crossover appeal, as with The Night Circus. In Riazi’s debut, three friends find themselves trapped inside a board game they have to take apart, to get themselves, and everyone else who has been trapped inside, out. If this sounds a bit like Jumanji, well, you’re spot on. Because it’s very much like that, with a steampunk/Middle Eastern twist. It’s a diverse read that’s exciting and full of thrills, with wildly imaginative monsters and magic.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five books about bad girls

Ellen Klages's books include The Green Glass Sea and White Sands, Red Menace. One of her five books about bad girls who dance where they want to, as shared at
Point of Honour
Madeleine E. Robins

Madeleine and I roomed together at Interaction, the Glasgow WorldCon in 2005. Afterwards we rented a car (my credit card, her other-side-of-the-road driving skills), and motored down to London. It was a two-day journey that took us through Yorkshire, and the Moors, and to Whitby, places that, as far as I was concerned, were fictional, and were from books that I had not read, even in high school, when I was supposed to.

I have zero knowledge of classic English literature, and Mad has lots, and adores it. I asked questions, she told fascinating stories, and it was one of the great road trips of all time. We finally managed to give back the car at Enterprise’s tiny, hidden office in a mews near Hyde Park—we had no GPS and the petrol was down to fumes—breathed a great sigh of relief, and became gloriously pedestrian for another three days. Mad was researching her next book, set in London 200 years earlier, and we explored nooks and crannies and history—and pubs—as she pointed out the early-19th-century bits that lurked below and betwixt and between the rest of the 21st-century world.

Then she flew back home to kids and family, and I stayed on by myself for another few days. I’d known Mad for a couple of years, and had read a few of her short stories, but not her novels. So she left me with a paperback edition of Point of Honour, the first in the series of adventures of one Miss Sarah Tolerance.

I did not think it would be my cup of tea, really. I’m very much a 20th-century reader, have never read Jane Austen or any of the other Regency writers. But there I was, in London, with a book about the very long-ago London that the author had just been giving me a lovely guided tour of. Serendipity. Simply magic.

The premise of the book is, it seems to me, to deny its opening statement:
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a fallen woman of good family must, sooner or later, descend to whoredom.
Miss Tolerance is a woman of a good family who fell in love and lost her virginity outside the sanctity of marriage and is therefore disgraced. But rather than become a whore, she becomes an agent of inquiry, an 1810 private eye. She is quick-witted, quite adept with a sword (or, if the occasion demands, a pistol), and dresses as a man when the laws of propriety and society hinder any forays she might make in the guise of her own gender. She rights wrongs, solves dilemmas, and when all has been settled, retires to her cottage for a meal and a refreshing cup of tea.

I’m still not wholly converted to the glories of Regency literature, but I do look forward to the continuing adventures of Miss Tolerance with great anticipation. (There are currently three books in the series, with a fourth still a WIP.)
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Eight top cold-case mysteries

Fiona Barton's latest thriller is The Child. One of her eight favorite cold-case mysteries, as shared at B&N Reads:
The Dry, by Jane Harper

The secrets of small towns have fascinated writers and readers since the first psychological thriller was penned. (Wikipedia tells me that was in 11th-century Japan, and who am I to argue?) Jane Harper has set her cold-case mystery in the worst drought in Australia in a century, teasing us with the irony of temperatures. Her Federal Agent Aaron Falk goes home for the first time in decades for the funeral of a boyhood friend. The friend is said to have committed suicide after murdering his wife and young son in horrifying circumstances, but all may not be as it seems, and Falk reluctantly becomes embroiled in reinvestigating the crime. Meanwhile, a much older crime that touches the investigator intimately is exposed as a rich seam of lies and collusion that underpin the community.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten novels about Pakistan

The Pakistani writer Moni Mohsin's books include the novel The End of Innocence and a collection of her satirical columns, The Diary of a Social Butterfly. One of her ten top novels about Pakistan, as shared at the Guardian:
The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmed

The eponymous “falcon” is Tor Baz, the love child of a chieftain’s daughter and her father’s servant, who witnesses the brutal murder of his parents for daring to infringe tribal laws. Set in the region that forms the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan – today’s “Af-Pak”, in US state department speak – these interconnected stories chart the uncompromising code of honour that shape the lives of the tribes who have inhabited this harsh land for centuries. Once a civil servant, Ahmed served here for in the 1950s and his spare, unsentimental stories have the unmistakable ring of truth.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Eleven books that make science easy

At B&N Reads Jeff Somers tagged eleven books that make you smarter about science, including:
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tyson is not just one of the smartest men in the world, he’s one of the most personable and charismatic. His book is, therefore, fun. He doesn’t use a lot of scientific terms, but instead explores space, time, and the known universe in simpler ways that even folks who have never had any scientific training will find incredibly easy to understand. It’s like having a conversation with your really smart, really funny uncle.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Eleven historical fiction books about epic rivalries

At the BookBub Blog by T.A. Maclagan tagged eleven historical fiction books about epic rivalries, including:
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

With more than one million copies in print and adapted for the big screen, The Other Boleyn Girl is a riveting historical drama. It brings to light a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe, and survived a treacherous political landscape by following her heart.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 15, 2017

32 books for "American Gods" fans

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Martin Cahill, inspired by the television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, tagged thirty-two books in which deities take direct action, including:
Crossroads of Canopy, by Thoraiya Dyer

Another debut, this one set in the magical, massive rainforest of Canopy, where 13 gods watch over their faithful at the top of the trees, keeping them safe, and safeguarding their interests. Unar, a young orphan, comes to the temple of Audblayin, goddess of life, and pledges that one day, when Audblayin is reborn as a man, she will become their bodyguard. When Audblayin passes away, Unar’s mettle is tested, as she seeks to locate the newly reborn god in Canopy, and finds herself not only in the realm of the other gods, but soon climbing down below the treetops, where older and darker deities lurk.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Writers Read: Thoraiya Dyer.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ten top books about mothers

Dea Brøvig’s debut novel is The Last Boat Home. One of her top ten books about mothers, as shared at the Daily Express:

Maya Angelou’s autobiography may not be about mothers, but its pages are crowded with mother figures so memorable and impressive that I wanted to include it on my list.

Mother Dear is either absent or irresistible and Momma, Angelou’s paternal grandmother, raises her and her brother with her own brand of love and discipline. At the book’s end, Angelou herself gives birth while still an adolescent, ill-equipped but with her mother finally at her side.

A beautiful, blistering read, as wise about family as it is about race, injustice and much else besides.
Read about the other entries on the list.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is among Sona Charaipotra's six critical reads for Black History Month.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Five books about sleuths

Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe are married, and the Supernormal Sleuthing Service series is their first writing collaboration. Among their five favorite bookish sleuths, as shared at
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

I [Christopher] loved this book so much as a kid, I got in trouble for carrying around my own secret diary modeled on Harriet’s. To be fair, my observations of my friends and family’s activities and foibles were probably not particularly sophisticated. Or complimentary. But young me found Harriet’s prickly notes and inability to not chronicle what was going on around her—and then to pay the price for doing so—all too easy to relate to.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue