Friday, January 19, 2018

Twenty-one books for dog & cat lovers

Jeff Somers is the author of Lifers, the Avery Cates series from Orbit Books, Chum from Tyrus Books, and the Ustari Cycle from Pocket/Gallery, including We Are Not Good People. At the B&N Reads blog he tagged twenty-one books for dog and cat lovers, including:
I Am a Cat, by Soseki Natsume

This classic of Japanese literature is a satirical look at Japanese society in the early 20th century, when Japan was importing Western ways and attitudes, resulting in an uneasy mixture of viewpoints and style in daily life. The narrator is a self-important house cat who observes his human hosts and their friends, making pointed comments about their lives that are still hilarious today. Cat lovers know that our cats have a poor opinion of us—of our grooming, our inability to catch vermin, and our lack of appreciation for napping in sunbeams—and this book will hit that sweet spot of loving an animal you’re not sure loves you back.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Top ten conspiracy theories in fiction

James Miller's new novel is UnAmerican Activities. At the Guardian, he tagged ten novels that "explore conspiracy theories both 'real' and fictional, showing how history blends with fiction and speculation can supplement fact." One entry on the list:
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (2004)

A “strong-man” celebrity, Charles Lindbergh, becomes president of the US. Backed by shadowy foreign powers and sympathetic towards Hitler, Lindbergh begins to introduce antisemitic policies. For a moment it looks as if the country might be about to ally itself with the Nazis. However, Roth wraps up his alternative history with a neat resolution and the normal course of events is restored. Something like this could never happen in real life, could it?
Read about the other titles on the list.

The Plot Against America is on 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

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Five essential Japanese novels

Junko Takekawa is the Senior Arts Programme Officer at The Japan Foundation in London. One of five essential Japanese crime novels she tagged for the Waterstones blog:
Confessions - Kanae Minato

Minato is a sensational female crime writer. Without much bloodshed or many grotesque scenes, her books are true page-turners as she excels in digging up evil and guilt in our unconscious mind. Confessions is an early work that pushed her onto the main stage of the Japanese literature world in 2008. This book is about a confession by a female school teacher whose small child was killed at her school pool. Chillingly through her monologue, she reveals what she discovered about what had happened to her child and subtly accuses the murderer without pointing a finger until the end. Stories in “confession” style later became her trademark. If you do not like novels in a diary format or first person novels, it may not be for you but she is such a compelling story teller that it is guaranteed to grip your mind. Her Penance is also worth reading.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eleven SFF books with a powerful message of social justice

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Joel Cunningham tagged 11 sci-fi & fantasy books or series with a powerful message of social justice, including:
An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon

The remarkable debut novel by Rivers Solomon, extrapolates our history of prejudice and division into a future context, as the last remnants of humanity flee a ruined Earth onboard the generation ship Matilda. Three hundred years out, society on the ship has come to resemble a pre-Civil Rights era America (and, more than a little, the America of 2017) as a white supremecist ruling class controls the ship on the back of slave labor by its darker-skinned passengers. Aster is a motherless child aboard the ship Matilda, on which lowdeckers like her work on vast rotating plantations under the weak light of Baby, their engineered nuclear sun, living lives of trauma and subject to the cruel vagaries of upper deck guards. We meet Aster as she fights to save a child’s life. Someone—probably the Sovereign, their god-benighted ruler—has cut the heat to the lower decks, and the child has something like trench foot, the limb frozen and rotting. Aster is apprentice to the Surgeon General Theo Smith, despite her low status, and is learned in the skills of medicine. When she is called by the Surgeon Theo for help to save the poisoned Sovereign, Aster is righteously defiant.She hates the Sovereign, as all the lowdeckers do—he is the exultant face of their oppression. As one ruler falls and the next is enshrined, the equilibrium of Aster and Theo’s lives, and the lives of all Matilda’s lower decks, are are violently upset, as the spectre of civil war appears on the artificial horizon.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 15, 2018

Freddie Fox's 6 best books

Freddie Fox is a British actor, known for The Three Musketeers (2011), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and Victor Frankenstein (2015). One of his six best books, as shared at the Daily Express:

I knew Eric when I was a boy and this tells the story of how he met his wife when she helped him escape from a prisoner-of-war camp in Italy. He wrote about his adventures so wittily and articulately.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Seven books for talking to kids about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the BN Kids Blog Lindsay Barrett tagged seven helpful books for talking to kids about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including:
Let the Children March, by Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison

This story is told from the point of view of a young African-American girl who hears Dr. King speak at her church. Answering his call for peaceful protestors, she joins the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade. While sensitively told, parents should know that this story does include the narrator being pushed and sprayed with water by the police and even briefly going to jail. Regardless, this story presents opportunity to talk about how even children can be a powerful force in the fight for social justice.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five faerie books for people who say they hate faeries

Holly Black's latest novel is The Cruel Prince. One of her five favorite faerie books for people who say they hate faeries, as shared at
For those of you who read historicals, I’d recommend the The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, in which the People of the Hill live underground and steal away humans. Exiled by Queen Mary Tudor to a remote household, Kate Sutton finds herself in their power. The faeries here are grim and remote, with “contempt for ordinary human comfort and delight.” The magic is subtle and strange. And Kate herself is a wonderful character, practical and honest and brave to the end.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Eleven top YA books featuring South Asian characters

Sona Charaipotra is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than a decade’s worth of experience in print and online media. At the BN Teen blog she tagged eleven YA books about South Asian "brown girls dreaming (and scheming!)," including:
My So-Called Bollywood Life, by Nisha Sharma

Bollywood meets Hollywood in this hilarious and lovelorn sendup of classic rom-com Only You. Winnie Mehta’s family psychic—because, yup, that’s a thing—has forever told her she would meet the love of her life before she turned eighteen, that his name would start with an R, and that he would give her a bracelet. So of course Raj is the one, right? Except they broke up. Which foils everything. And when she meets fellow film geek Dev, well, he so does not fit the prophecy. Can Winnie learn to let go and take her fate into her own hands? And, more importantly, will she get her perfect Bollywood ending?
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 12, 2018

Top ten books about time

Alan Burdick is the author of Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation. One of his ten favorite books about time, as shared at the Guardian:
Time Travel by James Gleick

The Time Machine [by H.G. Wells] is just the starting point for Gleick’s joyous and engrossing survey of our species’ preoccupation with the (entirely impossible) possibility of time travel. Cyberspace, time capsules, predestination; Dr. Who, Parmenides, Nabokov – Gleick is at home in every intellectual territory. Essential reading for those wanting to understand why the present is no longer enough for us.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sixteen of the best witchy reads

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged sixteen of the best witchy books. One entry on the list:
The Witch’s Daughter, by Paula Brackston

One of the most fascinating and engrossing witch tales I’ve ever read: you will not be able to look away from the tale of Elizabeth Hawksmith, a witch who has survived over three-hundred years in loneliness, only to discover a Witchfinder from her past has been stalking her through time, determined to collect on a debt. But this time, Elizabeth can’t run: she has a teenage girl under her care, and something more important than her own immortality to protect.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Coffee with a Canine: Paula Brackston & Bluebell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Five top novels inspired by Shakespeare’s plays

M.L. Rio’s debut novel is If We Were Villains. One of her five favorite novels inspired by Shakespeare’s plays, as shared at the Waterstones blog:
The Weird Sisters
Eleanor Brown

Brown’s family drama follows the three daughters of an English professor when they return home after their mother is diagnosed with cancer. Brown paints a poignant portrait of an estranged, struggling family which would not seem out of place in one of Shakespeare’s plays. The characters are deeply flawed, but never beyond redemption. However, what’s most compelling is Brown’s incisive examination of literature itself and the effect it has on of those who live under its influence.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Five top books that blend science and fantasy

J. Patrick Black is the author of Ninth City Burning. At he tagged five "stories with a cocktail of science fiction and fantasy," including:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Published in 1963, A Wrinkle in Time is classic of young folks’ literature and a perennial hit on the ALA’s list of most challenged books (in itself a strong recommendation). It follows 13-year-old Meg Murray as she adventures across a series of far flung worlds by way of the titular wrinkle (a folding of space readers might recognize as a wormhole) in search of her missing father. Along the way, she encounters an idyllic planet of centaurish creatures, battles social conformity in a world ruled by a telepathic, disembodied brain, and faces down a creeping embodiment of evil. Not a bad way to start your teenage years!
Read about the other entries on the list.

A Wrinkle in Time is among P.C. Cast’s ten all-time favorite reads for fantasy fans, 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