Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Five books with bargains you don’t want to make

Emily Lloyd-Jones's latest novel is The Hearts We Sold. At she shared her five "favorite books featuring deals you probably don’t want to make!" One title on the list:
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba

So you’re walking along. You find a notebook dropped by a death spirit. The death spirit explains that this notebook has magical powers. You can write a person’s name in it, and they’ll die instantly. Do you begin a spree of taking out the criminals that plague your nation? Or do you chalk up the experience to dehydration, put the notebook in the lost and found, and go on your merry way?

Trust me, take Option B.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fifty must-read regency romances

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged fifty of the best regency romances, including:
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Jane Austen should be incredibly satisfied that all of these regency romances evolved from the tradition her novels inspired. This classic tale of misconceptions, miscommunication, and misguided interference between a cold, stoic man and a woman who thinks she has him all figured out has endured the test of time.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Pride and Prejudice also appears on Grant Ginder's top ten list of book characters we love to hate, Katy Guest's list of six of the best depictions of shyness in fiction, Garry Trudeau's six favorite books list, Tara Sonin's list of seven sweet and swoony romances for wedding season, Ross Johnson's list of seven of the greatest rivalries in fiction, Helen Dunmore's six best books list, Jenny Kawecki's list of eight fictional characters who would make the best travel companions, Peter James's top ten list of works of fiction set in or around Brighton, Ellen McCarthy's list of six favorite books about weddings and marriage, the Telegraph's list of the ten greatest put-downs in literature, Rebecca Jane Stokes' list of ten fictional families you might enjoy more than the one you'll actually spend the holidays with, Melissa Albert's lists of five fictional characters who deserved better, [fifteen of the] romantic leads (and wannabes) of Austen’s brilliant books and recommended reading for eight villains, Molly Schoemann-McCann's list of ten fictional men who have ruined real live romance, Emma Donoghue's list of five favorite unconventional fictional families, Amelia Schonbek's list of five approachable must-read classics, Jane Stokes's top ten list of the hottest men in required reading, Gwyneth Rees's top ten list of books about siblings, the Observer's list of the ten best fictional mothers, Paula Byrne's list of the ten best Jane Austen characters, Robert McCrum's list of the top ten opening lines of novels in the English language, a top ten list of literary lessons in love, Simon Mason's top ten list of fictional families, Cathy Cassidy's top ten list of stories about sisters, Paul Murray's top ten list of wicked clerics, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best housekeepers in fiction, ten great novels with terrible original titles, and ten of the best visits to Brighton in literature, Luke Leitch's top ten list of the most successful literary sequels ever, and is one of the top ten works of literature according to Norman Mailer. Richard Price has never read it, but it is the book Mary Gordon cares most about sharing with her children.

The Page 99 Test: Pride and Prejudice.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ruth Ware's six favorite books about boarding schools

Ruth Ware is the author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game. One of her six favorite books about boarding schools, as shared at The Week magazine:
Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Set in an Oxford women's college, this is an enormously satisfying read — not just because of its happy ending, but also because of Sayers' pitch-perfect evocation of the febrile atmosphere that breaks out when a poison pen begins to work in the little community.
Read about the other books on the list.

Gaudy Night is among Kate Macdonald's top ten conservative novels and Anna Quindlen's favorite mystery novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Six of the best zombie novels

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Ceridwen Christensen tagged six top zombie novels. One title on the list:
Zone One, by Colson Whitehead

In Whitehead’s novel, in addition to the usual slow, collecting mob, there exists a small number of undead called “stragglers,” who are frozen in tableau while doing everyday things—flying a kite, running a copy machine. The characters ruminate on these creatures: was this the action that defined the straggler’s life, or just a random moment caught like a photo? (This results in some mordant comedy, such as when one character blows away a straggler standing over a fast food deep fryer “on principle.”) Zone One is less a genre exercise than a eulogy to a lost New York, and the stragglers, as they stand rotting, fit beautifully into his observations and reflections. Is our memory of the past random or representative?
Read about the other entries on the list.

Zone One is among Corey J. White's five top books about the collapse of New York City.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ten of the best books on South Africa

At Signature Keith Rice tagged ten of the best books on South Africa, including:
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, Trevor Noah’s birth was a crime in South Africa – his parents’ relationship was punishable by five years in prison. Born a Crime chronicles Noah’s early years, during which his mother struggled to keep his existence virtually secret for fear of government reprisal, as well as his latter years in a post-apartheid South Africa both exhilarated by his newly perceived freedom and his struggle to find an identity. And it’s all told with Noah’s remarkable insight, candor, and humor.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Ten top female killers in fiction

At LitHub Emily Temple tagged her top ten female killers in fiction, including:
Katerina, The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Nikolai Leskov

This one’s on my mind because of the recent (and excellent) film adaptation, but also because Katerina is so deliciously unrepentant (unlike, say Lady Macbeth proper, who actually didn’t kill anyone but still drove herself mad over it). When her horrible husband leaves her alone, she picks up a lover, and then, to protect their relationship, murders her father-in-law, her husband, a small child, and ultimately, her rival (along with herself). Like the Lizzie Borden story, it’s a murderous fairy tale from which it is wildly difficult to look away.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five books set below London

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is an American/German writer of science fiction, fantasy and aviation non-fiction. Her publications include the novella Domnall and the Borrowed Child and the novel Wail, which takes place both above and below the streets of London. One entry on her list of five favorite modern novels which focus on the world underneath the United Kingdom’s capital city, as shared at
Montmorency by Eleanor Updale

Montmorency takes us back to the Victorian era for this crime novel with the subtitle Thief, Liar, Gentleman? in its US release. This Victorian mystery follows the story of a thief who takes advantage of the sewers running through London to live a dual life: one is a life of crime hiding below London and the other is in the streets above as a gentleman, taking advantage of his newfound riches. When we meet Prisoner 493, he is undergoing radical surgery to repair his shattered bones and flesh after he fell through a skylight in a burglary gone wrong. The patient becomes the surgeon’s exhibit at scientific conferences, where he has the good fortune to witness Sir Joseph Bazalgette present the map of his newly built sewers servicing London. The potential for crime is clear to him and, when Prisoner 493 is released, he plots a rise to the upper classes through a series of daring thefts, using the sewers to disappear without a trace.

It’s unlikely, of course, that a self-made Victorian man with no education could pass as a gentleman simply by mimicking the accent but, with a bit of suspension of disbelief, this is a fun and interesting story. Having waded through the sewers myself, I can tell you that I’m convinced that Updale has been there too. She describes too perfectly the shocking warmth of the water flowing down the pipes (although I note the liquid only went up to the ankles of her main character, whereas I experienced it up to my thighs!) and the conversations of the flushers clearing the oddities stuck in the bends of the brick tunnels.

There is no speculative aspect to this Victorian crime novel, the first in a series of five, but I enjoyed experiencing the “real world” underneath London as long as I didn’t think about the history too hard.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Seven irresistible hate-to-love romances

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 her "favorite books in which would-be couples turn searing hate into passionate love" including:
Legend Trilogy, by Marie Lu

In this bestselling dystopian series set in a bleak, illness-plagued California, Day is the Republic’s Most Wanted criminal, a “street brat” hiding from the government, and June’s the high-achieving prodigy sent to hunt him down. Convinced that Day murdered her brother, Metias, June is determined to bring Day to justice. But as she gets to know him, she discovers “a beautiful mystery” within the handsome charmer, who can flirt like a prince when it suits him. For his part, Day struggles with his own intense feelings for June, the only girl in the history of their world to score a perfect 1500 at Trial.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten books about birds

Nicholas Royle's new book is Ornithology: Sixteen Short Stories.

One of his ten top books about birds, as shared at the Guardian:
Crow Country by Mark Cocker (2007)

Surely one of the best books ever written about our most intelligent birds. Cocker covers all seven of our native corvids, but his main focus is the rook. He captures what it’s like to be a writer and a birder: “I think of it as a kind of natural-historical fishing, with a hook and line going both ways – outwards into the landscape for anything that happens to come along, but also inwards into the pool of my unconscious for any striking formula of words rising to the surface in response.”
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ten of the hottest highbrow books for the beach

John Dugdale is the Guardian's associate media editor. One of his ten hottest highbrow books for the beach:
Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) by Thomas Pynchon

A wartime Côte d’Azur holiday for Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop is actually a means for the creepy British scientists observing the American to make him fall on the beach for a sexy Dutch spy (a giant octopus supposedly menacing her is part of this bizarre honey-trap). This French opening to part two, which nods to Proust, transforms Pynchon’s second world war epic from a London novel to a European one - Slothrop escapes, and heads north towards Germany.
Read about the other books on the list.

Gravity’s Rainbow is a book Chuck Klosterman would have parents read to their children. Gravity’s Rainbow inspired the song “Whip It” by Devo.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Twenty books that are absolute dorm room essentials

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged twenty of the "books you’ll need to best understand, appreciate, and enhance the college-going experience," including:
On Beauty, by Zadie Smith

Having a Zadie Smith book on your dorm room’s sole shelf is a great conversation starter, and it’s a clue to others about how cool you are, because you’ve read Zadie Smith. The novel itself is an enlightening look at college—it touches on sexual, identity, and class issues, as well as how professors aren’t always the sage geniuses one would assume they are. It’s also a college-level text, as On Beauty was inspired by the structure and some of the plot points of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End.
Read about the other entries on the list.

On Beauty is among Ann Leary's top ten books set in New England and Tolani Osan's ten top books that "illuminate how disparate cultures can reveal the mystery and beauty in each other and make us aware of the hardships, dreams, and hidden scars of those we share space with."

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 7, 2017

Naomi Klein's 6 favorite books

Naomi Klein's newest book is No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Another form-defying work. Mitchell leaps across space and time to tell six seemingly disconnected stories in different styles. "Only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean," one of his characters writes. "Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?"
Read about the other entries on the list.

Cloud Atlas is among Jeff Somers's seven novels with chronologies that will break you, Christopher Priest’s top five science-fiction books that make use of music, Patrick Hemstreet's five top books for the psychonaut and the six books that changed Maile Meloy's idea of what’s possible in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue