Monday, March 27, 2017

Bassem Youssef's 6 favorite books

Bassem Youssef was the host of Albernameg, the first-of-its-kind political satire show in the Middle East from 2011 until the show's termination by the Egyptian government in 2014. He now lives in the United States.

Youssef's new book is Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring.

One of his six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Forcing God's Hand by Grace Halsell

This 1999 book opened my eyes to how religion and Rapture theory ran deep in the rhetoric and ideology of right-wing America. In a country that has a constitution separating church and state, religion had a much deeper impact than I'd thought. Using scripture to steer national policy? Sounds very familiar to me.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The ten unluckiest characters in science fiction & fantasy

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Meghan Ball tagged ten of the unluckiest characters in science fiction & fantasy, including:
Neville Longbottom (The Harry Potter series, by JK Rowling)

Some might argue for another Harry here, but we feel for poor Neville Longbottom. Often characterized as a tagalong to the trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, Neville nevertheless tends to attract his own brand of trouble. He and Harry were born close together, and if fate had gone another way, he may have been revered as the Boy Who Lived. And yeah, that would’ve meant his parents were dead, but was he that much better off, considering they were instead driven insane by the Lestranges? Raised by his pushy grandmother, he’s shy, nervous, and frequently a failure in school. Neville tries so hard. The series often rewards him, but only after humiliating or harming him. Standing up to Harry, Hermoine, and Ron earns him 10 points for Gryffindor, but only after he’s spent the night paralyzed by a spell. The Battle of Hogwarts finally turns Neville into a hero, but his m.o. before that is being bullied, terrified, and generally bad at life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Harry Potter books made Anna Bradley's list of the ten best literary quotes in a crisis, Nicole Hill's list of seven of the best literary wedding themes, Tina Connolly's top five list of books where the girl saves the boy, Ginni Chen's list of the eight grinchiest characters in literature, Molly Schoemann-McCann's top five list of fictional workplaces more dysfunctional than yours, Sophie McKenzie's top ten list of mothers in children's books, Nicole Hill's list of five of the best fictional bookstores, Sara Jonsson's list of the six most memorable pets in fiction, Melissa Albert's list of more than eight top fictional misfits, Cressida Cowell's list of ten notable mythical creatures, and Alison Flood's list of the top 10 most frequently stolen books.

Professor Snape is among Sophie Cleverly's ten top terrifying teachers in children’s books.

Hermione Granger is among Brooke Johnson top five geeky heroes in literature, Nicole Hill's nine best witches in literature, and Melissa Albert's top six distractible book lovers in pop culture.

Neville Longbottom is one of Ellie Irving's top ten quiet heroes and heroines.

Mr. Weasley is one of Melissa Albert's five weirdest fictional crushes.

Hedwig (Harry's owl) is among Django Wexler's top ten animal companions in children's fiction.

Scabbers the rat is among Ross Welford's ten favorite rodents in children's fiction.

Butterbeer is among Leah Hyslop's six best fictional drinks.

Albus Dumbledore is one of Rachel Thompson's ten greatest deaths in fiction.

Lucius Malfoy is among Jeff Somers's five best evil lieutenants (or "dragons") in SF/F.

Dolores Umbridge is among Melissa Albert's six more notorious teachers in fiction, Emerald Fennell's top ten villainesses in literature, and Derek Landy's top 10 villains in children's books. The Burrow is one of Elizabeth Wilhide's nine most memorable manors in literature.

Remus Lupin is among Aimée Carter's top ten shapeshifters in fiction.

Fang (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is among Brian Boone's six best fictional dogs.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban appears on Amanda Yesilbas and Katharine Trendacosta's list ot twenty great insults from science fiction & fantasy and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest prison breaks in science fiction and fantasy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone also appears on Kenneth Oppel's top ten list of train stories, Jeff Somers's top five list of books written in very unlikely places, Phoebe Walker's list of eight mouthwatering quotes from the greatest literary feasts, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best owls in literature, ten of the best scars in fiction and ten of the best motorbikes in literature, and Katharine Trendacosta and Charlie Jane Anders's list of the ten greatest personality tests in sci-fi & fantasy, Charlie Higson's top 10 list of fantasy books for children, Justin Scroggie's top ten list of books with secret signs as well as Charlie Jane Anders and Michael Ann Dobbs's list of well-known and beloved science fiction and fantasy novels that publishers didn't want to touch. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire made Chrissie Gruebel's list of six top fictional holiday parties and John Mullan's list of the ten best graveyard scenes in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ten of the best supernatural mysteries

Jess Kidd has a PhD in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s University. She grew up as a part of a large family from Mayo and now lives in London with her daughter. Himself is her first novel. She is currently at work on a second novel and a collection of short stories.

One of Kidd's ten essential supernatural mysteries, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg

This wicked blend of murder and the occult has Harry Angel, hard-boiled private eye, hired to investigate the case of a missing man, Johnny Favorite. A once promising crooner injured in the Second World War, Favorite has fallen off the face of the earth. Following Favorite’s trail, Angel descends into a nightmarish world of voodoo, sex, and violence where nothing is quite what it seems and he’s in danger of losing more than his life. For it turns out that Favorite kept some unusual company and had an interest in the otherworldly. Against a backdrop of 1950s New York, Hjortsberg fashions a wonderful, twisted, supernatural noir. Complete with a sharp plot, tortured humor, and moments of visceral horror.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five YA thrillers with a supernatural twist

S. Jae-Jones is the author of Wintersong. At the BN Teen blog she tagged five YA thrillers with a supernatural twist, [spoiler alert] including:
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

Cadence is suffering memory gaps and strange physical symptoms of unknown origin, and it all has to do with what happened the summer she can’t recall. Now, two years later, she’s returning to the private island owned by her family for the first time since that summer, hoping that reuniting with her cousins Johnny and Mirren and her friend Gat will help her remember. The four of them were known as the Liars, and have spent summer together on the private island since they were young. What begins as a mystery about what happened to Cadence turns into a slow unraveling and deconstructing of the privilege that allowed the Liars their summer idylls. The twist may not necessarily be a shock for savvy genre readers, but the twist of the heartstrings might be.
Read about the other entries on the list.

We Were Liars is among Jeff Somers's six novels in which nothing is as it seems, Avery Hastings's five favorite books featuring unreliable narrators, Darren Croucher's five favorite YA novels featuring liars, Michael Waters's six must-read YA books for Mr. Robot fans, Lindsey Lewis Smithson's top seven sob-inducing books that deserve to be made into movies, Ruth Ware's top ten psychological thrillers, and Meredith Moore's five favorite YA thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Top ten stories of obsession

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son.

Murphy's newly released first novel is The Possessions.

One of the author's ten top stories of obsession, as shared at the Guardian:
You by Caroline Kepnes (2014)

Kepnes’s disturbingly funny novel is a stalker tale for the digital era. Joe Goldberg, a wry, self-righteous bookseller, has a meet-cute with Beck, an MFA student. His crush rapidly escalates into stalking. When Joe manages to steal Beck’s phone, he gains unprecedented access to her every thought and move. It’s the technological equivalent of mindreading, every bit as creepy as it sounds. As Joe increasingly crosses boundaries to keep his dream girl within his grasp, the second-person narrative gives the novel a queasy intimacy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Possessions.

The Page 69 Test: The Possessions.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ten sci-fi & fantasy books that will remind you that life is about more than suffering

At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Sarah Gailey tagged ten sci-fi & fantasy books that will remind you what joy feels like, including:
To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis

It’s impossible to construct a working time machine while under the watchful eye of a well-trained security bear, but this book will transport you in ways the bears can’t prevent! Ned Henry’s time-travel to Victorian England insearch of a missing antique artifact…and true love? is a witty, intricate science-fiction comedy-of-manners, and will deliver a much-needed dose of sunlight into your to-read list. Unfortunately for the cave dwellers among us, no actual sunlight.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Five excellent books about people who simply…disappeared

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged five top books about people who simply…disappeared, including:
Fatal Journey, by Peter C. Mancall

You may remember Henry Hudson from school—there’s a pretty major river and some other geographical locations named in his honor, after all. But not everyone remembers that Hudson’s final expedition, in 1610, ended in horror when his ship became trapped in ice. With food and other supplies running low, Hudson’s crew mutinied, putting Hudson, his young son, and a few loyal crew members into a skiff and abandoning them in the Hudson Bay. None of those nine people were ever seen again, and no sign of their boat or their activities after that has ever been detected. While it’s easy to imagine what might have happened, the details remain one of the great mysteries of history.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 20, 2017

Amy Dickinson's six favorite books

Amy Dickinson is author of the memoirs The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Story of Surprising Second Chances and Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home. She writes the syndicated advice column, “Ask Amy,” which is carried in over 150 newspapers and read by an estimated 22 million readers daily.

One of her six favorite books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Bettyville by George Hodgman

Hodgman's story mirrored my own in many ways: We both left big cities (New York; Chicago) to move back to tiny hometowns (Paris, Missouri; Freeville, New York) to take care of our irascible mothers (Betty; Jane). Hodgman is mordantly funny about holding up the twin pillars of elder care (indignity and intimacy) while running into everyone you went to high school with.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ten of the best child narrators

At the Guardian, John Mullan tagged ten of the best child narrators, including:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Haddon's protagonist, Christopher, is 15, but (though this is unstated) has Asperger's syndrome and finds the emotions of other characters almost unintelligible. The story is narrated in his own flat, factual way, letting us glimpse what he cannot comprehend.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is among Kim Hood's top ten books with interesting characters who just happen to have a disability, Julia Donaldson's six best books, and Melvyn Burgess's top ten books written for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Five recent comic novels that are hilariously reviving the form

At the B&N Reads blog Brian Boone tagged five recent comic novels that are hilariously reviving the form, including:
The Stench of Honolulu, by Jack Handey

One could make an argument that Jack Handey is the greatest jokesmith of all time. He wrote for Saturday Night Live for years, most notably the recurring segment that bore his name: “Deep Thoughts.” A book of these goofy, ridiculous, and absurd pronouncements was published in the ’90s, establishing Handey’s distinct voice. (A favorite “Deep Thought”: “If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I’d say Flippy, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong, though. It’s Hambone.”) Handey doesn’t write for the screen much anymore, choosing instead to write comic essays (collected in What I’d Say to the Martians) and novels, such as the delightful The Stench of Honolulu. An unreliable narrator is one thing, but the first-person narrator at the center of this novel, accurately reports what’s happening, but he’s completely unaware of how incredibly stupid and destructive he is. Handey’s rhythm, which is somewhat important to comedy, is impeccable—almost every paragraph ends with a joke.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 17, 2017

Top ten novels on rural America

At the Guardian, Emily Ruskovich, author of Idaho, tagged her ten favorite rural American novels, including:
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Told in raw and perfect language, in 15 distinct and memorable voices, this is an honest, mystifying, painful story about a family’s promise to their dying mother that they would transport her body across the rivers and rough countryside of Mississippi to the place of her birth, to be buried. The characters who live are utterly alive, their motives complicated and often secret. Even their deceased mother, heavy in a casket that her family nearly loses a few times on their difficult journey, is a living force to be reckoned with.
Read about the other entries on the list.

As I Lay Dying is on Jeff Somers's top five list of books written in very unlikely places, Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick's list of eight of the most badass ladies in all of banned literature, Nicole Hill's lists of nine of the biggest martyrs in fiction and five books that, like country and western songs, tell "stories of agony and ecstasy, soaring highs and mighty powerful lows, heartache and hard living," Laura Frost's list of the ten best modernist books (in English), Helen Humphreys's top ten list of books on grieving, John Mullan's list of ten of the best teeth in literature, Jon McGregor's list of the top ten dead bodies in literature, Roy Blount Jr.'s list of five favorite books of Southern humor, and James Franco's six best books list.

The “My mother is a fish.” chapter in As I Lay Dying is among the ten most notorious parts of famous books according to Gabe Habash.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Seven novels that show us how dangerous a college campus can be

At the B&N Reads blog Jeff Somers tagged seven novels that show us how dangerous a college campus can be, including:
The Accursed, by Joyce Carol Oates

Set in Princeton in the early 20th century, when Woodrow Wilson was president of the university, Oates’ meticulously structured novel follows the misfortunes of the school’s elite families after a real, honest-to-God curse is activated against them. What follows should be a mess: it involves vampires and ghosts, angels and demons, alternate universes and extremely horrifying violence. But it does work, because Oates has planned the story so very well. You might think attending Princeton would be a great start to a successful life, but Oates makes the case that being anywhere near this Ivy League institution might result in madness, death—or worse.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Accursed is among Gabe Habash's nine top art-and-book-cover matches.

--Marshal Zeringue