Friday, November 17, 2017

Five of the best YA love triangles of all time

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged five top YA love triangles, including:
The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater

Speaking of love parallelograms, have you read The Raven Boys yet? Blue Sargent has been told since birth when she kisses her true love, he’ll die. So when she sees the spirit of a local private school boy on Saint Mark’s Eve, it seems likely he’ll be the recipient of her fateful first kiss. That boy turns out to be a the smart, rich, charming Gansey, and Blue can’t help but be curious, especially because Gansey is on a hunt to find and wake the body of a sleeping Welsh king named Glendower. Through Gansey, Blue meets the rest of the Raven Boys: angry Ronan, determined Adam, and quiet Noah. And though Blue is drawn to Gansey, she’s intrigued by Adam, too. It only gets more complicated as the series continues and even more feelings develop, but I promise you’ll love this messy, lovable group of friends and their quirkily paranormal world.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Five top books to take you on a trip to the medieval Middle East

S. A. Chakraborty's new novel is The City of Brass. At Tor.com she tagged five books "to take you beyond One Thousand and One Nights and on a trip to the medieval Middle East," including:
Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz

Moving into the modern era, Naguib Mahfouz, the master himself, takes on the aftermath of the Nights in a wickedly sharp, entertaining and poignant short novel. Shahrzad has used her stories to save herself and the women of her city from the blood-letting despot Shahriyar, but the magic of her tales is not quite done with them. Arabian Nights and Days, one of my favorite books, takes the themes and characters of the original story and imbues them with emotional heft, political satire and a reflection on faith that makes this a masterpiece.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eight YA must-reads with awesome inspirations and backstories

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 eight YA must-reads with awesome origin stories, including:
Dear Martin, by Nic Stone

Nic Stone’s debut stunner, Dear Martin, has its roots in social justice. In the slim but powerful novel, the main character, Yale-bound teen Justyce, finds himself in hot water despite doing everything right. The inspiration for the story, she has said, was “a combination of three things: the shooting deaths of unarmed teens (specifically Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Mike Brown), the rise of Black Lives Matter, and the negative responses in the media that often cited MLK as someone who would be against the protests. Something about that last part just felt off to me, so I thought to myself, ‘How would Dr. King’s teachings hold up here in 2016 in light of everything going on?'”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Top ten talking animals in books

Pajtim Statovci is the award-winning author of the debut novel My Cat Yugoslavia. One of his ten top talking animals in books, as shared at the Guardian:
Maf in The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan

Frank Sinatra gave Mafia Honey, a Maltese terrier, to Monroe as a Christmas present in 1960. O’Hagan’s fourth novel follows the final years of the actor from the point of view of this singular pooch. This well-educated and articulate dog will not only give you a unique perspective on Monroe’s life, it will steal your heart away. He’s that charming and spot-on.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ten numbers-obsessed sci-fi & fantasy stories for math geeks

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 Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog he tagged ten SFF stories in "which math isn’t just a spice, it’s the main course," including:
Last Call by Tim Powers

Math is part of the bubbling atmosphere of this book’s universe, which mixes tarot, the Fisher King, and a host of other legends alongside the deeply magical mathematics of poker. That games of chance aren’t games of chance so much as games of complex math shouldn’t surprise anyone, but in this lush story, which begins with Bugsy Siegel building the Flamingo Hotel as part of a ploy to become the literal Fisher King and eventually sits the reader at a poker game played with tarot cards where every aspect of the environment alters the odds—and raise the stakes. You don’t need a degree in math to appreciate this wonderful novel, but a glancing familiarity will definitely deepen the experience.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Andy Weir's 6 favorite science fiction books

Andy Weir is the author of The Martian and its follow-up, Artemis, a heist story set in a city on the moon. One of his six favorite science fiction books, as shared at The Week magazine:
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

A survival tale set on a remote world. But not another Robinson Crusoe: This is a group of people stranded together. How they work together and keep one another safe is as much a part of the story as the alien planet they're on.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 13, 2017

Fifty top romance novels with magical elements

At B&N Reads Amanda Diehl tagged fifty top magical romance novels, including:
Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is the author to go to if you love beautifully detailed fantasy settings. Sorcha is the youngest of seven children, with six older brothers who are now cursed to take the form of swans. As her father takes a new wife following the death of Sorcha’s mother a decade earlier, things take a turn for the worse as she’s sent away, kidnapped by her family’s enemies. When a man comes to her rescue and takes her under his protection, Sorcha is conflicted between her blossoming feelings of love and her need to break her brothers’ curse.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ten top Cold War noir novels

At Literary Hub, John Lawton tagged ten top Cold War noir novels, including:
Graham Greene, Our Man in Havana (1958)

The tale of Wormold, a man strapped for cash who reluctantly agrees to spy for the British in Cuba, where he runs an electrical goods shop. Greene called many of his books ‘entertainments’ —that doesn’t mean they do not end in darkness. Wormold invents a spy network, and passes off drawings of vacuum cleaner motors as plans for weapons bases. I rather think le CarrĂ© has read this. His The Tailor of Panama reads like an homage to Greene. The film? Alec Guinness at his best.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Our Man in Havana also made John Sweeney's top ten list of books on corruption, Francesca Kay's top ten list of books about the Cold War, Jesse Armstrong's top ten list of comic war novels, Allegra Frazier's top five list of books to remind you of warmer climes, Pico Iyer's list of four essential novels by Graham Greene and Alan Furst's five best list of spy books; it is one of Stella Rimington's six favorite secret agent novels.

--Marshal Zeringue

Seven of YA lit's sleuthing teens

At the BN Teen Blog Dahlia Adler tagged seven favorite YA sleuthing teens, including:
Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani

Claire and her brothers have always believed that their father died of a heart attack a decade earlier, but suddenly, everything seems suspect when she comes across a letter that proves that he knew their stepfather. After all, there’s no reason for everyone to have kept that a secret, right? But then she learns her father was a member of the yakuza, and there are a whole lot of reasons to keep quiet when that’s the case. Now, Claire is determined to uncover the truth behind his death and whether her mother has simply brought another member into the family, no matter the danger that solving the mystery may bring.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The ten best non-fiction books about London

At the Guardian, Kathryn Hughes tagged the ten best non-fiction books about London. One title on the list:
London: A History in Maps (2012) by Peter Barber charts the city’s transformation from its Londinium days to the Olympiad of five years ago, by means of maps culled from the British Library’s rich collection. We start with a symbolic view of London from the late middle ages and end with a series of snapshots of where we are now: a census map showing South Asian immigrants living in London in 2001, a pigeon’s eye view of the King’s Cross redevelopment, and a plan showing the extent of the London railway systems in 2012. In addition to the detailed charting of the city’s inner workings, there are extravagant speculations about what London might have been, if only common sense and financial probity hadn’t got in the way of wild imagination.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 10, 2017

Five top books about cooking and eating

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, a martial arts drama for young adults; and High and Dry, a hardboiled teen mystery. At the B&N Reads blog she tagged five top books about the joys of cooking, including:
Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa (translated by Alison Watts)

At the Doraharu shop on Cherry Blossom Street, a young man name Sentaro feels hopeless about the future because of his criminal past. When a widowed 76-year-old women, Tokue, who was quarantined most of her life, repeatedly asks him for a job making dorayaki (a honey pancake with sweet bean paste inside), he eventually relents, and they form a deep friendship that transforms both of their lives. Tokue’s exquisite version of dorayaki, and the tender care with which she makes the treats, astound Sentaro. When she offers to teach him her secrets, he’s able to envision a purpose for his existence. A beautifully rendered tale of outsiders coming together.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ten top books about royal families

Deborah Cadbury's latest book is Queen Victoria's Matchmaking: The Royal Marriages that Shaped Europe. One of the author's top ten books about royal families, as shared at the Guardian:
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009)

Mantel brings the Tudor court alive with the immediacy of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, its ambiguous “hero” Thomas Cromwell giving us his private view of Henry VIII and his family. In her Reith lectures, Mantel described the process of writing a historical novel as “entering into a dramatic process” in which she hoped to activate the senses and find “the one detail that lights up the page”.
Read about the other books on the list.

Wolf Hall made Peter Stanford's top ten list of Protestants in fiction, Melissa Harrsion's ten top depictions of British rain, the Telegraph's list of the 21 greatest television adaptations of novels, BBC Culture's list of the 21st century’s twelve greatest novels, Ester Bloom's ten list of books for fans of the television series House of Cards, Rachel Cantor's list of the ten worst jobs in books, Kathryn Williams's reading list on pride, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of books on baby-watching in Great Britain, Julie Buntin's top ten list of literary kids with deadbeat and/or absent dads, Hermione Norris's 6 best books list, John Mullan's list of ten of the best cardinals in literature, the Barnes & Noble Review's list of five books on dangerous minds and Lev Grossman's list of the top ten fiction books of 2009, and is one of Geraldine Brooks's favorite works of historical fiction; Matt Beynon Rees called it "[s]imply the best historical novel for many, many years."

--Marshal Zeringue