Sunday, February 18, 2018

Seven YA novels with undercover spies

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged seven YA titles with undercover spies, including:
Orphan Monster Spy, by Matt Killeen

When Sarah’s mother is shot at a Nazi checkpoint as they attempt to escape Germany, Sarah is rescued by British spy Jeremy Floyd. Realizing petite blonde Sarah looks more Aryan than Jewish, Floyd takes her under his wing and gives her the opportunity to infiltrate a Nazi boarding school. Her mission seems simple: befriend the daughter of an important German scientist and steal his secrets. If only it were that easy. Haunting and dark, Orphan Monster Spy is a must-read hitting shelves next month.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Top ten novels about novelists

Lisa Halliday grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts and currently lives in Milan, Italy. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review and she is the recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award for Fiction. Asymmetry is her first novel.

One of ten novels about novelists the author tagged at Publishers Weekly:
Democracy by Joan Didion

Though nominally about a senator’s wife and her affair with a CIA agent, Democracy’s real protagonist is the novelist Joan Didion, who annotates the action with commentary on the artistic process. “This is a hard story to tell,” concludes the first chapter. The second begins: “Call me the author. Let the reader be introduced to Joan Didion, upon whose character and doings much will depend of whatever interest these pages may have, as she sits at her writing table in her own room in her own house on Welbeck Street. So Trollope might begin this novel.” Novelists summoning novelists: In Down and Out in Paris and London, Orwell does something similarly invocatory when he writes, of a Parisian hotel: “Then the grand turmoil of the day started—the dinner hour. I wish I could be Zola for a little while, to describe that dinner hour.”
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six picture books for Presidents' Day

In honor of Presidents' Day, at the BN Kids Blog Angie Brown tagged six picture books penned by a former President, First Lady, or First Daughter, including:
It Takes a Village, by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Marla Frazee

Former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton noteshow it can sometimes take a group or a community gathered together to get a job done through her picture book, It Takes a Village. Kindness and teamwork are encouraged as the book unfolds to reveal people working together toward a common goal, in this case a playground for the children to enjoy.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 16, 2018

Five books with female protagonists you'll love if you hate romances

At Cultura Colectiva, María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards tagged five books with female protagonists you'll love if you hate romances. One title on the list:
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)

Set in the late twenty-first century, a time when time travel is actually possible, the novel tells the story of Kivrin Engle, a young historian specialized in medieval history. Kivrin is so passionate about history that she asks the authorities of the time traveling project to allow her to go back to fourteenth-century Oxford. After a lot of trouble she manages to convince them to send her, but just as she’s sent to the past, the technician who set the machine falls terribly ill from a new type of influenza there’s no cure for. As Kivrin arrives in Oxford, she also falls terribly ill losing consciousness. She forgets the drop point to go back, and as she tries to find it, she will be integrated into society, while people in the present try desperately to bring her back, since they’ve noticed that she was actually sent to the times of the Black Death. I don’t want to go further because I don’t really want to spoil this awesome novel.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Doomsday Book is among Charlie Jane Anders's fifteen moments from science fiction and fantasy that will make absolutely anyone cry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Top ten books about South Korea

An American author of Korean descent living in London, Mary Lynn Bracht grew up in a large ex-pat community of women who came of age in postwar South Korea. In 2002, she visited her mother’s childhood village, and it was during this trip she first learned of the “comfort women.”

Her debut novel is White Chrysanthemum.

One of the author's ten top books about South Korea, as shared at the Guardian:
Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin (2011), translated by Chi-Young Kim

An elderly woman, visiting her family in Seoul, is separated from them on a metro platform. When the train pulls away, her family are mortified to realise she has been left behind. Shin reveals the relationships between the mother, her husband and their life in the countryside, as well as with each of her children as they all search for their missing matriarch. It reveals the lives of young and old, while asking big questions about the bonds of family and the struggles with the passage of time. It was a bestseller in South Korea and won the 2012 Man Asian literary prize.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Five fearsome families in literature

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist and has spent time as the writer in residence of a high-security prison for men–an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her suspense debut.

Corry's latest novel is Blood Sisters.

One of five fearsome fictional families the author tagged at The Strand Magazine:
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The reason that Harry Potter became such a resounding success (well, one of them) is that the series gave another slant to the whole subject of families. No one is quite who they seem, apart perhaps from the uncle and aunt who brought up Harry who don’t try to hide the fact that they’re downright nasty. There’s the Weasley family who have their own secrets. Harry’s dead parents. And, of course, Hogwarts itself, which promises parents a family atmosphere for their precious offspring—though in reality, it’s a hotbed of magic and malice, just waiting to explode. No one does it better than the British boarding school. Trust me.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Harry Potter books made Meghan Ball's top ten list of the unluckiest characters in science fiction & fantasy, 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 Nicole Hill's list of nine top meet cutes in YA lit, 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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Twenty-five unhappy books for Valentine’s Day

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged twenty-five unhappy books for Valentine’s Day. One entry on the list:
In the Woods, by Tana French

Mystery writer extraordinare French’s novel about a detective who returns to the town in which he himself was the survivor of a violent crime to investigate another. But the present is often a mirror of the past, and he finds himself growing unstable in the proximity of the case.
Read about the other entries on the list.

In the Woods is among Krysten Ritter's six favorite mysteries, Megan Reynolds's top ten books you must read if you loved Gone Girl, Emma Straub's ten top books that mimic the feeling of a summer vacation, the Barnes & Noble Review's five top books from Ireland's newer voices, and Judy Berman's ten fantastic novels with disappointing endings.

The Page 69 Test: In the Woods.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 12, 2018

Six top books that feature animals

Sigrid Nunez's new novel is The Friend.

One of her six favorite books that feature animals, as shared at The Week magazine:
Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

Probably the great novelist's least-read work today, this mock biography of English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning's cocker spaniel was an instant best-seller in 1933. Written as a relaxation after the hard labor Woolf invested in The Waves, the novella includes, among other delights, marvelous descriptions, from a canine point of view, of London and Florence during the Victorian era.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Flush is among Ellen Cooney's top ten canine-human literary duos.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Twenty-five top fictional presidents

At B&N Reads Tara Sonin tagged twenty-five fictional presidents. One entry on the list:
Lucy, by Ellen Feldman

[T]his novel is about a president who was in love with someone who wasn’t his wife. Before he was President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt loved Lucy Mercer…Eleanor’s social secretary. Through polio, a world war, and two presidential terms, despite his promises to Eleanor, Franklin and Lucy remain connected. Heartbreaking, romantic, and beautiful.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Jeff Somers's list of six insane fictional presidents and David Daw's five American presidents in alternate history.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Top 10 books about the Scottish Highlands and Islands

Kerry Andrew is a London-based composer, performer and writer. She has a PhD in Composition from the University of York and has won four British Composer Awards. As a composer, she specialises in experimental vocal and choral music, music-theatre and community music. She performs with the award-winning Juice Vocal Ensemble and with her alt-folk band You Are Wolf. Her debut novel Swansong was released last month. One of Andrew's top ten books about the Scottish Highlands and Islands, as shared at the Guardian:
Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith

A typical book by one of our wonderfully atypical writers, full of her usual play of language and her treatment of profound subjects with the lightest and most dazzling of touches. It transposes the myth of Iphis from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to modern-day Inverness, takes ecology, consumerism and gender fluidity along for the ride, and is (spoiler alert) a gay love story with a happy ending.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Six must-read YA westerns

At the BN Teen blog, Jenny Kawecki tagged six top YA westerns, including:
Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands is half Middle Eastern fantasy, half western, all action-adventure. Amani wants nothing more than to get out of Dustwalk, and to do that she needs money. Hoping to put her sharpshooter skills to good use, she enters a shooting competition. That’s where she meets Jin, a mysterious stranger who may be Amani’s best chance at leaving town. Teaming up with Jin has its complications: namely, the hot pursuit of the Sultan’s entire army. Add in secret magical powers and a horse made of sand, and you’ve got a crossover read you won’t be able to put down.
Read about the other books on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 9, 2018

Six notable books about cities

John Banville's latest novel is Mrs. Osmond. One of his six favorite books about cities, as shared at The Week magazine:
Venice by Jan Morris

This travel writer's work may seem a little too much on the chatty side for some readers, but her lovingly detailed portrait of La Serenissima is as appealing as it is encyclopedic. Although the book was published nearly 60 years ago, it is still as fresh as a breeze over the lagoon on a spring morning.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue