Monday, September 16, 2019

Ashley Weaver

Ashley Weaver is the Technical Services Coordinator for the Allen Parish Libraries in Louisiana. Weaver has worked in libraries since she was 14; she was a page and then a clerk before obtaining her MLIS from Louisiana State University.

Weaver's new novel, her sixth Amory Ames Mystery, is A Dangerous Engagement.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m currently reading Homer’s The Iliad. Every year a friend and I pick five classics of literature to read, and this is the final book on my list for 2019. I read large chunks of it in school, but this is my first time reading it cover-to-cover. It’s amazing how something written so long ago still has the power to stir the emotions. I have the Robert Fagles translation, and I’m really enjoying the clarity and beauty of the language.

My historical topic of interest this year has been polar exploration. I’m enjoying A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier by David Welky, which is the fascinating account of a group of explorers searching for “Crocker Land,” a distant and uncharted landscape spotted while Robert Peary trekked toward the North Pole. As with all arctic explorations, however, very little goes as planned, and the men soon find themselves at odds with starvation, the elements—and each other. Another excellent book I recently enjoyed was The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage by Anthony Brandt. The search for the Northwest Passage cost a great deal, both in terms of money and lives, and this book examines several of the ill-fated attempts to discover it. It focuses especially on Sir John Franklin’s vanished expedition and the many subsequent voyages to try to discover what became of the explorer and his crew.

As for fiction, I went to be beach last weekend and somehow decided that was a good time to start Jaws by Peter Benchley. I’ve always loved the film, so I was excited to dive into the book. There was something very atmospheric about reading about the havoc wreaked by an apex predator while I sat so close to its home turf. Luckily, I made it home one piece!
Visit Ashley Weaver's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier is the author of twenty-two historical fantasy novels and a collection of short stories. She was born and educated in New Zealand but now lives in Western Australia, where she writes full-time. The strong elements of history and folklore in her work reflect her lifelong interest in both. However, her stories are character-based, with a focus on human journeys and relationships.

2019 sees the release of two new novels from Marillier. Her stand-alone folkloric fantasy, Beautiful, based on the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, was published in May. The Harp of Kings, the first book in a new historical fantasy series, Warrior Bards, was published in September. Marillier is currently working on Book 2 of Warrior Bards.

Marillier’s earlier works include the Blackthorn & Grim series and the Sevenwaters series, both set in a magical version of early medieval Ireland. She has won many awards for her writing, including five Aurealis Awards and four Sir Julius Vogel Awards, as well as the American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Prix Imaginales. In 2019 she won the Sara Douglass Book Series Award for the Blackthorn & Grim series. Juliet is a regular contributor to award-winning genre writing blog Writer Unboxed.

Marillier is a member of OBOD (The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) and her spiritual values are often reflected in her work – the human characters’ relationship with the natural world plays a significant part, as does the power of storytelling to teach and to heal.

When not writing, Juliet is kept busy by her small pack of rescue dogs. She has four adult children and eight grandchildren.

Recently I asked Marillier about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m currently reading an excellent non-fiction book, Our Dogs, Ourselves, by Alexandra Horowitz. The author is senior research fellow and head of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, Columbia University. She has written three previous books including the New York Times bestseller, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Our Dogs, Ourselves, which is a substantial, engagingly written, extremely well researched examination of the relationship between human and dog. The author, who has her own small menagerie, discusses with respect and insight the often contradictory nature of the way we think about and relate to dogs. As a foster carer and sometimes adopter of ageing and/or infirm rescue dogs, I was delighted to find an author with the credentials and experience to write about everything from the legal status of dogs to the history of pure-breeding to the language and tone of voice we use when addressing our pets. This book is packed with fascinating information delivered in a reader-friendly style, and I strongly recommend it to any dog enthusiast.

Among several excellent novels I’ve read recently, a stand-out was Madeline Miller’s Circe. If you know your Greek mythology you will remember Circe as a witch who lures Odysseus and his crew to her remote island and ends up transforming most of them into swine. In Miller’s novel, we meet Circe as a nymph descended from gods, but lacking a godlike voice or appearance, therefore rejected by her kinsfolk. Banished to her island for wilful use of magic, she develops her nascent craft and gains an independence that provokes the wrath of the gods.

The writing is sensuous and beautiful, bringing the sights, smells, tastes and textures of the region richly alive. I devoured every word of this and I’m looking forward to reading it again. It’s remarkable how Miller can write a story with a time-span of hundreds of years, yet keep the narrative always immediate as we follow Circe’s journey to becoming her own woman. Madeline Miller has crafted a novel that is dramatic, engrossing, and entirely relevant to our times.
Visit Juliet Marillier's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Juliet Marillier & Pippa, Gretel, and Sara.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 6, 2019

Derek Milman

Derek Milman has worked as a playwright, screenwriter, film school teacher, DJ, and underground humor magazine publisher. A classically trained actor, he has performed on stages across the country and appeared in numerous TV shows, commercials, and films. Milman currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where he writes full time. Swipe Right for Murder is his second novel for young adults.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Milman's reply:
I'm reading On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. It's about a Vietnamese man's coming of age, structured in the form of a letter to his mother who can't read. I really do like it, though it's flawed. Little Dog details his childhood growing up in Hartford, CT. Poetic and lyrical, the novel reaches for the stars, but the formless structure of the story, and the airy (at times fragile) writing, doesn't fully fuel the book's ambitions. At times the writing is gorgeous, almost ungodly beautiful, but the story spirals, attempting to explore poverty, race, the scars of the Vietnam War, Tiger Woods, The Opioid Crisis, and a young boy's abusive relationship with his mother. As a result, I never felt like I fully understood this particular mother/son relationship in the context of the story; it remained hazy for me. Despite the searing imagery, and Vuong's skill with language, the scope seemed too wide for his sparse, focused writing. But where the novel truly finds its light is its depiction of Little Dog's sexual and emotional awakening with a bruised, troubled, almost feral boy named Trevor. In this we have one of the most primal, brutal, heartbreaking, and truthful LGBT love stories ever told.
Visit Derek Milman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Helen Phillips

Helen Phillips's new book, her fifth, is the novel The Need.

Phillips's short story collection Some Possible Solutions (2016) received the 2017 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her novel The Beautiful Bureaucrat (2015), a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, was a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her collection And Yet They Were Happy (2011) was named a notable collection by The Story Prize. Her children’s adventure book Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green (2012) was published internationally as Upside Down in the Jungle.

Recently I asked Phillips about what she was reading. Her reply:
I have read three nonfiction books this summer that I want to recommend to everyone: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob, Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life by Darcey Steinke, and The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang. In all three cases, the authors use their own life experiences as a lens through which to examine the deepest questions about existence and identity.

In Good Talk, a graphic memoir, Mira Jacob explores the complexities of race in the United States by way of her conversations with her biracial son and with the other people in her life.

In Flash Count Diary, Darcey Steinke chronicles the intensity of her own menopause while simultaneously investigating, and often reimagining, the role that aging females play in human (and whale) society.

In The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang evokes, with exquisite force, her experiences with mental illness, shattering many stereotypes about mental disorders and how best to treat them.

These are the courageous, wise, raw books that the world needs.
Visit Helen Phillips's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Beautiful Bureaucrat.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 2, 2019

S L Huang

S. L. Huang has a math degree from MIT and is a weapons expert and professional stuntwoman who has worked in Hollywood on Battlestar Galactica and a number of other productions. Her novels include the Cas Russell series (formerly known as Russel's Attic), which begins with Zero Sum Game.

Huang applied the Page 69 Test to Null Set, her new Cas Russell novel, and reported the following:
I write science fiction and fantasy for adults, but I make an effort to stretch my legs outside my own genre and category. It’s good to see what other authors are doing! And it’s relaxing to read something a little further removed from my day-to-day business life.

Recently, I thought I’d enjoy some middle grade fiction. I read a ton of kids’ books when I was a kid, but I hadn’t poked my head into that end of the field in a while, and I’d heard today’s middle grade authors are doing some amazing work.

I started with Carlos Hernandez’s Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, and I wasn’t disappointed. This book. This book! I cannot recommend it enough. The two protagonists are delightful and compelling—driven, precocious middle schoolers who are living their best lives while dealing with both some surreal magical interference and very real human tragedy.

Packed full of heartwarming family dynamics, Cuban-American culture, and a depth of emotional resonance most books only achieve a tenth of, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe is gripping for readers of any age. It’ll leave you with a spring in your step and a smile on your face, and maybe just a little more belief in magic.
Visit S. L. Huang's website.

The Page 69 Test: Zero Sum Game.

The Page 69 Test: Null Set.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Claire O’Dell

Claire O’Dell is the author of dozens of short stories and a number of SF/F novels, including the SF/Mystery series, The Janet Watson Chronicles, and the epic fantasy series River of Souls. Her first novel, Passion Play, won the 2010 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Epic Fantasy. Her novel A Study in Honor won the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery. She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and two idiosyncratic cats.

Her two latest novels are The Hound of Justice (SF/Political Thriller) and A Jewel Bright Sea (Epic Fantasy/Romance).

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. O'Dell's reply:
I’m doing a lot of re-reading these days—mostly because I need to read stories I can depend upon. They help me disconnect from my own writing and let me return with a new perspective. Among the others I’ve been devouring of late:

Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

What a grim and uncompromising novel. And yet, at the same time, it’s a novel about surviving, about hope, about the future of mankind.

Lauren Olamina is a young woman living in California, in a United States wracked by climate change and corporate greed. Water costs more than gasoline. Gasoline is only used by drug addicts to set fire. The only safe communities are those with walls and armed sentries, and even that safety is precarious. Lauren herself has given up on God and has invented her own religion called Earthseed. When drug-crazed hordes attack her community, she escapes and travels north, hoping to establish a new community based on Earthseed.

Butler’s book sounds all too plausible these days, even though she wrote the story in the early 1990s. It’s grim and yet hopeful, and it carries a message we need to hear.

Dawn, Octavia Butler

Once I start re-reading one book by Butler, I tend to read all the rest I have. Her prose is so very clean, so very streamlined, and her stories are fierce and unrelenting.

Dawn is the first in Butler’s Lilith’s Brood trilogy, and it starts a few centuries after a nuclear war nearly destroyed all humans. Lilith is one of a few thousand survivors, rescued by an alien race, the Oankali. These aliens have rescued as many humans as possible, studied them, kept them alive for centuries while they cleansed and reclaimed the Earth. They are willing to allow humankind to return to Earth, but only under their own conditions, no negotiations. Our genes will be mixed with yours, the Oankali tell Lilith. Your children will be more like ours. Very reluctantly, Lilith agrees to teach and shepherd one of the first groups to return. But to herself she vows to teach them to listen, then to run.
Visit Claire O’Dell's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Study in Honor.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Linnea Hartsuyker

Linnea Hartsuyker can trace her family lineage back to the first king of Norway, and this inspired her to write her debut novel, The Half-Drowned King, the first title in her trilogy about the Vikings. Hartsuyker grew up in the woods outside Ithaca, New York, studied engineering at Cornell University, and later received an MFA in creative writing from New York University.

Her new book, the last in the trilogy, is The Golden Wolf.

Recently I asked Hartsuyker about what she was reading. Her reply:
I've been doing a lot of research reading for my next project lately lately, and in between that, some comfort reading. I recently read Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost, which is about pathological hoarding, and I found it fascinating and hard to put down. Like many mental illnesses, hoarding is an extreme version of behaviors many of us share, especially in consumerist America. Hoarders are often highly intelligent, and see more beauty and potential in objects than non-hoarding people. However, they also usually have a very low "distress tolerance" meaning that they over-estimate how much they will miss an object like a newspaper or a birthday card after they dispose of it. Treatment usually involves "reality testing" that distress, and cleaning that must be led by the hoarder himself.

I also read The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene. I had learned about relativity in high school, and quantum physics in college, but it was wonderful to revisit those concepts as explained by an incredible science writer and physicist, and then to learn about what I hadn't covered in college--the way the seeming contradictions between relativity and quantum physics may be resolved with string theory, and the implications that has for the beginnings of the universe. I read this book slowly, and with wonder and awe, and I can't recommend it high enough.

I don't read that much new-to-me fiction when I'm writing my own, but I can re-read old favorites, and some of my most comforting comfort reads are the Diana Tregarde books by Mercedes Lackey, beginning with Children of the Night. A lot of the plot points and tropes will be familiar to readers of urban fantasy, but Lackey did it first, and IMO, did it best. Her heroine, Diana Tregarde, is a Guardian, a psychic warrior and witch who fights gods, demons, and evil magical practitioners. The third book, Jinx High, also has some excellent advice on the writing craft--Diana Tregarde is a romance novelist in addition to being a psychic warrior. I've read this trilogy more times than I can count since I discovered them in my teens and it's always a pleasure.

Finally, I recently read Orlando by Virginia Woolf for my podcast That Book was BONKERS, and it was an unexpected treat. Orlando is a novel about writing, love, literature, and gender expression. The titular character begins life as a man, and then is transformed into a woman, all the while living through the centuries, watching England change, falling in and out of love, and perfecting her poetry. It has a similar stream-of-consciousness style to Mrs. Dalloway, but is far funnier.
Visit Linnea Hartsuyker's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Half-Drowned King.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Lorenzo Carcaterra

Lorenzo Carcaterra is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Sleepers, A Safe Place, Apaches, Gangster, Street Boys, Paradise City, Chasers, Midnight Angels, and The Wolf. He is a former writer/producer for Law & Order and has written for National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times Magazine, Details, and Maxim.

Carcaterra's new novel is Tin Badges.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I was in Italy last month for both work and a vacation visiting with family on the island of Ischia, which allowed me to finally get around to reading Neil Simon's two brilliant memoirs--Rewrites and The Play Goes On. I had many reasons why I was so eager to read both. First, I'm a huge Simon fan and admire both his talent and the volume of work he produced. Second, I love reading about how successful writers go about their work and was impressed by his passion and devotion to his craft regardless of the bumps life often tosses in the way. He found his solace in his work, his escape from losing a wife to cancer, constantly coming up with new ideas, filling notebook after notebook with stories. And with all that work came growth as a writer. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out he lived for a while in a lake house in the same small town where I own a lake house. And that is where any comparison between me and Neil Simon begins and ends.

Since last year, I've also been on a John Grisham binge--am currently reading my 16th Grisham novel, The Broker. I finished The Testament while I was in Italy. He is a terrific storyteller and I admire the skill with which he takes a subject, say capital punishment, and builds a compelling narrative and fully-fleshed out characters around it--as he did with The Confession. You learn a bit about the law--for example, if you are sentenced to life in prison in Mississippi that only means a 10-year sentence. Information like that tends to stick with me.

I'm reading The Art of Racing in the Rain, about half-way through--for simple reasons--I heard it was a terrific book; I love dogs (recently lost my 12 year old Olde English Bulldogge, Gus) and next year am planning to write a book about Gus--in his own words, his memoir (with all due respect to Doc Simon). So, it's important to see what's out there so as not to repeat it. As great a story as Racing in the Rain is--I was relieved to see that it will not impact on the story Gus has to tell.

Next up will be Walter Isaacson's bio of Leonardo da Vinci--what better way to celebrate his upcoming 500th birthday (Da Vinci not Walter)? And Maurizio de Giovanni's next installment of his Bastards series--this one, Cold for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone. I love reading crime novels set in Italy and Maurizio is a terrific writer and writes about Naples in a real and provocative manner. And since, my family home is in Ischia, 18 miles off the coast of Naples, it gives me a taste of what I'm missing when I'm not there. With most books, I read with a cup of coffee nearby. With Maurizio I read with a glass of wine close at hand--usually a chilled white from Casa D'Ambra of Ischia.
Visit Lorenzo Carcaterra's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sara Lövestam

Sara Lövestam is a Swedish novelist, born in 1980 and living in Stockholm. She writes in many genres — historical novels, Y/A, crime — but her books all deal with deeply human struggles, such as challenging perspectives, dealing with alienation, and being true to oneself. Lövestam worked for many years as a Swedish teacher for immigrants, and says a lot of her inspiration comes from her students. She enjoys music, carpentry, and learning new languages.

Her new novel is The Truth Behind the Lie.

Recently I asked Lövestam about what she was reading. Her reply:
Right now, I am actually reading Stephen King's On Writing, first published in 2000. I feel like most writers have read it - it is often referred to in conversations among writers, and I figured it was time for me to read it. I have just finished reading the parts about his upbringing and about the "writer's toolbox" and I am now on the "on writing" part. This book probably would have given me more aha moments 20 years ago - I have written 22 books (2 of them published in English) and pretty much have my procedure worked out - but I always get inspired by reading about other writers' writing. As a writer, you are never finished. Other writers can always teach you something or give you new impulses. Additionally, I think I enjoy reading about other writers' writing because it makes me feel less alone. Worldwide, we are millions of people who sit for hours, isolated in our offices or at cafés or on trains, struggling to find the right wording or the perfect ending to a story.
Visit Sara Lövestam's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 23, 2019

David Gordon

David Gordon holds an MA in English and Comparative Literature and an MFA in Writing, both from Columbia University, and has worked in film, fashion, publishing and pornography. He is the author of The Serialist, which won the VCU/Cabell First Novel Award and was a finalist for an Edgar Award, and Mystery Girl, as well as a short story collection, White Tiger on Snow Mountain.

His books in the Joe the Bouncer Series are The Bouncer (2018) and the newly released The Hard Stuff.

Recently I asked Gordon about what he was reading. His reply:
As the beginning of the school term approaches, I am both finishing up summer reading and thinking about classes I will teach, so my my current book-list is even more of a hodge-podge than usual. I am reading:

Street of Thieves (Mathias Énard) This is a really thrilling and brilliant novel, written by a French Arabic scholar who now lives in Barcelona, about a young guy from Tangier who ends up lost in the no man’s land of the docks and ferries between Morocco and Barcelona as he flees his family, (who disowned him for sleeping with a cousin), a group of Islamic extremists, and the Spanish authorities, while also trying to connect with his Catalan girlfriend.

Night Studio (Musa Mayer) This memoir about the great painter Philip Guston is written by his daughter. In may ways it is pretty raw and painful - as it details life with a loving, exciting, but sometimes monstrously selfish artist as a father. Full off great insights on art and life, but also makes you happy that your parents aren’t geniuses.

Various works by Samuel Delany - Speaking of geniuses. I teach a class where we read "genre” and “literary” fiction together, and I have long wanted to include this singular visionary from the world of Sci-Fi, so I am dipping into both his novel, Dhalgren, and The Motion of Light on Water, his memoir about life as a black, gay writer in the East Village in the 60s.
Visit David Gordon's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

H. G. Parry

H.G. Parry is a fantasy writer based in Wellington, New Zealand. Her short fiction has appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and small press anthologies. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, and teaches English Literature, Film, and Media Studies. Parry lives in a book-infested flat by the beach, which she shares with her sister, three guinea pigs, and two over-active rabbits.

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is her debut novel.

Recently I asked Parry about what she was reading. Her reply:
I tend to dip in and out of many different books at once. This means that what I’m currently reading is usually an eclectic patchwork of classic novels, magic, science fiction, and historical fiction. I wish this was a strategy; in reality, I just can never bear to wait for one book to finish before I start the next one!

I’ve just finished CA Fletcher’s A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, which was a title I couldn’t resist. The plot is simple and compelling: the young protagonist, Griz, leaves his family to pursue a thief who stole his dog across post-apocalyptic Scotland. Griz’s voice – a mixture of practicality, quiet reflection, and foreshadowing – is instantly arresting, and the book itself is a powerful testament to hope, determination, and the power of story. Also, those twists in the last act!

I’m lucky enough to have an ARC of Mike Chen’s A Beginning at the End, which I’m half-way through. This is a very different kind of post-apocalyptic landscape, one where the apocalypse is still a fresh wound and the world is still struggling with the emotional aftermath of an epidemic that caused widespread death. It’s delicate and poignant and excels at using science fiction to explore human relationships.

I’m also reading Sarah Shoemaker’s Mr Rochester, a reimagining of Jane Eyre from Edward Rochester’s point of view that tells the story of his childhood, time in Jamaica, and finally the events of Charlotte Bronte’s novel. This is a character study and a companion to the novel rather than a revision of it, at least so far, but it’s the kind of beautifully detailed historical fiction you just want to fall inside.

Obviously, this means I’m also rereading Jane Eyre at the same time, because how could I not? It’s an extraordinary, passionate, revolutionary novel, and I love it forever.

Finally, I also recently finished Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which has been on my TBR pile for far too long. It’s delightful, full of magic and whimsy and humour, yet with real weight to its and the societal prejudices they face.
Visit H.G. Parry's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 19, 2019

Craig DiLouie

Craig DiLouie is an author of popular thriller, apocalyptic/horror, and sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

In hundreds of reviews, Craig’s novels have been praised for their strong characters, action, and gritty realism. Each book promises an exciting experience with people you’ll care about in a world that feels real.

These works have been nominated for major literary awards such as the Bram Stoker Award and Audie Award, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for film.

DiLouie's new novel is Our War.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. DiLouie's reply:
Right now, I’m nearly finished with Grady Hendrix’s very solid We Sold Our Souls, a clever horror tale about a metal band destroyed after one of its members makes a deal with the Devil. It’s a lot of fun and far exceeding my expectations. Hendrix did his homework to capture the daily life of a rock band, weaving a rich tapestry of references and details, while never taking his eye off character, particularly retired guitarist Kris Pulaski, the tough and likeable protagonist. The horror element is also very well done, insidious and mythic and occasionally bursting onto the page.
Visit Craig DiLouie's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Reese Hogan

Reese Hogan loves nothing more than creating broken relationships in broken worlds. With a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in journalism, Hogan has spent the last twenty years honing her craft by taking classes, listening to podcasts, and attending writing workshops and critique groups. She is passionate about music, especially alternative and punk rock, and believes that art can reach out in a way no other form of communication can. She lives with her family in New Mexico.

Hogan's new novel is Shrouded Loyalties.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’ve read so many good books lately, it’s hard to know where to start! I just finished an ARC of Double-Crossing the Bridge by Sarah Sover, a fun fantasy story that puts a twist on the trolls-under-the-bridge tale by making the bridge a monopolistic corporation and the trolls into the team pulling a heist on it. I especially loved the stakes of being turned into stone if they got caught out in the sunlight.

Before that, I read Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk, a retelling of Robin Hood that tells the story from virtually every character in the tale. I’m particularly fond of books that treat the protagonists as antagonists to one another—as Shrouded Loyalties does—so this book hit all the right buttons in that regard. Plus I’m a sucker for complex retellings.

I’m currently reading The Razor by J. Barton Mitchell, because I’ll be doing a signing with him next month, so I thought I should check out his book! My favorite part about it is the setting; it takes place on a tidally-locked planet, where the half that faces the sun is burning up and the half that faces away is frozen. Only a thin strip in the middle balances on the fragile threshold of supporting life—and they call that strip the Razor. It’s told thriller-style, with prison inmates and mysterious scientific experiments and strange monsters and hidden secrets. I think it’ll be a good match for Shrouded Loyalties at our signing!
Visit Reese Hogan's website.

My Book, The Movie: Shrouded Loyalties.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hallie Ephron

Hallie Ephron is the New York Times bestselling author of six domestic suspense standalones and a classic (Edgar-nominated) how-to book on mystery writing. She is a five-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her new novel, Careful What You Wish For, was inspired by the Marie Kondo life-changing decluttering tips. It explores the relationships built by professional organizers and their clients—showing just how easily the lines between professional and personal can be blurred. In it, Emily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; she’s married to man who can’t drive past a yard sale without stopping. Sometimes she find herself wondering if he sparks joy. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it “outstanding.” Reviewing it in Time magazine, Jamie Lee Curtis called it "thrilling and suspenseful," the protagonist "a modern-day grown-up Nancy Drew... She is a friend we would all want to keep–messes included."

Recently I asked Ephron about what she was reading. Her reply:
Right now I’m reading an advance copy of James Ziskin’s Turn to Stone, and relishing a return to Italy (I taught a writing workshop there this summer) in the company of Ellie Stone, one of my favorite protagonists. I’m also enjoying Michelle Obama’s Becoming, a real palate cleanser between mystery novels. It's so life-affirming and these difficult times. And then, back to crime novels with Rhys Bowen's Love and Death Among the Cheetahs. She writes wonderfully tongue-in cheek, and this one (set in Kenya) has a lot to say about the British class system while giving us recently-wed Lady Georgie with cool-as-a-cucumber Darcy, chasing thieves and trying to survive her honeymoon.
Visit Hallie Ephron's website.

See Ephron's ten mysteries that harness unreliable narrators, top ten books for a good laugh, and ten best books for a good cry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Karen Katchur

Karen Katchur is an award-winning suspense novelist with a bachelor of science in criminal justice and a master’s in education. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Her new novel is Cold Woods.

Recently I asked Katchur about what she was reading. Her reply:
I mostly read books in my genre (crime fiction), but I also read out of my genre, which can be anything from horror to historical fiction. I do read nonfiction books for research, including true crime. It’s another way to get my horror fix.

Recently, I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh, which was released on August 6th. The story takes an honest look into the opioid crisis in a small town in Kansas. It’s told from the point of view of two women, Sadie Keller and Henley Pettit. Sadie is determined to find out how her brother died. Overdoses are on the rise, and the local police aren’t interested in investigating his death, but she refuses to give up. Henley wants nothing more than to escape her small-town life and put as much distance as possible between herself and her family’s crimes. The storyline entwines as the two women grapple with the weight of family loyalty, secrets, and murderous acts.

This is the third novel by this author, and I’m a big fan. McHugh is true to form in keeping with her lyrical prose and atmospheric setting of small-town life in the Midwest. The characters are raw, gritty, and supremely heartwarming. A literary thriller at its best, and my favorite kind of read.
Visit Karen Katchur's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, August 11, 2019

T. Greenwood

T. Greenwood is the author of thirteen novels. She has received grants from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She has won three San Diego Book Awards. Five of her novels have been BookSense76/IndieBound picks. Bodies of Water was finalist for a Lambda Foundation award.

Greenwood's new novel is Keeping Lucy.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Because I am a teacher as well as a writer, I don't have a lot of time for pleasure reading during the school year. I save most of my TBR list for the summers when I am at our cabin in Vermont. I usually fill a banker's box with books as well as load up my Kindle and renew my library card in anticipation.

This summer I have read about eight books so far. I just finished Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys which, like Keeping Lucy, was based on a real (and now defunct) house of horrors -- a reform school for wayward boys. It is a spare book, but packs a potent punch. This was my first Whitehead book, but now I am looking forward to his backlist. I also read, and enjoyed, The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (a timely book about parental ambition). If you are a fan of Tom Perrotta, you might enjoy this one. I also was able to get my paws on an ARC of My Dark Vanessa, the highly anticipated and buzzy novel by Kate Elizabeth Russell. It is about the complexities and nuances of consent in the #metoo era. I am also currently listening to Ocean Vuong read his luminous novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. It should be required reading in all American Literature classes as it explores the immigrant experience, but with the language and insight of a poet. I am most looking forward to The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood and Gods With a Little G by Tupelo Hassman. These two women are authors whose work I admire so much; the fact that they both have books coming out in August is such a gift.
Visit T. Greenwood's website.

My Book, The Movie: Rust and Stardust.

The Page 69 Test: Rust and Stardust.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 9, 2019

Bernard Schaffer

Bernard Schaffer is an author, full-time police detective, and father of two. As a twenty-year veteran police officer, he’s a court recognized narcotics expert, a graduate of the prestigious Top Gun Undercover Law Enforcement Training Program, child forensic interviewer, and possesses a Class A certification in the use of wiretaps. A child actor, Schaffer appeared in multiple television commercials, performances at the Walnut Street Theater (where his picture still hangs in one of the upper, darker corners), Saturday Night Live, and the Nickelodeon series Don’t Just Sit There. Schaffer is the author of multiple independently-published books and series, including Superbia, Grendel Unit, Guns of Seneca 6, and more. A die-hard supporter of the Philadelphia Union, he is proud to say that he’s never been ejected from a game. Yet.

Schaffer's new novel is An Unsettled Grave.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Schaffer's reply:
I read in much the same way I write. Omnivorously. I don't favor genres or subjects. If I feel like reading a Star Trek novel from the 1980's and then going back to polish off La Brava by Elmore Leonard, I do it. I most recently finished Salem's Lot by Stephen King. It was obviously an early work of his with some significant low spots, but there are flashes of brilliance in there. Moments where it becomes clear what the man would produce in due time.

Some books are long-distance marathons for me. I'll flirt with them for a long time. They sit on my nightstand or in my eBook library and I pick them up and knock off a few chapters here and there. Right now, they would be Grapes of Wrath, Hugh Howey's Silo Series, and Furious Hours, a new non-fiction book about Harper Lee's efforts to write a true crime novel. Harper doesn't show up until halfway through the book and it kind of lost me. Maybe I just need the right frame of mind to get back into it.

Other books, I consume immediately. I'll buy the print, eBook, and audiobook versions, and read them all simultaneously. I listen to the audiobook when I drive, pick up where it left off on my desktop at work when there's downtime, and get right back into on my couch when I get home. The last one to take off for me like that was Lonesome Dove, a few months ago.
Visit Bernard Schaffer's website.

My Book, The Movie: An Unsettled Grave.

The Page 69 Test: An Unsettled Grave.

--Marshal Zeringue