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

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Noelle Salazar

Noelle Salazar was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where she's been a Navy recruit, a medical assistant, an NFL cheerleader and always a storyteller. As a novelist, she has done extensive research into the Women Airforce Service Pilots, interviewing vets and visiting the training facility—now a museum dedicated to the WASP—in Sweetwater, Texas. When she’s not writing, she can be found dodging raindrops and daydreaming of her next book. Salazar lives in Bothell, Washington, with her husband and two children.

The Flight Girls is her first novel.

Recently I asked Salazar about what she was reading. Her reply:
I read a wide variety of genres, but my one true love is stories focusing on the plight of women in all forms. In the past year I read three books that have clung to my nerve endings, striking different chords and making me recommend them time and time again. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman spoke to me. She's an odd bird, Eleanor. And there are hints of why that come in flashes that made me stop, my heart beating fast in my chest. What was that?! And I had to know. Because Eleanor is strange and kind and interesting and mysterious. And her story is sad but lovely and you want to be her friend, but also just take care of her. You want to be her safe haven... until she allows you to set her free. It is a story of self-love and self-discovery and letting go. But also of friendship and love. It is definitely a book that has been added to my "Read Again and Again" pile.

Another book I read recently, I'll admit because I saw the movie trailer with Cate Blanchett and I mean... Cate Blanchett!! Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. The fact that it takes place in Seattle makes it that much more fun for me. Bernadette's obvious distaste for the city is hilarious - for all the reasons I love it. The story is told in an intriguing way mostly through letters and emails, and the hilarity on every page drives the story in such a clipped way, you have no chance at getting anything done. Just sit down and go for a ride. Witty prose, snappy dialogue, hilarious descriptions. It's like the best roller coaster ride you've ever been on, and then it stops, the bar releases, and you find yourself breathing normally again, laughter caught in your throat.

Last but definitely not least, Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. Talk about an intriguingly written story. Set on the stark peninsula of Kamchatka in Russia, this is a story about two young girls going missing. But that's not all it's about. Each chapter focuses on a different woman within this small community, and essentially her own "disappearing earth". A thread carries through the book, linking in some way each woman to the girls at the beginning of the story. It is intriguing. Delicate. And reads like a whisper. I was haunted by this novel for days after and highly recommend giving it a read on your next rainy day, tucked in the corner of your sofa with a blanket and a cup of tea.
Visit Noelle Salazar's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 5, 2019

Jean Kwok

Jean Kwok is the award-winning, New York Times and international bestselling author of Searching for Sylvie Lee, Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. Her work has been published in twenty countries and taught in universities, colleges and high schools across the world. An instant New York Times bestseller, Searching for Sylvie Lee was selected by Jenna Bush Hager for the Today Show Book Club, Emma Roberts for the Belletrist Book Club, O, The Oprah Magazine for its summer reading list and called “this summer’s book club sensation” by Entertainment Weekly.

Recently I asked Kwok about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m constantly reading and there have been so many wonderful books recently. I loved Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, which is about a Korean American family who must undergo a murder trial after their medical facility explodes. It’s a wonderful combination of a suspenseful page turner and immigrant story.

I’m also reading The Summer Country by Lauren Willig, which is this sweeping, multigenerational saga set in Barbados and I’m just awed by the sheer scope of this historical novel. There’s jealousy, lies, rebellion and lost love.

Colette Sartor has a collection of short stories coming out on September 15 called Once Removed that is just stunning. It won the 2018 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

I was also fortunate enough to get an early copy of the great Gish Jen’s new novel, The Resisters, coming February 4, 2020, which is a breathtaking, moving story set in an America that is all too possible. I read it all in one gulp.

And finally, I just received the galley for My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, coming on January 28, 2020, which is the explosive story of the relationship between a 15-year-old girl and her teacher. I’m really looking forward to this one!
Visit Jean Kwok's website.

The Page 69 Test: Searching for Sylvie Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Angie Kim

Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then practiced as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly. Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Contest and the Wabash Prize in Fiction, and appeared in numerous publications including Vogue, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, The Asian American Literary Review, and PANK. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons.

Kim's first novel is Miracle Creek.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m reading an ARC of The Hidden Things, the fourth novel of one of my favorite writers, Jamie Mason. I find her novels to be quirky, twisted, original, and vivid, and this one is no exception. It starts when a half-minute home-security-camera video of a teenager fighting off an attack goes viral. Just barely visible in the corner of the shot is a famous stolen painting. How did this painting come to be hanging on the wall of a suburban home? Who will see it? What will they do about it? Jamie Mason gives us a masterful mystery, full of twists and red herrings. But more than anything, I loved Carly, the teenager who becomes a social media hero. Most highly recommended!

Another book I just finished is another favorite author Louis Bayard’s ninth novel, Courting Mr. Lincoln. It’s historical fiction about Abe Lincoln, as written from the POVs of two people who were very close to him—Lincoln’s best friend and roommate Joshua Speed and Lincoln’s eventual wife Mary Todd. As I started reading, I was transported to the richly-detailed world Louis Bayard has created, and the suspenseful triangle between Lincoln, Speed, and Todd made this book unputdownable.
Visit Angie Kim's website.

My Book, The Movie: Miracle Creek.

The Page 69 Test: Miracle Creek.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Christopher Ruocchio

Christopher Ruocchio is a graduate of North Carolina State University, where a penchant for self-destructive decision-making caused him to pursue a bachelor’s in English Rhetoric with a minor in Classics. An avid student of history, philosophy, and religion, Ruocchio has been writing since he was eight years old and sold his first book —Empire of Silence— at twenty-two.

Ruocchio's new novel is Howling Dark, the second novel of his galaxy-spanning Sun Eater series.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
The truth is, I haven’t had much chance to read anything of late. Between production on Howling Dark’s sequel and manuscript submissions at my day job, my reading’s been quite thin. If you’ll forgive me for going back a few months, the last book I really had the chance to sit down and read was Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the World, a dystopian SF novel written in 1908 set in a unified, communist Europe told mostly from the perspective of the man who becomes the last Pope. It was written by Father Benson (himself a Catholic priest) as a critique of H.G. Wells, then a J.K. Rowling sized celebrity, and his vision of technocratic utopian socialism, which Benson believed would only bring about horrific consequence (I’d contend the horrors of communism in the 20th century proved him quite right). I can’t remember on whose recommendation I picked it up, but as someone whose own fictional worldbuilding involves a great deal of reaction-against-technological-progress, it’s served as a kind of research. In my personal opinion, it ought to be required reading alongside Orwell and Huxley, and indeed I consider it the best of the three, both as entertaining literature and as a work of prophecy.
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My Book, The Movie: Howling Dark.

--Marshal Zeringue