Award Winner

“New York Times Best Fiction & Nonfiction of 2020”

The editors of The Times Book Review chose the best fiction and nonfiction titles of 2020, from among the titles they had reviewed. The titles are a mix of bestsellers and wannabes, from debut and/or international writers, but more importantly, the NYT Book Review editors fell in love with the story or the writing.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author. Click on the titles to read the reviews and learn more about the books.

 

FICTION

Homeland Elegies”  by Ayad Akhtar 

The Vanishing Half”  by Brit Bennett

Deacon King Kong”  by James McBride

A Children’s Bible”  by Lydia Millet

 

 

Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell

 

 

NONFICTION

Hidden Valley Road” by Robert Kolker

War” by Margaret MacMillan

A Promised Land”  by Barack Obama

Shakespeare in a Divided America”  by James Shapiro

Uncanny Valley” by Anna Wiener

 

 

Mari Barnes’ “Best of Books for Children Under 12”

Mari Barnes is our first guest author on Nightstand Book Reviews! I ‘met’ her on Facebook because of our mutual love of mystery shows, but realized as I followed her posts that she also has a shared avid interest in developing literacy for young people and their families. She is a member of our NBR community and the perfect person to ask for her ‘Best of’ book list for children under 12. Welcome, Mari.  🙂

I’m Mari Barnes and I’m a big fan of children’s books. I share them with my own family and the children who participate in the literacy programs I facilitate. The following books are only SOME of the many great books I’ve enjoyed with children under the age of twelve. They range from silly to sweet to serious. If I didn’t list a favorite of yours, I hope you’ll find time to sample one or two…or all ten!

 

  1. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
    The perfect first chapter book for new readers. These two characters show us what friendship looks like in five adorable short stories.

 

  1. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willem
    This reader favorite is about a bus driver who has to leave so he asks the reader to not allow the pigeon to drive the bus. A great read-aloud book!

     

    8. The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket
    This book/CD is a clever and silly whodunnit about an orchestra. It’s fun for adults and kids won’t care that they’re learning about orchestras and classical music.

     

    7. I Can’t Said the Ant by Polly Cameron A story told in rhyme that is about what happens to the denizens of a kitchen when an ant tries to help a fallen teapot. 

     


    6. Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar

    There are laughs a plenty in this new spin on fairy tales. Little Red Riding Hood needs to find a partner to help her win a new pair of skates. But finding one isn’t easy.

  1. Sweet T and the North Wind by Cat Michaels
    Tara, or Sweet T as her grandmother calls her, finds out that there really is magic in the North Wind. This story is about the love of family told with charm and whimsy.

 

4. Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
For older or more developed readers. Set in the Depression and told in Bud’s own unique voice, we follow his humorous, scary, sad and uplifting travels to find the man who just might be his father.

 

 

  1. I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty
    Frog would rather be ANYTHING else. Until he finds out that being a frog is the best thing he could ever be. A great lesson is hidden in lots of laughs. 

 

 

2. Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
Kid scientist Ada has to use all of her science skills to find out why her house is filled with a terrible smell. But her experiments lead to even more trouble in the winning tale of imagination and determination.

 

 

1. Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin
A charming little fable about friendship and problem-solving, this is one of my all-time favorites. And it’s got a surprise twist. A terrific bedtime story.

Mari Lumpkin Barnes writes for children under the pen name of Mari Lumpkin and for adults as ML Barnes. Mari owns Flying Turtle Publishing and has spent many years working with experts in child development, creating and implementing children’s literacy programs. The latest is Adventures in Reading, literacy programming for Chicagoland and northwest Indiana families.

https://aireading.org    

https://www.flyingturtlepublishing.com/

 

Many thanks to Mari Barnes for her photos and for sharing the wonderful list!  🙂

Enjoy!

 

 

Book List: Author Barbara Ross

 

Author Barbara Ross’ Maine Clambake Mysteries series is thoroughly entertaining with terrific writing, an engaging cast of core characters, intriguing murders, and the Maine setting that is a personality in itself. It is no wonder that the series has been nominated so often for top mystery awards. Our own NBR readers chose “Clammed Up” as a Top Ten read for that year. I have tried several of the delicious recipes in the books and can report that they are tasty and easy to make.

 

Click on the titles and check out the books:

Maine Clambake Mysteries:

Clammed Up”   (review here)

Boiled Over

Musseled Out”  (review here)

Fogged Inn”     (review here)

Iced Under

Stowed Away”  (It won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Truly an excellent read.)

Steamed Open” (review here)

Sealed Off

Shucked Apart” (coming in February, 2021)


Jane Darrowfield Mysteries:

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody” (First in new series, review here, part of the ‘Four Books, Four Genres’ post)

Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door


Shorter Stories:

Nogged Off” – part of the Christmas collection, “Eggnog Murder”

Logged On” – novella in the Christmas collection, “Yule Log Murder”

“Hallowed Out” – novella in the Halloween collection, “Haunted House Murder


Stand Alone:
The Death of an Ambitious Woman


Buy them all and Enjoy!  🙂

 

 

Barry Awards (Crime Fiction) – 2020

 

Established in 1997, the Barry Awards are presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, virtually held this year in Sacramento, California. Voted on by readers of the Deadly Pleasures mystery magazine, the award was named in honor of Barry Gardner, an American critic and lover of great crime fiction. The winners of the Barry Awards-2020 were announced in October during Bouchercon and are indicated in red.

Best Mystery/Crime Novel
THIRTEEN, Steve Cavanagh
YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, Steph Cha

THE LOST MAN, Jane Harper
METROPOLIS, Philip Kerr
IF SHE WAKES, Michael Koryta
THE BORDER, Don Winslow

 

Best First Mystery/Crime Novel
SCRUBLANDS, Chris Hammer
SAVE ME FROM DANGEROUS MEN, S. A. Lelchuk
THE SILENT PATIENT, Alex Michaelides
THE CHESTNUT MAN, Soren Sveistrup
TO THE LIONS, Holly Watt
AMERICAN SPY, Lauren Wilkinson


Best Paperback Original Mystery/Crime Novel

WINNER KILLS ALL, R. J. Bailey
THE GODMOTHER, Hannelore Cayre
KILLING QUARRY, Max Allan Collins
FATE, Ian Hamilton
MISSING DAUGHTER, Rick Mofina
NO GOOD DEED, James Swain


Best Thriller

TRUE BELIEVER, Jack Carr
MISSION CRITICAL, Mark Greaney
THE CHAIN, Adrian McKinty
THE BURGLAR, Thomas Perry
WHITE HOT SILENCE, Henry Porter
BACKLASH, Brad Thor


Best Mystery/Crime Novel of the Decade

NOVEMBER ROAD, Lou Berney
SUSPECT, Robert Crais
GONE GIRL, Gillian Flynn
THE DRY,  Jane Harper
THE BLACK HOUSE, Peter May
THE CARTEL, Don Winslow

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book List: Edith Maxwell

 

Edith Maxwell is a prolific writer of absorbing, wonderful mysteries. Each of her series feature strong, independent women, with true-to-life intelligent, sometimes challenging, families and an always intriguing boyfriend. The stories are layered, the characters are complex, and the mysteries are well drawn. Click on the book titles and fall into a great read. 

 

as Edith Maxwell:

Quaker Midwife Mysteries  The Agatha-nominated historical series features unconventional Quaker midwife Rose Carroll in late 1880s Amesbury, Massachusetts.
Delivering the Truth”   review here

Called to Justice

Turning the Tide” 

Charity’s Burden”  Agatha Award winner!

Judge Thee Not

Taken Too Soon

 

The Local Foods Mysteries feature novice organic farmer Cameron Flaherty and take place in the town of Westbury, Massachusetts.

A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die”  review here

’Til Dirt Do Us Part

Farmed and Dangerous

Murder Most Fowl

Mulch Ado About Murder

 

as Maddie Day:

The Country Store Mysteries feature Robbie Jordan and Pans ‘N Pancakes, her country store/ restaurant in fictional South Lick, Indiana.
Flipped for Murder

Grilled for Murder”    review here

When the Grits Hit the Fan

Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Death over Easy

Strangled Eggs and Ham

Nacho Average Murder

Candy Slain Murder

 

Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries are set on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and feature Mackenzie Almeida and her sleuthing book club members.

Murder on Cape Cod”  review here

Murder at the Taffy Shop

 

as Tace Baker: 

The Lauren Rousseau Mysteries feature Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau, a self-reliant, multi-talented woman who finds herself involved in college politics, local Massachusetts intrigue, and bodies.

Speaking of Murder”  review here

Bluffing is Murder”  review here

 

Short Fiction

The following stories of “murderous revenge and other crimes” were originally published in anthologies or magazines. Many have been republished as standalone short stories.

“An Ominous Silence” appears in Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories

“The Unfortunate Death of Mrs. Edna Fogg” in Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical 

 “Murder in the Summer Kitchen” in Murder Among Friends: Mysteries Inspired by the Life and Works of John Greenleaf Whittier. 

“The Mayor and the Midwife” in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 

“Adam and Eva,” – free read on Kings River Life Magazine

“A Questionable Death” was originally published in the History and Mystery, Oh My! anthology and is a free read over at Kings River Life Magazine.

“Just Desserts for Johnny”

“Pickled” in That Mysterious Woman

“A Fire in Carriagetown” first appeared as “Breaking the Silence” in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold 

“The Stonecutter,” first appeared in Fish Nets: the Second Guppy Anthology

“Reduction in Force” was first published in Thin Ice: Crime Stories by New England Writers 

“Yatsuhashi for Lance” was originally published as “Obake for Lance” in Riptide: Crime Stories by New England Writers.

“An Idea for Murder,” first appeared (written as Tace Baker) in the Burning Bridges: A Renegade Fiction Anthology.

“The Importance of Blood”

“A Divination of Death” appears in Malice Domestic 13: Mystery Most Geographical.

“Sushi Lessons” appears in Malice Domestic 14: Mystery Most Edible.

“An Intolerable Intrusion” appears in Edgar Allen Cozy.

 

For more information about Edith and her writing life, read the Author Profile here.

 

Happy Reading!  🙂

 

 

Writer Mark Stevens, and His Books

Mark Stevens at BoucherCon

Mark Stevens is an award-winning Colorado writer, former journalist, now PR and Communications Specialist, whose work caught my eye on Twitter a few years ago. He tweeted about the country’s environmental challenges, a subject near and dear to my heart, and I readily ‘followed’ him. He mentioned that his second book in the Allison Coil Mysteries, “Buried by the Roan,” had recently been published, so I picked it up. I was hooked by the topical storyline and the multi-faceted characters caught up in events tearing their beloved landscape apart.

 

The lead protagonist, Allison Coil, is a big game hunting guide in the Flat Top wilderness of Colorado. And lest you think that a woman might not really choose this as a career, Coil is based on a real-life guide that Stevens met while pondering the setting and the focus character for the series.

 

Each of his books could have been ripped from the headlines and in always absorbing writing, deal with hot-button topics, such as human trafficking, marijuana laws, undocumented workers, fracking, big game hunting, drought, and wilderness protection. But, in addition to these and other ‘big concept’ themes (and the murders) Stevens’ stories are grounded in real life, with his core characters facing the challenges of rebuilding a life in a new location, managing a small business, finding/trusting love after heartbreak.

 

Colorado’s majestic wilderness plays a major role and Stevens’ imageries put us right in the saddle as Allison rides through the Flat Tops. The big game hunts and plots unfold against a backdrop of rich country that everybody wants a piece of, but few acknowledge that through the very development they seek, the land as they know it will disappear.

 


“Antler Dust,” the book that started it all.

 

 

 

 

“Buried by the Roan”    Review here.

 

 

 

 

“Trapline”      Review here.

 

 

 

Book Cover "Lake of Fire"

 

“Lake of Fire”  Review here.

 

 

 

“The Melancholy Howl,” the fifth in the series, reveals more in the background of each of the central characters, some of it a bit edgier than before. There are glitches in the love lives of the two continuing couples and one major character has a whopper of a secret that tears at the core of his public persona. These are flesh and blood people, some with serious flaws and baggage, but all have each other’s backs in a crunch.

 

The ‘big concept’ in “The Melancholy Howl” deals with medical marijuana (legal in Colorado) and how its use and the industry has changed since the first stores opened. There is loads of money to be made, but as it turns out, there is a gap between the perceived need and the actual market, and not everyone is following the law. A plane crash, an ‘illegal’ grow, con- artists, tragedy, drought, and greed, all play a part in this gripping page-turner.

 

Mark Stevens also writes short stories, the most recent of which, “A Bitter Thing,” appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

 

Please visit https://www.writermarkstevens.com/  for the latest news about his books and the fascinating podcasts he produces.

 

2020 Hammett Prize

 

The 2020 Hammett Prize is bestowed by The International Association of Crime Writers (North American Branch). The award was announced (but will be presented later this year) for a 2019 work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by an American or Canadian author. The prize is the famous ‘Thin Man’ bronze trophy, and bragging rights. 🙂

Please click on the nominated titles to find out more about the books. The winner is indicated in red.

 

THE MURALS, by William Bayer

 

BLUFF, by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

 

NORCO ’80: THE TRUE STORY OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR BANK ROBBERY IN AMERICAN HISTORY, by Peter Houlahan (non-fiction)

 

THE ADVENTURE OF THE PECULIAR PROTOCOLS, by Nicholas Meyer

 

BLOOD RELATIONS, by Jonathan Moore

 

 

Congratulations to all the nominees and the winner!

 

 

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