Award Winner

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.

 

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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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2020 Pulitzer Prize – Journalism

 

The 2020 winners of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Journalism were announced in early May, 2020. Congratulations to all the amazing writers and staffs!

Descriptions of the individual awards are credited to the Pulitzer Prize website. Links (in brown) will take you to more information about the winners.

The Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal is awarded each year to the American news organization that wins the Public Service category.


Public Service  
Anchorage Daily News with contributions from ProPublica
  For a riveting series that revealed a third of Alaska’s villages had no police protection, took authorities to task for decades of neglect, and spurred an influx of money and legislative changes.

 

Breaking News Reporting    Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.  For its rapid coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons by Kentucky’s governor, showing how the process was marked by opacity, racial disparities and violations of legal norms.

 

Investigative Reporting   Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times   For an exposé of New York City’s taxi industry that showed how lenders profited from predatory loans that shattered the lives of vulnerable drivers, reporting that ultimately led to state and federal investigations and sweeping reforms.

 

Explanatory Reporting   Staff of The Washington Post   For a groundbreaking series that showed with scientific clarity the dire effects of extreme temperatures on the planet.

 

Local Reporting   Staff of The Baltimore Sun   For illuminating, impactful reporting on a lucrative, undisclosed financial relationship between the city’s mayor and the public hospital system she helped to oversee.

 

National Reporting  T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica   For their investigation into America’s 7th Fleet after a series of deadly naval accidents in the Pacific.

 

Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times   For groundbreaking stories that exposed design flaws in the Boeing 737 MAX that led to two deadly crashes and revealed failures in government oversight.

 

International Reporting   Staff of The New York Times   For a set of enthralling stories, reported at great risk, exposing the predations of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

 

Feature Writing   Ben Taub of The New Yorker   For a devastating account of a man who was kidnapped, tortured and deprived of his liberty for more than a decade at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, blending on-the-ground reporting and lyrical prose to offer a nuanced perspective on America’s wider war on terror. (Moved into contention by the Board.)

 

Commentary   Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times   For a sweeping, provocative and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.

 

Criticism   Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times   For work demonstrating extraordinary community service by a critic, applying his expertise and enterprise to critique a proposed overhaul of the L.A. County Museum of Art and its effect on the institution’s mission.

 

Editorial Writing   Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine (Tx.) Herald Press   For editorials that exposed how pre-trial inmates died horrific deaths in a small Texas county jail—reflecting a rising trend across the state—and courageously took on the local sheriff and judicial establishment, which tried to cover up these needless tragedies.

 

Editorial Cartooning   Barry Blitt, contributor, The New Yorker  For work that skewers the personalities and policies emanating from the Trump White House. (Moved into contention by the Board.)

 

Breaking News Photography  Photography Staff of Reuters   For wide-ranging and illuminating photographs of Hong Kong as citizens protested infringement of their civil liberties and defended the region’s autonomy by the Chinese government.

 

Feature Photography  Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of Associated Press  For striking images captured during a communications blackout in Kashmir depicting life in the contested territory as India stripped it of its semi-autonomy.

 

Audio Reporting Staff of This American Life with Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, freelancer, Vice News   For “The Out Crowd,” revelatory, intimate journalism that illuminates the personal impact of the Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

 

For information about Prize winners in other categories (the arts and fiction) click on the link below.

https://www.pulitzer.org/news/announcement-2020-pulitzer-prize-winners

 

 

 

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Pandemic Themed Fiction and Nonfiction

 

You asked for it. A list of books that deal with pandemics. In the past, we’ve watched the pandemic movies and TV shows and a few thriller authors have addressed the topic in their fiction. But, here we are in 2020, fighting a real life pandemic. Don’t read any of these books if you want to be reassured. Some, although written decades ago, are eerily predictive of our current worldwide battle with the Coronavirus, Covid 19.

Bobby Akart series: Starts with “Pandemic: Beginnings: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller Series”

Michael Crichton: “The Andromeda Strain”

Molly Caldwell Crosby: “The American Plague” (nonfiction)

Stephen King: “The Stand”

Dean Koontz: “The Eyes of Darkness”

Emily St. John Mandell: “Station Eleven”

William Maxwell: “They Came Like Swallows”

Thomas Mullen: “The Last Town on Earth”

Katherine Ann Porter: “Pale Horse, Pale Rider”

Richard Preston: “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus” (nonfiction)

Mary Shelley: “The Last Man”

Karen Thompson Walker “The Dreamers”

Do you have a favorite pandemic themed book that’s missing from the list? Let us know in the comments below.
 

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“New York Times Best Fiction and Nonfiction of 2019”

 

It’s always interesting to see which books the Book Review editors choose for their “Best of…” lists for the year. The titles are sometimes bestsellers, sometimes from debut or international writers, but more importantly, the NYT Book Review editors have fallen in love with the story (or the writing) and ta-da! the book makes the list.

 

Check out their Best of Fiction and Nonfiction choices from 2019. Listed in alphabetical order by author, click on the book titles to read their reviews.

 

Fiction:

 

Night Boat to Tangier” by Kevin Barry

 

Exhalation” by Ted Chiang

 

The Topeka School” by Ben Lerner

 

 

 

Lost Children Archive” by Valeria Luiselli

 

 

Disappearing Earth” by Julia Phillips

 

Nonfiction:

 

The Yellow House” by Sarah M. Broom

 

The Club” by Leo Damrosch

 

Midnight in Chernobyl” by Adam Higginbotham

 

 

 

 

 

Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe

 

 

 

No Visible Bruises” by Rachel Louise Snyder

 

Have you read any of the titles? Please let us know what you thought in the comments below.

 

 

 

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Book List: Jessica Estavao/Jessie Crockett/Jessica Ellicott

Jessica Estavao is a talented, bestselling, award-winning New England author with several entertaining mystery series to her credit. She is one of the “Wicked Authors,” a group of women writing wicked good mysteries mostly set in New England. Take a look at the list of her books below and see if you’ve read them all. (Click on the titles to learn more about the books)

 

Granite State Mysteries  (as Jessie Crockett)

Her debut mystery in the Granite State series, “Live Free or Die”, was the 2011 winner of the Daphne DuMaurier Award for Mainstream Mystery, an auspicious beginning to her career.

 

Sugar Grove Mysteries (as Jessie Crockett)

The series begins “Drizzled with Death,” one hilarious romp through championship pancake breakfasts, maple syrup, and animals on the loose. Who knew that falling dead head first into a stack of pancakes could be used as a crime scene setting?

 

Drizzled with Death” – review here

Maple Mayhem

Sticky Situation

 

 

Change of Fortune Mysteries (as Jessica Estavao)

Jessie moved her next series back in time to 1890’s Orchard Beach, Maine, with a con artist and tarot card reader protagonist. Ruby tries to stay one step ahead of the law, while helping her straight arrow aunt keep her hotel. Great fun featuring an innovative female lead character.

 

Whispers Beyond the Veil” 

review here     

 

 

Whispers of Warning

 

Beryl and Edwina Mysteries (as Jessica Ellicott)

Jessie’s current series is set in post WW1 England and introduces the former Finishing School duo of Edwina, the conservative English character, to Beryl’s adventurous American persona. They reunite many years later in the quiet (or is it?) southern English village of Warmsley Parva when Edwina advertises for a boarder and Beryl crashes onto her property.

Beryl and Edwina, while culturally and personally quite different, are fond of each other even after years apart. They find that their distinctive talents help them wonderfully well in their new business venture, a ‘private inquiry agency’ that solves mysteries in the charming village, while earning them an income.

Ellicott has written a series that is both historically enlightening and entertaining, with the sometimes serious subject matter of the day woven into the story of the two women drawn together by economics as well as friendship. Beautifully researched, the books reveal societal views about women 100 years ago, and peek inside the quaint village shops that have survived despite the post-war challenges.

Edwina’s shrewd intellect and Beryl’s clever approach to the mysteries outwit lesser minds and create a few comical moments to save the day and befuddle the clueless. These two engaging, intelligent women will capture your hearts and minds as you enjoy these wonderful books.

 

 

 

 

Murder in an English Village” 

review here

 

Murder Flies the Coop

Murder Cuts the Mustard

Murder Comes to Call

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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National Book Awards – 2019

 

The prestigious National Book Awards2019 for last year's books were bestowed in New York City on November 20, 2019. There were 25 finalists – five each in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People's Literature.

 

Take a look at the finalists and winners (indicated in red) and click on the titles to learn more about the books:
 

FINALISTS FOR FICTION:

 

FINALISTS FOR NONFICTION:

 

FINALISTS FOR POETRY:

 

FINALISTS FOR TRANSLATED LITERATURE: 

 

FINALISTS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE:

 

Congratulations to all!!!

 

 

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