Bestselling Author

Greatest Love Stories of All Time

 

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It’s the time of year when bouquets of flowers fill the stores, the gift of a box of chocolates takes on new meaning, and love songs (and movies) fill the airwaves. Swoonworthy stuff, ya’ll.

 

Instead of creating a post about current titles that inspire hearts to flutter, I put out an open call for men and women to name their favorite Greatest Love Stories of All Time. Thanks to Mari Barnes*, Sarah Bewley, Leah Canzoneri, Kait Carson, Peggy Clayton, Joy Ross Davis, Missy Davis, Laura Di Silverio, Saword Broyles Ellis, Terri Gault, Courtney Carter Girton, Sherry Harris, Cynthia Kuhn, Joyce Laferrera, Marj Lilley, Alice Loweecy, Gary Miller, Sylvia Nickels, Debbie York Parker, Nanci Rathbun, Jeanie Smith, Ellis Vidler, and Lynn Chandler Willis for their wonderful suggestions.  *drawing winner  :-)

 

Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, and where available, links to the Greatest Love Stories are included.  Click on the titles and read more about them.               

 

At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon

“Cinderella Story” by Wendy Logia

Come Rain or Come Shine” by Jan Karon

Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak

Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry

Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

Persuasion” by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen

Shadow of the Moon” by MM Kaye

Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson

Soulless” by Gail Carriger

The Far Pavilions” by MM Kaye

The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper 

The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks

The Princess Bride” by William Goldman

The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy

The Second Coming” by Walker Percy

The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough

 

Are you thinking romantic, weak-at-the-knees thoughts?

Our work is done.  😉    

 

Photo credit:  Patti Phillips

 

 

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“Dry Bones” by Craig Johnson

 

book-cover-dry-bones
 

Jen, a T-Rex and the center of the controversy in “Dry Bones,” is the largest specimen of its type ever found and it shows up in Sheriff Walt Longmire’s county. Longmire deals with all kinds of victims, but a dinosaur? That’s a new kind of cold case.

 

A skeleton of this importance would be a windfall for the local museum, but first Longmire must figure out if the High Plains Dinosaur Museum has the right to claim Jen as its own. When the Cheyenne owner of the ranch where Jen was found turns up dead, things get complicated. It’s possible that the T-Rex belongs to the Cheyenne Nation…or the federal government…or the family of the guy who died.

 

Tribal rights, family inheritance, federal property or just a really nice set of bones to display? An acting Deputy Attorney is out to make a name for himself and seems to feel that photo ops are more important than catching the bad guys or finding kidnap victims. But, he’s not the only one with priorities a tad off center in "Dry Bones." More people are interested in who gets the dinosaur than the circumstances behind the death of Danny Lone Elk. 

 

With Jen crowding Walt’s holding cells while ownership is being determined, and the interested parties holding Walt’s office hostage, the Sheriff realizes that the only way he can get back to the business for which he was elected is to solve the mystery of Danny Lone Elk’s death and find the gal (also Jen) who discovered the T-Rex to begin with.

 

It’s a circus.

 

There are helicopter forays into the back country, harrowing visits to an old mine, entertaining interactions with ever wise-cracking Lucien, Henry Standing Bear saving the day as only he can, and more near misses for Walt than our hearts can stand. Did I mention bullets flying? And the terrifying prospect of Walt taking care of his grand-daughter? He’s not afraid of many bad guys, but the little one? Waaay too funny.

 

We are treated to Craig Johnson’s dry wit, in several LOL scenes, with Walt’s delivery always perfectly timed. A man of few words, but good ones.

 

In real life, that entire region of the country is an active dinosaur bone recovery area with several universities and museums conducting legitimate digs. People love a cool dinosaur, so finding the big ones can cement the reputation – and therefore the funding – of an institution for many years.

 

In “Dry Bones,” Johnson explores the ethics of taking artifacts away from the people upon whose land they were found. It’s not just dino bones that are being removed from their place of origin. World-wide, governments are seeking to recover long lost treasures robbed from centuries old graves, temples, and ruins. Find the treasures? Great. Remove them from the place of origin without permission or proper compensation? These days, that’s a long jail term in the making.

 

Read Craig Allen Johnson’s Author Profile here.

 

Read the review of “The Cold Dish” here.

 

Read the review of “Kindness Goes Unpunished” here.

 

Please visit www.craigallenjohnson.com for lots of information about Mr. Johnson and his work, his future appearances, and his online store.

 

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The Agatha Awards for 2016

 

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The nominees for the Agatha Awards for 2016 (named for Agatha Christie) have been announced. The awards are bestowed upon mystery and crime writers at the annual Malice Domestic conference in late April, 2017. The nominated books were first published in the United States by a living author between January 1 and December 31, 2016.

 

The Agatha Awards recognize the "traditional mystery," meaning that there is no graphic sex and no excessive violence in the writing. Thrillers or hard-boiled detectives cannot be found here, but instead, picture Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot at work.

 

Click on the author’s name for more information about the book and the rest of the author’s work.  Congratulations to all the nominees!  :-)

 

Best Contemporary Novel

“Body on the Bayou” by Ellen Byron
“Quiet Neighbors” by Catriona McPherson
“A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny
“Fogged Inn” by Barbara Ross
“Say No More” by Hank Phillippi Ryan

 

Best Historical Novel

“Whispers Beyond the Veil” by Jessica Estevao
“Get Me to the Grave on Time” by D.E. Ireland
“Delivering the Truth” by Edith Maxwell
“The Reek of Red Herrings” by Catriona McPherson
“Murder in Morningside Heights” by Victoria Thompson

 

Best First Novel

“Terror in Taffeta” by Marla Cooper
“Murder in G Major” by Alexia Gordon
“The Semester of Our Discontent” by Cynthia Kuhn
“Decanting a Murder” by Nadine Nettmann
“Design for Dying” by Renee Patrick

 

Best Short Story

"Double Jinx: A Bellissimo Casino Crime Caper Short Story" by Gretchen Archer

"The Best-Laid Plans" by Barb Goffman in Malice Domestic 11: Murder Most Conventional

"The Mayor and the Midwife" by Edith Maxwell in Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016

"The Last Blue Glass" by B.K. Stevens in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine

"Parallel Play" by Art Taylor in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning

 

Please visit www.malicedomestic.org for the nominations in the Non-Fiction and Children/YA categories for the Agatha Awards-2016.

 

 

Time to get reading. Enjoy!  :-)

 

 

 

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The Edgar Awards – 2017

 

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Each year the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) awards the Edgar Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television, published or produced in 2016. The Edgar® Awards will be presented at the annual banquet on April 27, 2017, in New York City. Congratulations to all the nominees!   :-)
 

Click on the authors’ names for more information.


BEST NOVEL
“The Ex” by Alafair Burke
“Where It Hurts” by Reed Farrel Coleman
“Jane Steele” by Lyndsay Faye
“What Remains of Me” by Alison Gaylin
“Before the Fall” by Noah Hawley

 
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
“Under the Harrow” by Flynn Berry
“Dodgers” by Bill Beverly
“IQ” by Joe Ide
“The Drifter” by Nicholas Petrie
“Dancing with the Tiger” by Lili Wright
“The Lost Girls” by Heather Young

 
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
“Shot in Detroit” by Patricia Abbott
“Come Twilight” by Tyler Dilts
“The 7th Canon” by Robert Dugoni
“Rain Dogs” by Adrian McKinty
“A Brilliant Death” by Robin Yocum
“Heart of Stone” by James W. Ziskin


 
BEST FACT CRIME
“Morgue: A Life in Death” by Dr. Vincent DiMaio & Ron Franscell

“The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan” by Laurence Leamer

“Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane: A True Story of Victorian Law and Disorder: The Unsolved Murder That Shocked Victorian England” by Paul Thomas Murphy

“While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Madness” by Eli Sanders

“The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer” by Kate Summerscale

  
BEST SHORT STORY
“Oxford Girl” – Mississippi Noir by Megan Abbott
“A Paler Shade of Death” – St. Louis Noir by Laura Benedict
“Autumn at the Automat” – In Sunlight or in Shadow by Lawrence Block
“The Music Room” – In Sunlight or in Shadow  by Stephen King
“The Crawl Space” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Joyce Carol Oates

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT
“Three Truths and a Lie” by Brent Hartinger
“The Girl I Used to Be” by April Henry
“Girl in the Blue Coat” by Monica Hesse
“My Sister Rosa” by Justine Larbalestier
“Thieving Weasels” by Billy Taylor


RAVEN AWARD

Dru Ann Love
  

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER – MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
“The Other Sister” by Dianne Dixon
“Quiet Neighbors” by Catriona McPherson
“Say No More” by Hank Phillippi Ryan
“Blue Moon” by Wendy Corsi Staub
“The Shattered Tree” by Charles Todd

 
Please visit www.theedgars.com for the Edgar Awards-2017 nominations in the Juvenile, Critical/Biographical, and TV Episode Teleplay categories.

 

*Photo credit: Mystery Writers of America

 

 

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“What She Knew” by Gilly Macmillan

Book Cover - What She Knew

 

 

 

In “What She Knew,” Rachel Finch hesitates, but finally gives her son, Ben, permission to run ahead of her to the swings in a park they have been to many times before. She doesn’t want to be seen as an over protective mother. But when she reaches the swings, he isn’t there and is nowhere to be found.

 

A sense of sorrow envelops the reader at the beginning of “What She Knew,” as Rachel shares the story from her point of view – what could she have done better/differently/instead of, during those minutes leading up to and after Ben’s disappearance? Her story is heart wrenching as she explores her own actions and reactions in the face of enormously challenging circumstances.

 

Macmillan spares no one, however, and the other stakeholders – the father, the new wife, the investigators – all take turns at center stage, examining their own guilt and excuses as the 8-day search continues. There is plenty of ‘would have, should have’ to pass around when fingers are pointed and accusations fly. People try to help her cope for a while, but Rachel pushes them away in despair, certain that they cannot truly understand. And, of course, they can’t.

 

Is Rachel or some other trusted adult at fault? People even remotely involved with the child are questioned, then questioned again. The detective work is painstakingly difficult; the media attention excruciating and sometimes misplaced and vicious.

 

Do we, the readers, remember every detail about every person, bush, swing, and shrub that we pass on our daily walks in the park? Unless we are in the middle of some kind of memory training game, probably not. And, yet that’s exactly what Rachel is asked to do. Every second, every step, every motive, must be accounted for.

 

“What She Knew” is an astonishing page-turner, and by seeing the reactions to the crime through the major players involved, Macmillan gets us, the readers, highly invested. I found myself defending the parents, then faulting the parents, defending the detectives and faulting the system as the kidnapping details were explained and suspects revisited.

 

Macmillan has written fully fleshed out characters, with emotionally believable reactions and dialogue, with devastating twists and turns. Who did it and why? Were the right people investigated/punished? ‘Is the investigative process itself, flawed?’ may be a question that haunts you long after the last page of “What She Knew” is read.

 

Although the action in “What She Knew” takes place in England (where the book is called “Burnt Paper Sky”) the themes are sadly universal and missing children remain a terrible part of our culture. Check out NamUs.gov and the UK missing children’s sites for more information. Read “How long has your daughter been missing?” for related details about missing persons.

 

Please visit www.gillymacmillan.com  for news about Macmillan and her other work. “What She Knew” is an international bestseller and her latest book, “The Perfect Girl,” was published in the USA in September, 2016.

 

 

 

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Top 10: The First Four Years of Nightstand Book Reviews

 

Book Cover - Cold Dish

The first four years of Nightstand Book Reviews delivered a wide range of books to my doorstep and to my email inbox. Right from the beginning, I have received more than 100 requests a month (once over 400) from writers and publicists and friends of writers and publicists to review the latest book they had to offer.

 

It has been a fun problem to have. The strategy was (and remains) to choose great reads to chat about and share with the thousands of Nightstand Book Reviews followers around the world. The books on the site are by and large fiction, and tell a well-plotted story involving nicely developed characters. The authors are a mix of bestselling writers of longstanding, and newbies to the field when I first met them. Traditionally published or ebook only? Both happily co-exist on NBR. Occasionally I highlight biographies, great cookbooks, and helpful gardening books. A new feature in 2016 was Author Profiles. You’ll see more of those in 2017.

 

Below is the list of Top 10 books reviewed on Nightstand Book Reviews over the last four years, listed in ABC order by author. These were the books that garnered the most interest on NBR from the worldwide audience during the four years. Six books on the list were the debut novels from those authors. Some powerhouse writers (long, successful careers with great popularity) mixed in with newbies? A good book is a good book.

 

All of these authors now have multiple books out. Click on the book title to read the review.

 

Lee Child – “The Killing Floor”

 

Robert Dugoni – “My Sister’s Grave”

 

Robert Dugoni – “The Conviction”

 

Sherry Harris – “Tagged for Death”

 

Sue Harrison – “Mother Earth, Father Sky”

 

Erin Hart – “Haunted Ground”

 

Tami Hoag – “Alibi Man”

 

Craig Johnson – “The Cold Dish”

 

Leigh Perry – “A Skeleton in the Family”

 

Andy Weir – “The Martian”

 

 

Have you read any of the titles on the list? Wildly different books to be sure, with thrillers, sci-fi, traditional mysteries, and cozies in the group. 

 

And soooo much fun to read.  :-)

 

Thank you all, kind readers, for being part of the Nightstand Book Reviews community during the first four years. Your comments and participation make me smile as I search for the next great read to share with you.

 

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The New York Times Best Fiction List 2016

 

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The New York Times Best 100 Books of 2016 list was posted recently. It’s always interesting to see which books editors at the NYT will choose for their “Best of…” lists for the year. The titles are sometimes bestsellers, but more importantly, the editors have fallen in love with the story (or the writing) and Wahoo! the book makes the list.

 

Check out the top five fiction choices from 2016, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Click on the links below the book titles to read their reviews.

 

“The Association of Small Bombs” by Karan Mahajan http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/books/review/the-association-of-small-bombs-by-karan-mahajan.html?_r=0

 

 

“The North Water” by Ian McGuire
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/books/review/the-north-water-by-ian-mcguire.html

 

 

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/books/review/colson-whitehead-underground-railroad.html

 

 

“The Vegetarian” by Han Kang. Translated by Deborah Smith.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/books/review/the-vegetarian-by-han-kang.html

 

 

“War and Turpentine” by Stefan Hertmans. Translated by David McKay.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/books/review/war-and-turpentine-stefan-hertmans.html

 

 

Have you read any of the top five titles? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.  :-)

 

 

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