Suspense

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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Author Profile: Lynn Chandler Willis

 

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Lynn Chandler Willis began her adventure with the public side of writing as the owner/publisher/editor/reporter of the Pleasant Garden Post, circulated in the Pleasant Garden region of North Carolina. The first issue came out in 1996, and the last in 2009. She “did everything but print it.”

 

It was during that (sometimes intense) experience that she covered a local murder. She sat in court, interviewed the participants as well as the family of the victim and was led to write a true crime novel, “Unholy Covenant,” also titled “The Preacher’s Son.” This murder in the small North Carolina town became so famous that it was featured on the TV show, American Justice, in 2005.

 

Her next novel was a distinct departure from her true crime writing. Willis’ inspirational book, “The Rising,” became a 2013 Grace Award winner for Mystery/Romantic Suspense. It was followed by another shift in focus, “Wink of an Eye,” a Shamus Award winner for Best PI Book of the Year. Willis was the first female recipient of the Award in a decade. The “Wink” series, with hunky Gerard Butler oops Gypsy Moran as the Texas PI, will continue – great news for Gypsy fans.

 

But, there’s more. Lynn Chandler Willis has written the first of three books set in North Carolina, “Tell Me No Lies,” with Ava Logan, newspaper owner/publisher/editor/reporter, as the lead protagonist. Sound familiar? Willis’ personal background lends wonderful authenticity to the newspaper scenes both in and out of the office. “TMNL” deals with ginseng poaching, betrayal, a love lost and found, and of course, a murder. (Willis promises that the book is not autobiographical.)

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Willis’ fiction includes children as major characters, ranging in age from toddler to teenagers. One of the things that won me over to her as an author is the genuine voices those children have, no matter the age. While it could be said that she draws on her considerable experience as a grandmother (two children and nine grandchildren) what becomes clear is that in real life she really listens to them – their speech patterns, their levels of anxiety, the realistic interactions with their surroundings – making for a completely natural read. It could be your kid in the room with Ava or Gypsy. Not an easy thing to achieve.

 

Ms. Willis said, “As for portraying the teens realistically, I wanted to be honest about how teens really are. I didn't want the kids to be flawless. They make mistakes, they make bad decisions, and they learn from them.”

 

Devoted to her family, Ms. Willis happily lives within a few minutes of all of them. A rescue Border Collie named Finn, has recently become a large part of her life, and when you find Willis on Facebook, photos of Finn demonstrate how happy the two of them are together. That tail never stops wagging. Lol  Great dog!

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When asked how she decided upon the Appalachian setting for the Ava Logan series, Willis said, “I see the area as so pure in a complex, yet simplistic way. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful, the people are multi-layered, and traditions run deep. The people are probably some of the most self-sufficient people you'd ever meet.”

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Lynn Chandler Willis trivia:

 

Favorite foods: Fresh, summertime veggies on a Sunday afternoon – homegrown tomatoes, fried squash or okra, fresh creamed corn, fresh, overcooked green beans (the way we eat them in the south), and of course homemade biscuits. After that, probably pizza. Thin crust with pepperoni and mushroom.

 

Favorite Music: Country & Western, with George Strait or Garth Brooks twanging in the background while she writes.

 

“Small towns, big characters” is the theme that threads its way through all her books. Click on the links below to read my reviews.  

 

Book Cover -The Rising

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read my review of "The Rising" here.

 

 

 

Book Cover - Wink of an Eye                                Read my review of "Wink of an Eye" here.

 

Book Cover - Tell Me No Lies

 

 

Review coming soon. Stay tuned.  :-)

Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Periodically, Nightstand Book Reviews has a crossover post with www.kerriansnotebook.com. Ava Logan was a Visiting Detective in January, with “Crime in Appalachia.” Take a look here.

 

Please visit www.lynnchandlerwillis.com for details about Ms. Willis’ appearances and updates on the books.

 

Facebook Author Page

 

Visit Henery Press for additional information.

 

*Photo credits:

Lynn Chandler Willis & Blue Ridge Parkway – Patti Phillips

Bloody Footprint – Google

 

 

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“Dry Bones” by Craig Johnson

 

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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 Edgar Awards – 2017

 

Edgar Statues

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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Author Profile: Craig Allen Johnson

 

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The Walt Longmire character that Craig Allen Johnson has brought to life both in award-winning books and on TV, has come to personify the modern Western law man – rough, tough, and ready for whatever the bad guys can throw at him.

 

Somehow, I had not realized that the show was based on Johnson’s books until the first season was half over. Books? Well, I ran right out – really – and bought the books that my local store had in stock. I started with Cold Dish and was forever hooked.

 

I watched the Longmire series on A&E until somebody in the network offices lost their collective minds and cancelled the show because the demographic didn’t fit their model of the future. Say what? A successful show that millions of people watch, that is making your corporation money and you don’t like the people who are doing the watching? Hmph.

 

Well, we fans are not a dumb bunch and we mounted a social media campaign for another network to pick up the show. Netflix and the Johnson people were able to come to an agreement and the fans collectively smiled. It has been reported that the Netflix association may come to an end after Season 6, but we still have the fabulous bestselling books – with more to come.

 

Craig Johnson was born in West Virginia, but wound up in Wyoming some years after a visit while delivering horses. He built the 2,000+ square foot log cabin in which he and his wife, Judy, now live. Ucross, Wyoming is sparsely populated – a mere 25 inhabitants – and is the source for Johnson’s twitter handle: @ucrosspop25.    

 

What makes Sheriff Walt Longmire so immediately likable? Middle-aged, experienced at his job, widower of a woman he loved more than life itself, an attorney daughter of whom he is so very proud, and a Cheyenne best friend/sidekick whom he has known since childhood. Longmire mostly follows the rules, but when justice is in question, the rules are sometimes open to interpretation.

 

The stories are full of wonderful dialogue, intriguing mysteries, life and death situations, and a core set of characters with whom you’d like to spend as much time as possible. Johnson’s obvious love of the wide-open spaces of Wyoming spills onto the pages when the landscape becomes a character, as suddenly dangerous as any killer could be or as mesmerizing as a beautiful painting.

 

The books have been credited as having one of the best depictions of Native American/White Man interactions in the world of fiction – they certainly ring true in the reading. Johnson’s ranch is right next to a Cheyenne reservation, and through the years he has come to respect the challenges that Native Americans have faced and continue to face. His books explore the cultural differences and celebrate the traditions in thoughtful and meaningful ways, often including those themes in the mysteries.

 

When not writing the Longmire series, consulting on the TV show, or working his ranch, Johnson travels around the country (and to France) with Judy, doing book tours. I met him in Raleigh, NC at Quail Ridge Books. He’s charming and as funny in person as you would hope him to be after having read the books.

 

A great showman who delivers a great read.  :-)

 

Take a look at the reviews of:

 

"The Cold Dish"
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  here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                 "Kindness Goes Unpunished"

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                                                here

 

                                                                             "Dry Bones"

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                                                           here

 

 

 

 

Check out www.craigallenjohnson.com, where you will find details about his upcoming tours, the online fan store with lots of Longmire goodies, and photos of the cast of Longmire.

 

 

*Photo of Craig Allen Johnson taken by Patti Phillips at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC.

 

 

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