Western

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

 

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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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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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Authors of the Carolinas

 

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How many of you have read about a region of the USA in a novel and wanted to travel there, in part to experience the food, in part to relax and enjoy the fabulous scenery that can only be seen in that one area of the planet? The Carolinas (both North and South) are home to fabulous shrimp & grits dishes, as well as mouth-watering other goodies. And you can’t visit either State without having a refreshing glass of world famous Sweet Tea.

 

The authors listed below either live in North or South Carolina, grew up here, or set their books in the region. We are treated to the cuisine of the Appalachia, the Low Country boils, the scenery of the mountains, and/or the wildlife/marshes of the coast. There is a mix of historical, paranormal, happily-ever-after, outrageous comedy, dark mysteries, and cozies – something for everyone who loves thumpin’ good fiction.

 

Click on the website links to find out more.  J

 

 

Suzanne Adair  “A Hostage to Heritage”  www.suzanneadair.net

 

JD Allen “Grasshopper” in “Murder Under the Oaks”  www.jdallenbooks.com

 

Maria Alonso-Sierra  “The Coin”  www.mariaelenawrites.com

 

Mike Axsom  “Making Memories Down South”  www.mikeaxsom.com

 

Jodie Bailey  “Breach of Trust”  www.jodiebailey.com

 

Kaye Wilkinson Barley  “Whimsey”  www.kayewilkinsonbarley.com

 

Cindy Blackburn   “Five Spot”   www.cueballmysteries.com

 

Heather Blanton  “A Promise in Defiance”  www.ladiesindefiance.com

 

Susan Boyer  “Low Country Book Club”  www.susanmboyerbooks.com

 

Felicia Bridges  “Czechmate”  www.adventuresthatinspireaction.com

 

Antoinette Brown  “One-Cat Woman” in “Carolina Crimes”

 

Ross Cavins  “Barry vs The Apocalypse”  www.rosscavins.com

 

Diane Chamberlain  “Pretending to Dance”  www.dianechamberlain.com 

 

C. Hope Clark  “Echoes of Edisto”   www.chopeclark.com

 

J.A. Coffey  "Double Dog Dare"  www.jacoffey.com

 

Cynthia Cooke  “Going All the Way”  www.cynthiacooke.com

 

E.B. Davis  “Ice Cream Allure” in “Carolina Crimes”  www.ebdavismysteries.com

 

Saword Broyles Eller    www.amazon.com/author/saywordbeller

 

Nora Gaskin (Esthimer)  “Time of Death” www.lystrabooks.com

 

Normandie Fischer  “From Fire into Fire”  www.normandiefischer.com

 

Beatrice Fishback  “Bethel Manor”  www.beasattitudes.net

 

Dorothea Benton Frank  “All Summer Long”  www.dotfrank.com

 

Marni K Graff  “Death Unscripted” www.auntiemwrites.com

 

Jordon Greene  "They'll Call It Treason"  www.jordongreene.com

 

Leigh Greenwood  “Forever and Always”  www.leigh-greenwood.com

 

Lynette Hampton  “Fiona’s Journey”  www.agnesalexander.com

 

Rick Helms  “Older than Goodbye”  www.richardhelms.net

 

Judy Hogan  “Haw”  www.judyhogan.home.mindspring.com

 

Tom Honea  “A Confluence of Rivers”  www.amazon.com/dp/B009LU1X8I

 

Ellen Hunter  "Much Ado About Murder"  www.ellenhunter.com

 

Polly Iyer  “Indiscretion”  www.pollyiyer.com

 

Regina Jeffers  "Angel Comes to the Devil's Keep"  www.rjeffers.com

 

Sabrina Jeffries  “Stormswept”  www.sabrinajeffries.com

 

Linda Johnson  “Trail of Destruction”  www.lindajohnson.us

 

Kieran Kramer  “Trouble When You Walked In”  www.kierankramer.com

 

Vicki Lane  “Under the Skin”  www.vickilanemysteries.com

 

Linda Lovely  “Lies”  www.lindalovely.com

 

Cynthia Luhrs  “First Knight”  www.cluhrs.com

 

Margaret Maron  “Long Upon the Land”  www.margaretmaron.com

 

Jamie Mason   “Monday’s Lie” www.jamie-mason.com

 

Karen McCullough  “Wired for Murder”  www.kmccullough.com

 

Heather McGovern  "A Moment of Bliss"  www.heathermcgovernnovels.com

 

Ruth Moose  “Wedding Bell Blues”  www.ruthmoose.com

 

Katy Munger  “Desolate Angel”  www.katymunger.com

 

Nancy Naigle  “Every Yesterday”  www.nancynaigle.com

 

Heather Newton  “Under the Mercy Trees”  www.heathernewton.net

 

Kathryn O’Sullivan  “Neighing with Fire”  www.kathrynosullivan.com

 

Gail Oust  “Cinnamon Toasted”   www.gailoust.com

 

Kate Parker  “Deadly Scandal”  www.kateparkerbooks.com

 

Britni Patterson  “A Thousand Deadly Kisses”  www.britnipatterson.com

 

Leigh Perry  “The Skeleton Haunts a House”  www.leighperryauthor.com

 

Ashantay Peters  “Reading Between the Lives”  www.ashantay.com

 

Patti Phillips  “Kerrian’s Notebook, Vol. 1”  www.pattiphillipsbooks.com

 

Karen Pullen  “Cold Feet”  www.karenpullen.com

 

Kathy Reichs  “Trace Evidence”  www.kathyreichs.com

 

Jennifer Riley  “Jerk Alert”  available at Amazon

 

Sarah Shaber  “Louise’s Chance”  www.amazon.com/Sarah-R.-Shaber/e/B001HMPB9U

 

Nancy Simpson  “B.O.Q.”  www.authornpsimpson.com

 

Regina Smeltzer  “Retribution” www.reginasmeltzer.net

 

Jennifer Hudson Taylor  "For Love or Liberty"  www.jenniferhudsontaylor.net

 

Ellis Vidler  “Prime Target”  www.ellisvidler.net

 

Kathryn R. Wall  “Jordan Point”  www.kathrynwall.com

 

Tamara Ward  “Concealed Suspicions”  www.authortamaraward.com

 

Lynn Chandler Willis  “Wink of an Eye”  www.lynnchandlerwillis.com

 

Bonnie Wisler  “Count a Hundred Stars”   available at Amazon

 

Caleb Wygal  "Blackbeard's Lost Treasure"  www.calebwygal.com

 

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See any new-to-you names on the list of Authors of the Carolinas? 

Happy reading!  :-)

 

 

 

 

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Texas Fiction – 2016 List

 

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Every once in a while, it’s fun to focus on regional fiction. It’s a chance for readers to concentrate on stories that take place in their favorite part of the world or an area that has aroused their curiosity. Sometimes, fans like to search for books written by authors that live in that region.

 

The Texas list of 36 authors is a mix of:

 

  • Authors who live there, but write books set elsewhere
  • Authors that have written novels set in Texas, but live elsewhere.
  • Authors who live in and write about Texas.

 

Click on the names to take you to the author sites.

 

Kathleen Rice Adams: “Prodigal Gun”

Susan Wittig Albert: “Blood Orange”

 

Linda Bingham: “Skyscraper Caper”

Parris Afton Bonds:  “Blue Bayou” box set

James Lee Burke: “House of the Rising Sun”

 

Valerie P Chandler: ‘Rota Fortunae’ in “Murder on Wheels”

Caroline Clemmons: “Angeline”

Catherine Coulter: “Nemesis”

Bill Crider: “Between the Living and the Dead”

 

Stephanie Jaye Evans:  "Safe from Harm"

Ann Everett: “Say You’ll Never Love Me”

 

Kay Finch: “The Black Cat Knocks on Wood”

Kinky Friedman – series about a Texan living in NYC

 

Meg Gardiner: “Phantom Instinct”  (reviewed here)

Kaye George: Imogene Duckworthy series, “Broke”

 

Linda Kozar: “Weighty Matters”

Billy Kring:  “Tonton”

 

Liz Lipperman:  “Chicken Caccia-Killer”

 

Nancy Martin: “Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything”

Larry McMurtry: “Lonesome Dove”

James Michener: “Texas”

 

Golden Keyes Parsons: “His Steadfast Love”

Mark Pryor: “Hollow Man”    

 

James Reasoner: “The Last War Chief”

Catie Rhodes:  “Rest Stop” 

Rick Riordan: “Rebel Island”

 

Terry Shames: “The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake”

Leann Sweeney: Yellow Rose Mystery Series

 

Livia Washburn: “Peach of a Murder”

Nancy G. West:  "Smart, but Dead"

George Wier: “Cold Rains”

Lori Wilde:  “Love of the Game”

Lynn Chandler Willis: “Wink of an Eye”  (reviewed here)

Manning Wolfe:  "Dollar Signs"

Reavis Z. Wortham:  “Dark Places”

 

Celia Yeary:  “Annalisa”

 

 

Have fun choosing from this great list of Texas fiction.  :-)

 

 

 

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“Trapline” by Mark Stevens

 

Book Cover - Trapline

 

 

 

 

“Trapline” is the third book in Mark Stevens’ series featuring Allison Coil, a hunting guide with a talent for looking beyond the obvious in order to solve crimes in her beloved Colorado mountains. With a past that still haunts her, she is happiest away from crowds of people, following the trails into the hills on her horse, or guiding hunting parties to bag big game. Her boyfriend, Colin, a hunk that also works for her, is making serious inroads into her heart. Who can resist a guy that knows how to use an atlatl and understands without asking, what she needs?

 

A mangled body is found near a campsite, and Allison’s investigation leads to a horrifying discovery. A Senatorial candidate is shot during an outdoor speech in a nearby town, but why? And does the shooting have anything to do with the body in the mountains? As the parallel storylines sizzle and explode in “Trapline,” Stevens reveals a lot about the depths to which humans will go when greed is involved. We learn more about one of this country’s hot button topics: undocumented workers. Problems with the border, people who seek to exploit the undocumented and/or transient workers, the impact on the economy, and the scandal of private prisons, are all explored from several sides of the complex issues.

 

Allison’s best friend, Trudy, the pesto queen and kitchen cook delivering to local stores in book #2, has grown into a full fledged regional farmer and business woman who supplies assorted organic, locally sourced goodies throughout the region. This character is so well-developed that I felt compelled to search for pesto recipes while reading “Buried by the Roan.” A vegan pal shared a great one.  :-)

 

The survival of Trudy’s business may be at stake in “Trapline,” because Trudy hired workers that she thought were legal, but may not all be. She has a few that she knows very well, but as in any growing organization that hires temporary farm workers, it’s practically impossible to know everyone’s story and how they came to work there. Her boyfriend has been in charge of managing the company and she has happily given him more and more control. Can a couple survive when linked together in both business and love?

 

The unspoiled mountains of Colorado take center stage again, with discussions about the tugs of war between commercial development and a wish to keep the wild safe and protected from greedy businessmen – businessmen who seem ignorant of the fact that destroying the very wilderness that provides their livelihood gets them to sum zero. Nobody wins.

 

Readers of “Buried by the Roan” will recognize the central characters in “Trapline,” with Duncan Bloom taking a greater role this time, and others changing/growing as the books continue. Allison is tenacious about her love of the high country and fights to keep its reputation and glory intact, despite several threats to her own safety. She is tenacious about maintaining her privacy as well, but a few edges have softened since her arrival in the first book, and Stevens lets us see more of the vulnerabilities and strengths of this very human lead character.

 

Stevens is adept at weaving the majesty of the Colorado terrain with the serious societal and political topics he brings to each book. With layers of compelling story and a solid group of friends in Allison, Trudy and the rest of the tight-knit crew, he creates page-turners that linger with us long after the books have ended.

 

“Trapline” won the 2015 Colorado Book Award for Mystery, and the 2015 Colorado Authors League Award for Genre Fiction. Deservedly so.

 

Read the review of “Buried by the Roan,” here.

“Lake of Fire,” the fourth in the series, will be available on September 8, 2015.

For more about Mark Stevens and his work, please visit www.writermarkstevens.com

 

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