Book List

2021 Barnes & Noble Best Genre Books of the Year

I’ve been told that the B&N editorial staff reads a lot of books during the year in various genres, then chooses from among those books to select their favorites of the year. The official quote from Barnes & Noble defines the ‘best books’ lists as stories that stay with us long after we finish them, and the ones we re-read again and again and pass on to friends. I would definitely agree with that definition. See if you agree with their choices in a range of genres and let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Happy Reading!

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

“Child of Light” by Terry Brooks

“Leviathan Falls” by James S.A. Corey

“Under the Whispering Door” by T.J. Klune

“A Marvelous Light” by Freya Marske

“The Last Graduate” by Naomi Novik

“ExtraOrdinary” by V.E. Schwab

“Lore Olympus: Volume One”  by Rachel Smythe

“Lesser Evil – Star Wars Thrawn Ascendancy” by Timothy Zahn

 

Mystery/Thrillers

“While Justice Sleeps” by Stacey Abrams

“The Heron’s Cry” by Ann Cleeves

“Mrs. March” by Virginia Feito

“Clark and Division” by Naomi Hirahara

“The Guilt Trip” by Sandie Jones

“Silverview” by John Le Carre

“The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides

“The Man Who Died Twice” by Richard Osman

“The Madness of Crowds” by Louise Penny

“False Witness” by Karin Slaughter

 

Best YA

“Ace of Spades” by Faridah Abike-lyimide

“Realm Breaker” by Victoria Aveyard

“Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley

“Lore” by Alexandra Bracken

“Blackout” by Dhonielle Clayton

“Small Favors” by Erin A. Craig

“Once Upon A Broken Heart” by Stephanie Garber

“Defy the Night” by Brigid Kemmerer

“The Lake” by Natasha Preston

“Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World” by Benjamin Alire Saenz

 

 Best Fiction

“Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr

“The Sentence” by Louise Erdrich

“The Paper Palace” by Miranda Cowley Heller

“Greek Myths: A New Retelling” by Charlotte Higgins

“Fault Lines” by Emily Itami

“The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner

“Bewilderment” by Richard Powers

“Beautiful World, Where Are You?” by Sally Rooney

“The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles

“Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead

 

Best Romance

“While We Were Dating” by Jasmine Guillory

“People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry

“Fifty Shades Freed” by E. L. James

“The Soulmate Equation” by Christina Lauren

“It’s Better This Way” by Debbie Macomber

“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

“The Lady Has A Past” by Amanda Quick

“Neon Gods” by Katee Robert

“Legacy” by Nora Roberts

“Lover Unveiled” by J.R. Ward

 

Best Cookbooks

“Death & Co: Welcome Home” by Alex Day

“Pizza Czar” by Anthony Falco

“Nadiya Bakes” by Nadiya Hussain

“Mother Grains” by Roxana Jullapat

“Maman: the Cookbook” by Elisa Marshall

“Burnt Toast and Other Disasters” by Cal Peternell

“Vegetable Simple” by Eric Ripert

“Rodney’s World of BBQ” by Rodney Scott

“Cook Real Hawai’I” by Sheldon Simeon

“The Japanese Art of the Cocktail” by Masahiro Urushido

 

Book List: Author C. Hope Clark

Award winning mystery writer, C. Hope Clark, is the author of two (soon to be three) series based in the American South.

 

The Carolina Slade Mysteries introduced me to this always engaging author. You’ll enjoy reading about Carolina Slade, a special projects officer with the US Department of Agriculture, and the well-developed, conniving characters in the books. Set in steamy South Carolina, Clark captures the atmosphere and the landscape so perfectly that you’ll be spooked right along with Slade as she conducts some of her investigations in the deep groves and low country coastline. The relationship between Slade and her love interest, loosely based upon Ms. Clark’s own experiences, adds to the fun of the solid mystery series. Click on the links for the ‘buy’ information and/or to learn more about the books.

 

 

 

Book One: Read review here


Tidewater Murder”  (Book Two)

 

 

 


Book Three: Read review here

 

Newberry Sin”  (Book Four)

Salkehatchie Secret”  (Book Five)

 

The Edisto Island Mysteries take place for the most part on Edisto Island, a real geographical location in South Carolina. Law enforcement officer Callie Jean Morgan is the complex, lead protagonist who becomes the Police Chief of Edisto Beach, while battling inner demons related to her Boston ties.

 

Murder on Edisto”  (Book One)

Edisto Jinx”  (Book Two)

 

 

 

 

 

Book Three: Read review here


Edisto Stranger”  (Book Four)

 

 

 

 

Book Five: Read review here

 

Edisto Tidings”  (Book Six)

Reunion on Edisto” (Book Seven)


Never one to rest on her previous successes, Clark has a series in the works featuring a new protagonist, Quinn Sterling, a private detective in the Carolina low country. The first two titles, “Murder in Craven,” and “Burned in Craven,” are coming in November. Click on the titles to pre-order now.

 

In the meantime, please visit https://chopeclark.com/ for more information about Clark’s books and public events.

*Banner and head shot courtesy of C. Hope Clark.

 

Book List: Author Linda Lovely

Linda Lovely is a terrific writer with a wonderful sense of humor in real life as well as on the page. Years ago, I was new to the Southern Writers realm and attended a meeting where Linda chatted about her books. She shared with the group that she had read several romantic suspense books and found them lacking in love lives for anybody north of 50 years old.

 

I’ll never forget her question to the group: “Why should the young have all the fun?” Lovely delivers stories that feature romantically active characters  in the second half of life. Women of a certain age can relate to the accomplished female protagonists that have already achieved quite a bit, but who can also solve the crimes placed in their way. While attracted to men who are their worthy equals, these are women who have also proven that they can exist rather nicely on their own.

 

Take a look at Linda Lovely’s engaging book list and click on the book titles for the ‘buy’ links:

 

Marley Clark Mysteries a retired military intelligence officer works security on a Carolina island, and proves that life after 50 can be an adventure.

Read “Dear Killer” review here.

 

 

 

 

No Wake Zone

 

Smart Women, Dumb Luck Romantic SuspenseThree women meet at Blue Ridge University, then find they can count on each other again many years later.

Dead Line

Dead Hunt

 

Standalone1938 historical suspense about a woman fighting for her life and that of her son, and then she is wrongly accused of murdering her husband.

Secrets Can Kill”                

 

The Brie Hooker Series stars a vegetarian cook who agrees to help out her goat-farm-owning, meat-loving Aunt. The murder and mayhem is sometimes intense, and the meat vs vegetable scenarios are hilarious. The men in the books vying for Brie’s heart aren’t bad either. Plus, who knew that ‘salami’ could be used as a swear word?

 

Read “Bones to Pick” review here 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read “Picked Off” and “Back Pick” reviews here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HOA Mystery Series

“With Neighbors Like These” is the first of three planned books in Lovely’s new series. Retired Coast Guard Investigator, Kylee Kane, comes home to help her mother, and Kylee reconnects with hunky Ted Welch. His company manages a number of Home Owner’s Associations, including the one where Kylee’s mom (who knows everything and everyone) lives. A dispute between deer hunters and conservationists results in a death, mayhem occurs at another property, and Ted hires Kylee to check out any security issues. Events quickly escalate and together they solve multiple crimes, as the unfolding investigation leads them in directions they could not have anticipated.   


Multi-layered plots are always central to Linda Lovely’s novels. With her fully fleshed out central characters perfectly set up to navigate the twists and turns of the storylines, this entertaining mystery writer always delivers a thoroughly engrossing read. “With Neighbors Like These,” is a stellar, page-turning beginning to her brand new HOA Mystery Series. Launch date is set for July 13, 2021. Click on the link to pre-order.

 

Please visit https://www.lindalovely.com to learn more about Lovely and her upcoming events.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

2020 Barnes and Noble Book of the Year

In its second annual “Best of…” event, Barnes and Noble did a survey of booksellers at its brick and mortar stores, asking which books they enjoyed selling the most during the year. Here’s the list of the eight top nominees. The booksellers chose among the finalists for the B&N Book of the Year (indicated in red).

Click on the titles to learn more about the books.

 

“Leave the World Behind”  by Rumaan Alam

 

The Vanishing Half”  by Brit Bennett

 

Untamed”  by Glennon Doyle

 

Pieometry: Modern Tart Art and Pie Design”  by Lauren Ko

 

Accidentally Wes Anderson”  by Wally Koval

 

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times”  by Katherine May

 

World of Wonders”  by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

 

Stamped”  by Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi

 

Have you read any of the finalists in this year’s celebration of the booksellers’ faves? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

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.
 

The Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor

 

 

The Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor, delivers action that never stops. The highly successful twenty novels feature counterterrorism as the central theme, more topical with each new title.

 

Back in 2013, when I reviewed “Takedown,” Thor arranged for an entire year of “Thrills, Threats, and Thor.” He invited his fans to read each of the books (one a month) in order, starting in January, 2013, with the first, “The Lions of Lucerne.” Thor’s website has videos and extras about each of the books and of course, an opportunity to buy them.

Scot Harvath is well written, with depth and a sense of humanity despite the gravity of his tasks. We experience moments of his deep commitment and never question his patriotism as the books unfold. “Takedown,” first published in 2006, dealt with post September 11th terrorism action in New York City. See my review here.

 

If you’d like to catch up with the Thor 2013 reading plan, here are the books in order. Click on the titles:

January’s Book: The Lions Of Lucerne
February’s Book: Path Of The Assassin
March’s Book: State Of The Union
April’s Book: Blowback
May’s Book: Takedown
June’s Book: The First Commandment
July’s Book: The Last Patriot
August’s Book: The Apostle
September’s Book: Foreign Influence
October’s Book: The Athena Project
November’s Book: Full Black
December’s Book: Black List

Additional books published since then are (in order):

Hidden Order

Act of War

Code of Conduct

Foreign Agent

Use of Force

Spymaster

Backlash     read my review here

Near Dark

 

Please visit www.bradthor.com to read about the current books in the Scot Harvath series, as well as Thor’s new release coming in June,  “Black Ice,” the highly anticipated #21.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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