non-fiction

Jump into June with Four Books, Four Genres

 

 

The books couldn’t be more different, but each is a great read in its own genre. Each has the potential to be fodder for a TV or big screen movie, with thoroughly interesting characters and visually descriptive writing.

 

Cozy Mystery

“Kernel of Truth” by Kristi Abbott, is the first in her Popcorn Shop Mystery series set in Grand Lake, Ohio. It’s an engaging murder mystery, complete with a personable poodle and a gourmet popcorn shop.

Rebecca Anderson hesitates when she hears screams coming from outside, having to choose between taking her sauce off the stove and investigating the screaming. Her conscience and her dog’s interest prevail and she discovers that the screams are from her friend’s chocolate shop next door. Her beloved friend, Coco, is dead and Rebecca’s life is about to change in unexpected ways.

 

While coping with the shock, Rebecca’s ex works to get her back, and Coco’s niece publicly denounces Rebecca with having ulterior motives. Accused of theft, her popcorn business in peril, and her reputation besmirched, Rebecca must solve the murder of her friend in order to regain the trust of the customers and the town. The characters are well-drawn in this nicely plotted beginning to the series. Recipes included.

 

Thriller

Nick Heller is back in “House on Fire,” the fourth entry featuring the former Special Ops soldier, now Boston P.I. An Army pal dies from a drug overdose and Heller is drawn into an investigation about the death. Who’s responsible? The easy answer is to blame the buddy himself, but Heller agrees to dig deeper.

 

In typical Finder fashion, “House on Fire” combines current events with a page-turning thriller. Undercover work reveals a surprising ally and loads of twists to surprise the reader. Family politics, personal tragedy, greed, government contracts, and billions at stake drive the story. Who can be trusted? Will Heller get out of this alive? Not everyone does. Prepare to be thoroughly entertained.

 

Legal Suspense

Functioning within the limitations of sporadic donations, the overworked guardians find the evidence to exonerate the wrongly incarcerated. The ‘Guardians’ in the title refers to Centurion Ministries, an organization that Grisham learned about some years ago while conducting research for another project. The work the Centurions did and still do, stuck with Grisham and this story is based on an actual case written about in the New York Times in 2018.

 

Grisham’s writing is compelling as fictional Cullen Post, a pastor and lawyer, doggedly pursues every lead to help those with one last hope. Post is not in it for the money, only justice for those less fortunate. The process followed to uncover new evidence in the various cold cases, with some witnesses long dead, and evidence lost or buried, is grueling and sometimes dangerous. A well-written, fascinating read, one of Grisham’s best.

 

Non-Fiction

“The Lost City of the Monkey God” by Douglas Preston, is non-fiction, but the events described are so wildly dangerous that it reads like page-turning fiction. The search for the ancient White City begins deep in a Honduran rainforest, probably untouched for hundreds of years.

 

Preston presents a fascinating look at the tremendously complicated planning that a legitimate investigation of a major archeological site requires. Helicopters, sophisticated technology, local government with access to permits and soldiers to guard the expedition, the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent even before the explorers put boots on the ground, the right people to pull it all together, all come into play.

 

The field of archeology appears to be highly competitive and the expedition itself was surprisingly controversial, but the group of which Preston was a part, was the first to document their expedition and findings and go through official channels. The book includes photos of the search, finding the astonishing cache of artifacts, and an insane snake story, but also discusses Preston’s serious brush with death. Preston and half of his (and subsequent) expedition people contracted a potentially lethal parasitic tropical disease, one that is hundreds of years old. The interviews and research in “The Lost City of the Monkey God” are thoroughly footnoted and documented, and also reference modern epidemics and pandemics. Excavation of this extraordinary site continues today.

 

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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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Take Something Different to the Beach

 

Every once in a while, we should stretch our reading horizons and try something completely different. Just for fun. You may think that straying out of your tried and true and thoroughly enjoyed genre is a bad idea, but here is a batch of books that may change your mind. Go ahead. Take a peek.  🙂

 

Adventure/Sci-Fi

 

 

James Rollins writes the exceptional Sigma Force adventure series, which incorporates archeology, historical events, science, a bit of technology, and always a dash of romance. Rollins’ research is so thorough and his writing so skilled that the readers often wonder which parts are true and which are a figment of his incredible imagination. He always includes sections in the books to answer the questions that might arise. Spanning 50,000 years, “The Bone Labyrinth” focuses on the discovery of a subterranean Catholic chapel holding the bones of a Neanderthal woman, as well as revealing a brutal attack on a primate research center. The Sigma Force teams are tasked with finding a connection between the two, taking them to three continents, while being tested as never before by unexpected enemies. The action never stops, with twists and turns until the very last page in this search for the explanations of human intelligence development. “The Bone Labyrinth” is the 11th full length book in the Sigma Force Series, with #14, “Crucible,” out this year.

 

Amish Fiction

 

Laura Bradford writes the wonderful, bestselling Amish Mysteries. “Just Plain Murder” is the sixth installment, with “A Killer Carol” due out in September. In “Just Plain Murder,” Claire Weatherly and Jakob Fisher grow closer and Jakob’s relationship with the family that shunned him shows signs of warming a bit. Jakob’s mentor and retired police chief, Russ Granger, has returned to town, but soon Claire must help Jakob solve the mystery of Russ’ death and so much more. Shocking secrets and lies are uncovered and long-standing relationships are questioned in this marvelous entry in the series. Read them all.
 

 

Christian Fiction

 

 

Terri Blackstock writes entertaining fiction that has wowed her fans for decades. The If I Run Series finishes with book #3, “If I Live.” Casey Cox is still running for her life after being wrongfully indicted for murder. She teams with the investigator on her case to help find the real killers, with consequences for each of them. Blackstock creates a sense of urgency that will keep you spellbound with surprises throughout.

 


 

Non-Fiction

 

 

Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project” is an uplifting way to look at your life and change it for the better. If you’re not happy with the way things are going and want to make some adjustments, this book is for you. Ms. Rubin talks about her own life and how she came to believe that she could be happier. She took a year to experiment with advice given by experts and came up with some ideas of her own, including strategies for each month of the year. It’s a personal plan that can easily be applied to anyone willing to ‘be more present’ in their own life.
 

 

Thriller

 

Internationally bestselling author, Jamie Freveletti, writes the multi-award winning Emma Caldridge Series. Emma Caldridge is a brilliant biochemist who enjoys extreme distance running. She uses both skills while undertaking missions around the world that would reduce the ordinary person to a puddle of fear and mumbling. In “Blood Run,” Caldridge is tasked with delivering vaccines to villages in Africa, but the big pharma CEO accompanying her and providing the financial and logistical support for the operation, is holding out on her. They find themselves in the middle of a war zone between brutal African factions with no way out except through even more dangerous territory. If that weren’t enough, an extra challenge involves an international terrorist who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal, complete with a target on Emma’s back. This pulse-pounding story will keep you turning the pages and wondering how in the world Caldridge will make it out alive.

 

Happy reading!  🙂

 

 

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Top Ten Reviews – 2018

 

Lots of great books, talented authors, and legions of dedicated booklovers, combined to make 2018 another amazing year of reading. Whether discovering a new author, or returning to a tried and true favorite, the NBR interest was more than double that of last year. Our NBR international community of readers made their choices known for the 'Top Ten Reviews of 2018' in the list shown below.

 

Although not included in the ‘Top Ten Reviews’ list, the response to the 2018 author profiles (Sherry Harris and Jeri Westerson) proved that readers want more of this feature and we will happily provide as many new profiles as the schedule allows. Click on their names – links to books included.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author (except for ‘Try Something New This Summer’), click on the links to read the reviews for the first time, or to enjoy them again.

 

“Try Something New This Summer” (5 different genres and authors) https://bit.ly/2IZIhU1 

 

“43 Missing” by Carmen Amato   https://wp.me/p2YVin-15v

 

“Circle of Influence” & “No Way Home” by Annette Dashofy https://wp.me/p2YVin-10Y

 

“The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni  https://bit.ly/2DmiRia

 

“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus     https://wp.me/p2YVin-178

 

 “The Code” & “Black Ace” by G.B. Joyce   https://wp.me/p2YVin-14M

 

“Defending Jacob” by William Landay  https://bit.ly/2pJh5C6

 

“Bones to Pick” by Linda Lovely  https://wp.me/p2YVin-Z6

 

“Louise’s War” & “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah Shaber  https://bit.ly/2F73Pkx

 

“Scot Harvath Series” by Brad Thor  https://bit.ly/2IzvqYt

 

 

Warm thanks, everyone! May 2019 bring you many page-turning, great new reads.  🙂

 

 

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New York Times Notable Non-fiction – 2018

 

The New York Times Notable Non-fiction of 2018 list consists of books selected by the editors of the NYT Book Review. It contains a mix of biographies, insights into historical American subjects, along with books that deal with contemporary societal issues. Here are ten of the NYT Notable Non-fiction Book Review editors’ selections for 2018. Click on the book titles to read the reviews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arthur Ashe: A Life”  by Raymond Arsenault.  

 

 

“Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City” by Sam Anderson

 

American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment”  by Shane Bauer

 

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup”  by John Carreyrou

 

Ali: A Life”  by Jonathan Eig

 

American Dialogue: The Founders and Us”  by Joseph J. Ellis

 

Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America”  by Eliza Griswold

 

Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War”  by Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple

 

“American Eden: David Hosack, Botany and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic” by Victoria Johnson

 

Churchill: Walking With Destiny” by Andrew Roberts

 

Calypso”  by David Sedaris                                   

 

 

 

 

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