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Signature January 05, 2018

This year has brought a bumper crop of fabulous fiction and nonfiction to my door. The UPS delivery van and mail truck each stop in front of my house nearly every day, delivering the books that fill every available (and unavailable) space in my house. In order to keep up, I read between two and six books per week, depending on their length. I cannot review them all, and as the end of the year approached, I realized there were a number of books I had loved yet been unable to review. I didn’t want to neglect them, so here’s a selection of some of the best books I read this year, but never got the chance to praise publicly.

By Lorraine Berry: A Critic’s Tally of 2017’s Most Overlooked Books
 
 
 
 

Many people know that Thomas Jefferson had a long-standing relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, but fewer know that they had four children, three boys and a girl, who survived to adulthood. Born into slavery, Sally’s daughter Harriet boarded a stagecoach to freedom at age twenty-one, bound for Washington, D.C. Her father had given her fifty dollars for her travel expenses. With her departure from Monticello in 1822, she disappeared from the historical record, not to be heard of again for over fifty years, when her brother told her story. Seven-eighths white, Harriet had “thought it to her interest to go to Washington as a white woman,” he said. She married a “white man in good standing” in that city and “raised a family of children.” So successful was she in her efforts, no one ever guessed who she was.

By Catherine Kerrison: The Search for Harriet Hemings, Thomas Jefferson’s Black Daughter
 
 
 
 
Winter is cold, dark, and eerie on its own, so why not throw a thrilling read into the mix to take it to the next level?

Spanning debuts and new releases from accomplished writers, here are the top twenty thrillers to read this chilly season.

By Jessica Mizzi: Chilling Releases: The Top 20 Thrillers to Read This Winter Season

The Qwillery: Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig

One of my favorite authors has a book coming out later this month. I’m speaking of Chuck Wendig and The Raptor & the Wren.

A bit of background – the first Miriam Black novel, Blackbirds, was published in 2012 by Angry Robot who subsequently published 2 additional Miriam Black novels. The series was picked up by Saga Press who reissued the first 3 novels with new covers and has published the 4th Miriam Black novel, Thunderbird.

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Spotlight on the Miriam Black Series by Chuck Wendig

Book Pulse: Costa Award Winners

The category winners of the Costa Book Awards have been announced. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Pamela Dorman: Penguin) wins the First Novel Award. The book was a breakthrough both in the UK and the U.S. It was a #1 Library Reads pick, LJ named it a Notable Book of 2017, and Reese Witherspoon included it as one of her “Great Book Alert!” titles. Deadline Hollywood reported back in May that Witherspoon is attached to the film adaptation and sees the novel as “a potential star vehicle for her.” The judges were concise when explaining why they picked the novel as the winner: “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fantastic. The end!”

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Book Pulse Costa Award Winners

By Hannah Rowan: DOES READING OR WRITING MAKE US NICER?

In between the healthy recipes and the diagrams of how to do various excruciating exercises, I found an article on the literature table at the gym about reading. “Does reading fiction make us nicer?” it asked. So of course I took it home to ponder.

The article summarized a study by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Costanzo that was published in Science Magazine in 2013. (http://bit.ly/2EyjxkA) The authors theorized that reading fiction makes people nicer, in that while reading fiction, people have to be able to imagine themselves in the characters’ shoes. “People reading literary fiction had to fill in gaps about the emotional content of the characters in the stories.”

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By Hannah Rowan: DOES READING OR WRITING MAKE US NICER?

Limecello: Hello 2018!

We made it!!! We’re past day one of 2018, some of us are into day three of 2018, and most of us are almost done with day two. We did it. [Because 2017 was overall in the global sense of thing…

We may have some changes coming to ALBTALBS (or not, that’s how we roll) – and as always, if you’d like to write a guest review, or think piece, or have ideas and such, I’m happy to hear them! ❤

Hello 2018!

Kindle December 30, 2017

Erica Offutt Kinja Deals: Fill Your Kindle Library With Goodreads’ Best Books of 2017

 
 
 
 
$3.49
The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests
by Chris Smith (Author),‎ Jon Stewart (Foreword)

The complete, uncensored history of the award-winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as told by its correspondents, writers, and host.

For almost seventeen years, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart brilliantly redefined the borders between television comedy, political satire, and opinionated news coverage. It launched the careers of some of today’s most significant comedians, highlighted the hypocrisies of the powerful, and garnered 23 Emmys. Now the show’s behind-the-scenes gags, controversies, and camaraderie will be chronicled by the players themselves, from legendary host Jon Stewart to the star cast members and writers-including Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and Steve Carell – plus some of The Daily Show’s most prominent guests and adversaries: John and Cindy McCain, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, and many more.
 
 
 
 
$1.99
Sunny Chandler’s Return
by Sandra Brown (Author)
Never. Sunny Chandler always said she’d never go back to the tiny town where she grew up. It was just three years ago that she was at the center of a notorious scandal—and the good folks of Latham Green, Louisiana, made it clear they’d never let her forget it. So Sunny packed up and headed for New Orleans, and now she wouldn’t give up city life for the world. But when she’s invited to her best friend’s wedding, Sunny has no choice but to go home. And with her return come the whispers . . . the looks . . . the rumors she tried to escape. It doesn’t take Sunny long to see that Latham Green has nothing new to offer. Except maybe Ty Beaumont.
 
 
 
 
$0.99
Josiah Reynolds Mystery Box Set 2: Death By Bourbon, Death By Lotto, Death By Chocolate (Josiah Reynolds Mysteries Boxset)
by Abigail Keam (Author)
Death By Bourbon: Life takes a dramatic turn for Josiah when she witnesses a death at an engagement party for Matt, her best friend.

Charming socialite Addison DeWitt falls into a fit after taking a sip of bourbon. That would be upsetting enough, but Josiah is sure it is murder. However, no one will believe her except for Lady Elsmere and Meriah Caldwell, the famous mystery writer. The three of them conspire to bring the murderer to justice. It turns out the suspect is always three steps ahead of them.

To make matters worse, Josiah’s daughter, Asa decides to move to London, Franklin leaves town, and Jake starts singing a different tune. Josiah doubts her ability to meet the future alone. Maybe it’s time to sell the Butterfly and move to Florida with the rest of the old folks.
But Josiah is sure of one thing. There is justice and then there is Kentucky justice.

Death By Lotto: Ethel Bradley thinks someone is trying to kill her, but doesn’t know who or why. She enlists the help of her childhood friend, Lady Elsmere, but Lady Elsmere has troubles of her own in the form of a ne’er-do-well English nephew who’s trying to steal her estate. Both women turn to Josiah Reynolds, who has just returned from New York.
Josiah calls Detective Goetz who recommends a shamus named Walter Neff. Walter and Josiah scour the Bluegrass for answers that turn out to be deadly. To make matters worse for Josiah, Fred O’nan (the rogue cop who tried to kill Josiah in Death By A HoneyBee) is a free man and still gunning for her.

Josiah, full of sass and vinegar, meets these challenges head on with the support of her friends, Franklin and Matt. Will Josiah be thwarted this time?

Kentucky can be a cruel mistress to those wanting justice and exacts a high price for it. Sometimes the “dark and bloody ground” demands double indemnity. This is something Josiah knows very well. Very well indeed.

Death By Chocolate:
Josiah Reynolds is tracking down the disappearance of an old friend’s son. But while she is chasing a missing person, O’nan is hot on Josiah’s trail chasing her. And he is threatening, conniving, and blackmailing others to help destroy the woman he thinks ruined his life. Will he finally succeed?

Or will Josiah outwit him as she has always done?

One thing is for sure . . . when Josiah and O’nan finally clash at the Cumberland Falls, will justice will be done? As Josiah always says – there is the law and then there is Kentucky justice.

Will Josiah survive the thundering and treacherous waters of the Cumberland Falls or will O’nan finally push our brave Josiah over the edge?
 
 
 
 
Free
Cold Jade (A Hardboiled Private Investigator Mystery Series): John Rockne Mysteries 3
by Dan Ames (Author)

Once a cop in the well-to-do Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, John Rockne was dismissed from the force after making a tragic mistake that resulted in the brutal murder of a young man.

Now working as a private investigator, John is hired by a man whose daughter is missing and he soon discovers the young woman was living a secret life under the name Jade.

John quickly realizes the world Jade had entered was a dangerous one filled with thieves, drugs, pimps and murderers. He has no idea if he can find her…and bring her out alive.

Q&A with Trevor Owens, LC Head of Digital Content Management

In August, Trevor Owens became the first head of digital content management in library services at the Library of Congress (LC). The role at LC represents something of a full circle for Owens; before…

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Q&A with Trevor Owens, LC Head of Digital Content Management

New Bestsellers and Reviews of Strong Opinions | Book Pulse

Only one new bestselling title this week, continuing children’s author Dav Pilkey’s great success. Roomies by Christina Lauren gets high praise while Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker by A.N. Wilson gets slammed.

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New Bestsellers and Reviews of Strong Opinions | Book Pulse

The Best of 2017 – LaVerne’s List — All About Romance

This has been my first year reviewing for AAR, and it’s been a challenging and exciting experience. The challenge has been to write reviews that will help readers decide where to spend their well-earned cash, and the excitement comes at times like the end of the year when I can give a nod to my favorite books. I read mostly inspirational romance with forays into historical, fantasy and mystery, and I do find the inspirational genre consistently produces enjoyable, well-written novels.

Let me share a few that excelled in merging romance and a compelling story painted with a brush of faith. The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere The ‘captain’s daughter’ of this delightful book refers not only to the heroine of the story, but also to the main character of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta H.M.S. Pinafore, the focus of the action. I thoroughly enjoyed the engaging portrait of the famous composing duo, their popular music, and the legal and physical challenges of running a theater company. I also cheered for […]

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The Best of 2017 – LaVerne’s List — All About Romance