Don Noble's Book Reviews

Mondays at 7:45 a.m and 4:44 p.m.

Now a retired English professor at The University of Alabama, Dr. Noble's specialties are Southern and American literature.  He also hosts Bookmark on Alabama Public Television.

Don Noble's reviews can be heard most Mondays at 7:45am and 4:44pm.  and have been made possible in part through grants from the Alabama State Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

To listen to the audio version of Dr. Noble's reviews, just click on the book title to be taken to the full page.  Audio is found either at the very beginning of the transcript or at the bottom of the page.

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Credit Alabama State Council on the Arts

Dr. Noble's Book Reviews are made possible in part with a grant from The Alabama State Council on the Arts, with the support of The University of Alabama, and from the generous support from our listeners.  Thank you!

The Devil's Bones
Amazon

 

“The Devil’s Bones” 

Author: Carolyn Haines 

Publisher: Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s 

Pages: 440 

Price: $26.99 (Hardcover) 

Here it is: the twenty-first Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery by Carolyn Haines. She writes them fast—more than one a year—but she doesn’t stint. This mystery is 440 pages—long for a detective story, but what’s the hurry? 

The Summer House
Amazon

 

“The Summer House” 

Author: Lauren K. Denton 

Publisher: Thomas Nelson 

Pages: 368 

Price: $26.99 (Hardcover) 

Only a few months ago Lauren Denton published her third novel, “Glory Road,” and now we have her newest, “The Summer House,” released in June as a summer read. 

“Underwater: How Our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare”
Amazon

 

“Underwater: How Our American Dream of Homeownership Became a Nightmare” 

Author: Ryan Dezember 

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books 

“Fancy Strut: A Novel”
Amazon

 

“Fancy Strut: A Novel” 

Author: Lee Smith 

Publisher: Ballantine Books  

Pages: 343 

Price: $11.00 (Paper) 

Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation”
Amazon

 

“Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation” 

Author: Don Siegelman 

Publisher: NewSouth Books  

Pages: 320 

Price: $28.95 (Cloth) 

As his second trial was coming to an end, Governor Siegelman wanted to testify on his own behalf. His lawyers, certain the state had not made its case and the governor would be acquitted, persuaded him not to. 

Siegelman’s brother Les disagreed. 

“André’s Reboot: Striving to Save Humanity”
Amazon

 

“André’s Reboot: Striving to Save Humanity” 

Author: Steve Coleman 

Publisher: S.B. Coleman 

Birmingham AL 

Pages: 254 

Price: $ 14.95 (Paper) 

I have seldom discussed a science-fiction novel in this space, but after I learned that “André’s Reboot” has won the Silver Award from Independent Publisher Book Awards and Honorable Mention from “Writer’s Digest,” I decided to give it a look. I’m glad I did. 

Boys of Alabama
Amazon

 

“Boys of Alabama” 

Author: Genevieve Hudson 

Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corp. 

Pages: 282 

Price: $26.95 (Hardcover) 

“Boys of Alabama” is Genevieve Hudson’s first novel but third published book. In each the reader can see the development of a bright, sensitive and gay young woman in Alabama coming to terms with her place and her place in it. 

Sisters of the Undertow
Amazon

 

“Sisters of the Undertow” 

Author: Johnnie Bernhard 

Publisher: Texas Review Press 

Pages: 200 

Price: $21.95 (Paper) 

Bernhard’s third novel is the story of two sisters and may be enjoyed by women who have a sister, but these sisters are far from average. The problems of sibling rivalry and family dynamics presented here are far from common. 

Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth
Amazon

 

“Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth” 

Author: Benjamin Taylor 

Publisher: Penguin Books 

Pages: 171 

$26.00 (Hardcover) 

Readers should be aware that “Here We Are” is not the full biography of novelist Philip Roth. That volume is being written by Blake Bailey, the biographer of John Cheever and Richard Yates. 

“Here We Are,” a memoir, is the story of a friendship. 

 

“The Cat Man of Aleppo” 

Authors:  Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha 

Illustrated by Yuko Shimizu 

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons 

Pages: 

Price: $17.99 (Hardcover) 

After Sundown
Amazon

 

 

“After Sundown: A Novel” 

Authors: Linda Howard and Linda Jones 

Publisher: William Morrow 

Pages: 369 

Price: $27.95 (Hardcover) 

 

“Blue Marlin” 

Author: Lee Smith 

Publisher: Blair, an imprint of Carolina Wren Press 

Pages: 123 

Price: $15.95 (paper) 

 

Who Got Game?
Amazon

 

“Who Got Game?: Baseball: Amazing but True Stories” 

Author: Derrick Barnes  

Illustrated by John John Bajet 

Publisher: Workman Publishing  

Pages: 171 

Price: $12.95 (paper) 

It has been over a month now since the 2020 baseball season should have opened and there is an empty place in the hearts of millions of Americans. The national pastime is on indefinite hold. 

Old Lovegood Girls
Amazon

 

“Old Lovegood Girls: A Novel” 

Author: Gail Godwin 

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing 

Pages: 352 

Price: $27.00 (hardcover) 

The publication of “Old Lovegood Girls” is a genuine literary event, worthy of celebration. This book marks 50 years of publishing since Godwin’s debut with “The Perfectionists” in 1970. 

“Will the Circle be Unbroken?”
Amazon

 

“Will the Circle be Unbroken?” 

Author: Sean “Sean of the South” Dietrich  

Publisher: Zondervan Books 

Pages: 256 

Price: $24.99 (Hardcover)  

Sean Dietrich has become truly famous for his blog posts which are eagerly, ritualistically, almost addictively, read by tens of thousands of people every morning. 

“Firebird: A Novel” by Mark Powell
Amazon

 

“Firebird: A Novel” 

Author: Mark Powell 

Publisher: Haywire Books  

Pages: 312 

Price: $17.95 (Paperback)

Readers of “Firebird” might not immediately recognize Mark Powell as a Southern writer, but he surely is. At present, Powell is teaching creative writing at Appalachian State in Asheville, North Carolina. 

Glory Road
Amazon

 

“Glory Road: A Novel” 

Author: Lauren K. Denton 

Publisher: Thomas Nelson 

The Testaments
Amazon

 

“The Testaments “ 

Author: Margaret Atwood 

Publisher: Nan Talese/Doubleday 

Just Mercy
Amazon

 

 

“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” 
Author: Bryan Stevenson 
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau 
Pages: 336 
Price: $28.00 (Hardcover) 

I am embarrassed to say I am just now reading Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy,” but I am really glad I’ve read it. Every American should read this book.  

Library Girls of New York: A Secret Place
Amazon

“Library Girls of New York: A Secret Place”

Author: Carolyn Rhodes

Publisher: Borgo Publishing

Pages: 101

Price: $15.99 (Paper)

The millionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie believed deeply in philanthropy. He was famous for giving a dime to anyone who asked, which sounds cheap, but isn’t really. Most millionaires did not want to be bothered.

“Gifts: A Novel”

Author: May Lamar

Publisher: The Donnell Group

Pages: 246

Price: $28.00 (Hardcover)

May Lamar’s new novel is a fictionalized account of the life of pioneering artist Anne Goldthwaite, who lived from 1869 till 1944. Goldthwaite, raised partly in Montgomery, was a suffragette, and an artist in several media. She began but did not complete a memoir.

May Lamar had published a similar book, “Brother Sid,” based on the life of the poet Sidney Lanier.

This novel is even more ambitious and a delight to read.

Operation Dimwit
Amazon

“Operation Dimwit: A Penelope Lemon Novel”

Author: Inman Majors

Publisher: LSU Press

Pages: 219

Price: $29.95 (Hardcover)

Inman Majors, a Tennessean with an MFA from UA, is in mid-career and in fine form. He has an amazing and underrated serious novel in “The Millionaires,” set at the World’s Fair in Knoxville, but also that rarest of gifts these days, a comic sensibility.

Dear Betty, Love, Byron
Amazon

“Dear Betty, Love Byron: The Letters of Lieutenant Byron Yarbrough and Betty Jones, 1944-1945”

Introduction by Mark Wilson

Preface by Dennis Blocker II

Publisher: Solomon & George Publishers

Pages: 107

Price: $10.00 (Paper)

There could be literally thousands and thousands of books like this one, letters between a sailor away at war and a young woman at home. My own father and mother did exactly this during WWII.

The Nickel Boys
Amazon

“The Nickel Boys”

Author: Colson Whitehead

Publisher: Doubleday

Pages: 210

Price: $24.95 (Hardcover)

Years ago I met a man who had made a success in Hollywood writing ethnic wedding scenes, a narrow specialty indeed.  This man wrote the extraordinary wedding scenes for the first “Godfather” movie, Italian Roman Catholic, and “The Deer Hunter,” Russian Orthodox.

If Hollywood should develop a need for a specialist to write scenes of savage beatings, Colson Whitehead is their man.

Year-Round Trouble: 14 Cozy Holiday Mysteries
Amazon

“Year-Round Trouble: 14 Cozy Holiday Mysteries”

Editor: Susan Y. Tanner

Publisher: Kalioka Press

Pages: 463

Price: $16.99

A reminder: a cozy is a mystery with little or no onstage violence, little blood, profanity or sex. The problem may be murder, but may be theft or even a misunderstanding. Most cozies have small-town settings, and the detective, the problem-solver, usually an amateur, almost always female, is assisted by a quirky friend or friends.

Night Boat to Tangier
Amazon

“Night Boat to Tangier”

Author: Kevin Barry

Publisher: Doubleday

Pages: 255

Price: $25.95 (Cloth)

The population of Ireland is 4.8 million. Alabama is also 4.8 million.

Another factor in common: these two relatively small places have given the world a wildly disproportionate number of writers.

In the early twentieth century the most influential poet in the world was William Butler Yeats, James Joyce was the wellspring of modernist fiction and Sean O’Casey arguably the leading dramatist in the west.

The Andean Cross: A Novel
Amazon

“The Andean Cross: A Novel”

Author: Lawrence Clayton

Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing LLC

Pages: 216

Price: $14.99 (Hardback)

Lawrence Clayton, retired professor of Latin American history, has written his debut novel. Appropriately enough, it is set in Central and South America and reflects his expertise in these areas.

The novel opens on the Pacific coast of Panama, in 1544. There has been a catastrophe.

Mobile Under Siege: Surviving the Union Blockade
Amazon.com

Mobile Under Siege: Surviving the Union Blockade

Author: Paula Lenor Webb

Publisher: History Press

Pages: 142

Price: $ 21.99 (Paper)

When I commenced reading “Mobile Under Siege,” I believed it would be the story of the Port City during most of the Civil War, under Union naval blockade, with plucky blockade runners dashing out in the fog with contraband cotton bound for the mills of England by way of Havana, Cuba, and dashing in with a fresh load of fine wine and cigars.

It is not.

Debris Cloud
Amazon

“Debris Cloud”

Author: James Ezell

Publisher: Author House

Pages: 290

Price: $20.99 (Paper)

It is no surprise that a cataclysm like the 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa would spawn a lot of written responses, in several genres.

Bay Boy
Amazon

“Bay Boy: Stories of a Childhood in Point Clear, Alabama”

Author: Watt Key

Publisher: University of Alabama Press

Pages: 136

Price: $24.95 (Cloth)

Pages