Don Noble's Book Reviews

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

Recently retired as 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 Forest and the Trees”

Author: Floyd McGowin

Publisher: NewSouth Books

Pages: 334

Price: $27.95 (Trade paper)

Floyd McGowin, of the Chapman, Alabama, McGowins, the owners of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company, was born in 1931 and died in 2010, but this memoir takes his story basically up to 1966.

At that time, the W.T. Smith Company was sold and McGowin started the Rocky Creek Logging Company and ran it for 42 years, covered here in an epilogue of only six pages.

“The Reading Circle”

Author: Ashton Lee

Publisher: Kensington Books

Pages: 234

Price: $15.00 (Trade paperback)

In a recent comic novel, “Love’s Winning Plays,” in which he dared to satirize SEC football, Inman Majors also made fun of book discussion groups. He has his lonely hero, Raymond Love, join one in order to meet women. It sort of works; book club membership is overwhelmingly female.

“The Woman in the Photograph” 

Author: Dana Gynther

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 352

Price: $16.00 (Paper)

Dana Gynther made her debut as a novelist in 2012 with “Crossing on the Paris,” a novel set aboard a transatlantic liner on her maiden voyage from Le Havre to New York. As the ship sails west, three women, one from first class, one from second and one from steerage, strangers until then, meet and exchange their life stories with rich flashbacks to their very different experiences in Paris

“Raising Aphrodite: A Novel”

Author: Kirk Curnutt

Publisher: River City Publishing

Pages: 413

$26.95 (Hardcover)

In Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical “Carousel,” Billy Bigelow, the erstwhile carousel barker, now married to Julie Jordan, is overjoyed when he learns he is to be a father. In the song “Soliloquy” he sings of his boy Bill. He’ll “teach him to wrestle and dive through a wave.” Bill might be a boxer or president.

“The Redeemers: A Quinn Colson Novel”

Author: Ace Atkins

Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 370 pp.

Price: $26.95 (Hardcover)

Ace Atkins is generating a shelf of novels at an astonishing pace. “Redeemers” is his seventeenth.

After graduation from Auburn where he played football, Ace—his real name—worked as a reporter in Florida, mainly crime. He has several standalone crime novels—historically based like “Wicked City,” set in Phenix City, and investigative/biographically based such as “Infamous,” about Fatty Arbuckle .

“Go Set a Watchman: A Novel”

Author: Harper Lee

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 288

Price: $27.99

This is a book review, a description and evaluation of Harper Lee’s novel “Go Set a Watchman,” read on a Kindle.

With an important book like this I would normally be reading an ARC—Advance Readers Copy—or a review copy, but these were not distributed. This novel had all the publicity it needed and the publishers obviously felt there was nothing to be gained and perhaps something to lose by letting reviewers see it.

“German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past During the Civil Rights Era”

Author: Monique Laney

Publisher: Yale University Press

Pages: 320

Price: $35.00 (Hardcover)

“Southern Made Fresh: Vibrant Dishes Rooted in Homegrown Flavor”

Author: Tasia Malakasis

Publisher: Oxmoor House

Pages: 297

Price: $26.00 (Hardcover)

“Two Legs, Bad: Dog Town Tales”   

Author: Pat Mayer

Publisher: The Livingston Press, The University of West Alabama

Pages: 166

Price: $17.95 (Paper)

As many will recognize, the title “Two Legs Bad” comes from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” In that parable of revolution, when the livestock take over, they adopt this slogan, referring to their previous masters: humans.

The humans in Pat Mayer’s three books of fiction are not all “bad” but many are incomplete or damaged.

“Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation”

Author: Ammon Shea

Publisher: Penguin Group: A Perigee Book

Pages: 247

Price: $16.00 (Paperback)

"Angels at the Gate"

Jun 26, 2015

“Angels at the Gate”

Author: T. K. Thorne

Publisher: Cappuccino Books

Pages: 359

Price: $22.50 (Hardcover)

Birmingham author T. K. Thorne, a retired police captain, is writing hard. Her “Last Chance for Justice,” an extended commentary on the trials that finally brought the 16th St. Baptist Church bombers Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton to account in 2001 and 2002, was informed by her intimate knowledge of Birmingham and 22 years in law enforcement.

“Wild Sweet Orange Ride: Journeys Home”

Author: Julia Gregg

Publisher: Vineyard Stories

Pages: 101

Price: $19.95 (Hardcover)

Julia Hightower Gregg has been a columnist for the “Evansville Courier and Press” in Indiana for 25 years but before becoming a Hoosier, if indeed one can ever become a Hoosier, Gregg grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, took a BS from Auburn University, then took an MS from Vanderbilt Peabody College and an MFA from Murray State University in Kentucky .

“A Little Bit of Spectacular”

Author: Gin Phillips

Publisher: Penguin, Dial Books for Young Readers

Pages: 160

Price: $16.99 (Paperback)

I have from time to time reviewed Young Adult novels and even a children’s book or two but this is my first foray into the Middle Grade, Young Readers category. Young Readers are ages 10 and up, grades 5 and up.

“Bone to Be Wild: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery”

Author: Carolyn Haines

Publisher: St. Martin’s (Minotaur Books)

Pages: 354

Price: $25.99 (Hardcover)

When I was a kid, on Saturday afternoons I caught the latest installment of Lash LaRue or Commander Don Winslow of the US Coast Guard, weekly series often ending in a literal cliff-hanger—to be continued next week. Like those matinees, Carolyn Haines’ “Bones” books have moved now from a mystery series to a mystery serial.

“Reflections of the Civil War in Southern Humor”

Author: Wade H. Hall

Publisher: NewSouth Books

Pages: 89

Price: $12.95 (Paper)

“The Shortest Book in the World” is a venerable genre.

“Career Management” by Charlie Sheen.

“Secrets to a Successful Marriage” by Tiger Woods

At 89 pages, Wade Hall’s study of Southern Civil War humor is definitely in this category. Considering that the war was a four-year bloodbath with, sometimes, tens of thousands dying on the same day, it may even be an oxymoron. It wasn’t a naturally funny subject.

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