Win the April ’15 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

April 1, 2015

April15 contest final

Late breaking addition! Keep reading…

April has something for everyone! I updated the Win Books page with some terrific books. This month there are a variety of thrills from romantic suspense to a family in trouble to human trafficking to a canine cop, a legal thriller, and more.

NEW! From #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense Harlan Coben, The Stranger, his most shocking thriller yet, proving that a well-placed lie can help build a wonderful life– and a secret has the same explosive power to destroy it.

Scent of Murder is a gritty police thriller from veteran law enforcement agent and one of my favorite authors, James O. Born, pairing a deputy with a K9 cop. The next adventure of The Seven Sins‘ Michael “The Tyrant” Tiranno, Jon Land’s Black Scorpion is a pulse pounding action-thriller as he takes on a worldwide human trafficking cabal.

Graham Smith’s debut novel, Snatched from Home, brings us a middle-class couple turning to crime to pay the ransom for their children—can they evade the cops and save their children’s lives?

Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti features a sexy black-ops soldier, need I say more?! Kevin Egan returns to the bench with The Missing Piece, an all-new tale of courtroom intrigue, legal maneuvers, deception, desperation…and cold-blooded murder.

A stunning serial-killer novel from David Levien, featuring his acclaimed and indomitable investigator, Frank Behr, returning in Signature Kill. Finally, the disciples of Satan are here to entertain you in Anatomy of Evil by Brian Pinkerton.

One more addition! An unspeakable act of terror on American soil. A global surge of high-tech mayhem. Born of War is an explosive new thriller from military veteran Anderson Harp.

You can win autographed copies of all these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books including bestsellers and debut authors, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author!

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books  page for more information on all these books and how you to enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


April 28, 2015
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Hollywood, tinsel town, in the late 1930s is the setting for the novel by the versatile Ace Collins. It’s a time before computer enhanced special effects where giant studios created the images seen on the screen through human ingenuity. And big name stars made movies with an eye to creating diversions for people caught up in the horror of the great depression.

Shelby Beckett and her family have to leave their farm in Oklahoma due to drought and financial ruin. A situation made familiar by John Steinbeck in several of his books. Her father has been promised help in securing a job with a studio in Hollywood, and Shelby also manages to obtain a position in the wardrobe department as a seamstress.

Charmed by the stars, Flynn Sparks and his rival Dalton Andrews, two of the biggest luminaries working for the studio Shelby becomes exposed to the party atmosphere they exist in. She becomes familiar with stars like Clark Gable and Cary Grant. She is also attractive enough to possibly become an actress.

Collins utilizing the atmosphere of this era sets up a murder mystery involving a serial killer that selects starlets as his prey. Bill Barrester is the police detective assigned to catch the killer and at one crucial point asks Shelby to help him.

As in all Ace Collins’ novels the action is fast, the characters interesting and well fleshed out. The book is more a fast read than an engrossing one, but Collins very rarely disappoints and Hollywood Lost is no exception.

4/15 Paul Lane

HOLLYWOOD LOST by Ace Collins. Abingdon Press (April 21, 2015). ISBN978-1426771880. 320p.


April 27, 2015
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Based on the ad, the room at 82 Edgehill Road sounded just too good to be true. And it was.

The landlord is skeevy and the shared bathroom and kitchen are so dirty that it’s all Stephanie can do to get in and out as quickly as possible. But the room seems nice, until the lights go out and the noises start. It begins with a rustling under the bed – mice, Stephanie thinks – then voices in the fireplace, which could always be the sounds of another tenant’s TV. But when shuffling footsteps cross her room and something Stephanie can’t see sits on her bed, she’s all out of explanations.

Stephanie vows to get out, even going so far as to consider abandoning her deposit, but with no work and no money there’s nowhere for her to go. And soon Stephanie realizes that the noises aren’t even the worst of it.

Adam Nevill’s latest is a fresh and frightening haunted house tale. Nevill paints his heroine into a corner, taking away all of her options, and then turns her story upside down. It’s dark – as dark as dark can get, actually. And it’s creepy as all get out. But if you happen to like your horror dark and creepy, then No One Gets Out Alive is absolutely perfect.

No One Gets Out Alive is the kind of horror read I crave: one that keeps me up at night, freaks me the heck out, and keeps me on my toes. Not only that, but the twist and big reveal were totally unexpected even for a seasoned haunted house fan such as myself. Top marks all around for Nevill’s latest.

4/15 Becky Lejeune

NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE by Adam Nevill. St. Martin’s Press (April 28, 2015). ISBN 978-1250041289. 640p.


April 26, 2015
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FBI/US Attorney Book 3

As per my usual, I started this series out of order with book 5 because it was on so many best romances of the year lists for 2014, and I loved it. So I scoured the library shelves and all I could find was this one, book 3, so I went for it.

This is one of those series that I don’t really think needs to be read in order. Each book stands alone and I’m sure they are all related somehow but I haven’t tried to figure it out yet but I’m guessing it has something to do with the name of the series. Once I get my hands on the rest (I begged my library to purchase them) I’m sure it will all make perfect sense.

Rylann Pierce is in college when she meets a billionaire’s son, Kyle Rhodes, at a bar. They have a great time and make plans for the next night, but he never shows. Rylann soon learns his mother had been killed but they never do get together again.

Rylann becomes a tiger in the US Attorney’s office in San Francisco, but when her boyfriend asks her to move to Rome with him with no marriage proposal, she realizes they want different things and she dumps him and moves back home to Chicago. She lands a job in the US Attorney’s office there and her first case involves the “Twitter terrorist,” a hacker who brought Twitter down for two days when his girlfriend dumped him via a tweet. The terrorist is none other than Kyle Rhodes.

Off to an inauspicious start, they both quickly realize that the feelings they had that long ago night were still there. Can a US attorney fall in love with an ex-con and make it work? Can a cyber hacker fall in love with the an attorney who works with the lawyers that convicted him? Of course! But not without a lot of bumps along the way and of course, some hot sex.

Another winner from Julie James.

4/15 Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch

IT HAPPENED ONE WEDDING by Julie James. Jove (May 6, 2014). ISBN 978-0425251270. 304p. Kindle

THE BONE TREE by Greg Iles

April 25, 2015
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This is the second book in a planned trilogy set in a part of the South still rooted in deep racial division. It begins about the time of the Katrina hurricane and flooding of New Orleans. The first of the three novels, “Natchez Burning,” set the stage for the conflicts carried on in this book, with Penn Cage, the mayor of Natchez.

Penn, an attorney, is forced to defend his father Tom Cage on a murder charge in the slaying of Tom’s one time mistress and nurse in his father’s medical office. The nurse had moved out the area years ago after being raped by members of the Double Eagles, a terror group allied with the Ku Klux Klan. She lived in Chicago for many years and only came back when she was diagnosed with cancer so she could die where she grew up. The Double Eagle members and corrupt police accuse Tom of a mercy killing in order to ease her suffering.

Iles, although writing fiction, describes in detail the corruption existing in the area of the south under discussion. He indicates that Katrina forced many African Americans out of New Orleans when their homes were destroyed and powerful white groups plotted to rebuild the city in a different way. The plan only included more expensive homes and apartments in order to prevent the poorer Negros from returning. In addition white gangsters took the opportunity to assassinate their black rivals and take over their territory.

Touched on in the first book and brought out with more detail in this novel is the idea that the killings of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther king originated with the New Orleans mafia. Iles brings to bear a good deal of research into the John F. Kennedy murder. His knowledge of the ballistics, placement of individuals involved and planning describe a different scenario other than Lee Harvey Oswald as the sole assassin and sets up more of a conspiracy than originally thought.
Penn’s fiancee, Caitlin Masters, editor of a newspaper in Natchez owned by a group controlled by her father has her own part to play in bringing out facts and situations involved in the action. She meets and befriends the wife of an FBI agent investigating the John F. Kennedy killing’s New Orleans roots. Her friend is a world class news photographer and helps Caitlin with the development of the investigation.

The ending obviously sets up the third book coming in the trilogy. Iles writing is nothing short of mesmerizing and the over 800 pages flies by keeping the reader glued to the pages.

4/15 Paul Lane

THE BONE TREE by Greg Iles. William Morrow (April 21, 2015). ISBN 978-0062311115. 816p.

THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

April 24, 2015
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This is a clever contemporary romance that is very loosely based on the British royals, Prince William & Kate. In this story, the heir to the British throne is Prince Nick, and the commoner is Bex Porter, an American doing a year at Oxford. She rooms on the same floor as the Prince and is soon dating one of his closest friends. When that doesn’t work out, her friendship with the Prince turns into something more.

In this fairy tale, Bex has an identical twin sister Lacey, and she is the one who wants fame and fortune. But Bex ends up with more than she can handle, hounded by the paparazzi, trying to deal with Prince Nick’s cold asshole of a father, and an even colder grandmother who happens to be Queen.

I learned some stuff like you should always apply your hair extensions gradually, so you don’t go from skanky hair one day to full head of gorgeous locks the next. And if you sew weights into your hem, you’ll never have to worry about a wind blowing up your dress. I learned how the upper crust shops and parties, and how the spare to the heir has his own set of problems.

It’s the characters that shine here, from the Prince, his family and his friends to Bex and her family. This book is filled with lots of dish, lots of dirt and lots of fun. I loved it.

4/15 Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch

THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan. Grand Central Publishing (April 7, 2015). ISBN 978-1455557103. 464p.

SCENT OF MURDER by James O. Born

April 23, 2015
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Jim Born has been with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for so long he’s about ready to retire. So when he writes a police procedural, you can be sure it will be accurate. I’ve enjoyed all of his books and this new one is really terrific, especially if you like dogs.

Tim Hallett was a detective who got a little overzealous in his determination to find a missing child. He saved the child, but got booted from the detective squad. In a stroke of luck, he was paired up with a Belgian Malinois named Rocky as part of a new K-9 unit. Born really did his homework here, and I loved all the inside info on how these magnificent dogs are trained and treated.

When a teenager goes missing, the dogs (and their human partners) are called into action. They get led on a chase that is both devious and disturbing, especially for Hallett.

This is a fast paced story set in the wilds of south Florida, and I loved the occasional perspective from the dog. Another excellent read from this talented author.

4/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SCENT OF MURDER by James O. Born.  Forge Books (April 7, 2015).  ISBN 978-0765378477. 304p.

LOSING FAITH by Adam Mitzner

April 22, 2015
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A thrill a minute legal novel written by a practicing attorney. Events involved in a high profile trial are brought to life by Mitzner allowing the reader to understand that the outcome is not a cut and dried guilty or not guilty situation but a verdict brought about by manipulations on both sides.

Aaron Littman, a 51 year old highly successful lawyer, and the chairman of a large and very prestigious wall street law firm is approached to talk with Nikolai Garkov. Garkov is currently awaiting trial on charges of terrorism for manipulating the financial strings behind recent treasonous acts. He offers Aaron 100,000.00 dollars just to take the meeting. Nikolai is to be tried under the gavel of Judge Faith Nichols and knows that Aaron had an affair with her while acting as defense in a previous case. He tells Aaron that if he doesn’t take his case the affair will be made very public.

Events move swiftly, and the machinations of both the prosecuting attorney in the Garkov case and Aaron and his associates are presented very clearly. Clouding the events is the murder of Judge Nichols and the blame placed on Littman. The majority of the book is a masterpiece of insight into the legal world. The climax becomes somewhat contrived but does not spoil a great piece of legal fiction.

It is clear that Mitzner will continue writing, in all likelihood in a field headed by John Grisham. His characters are very well sketched out and become alive in his hands. An old axiom about methods that should be used by authors is to write about areas that they know about. This is a given in Mitzner’s novel and should continue as he goes forward in the literary aspect of his career.

4/15 Paul Lane

LOSING FAITH by Adam Mitzner. Gallery Books (April 14, 2015). ISBN 978-1476764245. 368p.


April 21, 2015
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The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Happy happy joy joy. That’s what I got out of this book.

I live a dual life. At work I am a librarian with a tendency towards OCD. Every paper is filed. My work email inbox is always empty, every email filed in its proper folder. My desk is immaculate.

At home, my personal email inbox contains thousands of emails. I am drowning in paper. There is stuff everywhere. And therein lies the problem.

Stuff. Too much stuff. I know it and have cleaned up parts of my life. My husband renovated our closet and it is a California Closet dream. A place for everything and everything in its place. Something new comes in and something old goes out. It’s a beautiful thing.

Books are a completely different thing. A few months ago I attended a seminar on book collecting. Turns out I’m not a book collector, I’m a book accumulator. Even with the advent of downloadable egalleys for review, I still receive a minimum of 20-25 books a week at my front door. Of those, I have requested maybe 1-2. The rest are unsolicited and for the most part, not likely to be read.

Over time the books have taken over my house. I believe that every room needs a bookshelf, but it was completely out of control so a couple of years ago, I invested in a new wall of shelving, 12 feet of it. I sorted all my books, kept an 8 foot run of nonfiction, an 8 foot run of cookbooks, but the only fiction I kept were books I truly loved, that made me happy, and signed books. In desperation I started a “Pre Pub Book Club” at my library which gets about 30 galleys a month read and discussed.

So when I heard about this book and the “KonMari” method, I figured I would give it a looksee. The library version, thank you very much. A book I could take home, read, study even, then return. Which I did.

There is also a specific folding process for clothes which works fairly well for some things, not so well for other things. Here’s a video with a demonstration – yeah, my bras don’t look like that. And I like hanging clothes more than folding and I’m sticking with that.

So it turns out I did some things right. Like only keeping the books that make me happy. But the KonMari process means you sort by category, not by room as most organizational methods suggest. And that means taking every (fill in the blank,) dumping it in a pile in the middle of the floor, then picking up each item individually and seeing if it fills you with joy. If not, out it goes.

Frankly, I don’t have the patience. Back to the clutter.

4/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo. Ten Speed Press (October 14, 2014). ISBN: 978-1607747307. 224p.

HUSH, HUSH by Laura Lippman

April 20, 2015
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Tess Monaghan Novel (Book 12)

When Tess’s friend and old boss Tyner Gray hires her as a security consultant for his client, Tess can’t refuse. Not even when said client is Melisandre Dawes, the woman who left her two-month-old baby to die in a hot car while she sat and waited nearby.

It’s been more than ten years since the trial. More than ten years since Melisandre was judged not guilty by reason of insanity. But even her verdict and the time that’s passed have not erased the emotional response Baltimoreans had to her case. And though Melisandre left Baltimore in the wake of that tragic event, her return – supposedly to reconcile with her other two daughters, on film no less – has garnered a heated response from the locals.

That’s where Tess and her new partner, Sandy, come in. Initially they’re meant only to ensure that Melisandre’s new condo is safe as it can be. Then Melisandre finds herself the prime suspect in yet another murder investigation and the PI duo are tasked with proving the woman’s innocence. That’s easier said than done, especially when Tess is convinced Melisandre Dawes can’t be trusted.

This is the twelfth book in Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series. Tess is a favorite amongst mystery/thriller fans, but she’s been on break since the 2008 serial “The Girl in the Green Raincoat” (released in print in 2011), so her return comes with great anticipation. Fans can relax, though, as Lippman and Monaghan are in top form.

One thing has changed for the PI, though, and that’s the new role of mother in addition to her long list of accomplishments. Tess’s toddler daughter, Carla Scout, is a charming addition to the series and Tess’s own fears and concerns associated with being a parent make her even more relatable than before.

4/15 Becky Lejeune

HUSH, HUSH by Laura Lippman. William Morrow (February 24, 2015). ISBN 978-0062083425. 320p.

Palm Beach Peril 2015

April 19, 2015

PB PERIL books

writers live logoThis year was the 7th annual Writers LIVE! series of author events at the Palm Beach County Library System. A few years ago, I incorporated a new program called “Palm Beach Peril,” a panel discussion hosted by a bestselling thriller writer along with several debut authors. This was done in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization and their Debut Authors program, and it has become my favorite event!

Our host this year was the amazing Lisa Scottoline, who has to be one of the most generous authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. She is on tour for her new book, Every Fifteen Minutes, (which is fantastic, read my review here) and frankly, she really had to go out of her way to get here. She flew in Friday morning, and flew out Friday afternoon. She came to the library an hour early to do a little meet & greet with the debut authors before the main event. After the event, she bought all the debut authors’ books, and had them all signed and shipped them home. She truly is an extraordinary woman and I feel honored to know her.

scottoline selfieMy favorite “Lisa” story took place back in 2004. I was asked to review Killer Smile that year for Library Journal, and I loved it. It was a very personal book for her, about the little known Italian internment camps during World War II, and the book was amazing. I gave it a starred review and shortly after the review was published, I had a very startled and every excited manager hunting me down as I was emptying the book return. Lisa was on the phone for me. She tracked me down (Library Journal publishes the reviewer’s name & their library affiliation) and she called to thank me for my review. I’d been reviewing for several years by then, and no one had ever done that before (or since, for that matter!)

Oline Cogdill, Lisa Scottoline, Douglass Seaver, John Connell, Alison McMahan, Sandra Block, Stu Strumwasser

Oline Cogdill, Lisa Scottoline, Douglass Seaver, John Connell, Alison McMahan, Sandra Block, Stu Strumwasser

The nationally syndicated, Raven Award winning reviewer Oline Cogdill moderated the event, and she is such a pro. It is always a pleasure to watch any panel she’s in charge of. She asked great questions, kept all the authors talking and it was a completely fascinating discussion. Please follow her on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with all her terrific reviews.

Special thanks goes to author Amy Christine Parker, who was my liaison to the ITW and who arranged for all these wonderful authors to appear. This year we had quite a variety.

Sandra Block is a neurologist from Buffalo, NY and the author of the terrific debut, Little Black Lies, about madness and memory – and the dangerous, little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. You can read my review here.  John A. Connell is a former camera operator for films and TV shows who is now living in France and writing full time. His first Mason Collins thriller is Ruins of War, a chilling novel of murder and madness in post-World War II Germany.

Alison McMahon is a documentary maker who wrote her first YA thriller, a historical called The Saffron Crocus, set in the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, 1643. Douglass Seaver is enjoying retirement by writing, and his first thriller is The Fourth Rulewhich tells the story of one secret born when a Green Beret returns from Vietnam and disappears.

Finally, Stu Strumwasser, a New York musician who wrote The Organ Broker, the thrilling story of an underground black market organ dealer known as “New York Jack.” It will be available May 5.

PB Peril 2015 & me

Alison McMahan, Stacy Alesi, John A. Connell, Douglass Seaver, Stu Strumwasser, Sandra Block (seated,) Lisa Scottoline



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