Win the October bookshelf of signed thrillers!

September 30, 2014

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I updated the Win Books page for October with some really wonderful thrillers! This month there are NY Times bestsellers, several follow ups, and some debut authors as well.

First up: if you didn’t win BONES NEVER LIE by Kathy Reichs last month, you have another chance! Yep, I have another signed copy for one lucky reader.

Andrew Grant’s RUN, a high-octane thriller featuring a tech consultant who unwittingly steps into the rabbit hole of corporate cover-up, is up for grabs this month. Ghostly gumshoe Bailey Ruth Raeburn of Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions is checking out a troubling disturbance in GHOST WANTED by Carolyn Hart.

Fans of Showtime’s highly acclaimed and addicting series, “Homeland,” will not want to miss HOMELAND: SAUL’S GAME by Andrew Kaplan. Next up is SPECTRUM by Alan Jacobson, the sixth book in the Karen Vail Series.

Finally, there are three debut authors: BLACK CHALK by Christopher J. Yates, WHO R U REALLY? by Margo Kelly and THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens.

If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers group. 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.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


THE FORGOTTEN GIRL by David Bell

October 30, 2014

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When Jason Danvers’s sister shows up in the middle of the night asking for a favor, his immediate impulse is not to get involved. He’d caught glimpses of her around town and convinced himself it couldn’t be her – it’s been five years, after all, and their parting that last time wasn’t under the best of circumstances. But Hayden swears all of that has changed. She has a job, she’s been sober for some time, and now she’s looking to make amends for her past.

All Hayden asks is that Jason and his wife watch her daughter for two days. Should be easy. And Jason hasn’t seen his niece for quite some time, so it would be a nice chance to bond with her. But things quickly go downhill. An old classmate reports seeing Hayden hanging with her old crowd, possibly drinking once again, and then she sends a strange text to her daughter before breaking all contact. Jason wants to give his sister the benefit of the doubt and wait out the two days, but when Hayden doesn’t show up to pick up her daughter it’s clear something has gone very wrong.

David Bell sure knows how to build a suspenseful story. The Forgotten Girl begins with a teen Jason being picked up by the police after a fight with his best friend. Flash forward to present day and we find that said friend left town that very night and hasn’t been seen since. In fact, a classmate has been trying to find him and starts picking Jason’s brain about his whereabouts.

It’s understandable, then, that Jason is feeling a little nostalgic and a little emotional about his past when Hayden appears. And then when Hayden disappears, Jason’s determined not to lose another person from his life.

Bell’s ending unfortunately didn’t quite mesh with the pacing or the tension of the rest of the book. All in all it’s a fine read, but the finish was somewhat underwhelming.

10/14 Becky LeJeune

THE FORGOTTEN GIRL by David Bell. NAL Trade (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-0451417527. 448p.


SOMETIMES THE WOLF by Urban Waite

October 29, 2014

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A novel set in the Pacific Northwest beginning with a hunt for a wolf that has been killing and eating sheep and other domestic animals.  The hunt fades into the background of the book as ex Sheriff Patrick Drake is released from 12 years of incarceration in prison into the watchful eye of his son Bobby who himself works as a deputy Sheriff.  Patrick’s wife had passed away prior to the opening of the story, and while Patrick tried to continue to raise his family he soon fell into major monetary problems.  His solution was to hook up with some rather unsavory men and was then convicted of one of the biggest crimes that had occurred in the area.

Patrick moves in with Bobby and Bobby’s wife until he can get “on his feet”  His son has his own problems in attempting to build a life with the background guilt of his father’s past haunting him.

Huge problems arise for all when it becomes known that Patrick hid a large quantity of money from the crimes committed before going to jail.  Two convicts who were jailed at the same time as Patrick are aware of the hidden money, break out of jail and start hunting the funds.  The crimes stemming from their breakout and the pressure to find the money cause a rampage of murder and terror.

Waite’s handling of events in the book is excellent, fast moving and keeping his readers glued to the pages.  A must read and one that recommends Waite for the forefront of adventure writers.  And of course the problem of the wolf becomes solved in the course of the action and satisfies the desire for a logical ending.

10/14 Paul Lane

SOMETIMES THE WOLF by Urban Waite. William Morrow (October 21, 2014). ISBN: 978-0062216915. 288p.


THE MOCKINGBIRD NEXT DOOR by Marja Mills

October 28, 2014

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Life with Harper Lee

narrated by Amy Lynn Stewart

This is the latest biography of the reclusive author and an interesting look at her life. Marja Mills went to Monroeville, Alabama as had so many journalists before her, but for some reason Alice Lee, Harper’s sister, took a liking to her. Perhaps it was because she wasn’t being pushy. Perhaps it was because Chicago had chosen  To Kill a Mockingbird for their one read program, and had sent Marja to get a story. Or perhaps she felt empathy for the lupus-stricken journalist. Whatever the reason, the Lee sisters spent a great deal of time with the author.

So when the book was published and Harper Lee protested, saying they never gave permission, it seemed rather unlikely. Mills claims that Lee had a stroke in 2007, resulting in memory issues, which seems the more believable explanation. Mills rented the house next door to the Lees, with their recommendation to the landlord. Harper’s friends spent lots of time with Mills, while other journalists and would-be biographers were given the cold shoulder. With that said, the book is no gossip fest, but rather a nuanced look at the life of one of America’s most cherished authors.

The sour relationship with Truman Capote is lightly touched upon, as was Harper’s fond regard for Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch in the film version, but this is no celebrity tell all, and that is probably a good thing. Lee fiercely guards her privacy, but is no recluse – she lived a full life, dining at local restaurants,  feeding the ducks, and enjoying her friends until she had her stroke. She did live in both New York City and Alabama, and this book doesn’t touch on the NY experience much.

The narrator did a fine job differentiating between the various characters, and I especially loved her portrayal of Alice and Harper. Other than the constant gloating about actually spending time with Harper Lee (and really, who can blame her) it was an interesting and illuminating read about one of my favorite authors.

10/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE MOCKINGBIRD NEXT DOOR: Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills. Penguin Audio (November 4, 2014). ASIN: B00L83I7B2. Listening Length: 8 hours and 11 minutes


THE ICE CAP AND THE RIFT by Marshall Chamberlain

October 27, 2014

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Ancestor Series Book 2

Chamberlain’s premise for the book is a fantastic one. Due to a comboquake that threatens three continents, a 15 mile rift tears into Iceland’s largest ice cap. Advanced satellite imagery shows a large cavern containing objects and structures that should not be there. John Henry Morgan head of the U.N’s Institute for the study of Unusual Phenomena (ISUP) and his team is sent into the area and finds that the cavern was occupied 180,000 years ago and contains a perfectly preserved high tech environment and a travel machine.

Unfortunately after this discovery Chamberlain turns the book into a plot by Islamic extremists working with China to steal the travel machine and the Americans to prevent this and than to recover it when it is stolen. Allusion is made to events in Belize occurring in the past and delineated in a previous book. Without having read the previous book the premise of a fabulous science adventure is obscured. There are two interludes in which action by an alien race is aimed at controlling events on earth surrounding the discoveries, but there is no clarity to these asides either.

The idea of discovering high tech remnants from a distant past possibly placed there by an alien civilization originating on a distant planet is a fascinating one. The book “The Mountain Place of Knowledge” by Chamberlain is book one in the series, and should be read by anyone looking to derive greater enjoyment from this one. Without that one, book three which is obviously planned will push the reader even further behind.

The portion of the chase by the U.S. to retrieve the stolen travel machine is well done and can satisfy a reader who is not that interested in the reason for that chase.

10/14 Paul Lane

THE ICE CAP AND THE RIFT by Marshall Chamberlain. The Grace Publishing Group; First edition (October 2, 2014). ASIN: B001EJODF4. 311p.


FIVE MINUTES ALONE by Paul Cleave

October 26, 2014

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This is the 7th book Cleave has written featuring Christchurch, New Zealand detective Theodore Tate. It is absorbing, filled with constant action, and touches on the psychological need of families of crime victim’s desires for revenge. A common thread among people affected by criminal acts perpetrated against their loved ones is “Just give me five minutes alone with the animal that did this” Paul Cleave sets up a series of crimes orchestrated to grant just that wish for people whose families have been touched by a crime against one of their own.

Tate has had his five minutes in a previous book. A drunk driver killed his daughter in an auto accident, and Tate takes it upon himself to march the perpetrator into a wooded area and kill him. The first incident in this book involves a rapist let out of prison early for good behavior, spotting his victim and returning to her house. He is stopped and the victim is allowed to exact her five minutes. Tate is assigned the case when the body is discovered on a railroad track crushed by a train. He questions the lady that was raped, and determines that she didn’t do it. Than several other “victims” are helped to get their five minutes by person or persons unknown.

The feelings of the people helped to exact their revenge is a most important part of the story. Is it that easy to go ahead, get revenge and continue on with your life knowing that you have committed a crime even if in revenge for one committed against you? Cleave leaves us with very logical and assorted psychological reactions to that question. Early on the identify of the individual guiding those victims to revenge is revealed, and this factor helps the reader in understanding the various emotions rather than spoiling the narrative.

Excellent choice of theme and description of the psychology going into the actions. Tate, the principal protagonist, is very well fleshed out, with his actions and thoughts extremely logical and fitting his character with both his flaws and attributes brought out. I am certainly looking forward to reading more novels by Paul Cleave.

10/14 Paul Lane

FIVE MINUTES ALONE by Paul Cleave. Atria Books (October 21, 2014). ISBN: 978-1476779157. 464p.


PERFECT by Rachel Joyce

October 25, 2014

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How much difference do a few seconds really make? For Byron, they make quite a big difference. Huge, in fact. For Byron, two seconds means the breaking apart of his carefully built little world.

He’s just a boy when he learns that time has fallen out of balance. To put it right, it’s suggested that it could be necessary to add two seconds in. It becomes an obsession for Byron, when and if these two seconds will be slipped in. And when his mother makes a grave mistake, Byron becomes convinced the fault lies in those two added seconds.

Perfect is the kind of book that sticks with a reader. Chapters alternate between Byron in 1972 and Jim present day and it soon becomes clear that the narrators are equally wonderful and wonderfully unreliable.

Joyce does begin the story in a rather quiet manner. Essentially the reader is introduced to a very ordinary family. A family that has every advantage. A family that is “perfect.” But there are cracks below the surface of this family’s story even before things begin to go downhill. And while the story does unfold at a slower pace, it’s a pace that’s very intentional and ultimately rewarding. The characters are fully realized and carefully built, from their smallest mannerisms to their largest desires. In so doing, Joyce forces the reader to realize the ultimate importance of these details as the story plays out to its final conclusion.

Perfect is a definite favorite of mine this year and one I highly recommend.

10/14 Becky LeJeune

PERFECT by Rachel Joyce.  Random House (January 14, 2014.) ISBN 978-0812993301. 400p.


THE CAPTIVE by Grace Burrowes

October 24, 2014

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Captive Hearts (Book 1)

Burrows is another first time read for me. She has won many awards and her books often top the best romances year end lists. Now I understand why.

This is the first book of a trilogy, and was not your typical reformed rake and lots of balls type romance. Instead, we meet Christian, the Duke of Mercia, who has been captured by Napoleon’s army and tortured for close to a year. He is released at the end of the war, and returns home, a broken man, only to find that his wife and son have both died. His daughter Lucy is all he has left, and she has become mute in his absence.

His wife’s cousin Gillian, the Countess of Greendale, has recently become a widow when her elderly husband dies. She was horribly abused, and is in fact rejoicing in her husband’s death. There is an inquest into his death, but she is cleared rather quickly.

Gillian beseeches Christian to return to his country home to care for his daughter Lucy, and he agrees providing she will accompany him and act as his hostess. She agrees, and these two damaged people learn to trust one another. They have much in common, and really seem to understand what the other has been through and help each other to heal. Gillian is determined to help Christian get past weakened condition, and does simple things to help him, like peeling his orange for him so he doesn’t have to ask. In turn, he confides in her, and eventually grows stronger, both physically and mentally.

Christian is hiding a deep seated need for revenge against the half French, half English soldier who was his chief torturer. Upon learning he is in England, he decides to challenge him to a duel, leading to the shocking ending. But no worries, Gillian and Christian realize their love and need for each other and find their happily ever after. Burrowes offers up great characters who are fully realized, and a tragic story with a happy ending – what more could you ask for? I’m looking forward to the next books in the trilogy, The Traitor (Captive Hearts, Book 2) & The Laird (Captive Hearts, Book 3).

10/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE CAPTIVE by Grace Burrowes. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 1, 2014). ISBN 978-1402278785. 448p.


BLACK ICE by Becca Fitzpatrick

October 23, 2014

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Britt’s plan to spend spring break hiking the Tetons was originally a plan to try and get her ex, Calvin, back. It’s been eight months since they broke up, though, and she’s given that up. No, this trip is all about her and about proving she can do something this big and adventurous on her own. And when she finds out Calvin will be tagging along to chaperone his sister, Korbie, and her boyfriend, Britt’s almost ok with it.

She and Korbie hit the road prepared for anything. Anything but a freak snowstorm, that is. Lost and forced to abandon their vehicle, the two girls set off in search of shelter to ride out the storm. But the cabin they come across is anything but a safe refuge.

Shaun and Mason are most definitely bad news, but the girls have little choice. And when Shaun reveals his plan to have Britt guide them off the mountain, she knows she’s landed herself in hot water.

Black Ice is vastly different from Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series. There are no angels or any other paranormal aspects in this new title. This time, Fitzpatrick’s heroine is facing challenges and dangers firmly grounded in the real world.

I appreciated the various plot lines working here – in addition to the survival story there’s a serial killer and even a bit of a romance. Fitzpatrick weaves these various elements together in Black Ice to create a truly intense tale sure to keep readers of up all night.

10/14 Becky LeJeune

BLACK ICE by Becca Fitzpatrick. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-1442474260. 400p.


THE HEIST by Daniel Silva

October 22, 2014

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From the publisher:

Gabriel Allon, art restorer and occasional spy, searches for a stolen masterpiece by Caravaggio in #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva’s latest action-packed tale of high stakes international intrigue.

Sometimes the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one . . .

Master novelist Daniel Silva has thrilled readers with sixteen thoughtful and gripping spy novels featuring a diverse cast of compelling characters and ingenious plots that have taken them around the globe and back—from the United States to Europe, Russia to the Middle East. His brilliant creation, Gabriel Allon—art restorer, assassin, spy—has joined the pantheon of great fictional secret agents, including George Smiley, Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne, and Simon Templar.

Following the success of his smash hit The English Girl, Daniel Silva returns with another powerhouse of a novel that showcases his outstanding skill and brilliant imagination, and is sure to be a must read for both his multitudes of fans and growing legions of converts.

Jack says:
Gabriel Allon, art restorer and occasional spy, searches for a stolen masterpiece by Caravaggio in Silva’s latest action-packed tale of high stakes international intrigue. Gabriel Allon—art restorer, assassin, spy— has one last job before assuming command of the Israeli secret service and this one is a whopper. Another must read from one of today’s finest thriller writers.

10/14 Jack Quick

THE HEIST by Daniel Silva. Harper; First Edition first Printing edition (July 15, 2014). ISBN 978-0062320056. 496p.


THE TARGET by David Baldacci

October 21, 2014

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Will Robie Book 3

Baldacci has the gift of making all of his works fascinating, spellbinding, and captivating. The Target is certainly one of these novels capturing the reader’s interest from the get go. The Target is the second book about Jessica Reel and Will Robie, two of the CIA’s most talented assassins. In the first book about them they had both been assigned to kill the other. Jessica had discovered two traitors working at the CIA and determined that in spite of orders they must be killed. The ending of that book leaves both Will and Jessica under scrutiny by their supervisor, but close together and partners.

The Target opens with the pair being assigned to the “Burner”, a CIA training depot for retraining to perform an operation sanctioned by the president of the United States. It looks like they are actually there to be killed for their behavior in book one of the series. Events than cause the pair to witness a suicide of a top ranking North Korean General, Jessica to meet her father whom she hasn’t seen in years and than both be assigned to extract two people from a concentration camp in North Korea.

In the course of the novel Baldacci introduces a North Korean assassin named Chung Cha, a deadly woman that has lived her entire life in training to become a killer with no peers. His treatment of her thoughts and feelings , and her ability to perform her assigned tasks is,by itself a masterpiece. He brings his readers into the mind and reactions of a person so alien to the normal world that, by itself could be the centerpiece of the book.

The Target is certainly among David Baldacci’s top novels and guaranteed to keep his readers in awe of what they are reading. Superb book, and doing it’s part of maintaining the author’s place among the top authors of our generation.

10/14 Paul Lane

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THE TARGET by David Baldacci. Grand Central Publishing (September 16, 2014). ISBN 978-1455521180. 464p.

Unputdownable.

The President knows it’s a perilous, high-risk assignment. If he gives the order, he has the opportunity to take down a global menace, once and for all. If the mission fails, he would face certain impeachment, and the threats against the nation would multiply.

So the president turns to the one team that can pull off the impossible: Will Robie and his partner, Jessica Reel. Together, Robie and Reel’s talents as assassins are unmatched except there  are some in power who don’t trust the pair and want to see them fail.

In the middle of the mission Reel’s imprisoned father reaches out for her to see him one last time. There is more to this than it seems. Once Robie and Reel finish up the aftermath of the visit its back to the now modified mission.

However, Robie and Reel are stalked by a new adversary: an unknown and unlikely assassin, a woman who has trained her entire life to kill, and who has her own list of targets–a list that includes Will Robie and Jessica Reel.

8/14 Jack Quick

THE TARGET by David Baldacci. Grand Central Publishing; 1st Printing edition (April 22, 2014). ISBN 978-1455521203. 432p.


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