Win the September bookshelf of signed thrillers!

September 1, 2014

SEPT14 collage
I updated the Win Books page for September with some terrific new thrillers! This month there is a NY Times bestseller, several follow ups, and a newbie.

Reed Farrel Coleman steps into some big shoes by taking on the Jesse Stone series since Robert B. Parker’s passing, and is offering up the latest entry into the New York Times bestselling series with BLIND SPOT. Barry Lancet is back with his sophomore effort, the fabulous TOKYO KILL.

The formidable Steph Cha brings back her hard bitten heroine, Song, in BEWARE BEWARE, which Booklist calls, “prime L.A. noir with a feminist slant.” Adrian McKinty, the author of the Troubles Trilogy and the Detective Sean Duffy novels has something new, sure to appeal to history buffs; THE SUN IS GOD is set in 1906 Colonial New Guinea.

In a coveted starred review, Publishers Weekly says about EVERYONE LIES, “AD Garrett balances the intricacies of forensics with the cerebral instincts of crime investigation.” Karen Harper introduces the Cold Creek Trilogy, set in Appalachia in “a small town where the enemy is us.” She offers up the first book, SHATTERED SECRETS, with two more to come in the next six months.

The debut this month is SABOTAGE, Matt Cook’s thriller for those who love the puzzles of technology, cryptology, and people. Finally, DEADOUT is the thrilling follow-up to Jon McGoran’s highly acclaimed eco-thriller, Drift.

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!


THIRD RAIL by Rory Flynn

August 30, 2014

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It’s likely that Eddy Harkness will never live down the notoriety of the Turnpike Toreador case. And yet he does hold out some hope that if he keeps clean while on forced leave he may one day be welcomed back to his old team. Until then he’s taken a job on his old hometown force, quietly waiting for his punishment to run up.

Unfortunately, a night of binge drinking leaves Eddy suddenly – an unofficially – relieved of his service weapon. He hopes he’s mislaid it in his drunken revels but it soon becomes clear that the gun has been stolen. Eddy is well aware that he’s on borrowed time: once his slip up is discovered, he’s finished. His only choice is to find the gun before that happens.

In the meantime, he still has a job to do.

The town of Nagog has had a growing number of accidental deaths of late. No one seems terribly concerned but Eddy believes it warrants a little more attention. What he discovers is a possible link to a new designer drug and what he suspects is a connection to his stolen gun.

Third Rail essentially begins in the middle of a story. Eddy is down and out thanks to a former case (nicknamed the Turnpike Toreador), the specifics of which are revealed only as the book progresses. It’s clear Eddy is no regular beat cop – he’s clever and seemingly pretty good at his job in spite of the way he’s treated. Turns out he was part of a special squad, one that also suffers in the wake of the case that made Eddy a household name in Massachusetts law enforcement. Eddy’s own reputation isn’t the only thing that’s at stake. Any and all attention is on him as fellow cops and criminals wait for another screw up.

I really had no idea what to expect out of Third Rail. A dark and gritty crime novel, sure – and it certainly is that – but Third Rail was so much more. In fact, it’s one of the best crime fiction releases I’ve had the pleasure of reading so far this year. Eddy is an excellent character, one I can’t wait to see more of, and his story is something of a genre standout in my opinion.

This is the debut title by Rory Flynn (aka Stona Fitch) and the first in a new series.

8/14 Becky Lejeune

THIRD RAIL by Rory Flynn. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (June 10, 2014). ISBN 978-0544226272. 224p.

THE WORKING DEAD by David Thayer

August 29, 2014

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Thayer has written several other books featuring his detective Armond diPino who operates in New York.  This novel opens with DiPino working in a relative’s store in San Francisco in order to fully recover from a gunshot wound received in another book.

Why in San Francisco and working in a relative’s store is beyond me but there he is.  He has relatives conveniently living in Frisco and gets involved in helping them out of a criminal conspiracy involving human trafficking.  Along the way he meets several women including Emily, an ex-love who is filthy rich and involved with the family in the plot.

Perhaps if I had read the other DiPino books I might have a better understanding of what is going on in this one.  But I didn’t and won’t.

This novel is helter skelter and leaves the reader pretty confused with what is going on, epecially when DiPino’s partner from New York appears in California to help out.  Wonder if his supervisors know that he is not in New York during these trips. Does he magically have jurisdiction in San Francisco?

8/14 Paul Lane

THE WORKING DEAD by David Thayer. David Thayer Consulting; 1 edition (December 28, 2013). ASIN B0095ZJS2W. Print Length: 228p.

TRAITOR’S BLADE by Sebastien de Castell

August 28, 2014

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The death of their king has left the once proud Greatcoats in ruins. Brought together by an idealistic monarch and tasked with upholding his law, they were the keepers of peace and justice in an otherwise dark and lawless land. But the various dukes, landed gentry throughout the kingdom, banded together to bring down the Greatcoats’ king.

They’re considered the lowest of the low now. Looked down on by the very people they once protected, believed to have failed their king. Since Paelis’s death, Falcio, Brasti, and Kest have been forced to take work where they can. Their latest is the protection of a tradesman who may just be able to bring the Greatcoats together once again. But when their employer is murdered under their watch, they find themselves on the run.

They win positions as guards for another caravan but soon find that their new charge is at the center of another of the dukes’ plots. If the dukes succeed, it would mean chaos for the kingdom as a whole.

This first in Sebastien de Castell’s new series is a swashbuckling fantasy clearly inspired by classic adventure tales the likes of The Three Musketeers. It’s a fun start to what promises to be an exciting series full of action, intrigue, magic, and dirty political plotting.

8/14 Becky Lejeune

TRAITOR’S BLADE by Sebastien de Castell. Jo Fletcher Books (July 15, 2014). ISBN 978-1623658090. 384p.

SEFLIN Virtual Conference – User Experience

August 27, 2014



Find out more and register for User Experience: Seeing Your Library Through the User’s Eyes at:

September 19, 2014, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (Eastern Time, US and Canada) 

Conference sessions and presenters include:

·         The Future of UX in Libraries: Learning Everywhere
Michael Stephens  (Assistant Professor, San Jose State University)

·         Improving Your Library with User Experience Design
Aaron Schmidt  (Principle at Influx Library User Experience Consulting)

·         Practical UX Research Tips for Librarians
Kathryn Whitenton  (User Experience Specialist at The Nielsen Norman Group)

·         Designing Your Spaces, Services, and Organization Around Your Users
Elliot Felix  (Founder and Director of BrightSpot Strategy)

·         Make Your Website UX Rock
David Lee King  (Digital Services Director, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library)

Library Directors and Leaders: This conference is a cost-effective and highly relevant educational opportunity for anyone in the library field. Register as a group so your entire staff can attend sessions that fit their schedules. Forward this announcement to your staff and colleagues. 

Recordings of the conference sessions will be available after the conference to all registered attendees.

The registration fee is $40 for individuals and $125 for groups.

There is no registration charge for library staff working in the State of Florida.

Seats are limited, so register ASAP.

Find out more and register at:

Produced by:




Southeast Florida Library Information Network
777 Glades Road
Office 452, Wimberly Library
Boca Raton, FL 33431
ph: 561-208-0984
fax: 561-208-0995

HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

August 27, 2014

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Phillips is my favorite contemporary romance writer and I always look forward to her books. That said, if this was written by any other writer I probably would have put it down 10 pages in. The main character is Annie, a ventriliquist, and the book opens with Annie conversing with her puppets. Not my thing but since it was Phillips, I kept going and I’m very glad I did.

This book is a bit of a departure for Phillips.  Our hero is Theo Harp, a young widower returned to hide away in his childhood home, a spooky mansion on an isolated island off the coast of Maine.

Annie’s childhood friend Jaycie is keeping house for Theo. Jayce is a single mom with a mute 4 year old daughter and Annie tries to rekindle their friendship.

Annie has recently lost her mother, who had a vacation home down the hill from the manse that she inherited along with an unusual deed restriction. Annie must stay on the island for the requisite number of days, or the property reverts back to the original owner, Harp’s family. Annie has returned to the island, a failed actress, destitute, and recovering from an illness that has left her having trouble breathing.

Annie and Theo grew up together, but had a major falling out as teens. Theo appeared to turn violent and frightened Annie badly. She’s still somewhat frightened of him, but also strangely attracted to him. Then sinister things start happening. Her cottage is trashed, a threatening warning is written on her bathroom mirror, and a gunshot narrowly misses her.

Eventually the romance kicks in but the gothic atmosphere is pervasive throughout, an obvious nod to one of the original Gothic romances, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The requisite happy ending had even the puppets finding a higher purpose. Bottom line? Phillips is a great storyteller and has penned another winner.


8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. William Morrow (August 26, 2014). ISBN 978-0062351128. 384p.

Guest Blogger: Deborah Coonts

August 26, 2014

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UPDATE: If you would like to win the ebook of LUCKY CATCH, read through to the end!

I have been a fan of Deborah Coonts since her first Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure, Wanna Get Lucky so I was really excited when she offered to do a guest post for me.  Enjoy!


 By Deborah Coonts

I’m just no good at sex.

Well, writing it, anyway.  Ask me to put sex on paper and I become as shy as a schoolgirl taking her first ride in the backseat of a Chevy.

What words do I use?  At what point does the prose become purple?  Do I do the Tab A into Slot B approach, or something more prosaic?  Do I venture further afield or use the basic missionary?  Kinky or not so much?

All hard decisions.

And, since my characters become my friends, their voices real, recording their sexual proclivities and activities seems a bit voyeuristic and well, tawdry.  But, to me, a good story has a great romance.  And a great romance involves sex.

So, I’ve got to tackle the sex thing.  After five novels and four novellas you’d think I’d get good at it…or at least more comfortable.  No such luck.

Of course, I guess I could be like a writer I know who made his editor write the sex scenes because he couldn’t bring himself to write girl-on-girl sex.  He could watch it, but he couldn’t write it.

Of course, how many men do you know who can write sex and get it right?  I can count them on one hand and not use all my fingers.

Recently I was on a Sex In Mysteries panel at Left Coast Crime.  One of the spots the moderator, Allison Brennan who is an evil, evil moderator, put us in involved each of us reading a sex scene written by a published author. These scenes, of course, were largely considered the absolute worst of their ilk.   I had no idea this was coming…and I was positively apoplectic as each read in turn, praying none of my efforts ended up being read aloud for all to skewer.

Thankfully, I was spared.  And the scenes were horribly beyond imagining—we all were crying with laughter by the end of it.

What did I learn?  First, I can keep a straight face while reading a terrible, graphic sex scene in front of a couple hundred people I know only slightly.  And, even great writers write bad sex.

Shallow as I am, that made me feel better.  It turns out everyone has issues with sex.  I don’t know why that surprised me.  And, as in life, we each have to find what punches our buttons.

One time, years ago, a writer friend asked me to read some pages.  I took them with me on a flight to Hong Kong.  Settled in with a glass of bubbly, I broke out the pages, and broke out in a sweat.  Holy cow!

When I returned home and my friend invited me to lunch and asked me what I thought, I squirmed and avoided eye contact.  Finally I managed, “You know that first scene?  I’m not sure all of that is even physically possible.”

She looked at me stone-faced and said, “Oh, I can guarantee it’s possible.”

I’m very visual.  I was traumatized.  Still am.

But I also learned that I really don’t want my sexual experiences ending up between the covers… of a book.

But, to the extent we draw on real life when we write, is that realistic?  You bet.  Now I just write sex as I wish it to be.

When Wanna Get Lucky?, the first in the Lucky series, was published a man asked me if the book was a how-to book.  I thought for a moment, then nodded.  “Yes, it is.”  He looked confused.  I bet he’s still trying to figure out what I meant by that.

As with all writers, I am working on the next opus.  Yesterday, I ran headlong into the “big sex scene.”  Even still, with all this perspective, I get all twitchy when I have to step into the bedroom (or the closet, or the shower, or the living room, or the kitchen—my characters are often adventuresome) and record my characters inter-coitus.

So, what did I do?  What I always do.  I sat at a bar, ordered copious amounts of wine, and imagined….

 About the Book, Lucky Catch:

Trouble always comes in threes. At least that’s what Lucky O’Toole, the VP of Customer Relations for Las Vegas’ primo Strip casino/hotel, the Babylon, has heard for years from her mother. So, tonight, when Teddie, her former lover shows up at her office unannounced and very unexpected, her father offers Teddie a job at the Babylon, she is called to deal with a pig in residence at one of the hotels most exclusive and opulent suites, and Lucky’s current lover, Jean-Charles Bouclet stops answering his phone leaving Lucky to handle his five-year-old son, Lucky figures she has tonight’s compliment of chaos covered.

As usual, she is a tad optimistic.

With a cadre of celebrity chefs with the maturity of teenagers in Vegas for a televised cook-off, a prized Alba truffle in the Babylon’s care, and her mother’s pregnancy racing toward the inevitable, what could go wrong?
When the truffle is stolen from the walk-in in Jean-Charles’ gourmet burger joint at the Babylon and a young chef apparently killed with a smoking gun is found in Jean-Charles’ food truck on the back lot, trouble takes a sinister turn.

And Jean-Charles still isn’t answering his phone.

Another body is discovered. This one stuffed in an oven at Jean-Charles’ eponymous restaurant and set to broil.

Desperate to put a lid on the body count and more than frantic over her AWOL lover, Lucky uses her Vegas contacts to search in places and in ways the police wouldn’t or couldn’t. Teddie insists on riding shotgun. Lucky hasn’t the time nor the resolve to say no. She’s never been able to resist Teddie … not really. With danger dogging their heels, Lucky finds herself falling once again under his spell as they traverse Vegas, being drawn deeper and deeper into the highly competitive world of high-end eateries and the battle for the very rare, most highly prized gourmet foodstuffs.

Would somebody really kill for a truffle?

In a heartbeat.

And when Lucky’s path crosses the killer’s… will her goose be cooked?

Watch the trailer

About the Author:

DeborahCoonts4I am proof positive that sex sells…and persistence pays off. After fifteen years learning the craft of writing, I am now officially, an overnight success. And it’s been a long road to get here…

My mother tells me I was born in Texas a very long time ago, but I’m not so sure—my mother can’t be trusted. These things I do know: I was raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food and beer. I’ve lived in every time zone in the U.S.; the most memorable stint being the time spent in Las Vegas, where I currently reside and where family and friends tell me I can’t get into too much trouble…silly people.

The only constant in my life (besides my family, who deserves hazardous duty pay for sticking with me) has been change (my mother is still waiting for me to grow up). Silly woman.
But all of this career ADD made me incredibly unemployable. Hence the whole writing thing.
Actually, I’ve known from a young age that somehow stories would be a large part of my life, but my path to telling lies for a living (okay, not lies per se, but variations of the truth, for sure) has been circuitous. If someone had just told me when I was a kid that I could actually be paid to daydream for a living, life would have been soooo much easier. But they didn’t. And I never saw a ‘daydreaming’ booth at all those Career Days I attended.

So, initially discouraged when unable to locate anyone willing to pay me to read books, go to the movies, or attend the theatre, and in need of providing for the best child in the world, my son Tyler, I spent years being someone else—an accountant (blech), a business owner (pretty fun), a lawyer (loved law school, hated practicing law), a pilot (giddy and terrifying at the same time). But through it all, I wrote. Along the way I wrote the world’s worst novel, a slightly more well-crafted but equally as poorly plotted novel, several non-fiction feature articles (my first sales!), multiple humor columns for a national magazine (more sales!), and, finally, the novel that sold, Wanna Get Lucky?, the first in a series to be published by Forge Books. The series is a Sex and the City meets Elmore Leonard in Vegas kind of thing, if you can imagine that. Okay, have several glasses of wine, then think about it…makes imagining easier. Anyway, the books are sexy, wry, romantic, and slightly naughty mixed with a little murder and mayhem—shaken, not stirred—then illuminated by the bright lights of Las Vegas—one of the truly magical cities in the world.

Many of my friends have asked me how in the world I came up with the Lucky series. The way they asked led me to believe they thought mind-altering substances might have been involved even though they knew the worst I do is a glass of fine Pinot-Noir. The answer to their question is actually very simple: let your fifteen-year-old male child pick where you live, follow his dream to Vegas, then keep your eyes open.

Hey, it worked for me!


If you would like to win the ebook:

Send an email to with “ LUCKY CATCH” as the subject. You must include your snail mail address in your email.

All entries must be received by September 10, 2014. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age. One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.

LUCKY CATCH by Deborah Coonts. Cool Gus Publishing (August 26, 2014). ISBN: 978-1621251828. 262p.

ABROAD by Katie Crouch

August 25, 2014

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A year in Italy as part of the renowned Enteria program offers Tabitha Deacon her first opportunity for adventure. A smart girl who’s had relatively little experience of the world, she approaches her year abroad with careful attention and focus. But that doesn’t mean she won’t have time for fun. Taz joins up with a group of three other students from the UK and suddenly has an in to every elite party and club in Grifonia. For the young twenty-something it’s a dream come true in every way – until it ends in tragedy.

Katie Crouch freely admits that Abroad is inspired by the Amanda Knox case. Inspired by being the key – Abroad is not a fictionalized version of the case. Taz’s story is very much Crouch’s own creation, but her various essays and articles on the case do provide interesting insight into the shape Abroad would eventually take.

The story unfolds through Taz’s eyes, told after her own death. As her tale hurdles to its dreadful conclusion, Crouch introduces various other murdered girls throughout Grifonia’s history. Their stories and the history of the city provide a unique framework, further setting the story apart from its true inspiration.

I thought Abroad was a bit unnerving – it stuck with me well after turning the final page. And yet I have to say it was brilliantly paced and excellently executed. A definite favorite of mine for the year.

8/14 Becky Lejeune

ABROAD by Katie Crouch. Sarah Crichton Books (June 17, 2014). ISBN 978-0374100360. 304p.

DEAD LINE by Chris Ewan

August 24, 2014

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Daniel Trent and his fiancee are partners in the unusual business of guiding families of kidnapped victims when dealing with the kidnappers. They have the expertise to help the families understand what the kidnappers really want, and what amount of money they will accept to return the victim unharmed.

The action of this very fast and taut novel is set in Marseille France.

Aimee, Daniel’s fiancée,  has just advised him that she is pregnant when she mysteriously disappears. Daniel knows that she has been in contact with Jerome Moreau to sell him a policy to protect him and pay a certain amount if he is kidnapped. Daniel proceeds to follow Jerome to find out where his fiancee is when he witnesses to Jerome being kidnapped as he is driving to his home with his wife.

Daniel contacts the wife indicating that he knows about the kidnap policy and is obligated to help them recover Jerome. Events move rapidly as clue after clue to Jerome’s location surface with no success.

Ewan is a master at keeping the reader up all night biting his or her nails while devouring the book. The ending may allow the situation to allow a followup book to appear, and if so I would expect anyone reading this to grab it and get into it immediately.

8/14 Paul Lane

DEAD LINE by Chris Ewan. Minotaur Books (August 5, 2014). ISBN 978-1250047076. 352p.

THE PROPOSAL by Mary Balough

August 23, 2014

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The Survivors Club series, Book 1

So I committed the cardinal sin – I started reading this series with the second book, The Arrangement. I liked it so much I went back and found book 1. Happily, the third book in the series, The Escape , is also available.

This series focuses on a group of men who all sustained injuries during the Napoleonic Wars. The Duke of Stanbrook, having lost his son in that war, had invited this group of five men with various serious injuries, and one woman who had the misfortune of seeing her husband tortured and killed, to recuperate at his estate. They form an eternal bond, and after they have healed enough to return to the world, they meet up once a year at the estate to renew their bonds. And apparently each year, one of them will marry.

This book centers around war hero Lord Trentham, who suffers from what today would be called post traumatic stress disorder. He is of the middle classes, but received his title from the King for his heroism during the war. He has arrived for their annual retreat and is walking on the beach when he finds a young woman who has trespassed, and seriously sprained her ankle. Lady Muir is a young widow and is terribly embarrassed to be carried back to the manse. The chemistry between them is palpable.

They both have lived through violence and death, and their differences seem too much to overcome. Meanwhile Lord Trentham’s young half sister needs his help to find a husband, and he needs Lady Muir’s help to that end. After much soul searching, eventually they all find their happy ending.

Balough creates interesting characters with real depth, and we can’t help but root for them. This is a fast read and a good one.

8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PROPOSAL by Mary Balough. Dell; Reprint edition (May 28, 2013). ISBN 978-0440245308. 384p.


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