August bookshelf

August 1, 2014


UPDATE: 2 more books to win! See breaking news below.

I updated the Win Books page for August with some terrific new thrillers! As usual, there are NY Times bestsellers, solid storytellers and some newbies.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s new Cainsville series continues with Visions. You won’t want to miss Don’t Look Back by Greg Hurwitz – David Baldacci said “Once you read the first page, you will keep ripping through pages until there are none left.”

I love John Florio’s incredibly damaged mixed-race albino character, Jersey Leo, and he’s back in another hard-boiled thriller in Blind Moon Alley. Kelli Stanley will once again mesmerize readers with the most thrilling novel yet in her award-winning series, City of Ghosts.

Nancy J. Cohen adds another terrific paranormal romance to her Drift Lords series with Warrior Lord, where a fantasy wedding in Las Vegas turns into a nightmare when contest winner Erika Sherwood realizes she’s married an alien.

I’m proud to offer up a couple of debut thrillers –  Ice Shear by M.P. Cooley and BLOCK 10 by Stacy Childs & David Niall Wilson.

Breaking news: USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub is offering her twenty-first thriller, The Perfect Stranger. And finally, one more debut novel is available, Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti by newcomer Ted Oswald.

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 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.


August 22, 2014

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Bella Vista Chronicles, Book 1

This series is set at the Bella Vista apple orchard in Sonoma County, California, in the small town of Archangel. I read these out of order, starting with book 2, The Beekeeper’s Ball, which I liked so much that I immediately ran out and got this book. They don’t have to be read in order, but probably is better to do so.

This story centers around Tess Delaney, an antiques appraiser working for a prestigious California auction house like Sotheby’s. She grew up in Dublin with a single mom who travelled a great deal, so really her grandmother raised her.  The grandmother had an antiques store and Tess loved being there with her, and learned a great deal that helped her in her career. Her mother told her that her father was a one night stand and she didn’t even know his name.

Tess is on the verge of a big promotion and move to New York when Dominic Rossi enters her life. She originally believes he’s come to her for an appraisal, but is shocked to discover that he’s there to deliver some bad news. Her grandfather, Magnus,  has taken a tumble and is in a coma. The news would be devastating to anyone, but the real shocker is that Tess never knew she even had a grandfather. Then she comes to find out that she also has a half-sister.

Dominic is divorced with two kids and dogs and is the executor of Magnus’s estate, and tells Tess that the two granddaughters are equal heirs. Stunned to learn she stands to inherit an estate, Tess decides she had better go meet her half sister, Isabel, and find out more. Along the way she falls in love with the area, and with Dominic, but the estate is on the verge of bankruptcy. Dominic works for the bank that holds the mortgages, but try as he might, the conglomerate that owns the bank won’t budge – until Tess ferrets out a rare antique that is worth millions.

The backstory here is a complicated family one, with some really interesting flashbacks to World War II in Copenhagen, and the Danish resistance. A very fast read with characters that come alive on the pages, and I truly hope there are more books to follow.

8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL by Susan Wiggs. Harlequin MIRA; Reprint edition (April 29, 2014). ISBN 978-0778314967. 448p.

DON’T LOOK BACK by Gregg Hurwitz

August 21, 2014

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Eve Hardaway, mother of one, and just left by her husband decides to take the trip of a lifetime. She goes to Oaxaca in the southern part of Mexico to enjoy rafting and hiking in company of a few other tourists to a small resort run by a Mexican couple.

She is immediately flung into the adventure of her life when she spots a man living alone in the Jungle near the resort area. While peering at him, she finds a camera, picks it up and takes it with her back to her group. She also finds a prescription bottle with the name Teresa Hamilton on it.

From this chance sighting and the picking up of Hamilton’s property Hurwitz accelerates the pace of the book to breakneck speed. The man she sighted does not want to be seen by anyone and begins a campaign against Eve’s group involving murder and terror. A sudden violent storm wipes out all roads and in effect closes down the area leaving Eve and her group at the mercy of a dangerous predator who proves that he will stop at nothing to keep his presence there a secret.

The group realizes that he has already killed Teresa Hamilton and they are at his mercy with no way out or any means to call for help due to the damage caused by the storm. The book leads the reader through a maze of secrets and terror. A definite all nighter with answers seeming to elude everyone and leading to mayhem and all powering fear.

Who is the man living there? What does he want to do? Questions that Hurwitz answers logically and keeping the reader pasted to the book.

Good book, great plot, well fleshed out characters and Greg Hurwitz continues his record of engrossing fiction.

8/14 Paul Lane

DON’T LOOK BACK by Gregg Hurwitz. St. Martin’s Press (August 19, 2014). ISBN 978-0312626839. 400p.


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