Win the October ’15 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

September 30, 2015

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Happy October! I’m giving away some great books this month, all autographed by the authors. Best of luck, and don’t forget to check back…you never know when new titles will be added.

THE SURVIVOR by Vince Flynn & Kyle Mills
A Mitch Rapp Novel
A blistering novel that picks up where The Last Man left off, The Survivor is a no-holds-barred race to save America…and Mitch Rapp’s finest battle.

FRONT RUNNER: A Dick Francis Novel by Felix Francis
Jefferson Hinkley is back in the newest Dick Francis thriller by the New York Times–bestselling author of Damage. “Francis once again proves himself worthy of wearing his father’s colors.  This latest effort has an absolutely propulsive plot that will remind Dick Francis fans of his classic nail-biters . . . This one’s a stunner.”—Booklist (starred review)

CUT AND COVER by Kevin Hurley
With exemplary skills in hand-to-hand combat and small arms weaponry, John Rexford completes a string of successful kills, eliminating terrorists and their money supply in the New York Metropolitan area. “A resounding character study just as much as it is an action novel, and both are equally triumphant.” —Kirkus Reviews

Die Again Tomorrow held me captive me from the opening chapter—in which a murdered woman is subjected to a secret medical procedure that brings her back to life. From there the story takes off like a rocket, full of surprises, fascinating science, and vivid characters. If you enjoy the medical thrillers of Crichton and Cook, this book is for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”—Douglas Preston

CHARLOTTE’S STORY by Laura Benedict
A Bliss House Novel
Step back into Bliss House, the yellow-brick Virginia mansion with a disreputable, dangerous past, that even the sheen of 1950’s domesticity cannot hide…



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 from debut authors to bestsellers, 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!


October 5, 2015
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Tidy picture of a hit man with a great twist. This is a man that only hits other hit men. Michael Hendricks was once a covert operator for a secret organization of the U.S. military.

Taking advantage of an assignment in Afghanistan that went bad and caused him to be thought killed in action, Hendricks began a new life. He left behind his old one, including the girl he was engaged to.

For 10 times the price offered for the murder of an individual he will kill the man sent to take out someone. A great way to make a lot of money but also to set himself up as a target for a lot of skilled murderers.

The novel follows him as he pursues his vocation until he comes across his ex-fiancée and her family. This changes the entire complex of the book and almost gets Michael killed.

A well done portrait of a man with no qualms about taking a life as a way of life.

10/15 Paul Lane

THE KILLING KIND by Chris Holm. Mulholland Books (September 15, 2015). ISBN: 978-0316259538. 320p.



October 4, 2015
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(Fake) Paranormal Investigator

Jillian doesn’t believe all the paranormal mumbo jumbo her father peddles but she does know that an all but orphaned teen has to earn money somehow. Umbra Investigations is Jillian’s somehow – a PI agency focused on cases of an unusual sort. In other words, taking advantage of the same folks her father does.

But then Jillian gets a case that definitely sounds more serious: a missing person, and she’s been hired to find him. Of course the person hiring her believes the missing guy has been cursed and the new boy in school who has suddenly latched himself onto Jillian also believes this to be the case. (He blackmailed his way into partner status.) Nevertheless, Jillian needs the paycheck more desperately than ever and is determined to solve the case even when the clues start to point in some pretty unbelievable directions.

A writer on Grey’s Anatomy with a slew of other show credits to her name, Jen Klein definitely has the chops for a clever and catchy novel and she absolutely delivers in her debut! Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator is a fun blend of Veronica Mars sass and Buffy the Vampire Slayer supernatural and is perfect for fans of both.

But Jillian Cade is no Veronica or Buffy – she’s all Jillian. She puts up a bad-ass front all the while dealing with some heavy stuff, most prominently the recent weird death of her mother and her father’s abandonment. And things only get harder for the teen. Confronted by the fact that not one but two people are threatening to out her as a fraud, she knows she has to solve this case.

I expected the whole story to be “(Fake) Paranormal” and was quite surprised to find that wasn’t at all the case. There are some pretty big revelations both for our skeptical heroine and for the reader as well. Considering all of that, I assume that Jillian Cade is the first in a series and will most definitely be looking forward to more.

10/15 Becky LeJeune

JILLIAN CADE by Jen Klein. Soho Teen (September 1, 2015).  ISBN 978-1616954345. 288p.

MY KITCHEN YEAR by Ruth Reichl

October 3, 2015
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136 Recipes That Saved My Life

For years Ruth Reichl has been recognized and revered for her work. But in 2009 with the folding of Gourmet, the critic/writer/editor was suddenly unmoored. She found solace in her kitchen, though, and that’s the heart of her latest release, My Kitchen Year.

This is no ordinary cookbook. My Kitchen Year is a book to be read as much as it is a book to be used. In fact, it’s something of a conversation between Ruth and her readers. Recipes are loosely built, leaving room for personal tastes and interpretations, and are accompanied by Ruth’s own writings on what was happening at that particular time in the days and months after Gourmet was shut down.

Recipes are arranged by season, featuring ingredients at the height of freshness, and while the dishes themselves run the gamut of food types and flavors – Easy “Bolognese,” Ma Po Tofu, “Tandoori” Chicken, Matzo Brei – , they all have one thing in common: comfort. From the Shirred Eggs with Potato Puree all the way through to the Quick, Easy Do-Ahead Dinner for Two People: A Ten Minute Meal (lamb chops with baked potatoes and shredded Brussels sprouts), Ruth takes readers on a journey through that year all the while sharing the dishes that helped her along the way.

My Kitchen Year is a fabulous cookbook filled with enticing recipes, gorgeous photography, and lots of heart. It’s perfect for Reichl’s fans as well as anyone who has a love for good food.

10/15 Becky LeJeune

MY KITCHEN YEAR by Ruth Reichl. Random House (September 29, 2015).  ISBN 978-1400069989. 352p.


October 2, 2015
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Isabel Leon is beautiful triathlete who lands the dream job – star of a reality series called Wild Woman. She’s survived the Brazilian Amazon jungle, the shark-infested waters of Australia and the Saharan desert, only to face the biggest crisis of her life – her mom’s quickly advancing cancer.

There is an experimental drug available that could pretty much cure her, but the price is high, more than a quarter of a million dollars. So Isabel does the unthinkable and makes a deal with the devil, and as usually happens with such deals, it backfires on her and she is murdered. Except a small group called The Network has hold of her body, and they have the drugs to bring her back to life.

Big pharma and the life insurance industry take it on the chin in this twisty thriller that bounces all over the place, sometimes making it hard to keep track of who is who and what is happening. But the story and the characters are so well drawn it doesn’t matter, and the pages fly by.

Readers who like strong female protagonists like the Caitlin Strong books by Jon Land or the Rizzoli & Iles books by Tess Gerritsen should be happy to meet Isabel.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

10/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DIE AGAIN TOMORROW by Kira Peikoff. Pinnacle (September 29, 2015).  ISBN 978-0786034918. 320p.


A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan

September 30, 2015
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If you love charming, quirky novels, you have come to the right place! This book is being compared with Where’d You Go, Bernadette and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, two of my favorites, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to say it ranks right up there with them.

Alice Pearse is happily married with three young children. She is the part time books editor at the fictional woman’s magazine, You. She is an avid reader and a true book lover, which I could totally relate to.

Alice’s husband Nicholas is a lawyer who comes home one day and tells her he’s not making partner, had a hissy fit at work and is opening his own office. And by the way, would she mind getting a full time job until he gets his business going?

Alice finds what she thinks will be the perfect job as “arbiter of taste” for a new start up, a book/reading salon that sounds too good to be true – and of course it is. While she struggles to get with the technology and fit in with all the nerds at work, she also has to deal with her father, who suffers a serious setback in his fight against throat cancer.

Nicholas steps up to do more with the kids, the cooking and the housework. Babysitter Jessie puts in more hours but Alice’s best friend owns a traditional, small bookstore and considers Alice as having made a deal with the devil, straining their friendship.

Alice soldiers on as best as she can, and we can’t help rooting for her in this delightful debut novel. The techie nightmare she finds herself in is uncannily like the recent NY Times story about what it’s like to work at (while this book was written more than a year before that article appeared along with its subsequent publicity.) The characters are wonderfully drawn and we can’t help but care about them. It is a fast read and frankly, I couldn’t put it down. Book clubs will love it as much as I did.

9/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan. Simon & Schuster (August 25, 2015).  ISBN 978-1501105432. 384p.

AFTER YOU by JoJo Moyes

September 29, 2015
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The sequel to the hugely popular Me Before You

Like millions of other readers, I loved Me Before You, so I was excited to hear there was a sequel. If you want the thirty second review, I liked it but not nearly as much as its predecessor.

The author has asked that reviewers not give away anything in reviewing the second book, so the major plot point is kept secret. I have wrestled with how to do that as I would like to honor that request. So I’m not going to give a synopsis.

Instead I will tell you that the story is about Louise Clark, the protagonist of MBY. This is her story, and the people that are in her life and those that come into her life. It starts out one way, which I thought was going to be a sentimental ripoff, but instead veers in an unexpected direction which I much preferred. Love is the predominating factor, but it is more a story about family than romantic love, but no fear, there is still romance here.

I did enjoy the book; the characters were engaging and I cared about what happened to them. If you like dysfunctional family stories, there is much to like here.  If you are looking for a great romance and all that implies, keep looking.

That’s the best I can do under these restraints.

9/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

AFTER YOU by Jojo Moyes. Pamela Dorman Books (September 29, 2015).  ISBN 978-0525426592. 368p.





September 25, 2015
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This book was recommended to me by the same person who recommended one of my favorite books of 2014, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I was told it was a charming, quirky book, which are hard to find and something really I love. Like Fikry. Or The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Or Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

I didn’t love this one so much. It was quirky for sure, but really could have used a bit more charm, which I found lacking.

The story revolves around the eponymous Harriet Chance, a 79 year-old widow. Her husband has died but still visits her on occasion, to the displeasure of the angels and her children and pastor, who thinks she’s losing it. She finds out that her husband has won a cruise to Alaska and she takes it as a sign that she should go. She invites her best friend, who cancels at the last minute and eventually her estranged daughter shows up on board. And slowly,  Harriet finds out that much of her life and the people around her have been full of secrets and lies.

The book is a series of short chapters that jump around to various specific days in Harriet’s life showing her at different ages. The chapters do not move chronologically but are nonetheless easy to follow. Harriet is an odd duck at best, as are her husband, family and friends, which adds to the quirkiness of the story. But I just couldn’t get attached to her, and without that, the story just meanders pointlessly. It was a fast read, and I’m not sorry I read it but it was a bit of a letdown.

9/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! by Jonathan Evison. Algonquin Books (September 8, 2015).  ISBN 978-1616202613. 304p.




CATACOMB by Madeleine Roux

September 24, 2015
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Asylum (Book 3)

Dan, Abby, and Jordan have survived Brookline Asylum and Warden Crawford and his henchmen twice now and are due some downtime. Plus, they’ll all be headed off to college soon – or at least Dan and Jordan will, Abby is still undecided. So when Jordan packs up to move to New Orleans where he’ll be living with his more accepting uncle, the three decide it’s a great opportunity for a road trip. What they don’t know and can’t even begin to suspect, is that they are still yet to be free of the shadow of Brookline Asylum.

This third title in the series finally answers some of the questions Dan and the readers have had about his parentage. And what better place to set that tale than one of the most mysterious cities in the United States?

I loved the fact that the book brought the trio to New Orleans, but I honestly expected something of a different story. We already knew that there was a character in Sanctum connected to Louisiana and that character does ultimately play a hefty role in this third story just not in the way I’d expected (meaning I kind of expected some of the plantation stuff hinted at in Sactum). That aside, it was definitely a welcome return to Dan and his friends.

The story does loosely connect to Brookline Asylum, but is less asylum and experiments and more voodoo and conjuring (appropriate for the setting). And of course we do have more of my favorite aspect of the series – the weird photos to set the tone of the story. While this third installment didn’t take the exact route I thought it would, it was a nice surprise in terms of the change of direction in keeping the series going.

9/15 Becky LeJeune

CATACOMB by Madeleine Roux. HarperCollins (September 1, 2015).  ISBN 978-0062364050.  336p.



SANCTUM by Madeleine Roux

September 23, 2015
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Asylum (Book 2)

After surviving the horrors of their summer at New Hampshire College, Dan and his friends are looking forward to a bit of normalcy. But someone has other plans for the trio. Dan agrees to visit their old classmate – the one locked up for killing a fellow student – and is given a message that forces him to return to New Hampshire College. His hope is that he can finally bring the whole nightmare to a close, but when he reveals his plan to Abby and Jordan he finds that they too have received messages.

Now all three have returned, under the guise of a student campus visit, to once again face the horrors of Brookline Asylum.

This follow up to Asylum picks up just a few months after Dan, Abby, and Jordan narrowly escaped the summer college prep program at New Hampshire College. All three have returned home to their own high schools, but Dan has a hard time letting go. Part of this is of course thanks to the revelations about his own shocking connection to Brookline Asylum.

This time around, Dan and his friends are sent on a bizarre scavenger hunt throughout the town of Brookline, all the while trying to evade their student hosts and a weird secret society while Dan also tries to muddle through the meaning of a series of visions he’s been having about Warden Crawford.

As with Asylum Roux again uses creepy and gritty imagery to ratchet up the chill factor of Sanctum. It was great to return to Brookline – a town I’d definitely NEVER want to live in – and get more of the Warden and the asylum’s story, though there were still a few loose ends left by the end. Overall it’s a great mix of horror and suspense, the perfect kind for a one-sitting read on a dark and stormy night.

9/15 Becky LeJeune

SANCTUM by Madeleine Roux. HarperCollins; Reprint edition (September 1, 2015).  ISBN 978-0062221001.  368p.




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