Win the August ’15 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

August 1, 2015

Aug 15 Collage

No summer doldrums here…just an awesome collection of signed thrillers!

THE DEVIL’S BRIDGE by Linda Fairstein
In her seventeenth Alexandra Cooper thriller, New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein takes readers where they have never been before: Inside the mind of NYPD Detective Mike Chapman. Nelson DeMille says Fairstein is “one of the best crime fiction writers in America today.”

IRON WOLF by Dale Brown
New York Times bestselling author Dale Brown goes beyond the headlines in this high-tech, high-tension military thriller in which a resurgent Russia inflames sectarian unrest and violence in Ukraine and Poland, setting off a stealth robotic war and escalating an international crisis. Kirkus Review says, “The action’s relentless. … High-tension, all-out action-adventure. … Brown out-Clancys Tom.”

Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem. Booklist says, “Readers will find this tale of domestic suspense deeply compelling as a once-happy family unit disintegrates and a woman summons her heretofore hidden strength. Told from multiple perspectives, McNeill’s gripping tale explores family, trust, and how lives are rebuilt.”

St. Louis-based author Susan E. Sagarra has penned her first mystery novel in which two women take a crack at adulthood in vastly different worlds. Sagarra has earned numerous journalism awards, including first place in the National Federation of Press Women-Missouri Chapter annual contest.

Mark is in the way of ISIS’s plans – and they want him removed. Can Mark stave of ‘The Ultimate Threat’ in his mission to save not only his family but the freedom of America as well? Osborne is a novelist and the author of more than 100 short stories. His award-winning stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, both in print and online.

BELIEVE NO ONE by A.D. Garrett
The race is on to catch a serial killer and save a nine-year-old boy in this gripping sequel to A. D. Garrett’s highly praised forensic thriller, Everyone Lies In a starred review, Publishers Weekly says, “Fine attention to forensics and investigative techniques distinguishes this stellar thriller.”

Ryder Creed and his K9 search-and-rescue dogs return in the second installment of an exciting new series, teaming up once more with FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell in their riskiest case yet. Publishers Weekly says, “Exciting . . . . [an] intense thriller, which builds to an explosive conclusion.”

THE ETERNAL WORLD by Christopher Farnsworth
If you could live forever, what would you die for? Kirkus Reviewsays, “A fantastical witch’s brew of Spanish conquistadors, biotechnology, and hubris . . . with cinematic pacing and colorful action scenes, Farnsworth blends a unique premise into fun summer reading . . . entertainingly explores the border where science fantasy meets reality.”

BLACK-EYED SUSANS by Julia Heaberlin
Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden, sure to appeal to fans of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn. Publishers Weekly says, “Gripping . . . The suspense builds as Tessie uncovers devastating secrets from the past en route to the shocking ending.”

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!

Just wanted to add congratulations and thanks to the

November winner for sending in this picture!

Nov14 Winner

THE UNINVITED by Cat Winters

August 29, 2015
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Ivy has only just recovered from the flu, but when she hears that her father and brother have murdered a local German shop owner she knows she can’t stay in their house one moment longer. Ivy has always seen spirits – they’re harbingers of bad things to come – and the last thing she can take is seeing the ghost of the man her father murdered.

When she arrives in town, though, she finds that Buchanan has been hit hard by the war and Spanish flu. The hospital is bursting at the seams and turning away patients with the wrong background or address. Fear is a predominant feeling amongst the locals – fear of being called out for being unpatriotic, fear of getting sick, fear of losing one more loved one… Ivy knows that fear makes men like the one her father murdered prime targets but she still feels a responsibility to the dead man’s brother and is desperate to make amends. At the same time, Ivy is certain something awful is about to come to pass. Why else would she be seeing her dead brother at every turn?

Cat Winters makes her adult debut with The Uninvited. It’s historical fiction set in an imagined town that’s pretty wonderfully representative of the era: the undertone of sadness and dread and the overwhelming anxiety of the town certainly feels true to the time.

Imagine watching your brothers, classmates, and sometimes even fathers going off to fight a war against an enemy overseas. Imagine being told that your neighbors could be collaborating with that enemy. And now imagine that a truly deadly and virulent sickness is making its way through your town as well. This is Ivy’s reality and her only relief comes from music and a love that’s pretty much forbidden.

There’s more than a hint of the supernatural to this tale – Ivy does see ghosts, after all – but The Uninvited is somewhat less of a ghost story than I’d initially expected. It’s more a story about human nature and the terrible effects of war. The combination makes for an eerie and emotional read.


8/15 Becky LeJeune

THE UNINVITED by Cat Winters. William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015).  ISBN 978-0062347336.  368p.




August 27, 2015
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One of my favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail, the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romcom written by Nora & Delia Ephron that is set around NYC bookstores. Much as You’ve Got Mail was a love letter to New York City, Coconut Cake is a love letter to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Reichert did an amazing job – I want to go!  The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is the foodie equivalent of Mail, and that completely worked for me.

Lou is a talented chef who is sweating away trying to make a success of her small French restaurant, Luella’s, named after her beloved grandmother. She has a core group of regulars, and is just making ends meet. Her personal life is a little bit better; her fiancé is successful but not entirely supportive of her endeavors. And then everything falls apart.

Lou walks in on her fiancé with another woman and she dumps him. She’s off to work, heartbroken, humiliated and angry, not the best way to cook. She alienates most of her staff, and the food suffers terribly.

Of course this is the night that the new food critic in town visits the restaurant. Al is quite acerbic in his reviews and is building a nice following. One meal at Luella’s is all that he needs to eviscerate the restaurant, sounding the death knoll for the struggling restaurant.

Meanwhile, Lou and Al literally run into each other and she decides to show him around Milwaukee, a city he is sorry he landed in. By the time she’s through with him, he loves the city and Lou – but it takes a while before he realizes who she is and she finds out who he is. Fireworks ensue, but it is the journey that is so delicious.

This was a fast moving story with warm, likeable characters and a fun plot.

8/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™


THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE by Amy E. Reichert. Gallery Books (July 21, 2015).  ISBN 978-1501100710. 336p.





August 26, 2015


Castles Ever After Series

This was such a fun read! I admit, I have a thing for Scots – at least Scots men in kilts – thank you, Diana Gabaldon. And I love Tessa Dare. So when I heard about this at ALA (the American Library Association annual conference) I knew I had to get my hands on it. And I was so glad I did.

The premise of the book was creative and original.  Madeline Gracechurch was supposed to be “coming out” but is so shy and awkward, not to mention smart in the science sort of way not heavily favored by the English gentry, she makes up a suitor, “Captain MacKenzie,”  sends him off to war, avoids English society and starts a correspondence with her imaginary lover.

Imagine her shock when years later Captain MacKenzie shows up at her door, ready to claim her for his wife. He’s been at sea, and all of her letters have landed in his lap. His lands have been taken by the British, and here is a convenient way to get something back for him and his men.

He convinces her to marry him or risk exposure and humiliation, and one thing leads to another and the oh so happy ending. But not before lots of angst, sex and a bit of history are thrown into the mix. I haven’t had this much fun reading a romance in a while, and I highly recommend it.

8/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT by Tessa Dare. Avon (August 25, 2015). ISBN 978-0062349026. 384p.

X by Sue Grafton

August 25, 2015
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Hallie Bettancourt’s biological son has just been released from jail. Hallie put the boy up for adoption over two decades back and has since become quite wealthy, so even if her son doesn’t want to meet her, she wants to offer some sort of help. And that’s where Kinsey comes in. Hallie has hired the PI to find out where the parolee lives and provide contact info so Hallie can reach out to him. Nothing could be simpler from Kinsey’s perspective.

But that simple job becomes less so when the feds show up investigating a marked bill that passed through Kinsey’s hands. A bill Hallie paid Kinsey with. Kinsey soon discovers that Hallie Bettancourt doesn’t exist. But why would anyone go to so much trouble to pull one over on Kinsey?

Meanwhile, Pete Wolinsky’s widow has grown concerned over some calls she’s received on Pete’s behalf from the IRS. Since Kinsey was the last one to go through Pete’s files – files Ruthie recently trashed – she’s hoping Kinsey might have come across something that can help. Kinsey never saw any financials but she did hang onto one old Byrd-Shine box that has a few curious items she decides are worth a closer look.

Kinsey is back in this twenty-fourth installment of the series. That’s right. Twenty-four. That means, sadly, that there are just two more to go.

Of all the long-term series that I read, this is by far my favorite. Kinsey – still trapped in the 80s, still enjoying her pb & pickle sandwiches, and still renting Henry’s guest house – is a character you want to be with for a while. And in spite of how it sounds, this isn’t a series that’s stagnant or stiff at all. Kinsey is constantly growing – this far along she’s a bit more cynical and a bit more snarky, which is why she’s so certain that the files she finds are another shady scheme of Pete’s. And while Ruthie is a staunch supporter of her husband, Kinsey really wants to stick to her guns based on what she thought she knew about him.

Henry, Rosie, William, and the regulars are back, but there are a few cameo appearances by past favorites too (Dietz.). But that doesn’t actually mean that you have to have read all of the books in order to be able to get into X. In fact, it could serve as a good starting point if you’ve yet to dive into the series.

8/15 Becky LeJeune

X by Sue Grafton. Marian Wood Books/Putnam (August 25, 2015).  ISBN 978-0399163845.  416p.



CHIMPANZEE by Darin Bradley

August 22, 2015
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Chimpanzee is a look at what might be the future of the U.S. based on current trends and misguided government policies. In a society that has collapsed, with unemployment being the norm for most workers Benjamin Cade an expert in cognition has just lost his job as a university instructor. Like most people he is forced to default on his loans used to finance his education. The government with no hope of recouping these funds now due to advances in cognitive science and chemical therapy can repossess their property, i.e., Ben’s education. A medical advance allows the government to utilize the process of “repossession therapy” as this is termed to treat mental disorders and improve the cure rate of these disorders.

But Ben is not going to take the loss of some of his knowledge to the government without a fight. He begins to give free lectures in the park in order to distribute some of his learning before it is gone. And as a result of these lectures “Chimpanzee” arrives. As a protest Chimpanzee’s icons begin to appear spray painted all over the city. Young people wearing Chimpanzee masks start massive rallies against the government and its economic failures. And the finger for the blame points directly at Ben.

Bradley utilizes a “stream” of consciousness” in his writing, succeeding in properly describing Ben Cade’s thoughts and action. A frightening but logical look at the possible consequences for a society that has lost sight of what are really the costs involved in massive giveaways without considering the price for doing so.  People become financially overextended and cannot buy goods and services to keep the economy healthy giving rise to a society with no way to insure the growth of that society.  A book guaranteed to leave the reader with much to think about in terms of where we might be going with trends as they currently are.

8/15 Paul Lane

CHIMPANZEE by Darin Bradley. Underland Press (August 11, 2015). ISBN: 978-1630230142. 216p.


THE PROFESSOR by Robert Bailey

August 21, 2015
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In an afterword of the book, Bailey writes a tribute to Paul “Bear” Bryant, world class football coach at the University of Alabama. While he did not play for Bryant, known as the “man,” Bailey echoes the adoration many have for him. The novel begins when Tom McMurtrie who played for Bryant and a brilliant law graduate in his own right accepts a position with a major law firm. Prepared to begin work for that firm he is approached by “The Man” who strongly suggests that Tom take a position at the law school of U of Alabama as a teacher.

With the faith Tom has for Bryant he does accept the teaching position and spends the next 40 years as a Professor of Law. A change in personnel at the executive level of the school causes Tom to be pushed out of his position and at the same time find out that he is suffering from cancer.

Bitter and angry at the fate that pushed him to the sidelines he passes on a case offered to him. The young family of a friend of his has been killed in a truck-car accident and Tom feels impelled to offer the case to a former student of his, Rick Drake. There is some bad blood between the two since Tom had prevented Rick from receiving a job offer that would have been the making of his legal career.

Rick does accept the case and while working it finds that the facts are muddled by the trucking company owning the vehicle involved in the accident. They resort to arson, murder, bribery and greed to disguise the truth of the matter. A pertinent factor for the trucking company is an impending extremely advantageous merger that would be cancelled if a lawsuit was successfully filed against them.

In a fast and engrossing read, the main portion of the book involving the trial of the trucking company is described and the reader treated to an excellent plot and a look at the characters, good and bad, involved in the process of the legal proceedings. The book is the first of a series of legal novels about the prospective law firm of McMurtrie and Drake. These should be well worth the wait.

8/15 Paul Lane

THE PROFESSOR by Robert Bailey. Exhibit A (January 28, 2014). ISBN: 978-1909223585. 416p.

THE RECKONING by Carsten Stroud

August 20, 2015
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Book Three of the Niceville Trilogy

Hearing voices in your head takes on a deadly new meaning in this disturbing conclusion to the macabre Niceville trilogy. The evil “Nothing” in this Florida town has moved inside, so to speak, and the towns people are on a murderous rampage.

Detective Nick Kavanaugh, and his wife, attorney Kate, figure out what is going on; all they have to do is figure out how to stop it. Rainey Teague, the orphan they’ve taken in, has always had issues but things are really spiraling out of control.

The Kavanaughs enlist the help of local historian Lemon Featherlight, and ex-cop Charlie Danziger is also on the hunt for answers. There are lots of characters that each have their own story, but Stroud manages to pull it together and make sense of it all, as much as possible in the mystical world he has created.

While this is the last book of the trilogy, each book does stand on its own. Niceville is a real town on the west coast of Florida, and this thrilling supernatural trilogy has surely put it on the map.

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

8/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE RECKONING by Carsten Stroud.  Vintage (August 18, 2015).  ISBN 978-1101873021. 432p.


August 19, 2015

ILLUSION OF VICTORYThomas Fleming, an author of both historical fiction and well researched historical tomes published this book in 2004 making it in all probability one begun in the 1990s. It is a revised look at the 1917- 1920 period in U.S. history; the period of our involvement in the First World War, the war to end all wars. He presents a portrait of Woodrow Wilson the U.S. president during that period and rakes him over the coals in no uncertain terms. Wilson won the presidential election of 1916 based on a campaign slogan of “He kept us out of war.”

A side bar to this election was the campaign of former president Teddy Roosevelt at first looking to run on the Republican ticket. At some point Roosevelt got disillusioned with the GOP and decided to run as an independent. The Republican vote than became divided between the GOP candidate and TR which threw the election to Wilson.

Seven months after his reelection Wilson went before Congress asking for a declaration of war against Germany. What happened is well documented by Fleming. Wilson was courted by both sides of the combatants both promising that as a reward for entering the war with them the US would be rewarded by having a hand in the realignment of territory sure to come with victory. It is made clear that there was really no strong reason for the Americans to enter the conflict. The US was in no danger of being attacked directly by either side. Groups in America allied with both sides pressured the government; i.e. Wilson to enter the war allied with the countries they favored. Both England and Germany set up propaganda machines to concentrate on America to get them to enter the war on their side. No real reason to go to war.

One of the factors influencing Wilson was the place of an unofficial advisor: Edward M House who gave himself the title of Colonel House in spite of the fact that he had never been in the military. He had an almost hypnotic hold on Wilson who seemed to make no move without him. House had published a book called Philip Dru: Administrator, which had to do with a fictitious war between the East and West of the United States. Dru was put into power and promoted a program somewhat similar to Machiavelli’s The Prince in controlling the people. Fleming implies that House kept the character Dru in mind in his advice to Wilson.

When the US went to war on the side of England and France it was with the promise that in all likelihood American troops would not have to be sent to France to fight. Obviously not so. A more direct picture of the U.S unreadiness to fight a war was that not one single American made plane or tank entered combat.

A final note on this segment was apparently a stroke or other incapacitating physical attack that sidelined Wilson for seventeen months and allowed his second wife Edith and his personal physician to actually act as president using illegal authority. Fleming alleges that this alone allowed the victorious combatants in Europe to enact a peace treaty that placed all blame for the war on Germany and set reparations on her that crippled that country totally and led to the Weimar Republic and the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Second World War.

Why the reading of Fleming’s book at this time will probably become apparent to the reader who should come to the realization that truly history repeats itself. Going over the contents and just changing names of the participants will bring out a picture of what could and probably is happening again. The style of writing is in no way dry and does allow the reader to enjoy only the book itself without fitting in the pieces into today’s world. Very timely again after 10 plus years since publication.

8/15 Paul Lane

THE ILLUSION OF VICTORY by Thomas Fleming. Basic Books (May 26, 2004). ISBN: 978-0465024698. 576p.

EILEEN by Ottessa Moshfegh

August 18, 2015
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Eileen is the narrator of this dark look back at her life during a 1960’s Christmas week. Eileen has to be one of the most damaged characters in fiction. She lost her mother when she was in high school, her sister is the pride of the family but they have no relationship, and her father is an alcoholic, a cop forced into retirement and now heading towards dementia, who has mentally abused Eileen her whole life.

Her life is a horror; living in squalor, taking care of her abusive father, driving an old car with an exhaust problem that forces her to drive with the windows open, even during those frigid New England winters. She works as a secretary at a boy’s prison, a discouraging job at best. She obsesses about her bodily functions, has strange sexual fantasies, (although at 24, she is still a virgin,) and she is stalking one of the prison guards.

There is no respite from the darkness here until Rebecca shows up at the prison, ostensibly to create an education program for the boys. Eileen is enamored of the beautiful Harvard graduate and desperate for a friend. That friendship turns into something truly ugly that leads to a shocking ending. This is literary psychological suspense at its best.

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

8/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

EILEEN by Ottessa Moshfegh.  Penguin Press (August 18, 2015).  ISBN 978-1594206627. 272p.

LITTLE GIRLS by Ronald Malfi

August 16, 2015
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Laurie’s father has died and so, with her husband, Ted, and daughter, Susan, in tow, she has returned to the childhood home she left behind so many years ago to settle the estate and hopefully put the house on the market. Laurie has reservations about staying in the house, it’s never been a happy place for her and now there’s the added fact that her father didn’t just die there but actually committed suicide by jumping out of the belvedere window.

Ted and Susan are instantly smitten with the old place, though, and convince her otherwise. It’s only for a little while, after all,  and it’ll mean time for Ted to work on his latest play. Susan has even found a friend in the girl next door. But the house holds bad memories for Laurie and the girl next door reminds her just a little too much of a girl who lived there when she was a child. A horrid girl who died on Laurie’s father’s property decades ago.

Even if Laurie and her family were a unified unit, which we soon learn they may not be, the house is enough to begin tearing away at them. Laurie is plagued by memories of her childhood, the girl next door is creepy as all get out, and there are clues around the house that maybe her father was suffering from more than just dementia. It all starts to make Laurie – and even Ted – wonder about her sanity.

Ronald Malfi’s latest is a pretty classic take on the haunted house tale: a creepy old house, inexplicable noises, a mysterious locked room… And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, Little Girls is a solid and scary tale with more than a few twists – some a little more expected than others. It’s utterly satisfying and maybe a little nightmare inducing as well.

8/15 Becky LeJeune

LITTLE GIRLS by Ronald Malfi. Kensington (June 30, 2015).  ISBN 978-1617736063.  384p.


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