Win the October bookshelf of signed thrillers!

September 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers group. We put together a list of books including bestsellers and debut authors, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author!

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


PERFECT by Rachel Joyce

October 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

10/14 Becky LeJeune

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


THE CAPTIVE by Grace Burrowes

October 24, 2014

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Captive Hearts (Book 1)

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

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

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

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

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

10/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

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


BLACK ICE by Becca Fitzpatrick

October 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

10/14 Becky LeJeune

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


THE HEIST by Daniel Silva

October 22, 2014

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From the publisher:

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

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

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

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

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

10/14 Jack Quick

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


THE TARGET by David Baldacci

October 21, 2014

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Will Robie Book 3

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

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

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

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

10/14 Paul Lane

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

Unputdownable.

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

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

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

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

8/14 Jack Quick

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


A VISION OF FIRE by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin

October 20, 2014

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In the midst of heated negotiations, India’s UN ambassador narrowly escapes an assassination attempt. His daughter, who witnessed the event, isn’t so lucky. Physically the girl is fine, but mentally Maanik is suffering. At first the change is simply that of a happy and bubbly teen retreating into herself. Soon thereafter Maanik experiences episodes involving self-mutilation and begins speaking in tongues. Desperate to help their daughter but keep things under wraps, the girl’s parents reach out to Caitlin O’Hara, an expert in child psychology.

While a fellow doctor suggests Maanik is exhibiting signs of schizophrenia, Caitlin vehemently disagrees. Then reports of similar cases surface in Haiti and Iran. Rather than drug the teen into a quiet stupor, Caitlin vows to find the root of the problem, and as Maanik’s episodes intensify, she becomes more devoted to the case. What she discovers suggests that Maanik and the other two teens could be the beginning of a disturbing trend that defies scientific explanation.

I had pretty grand expectations of A Vision of Fire. Not only is it a return to sci-fi by one of the genre’s most-recognized faces (Gillian Anderson) it marked the launch of a brand new imprint at Simon and Schuster – Simon451.

Ultimately, Anderson and Jeff Rovin’s collaboration did live up to those expectations but it was something of a bumpy ride. The overarching story of the troubled teens was compelling enough but I found that Caitlin’s investigation of the phenomena did begin to drag somewhat. Fortunately, the big reveal was satisfying as both an explanation for Maanik’s attacks as well as a driving plot for the series.

The Global Explorers’ Club really wasn’t very adequately fleshed out but as this is just the first outing in a multi-part series I would hope they are to be the focus of subsequent titles.

Overall, A Vision of Fire was a satisfying start to what I hope will be an exciting series as a whole.

10/14 Becky LeJeune

A VISION OF FIRE by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin. Simon & Schuster/ Simon451 (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-1476776521. 304p.


AUNTY LEE’S DEADLY SPECIALS by Ovidia Yu

October 19, 2014

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Everyone knows that the Singaporean specialty buah keluak can be deadly if prepared incorrectly. This is why Rosie Lee pays such special care and attention when making the dish.

Aunty Lee’s Delights has been hired to cater a special event honoring the promotion of Sharon Sung. Sharon’s mother (and employer), Mabel Sung, hired Aunty Lee on the recommendation of her assistant and insisted on a nasi lemak buffet – with all the sides – and Rosie’s special chicken buah keluak. When Mabel and her son Leonard are later found dead of apparent poisoning, the buah keluak is immediately blamed. But Rosie Lee knows full and well that neither she nor her dish are to blame.

Rather than allow the public to push responsibility of the deaths onto her and her business, Rosie Lee and her employees begin their own search for the killer’s identity. What they discover is a nest of vipers hidden amongst Singapore’s elite society.

Ovidia Yu offers readers a tasty look at Singaporean culture and food in this cozy culinary series. Aunty Lee, who is introduced in Yu’s Aunty Lee’s Delights, is a bit of a busybody. A widow who runs her own restaurant, Rosie Lee still has plenty of time to involve herself in happenings, goings on, and criminal investigations.

This series is light and fun. Perfect for cozy fans who like a change of scenery and great for readers like me who like a lighter change of pace every once in a while.

10/14 Becky LeJeune

AUNTY LEE’S DEADLY SPECIALS by Ovidia Yu. William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (September 30, 2014). ISBN 978-0062338327. 3840p.


THE EARL’S MISTRESS by Liz Carlyle

October 18, 2014

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Can you judge a book by its cover? An old question to be sure, and with romances, I believe you can. Historical romances, anyways. This book is as lush and ripe as its cover.

This is my first book by Carlyle, and apparently, it is also her last romance. Booklist gave it a starred review, (and I concur) and also featured an interview with the author, who seems ready to move on to other things. Luckily, she has 22 novels already published so I’m bound to stumble across another.

The premise of this book is that the young widow Isabella Aldridge has been forsaken by her husband’s family after his death. Her parents are gone, and she has a young stepsister and half-sister to look after. She found a job as a governess for a woman of questionable repute, and when that child goes off to school, Isabella agrees to take another job as governess for the earl, Wiliam Mowbrey.

But when she arrives at his country estate, he takes one look at her and has a different idea altogether. He wants her for his mistress, but she is so shocked she runs away. She quickly realizes that she doesn’t have many options; good families won’t hire her and she needs an income, so she ends up his mistress.

This being a romance, they fall in love but fight their feelings until the very end. Lots of psychological torment and hot kinky sex precedes the happy ending, making this a really fun read.

10/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE EARL’S MISTRESS by Liz Carlyle. Avon (August 26, 2014). ISBN 978-0062100306. 400p.


SHARKMAN by Steve Alten

October 17, 2014

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Steve Alten has written books about aberrations of nature as well as science fiction. For example, his first books were about attacks by giant sharks. ( The Meg series).

Sharkman is narrated in first person by the individual whose experiences delineate the events that are depicted in the novel. Kwan Wilson is the son of an American Admiral and Asian woman that met during time of war. His father was forced to marry the girl and take her to the U.S. when she became pregnant.

Kwan was a bright student and an athlete playing basketball for his high school. in one fateful night as he was driving his mother home he became distracted while texting, crashed the car, killing his mother and coming out of the accident as a paraplegic confined to a wheel chair. His father, who traveled quite a bit due to his job in the navy, sent him to live with his maternal grandmother in south Florida.

Depressed by his condition, Kwan jumps on an opportunity described by the principal of his new school about a laboratory in Miami working on shark stem cells as a possible treatment for both cancer and spinal injuries. He volunteers and gets himself assigned to the lab where he is in time to witness one of the first real breakthroughs in their work. Kwan decides to inject himself with the serum developed thinking that if it either helps him to walk again or kills him his problems will be solved.

Alten has become an expert on sharks and shark behavior and incorporates this knowledge into the book making it a fascinating read. Kwan is the principal character, and fleshed out very well, but we also meet a prospective love interest of his. Kwan’s father is not what he seems to be and his actions bring us to a rewarding ending, but does leave plenty of room for a followup book. Fast reading keeping the reader glued to the novel, and sure to welcome a followup by him or her.

10/14 Paul Lane

SHARKMAN by Steve Alten. Taylor Trade Publishing (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-1630760199. 272p.


THE PERFECT WITNESS by Iris Johansen

October 16, 2014

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Sixteen-year-old Teresa has a gift, she can read people’s memories when she is near them, and it makes her feel like a freak, especially when her father, a New Jersey crime family boss, uses her.

Her mother is a trophy wife extraordinaire; when her husband is killed, she immediately ingratiates herself with the new crime boss, despite the fact he’s trying to kill her daughter.

Teresa takes off and is rescued by Andre Mandak, who kills the three men who are chasing her. She is very distrustful, but Mandak convinces her that he can help her learn to control her gift. In the process, he changes her name to Allie, places her with an older couple and she lives a relatively normal life of a college student.

Then her cover is blown and she’s on the run again, and Mandak helps her flee in return for her help; it turns out he has need of her gift and she is determined to help.

Their mutual attraction adds another layer to this fast moving story, and this standalone thriller combines suspense, paranormal and romance into one whirlwind read.

Copyright ©2014 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

10/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PERFECT WITNESS by Iris Johansen. St. Martin’s Press (September 30, 2014). ISBN 978-1250020055. 352p.


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