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!


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.


THE COLOR OF JUSTICE by Ace Collins

October 15, 2014

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The very prolific Ace Collins brings us a completely spellbinding novel, in all probability one of the best he has written.  It is divided into two parts; the first taking place in the mid 1960s and the second moving to the present time.  The theme is race relations in both instances.

Cooper Lindsay was born in the Mississippi town of Justice, went out of the area to get his law degree and returned home with both his degree and a wife.  He opens a practice after working away from the area for a few years in order to be able to help his cancer stricken mother  The action in the novel begins with the murder of a white girl: Rebecca Booth, and almost immediately a young black man. Calvin Ross is arrested and charged with the murder.

Calvin’s aunt Hattie who used to work as a maid in church calls on Coop, as he is popularly termed, and begs him to defend her nephew.  She says that she has no money to pay Calvin’s legal fees, Cooper is her only hope.  Coop realizes that taking the case will probably alienate him from the town’s white population since Jim Crow is alive and well in this period and ultimately force him to move away from Justice. The factor influencing him to go ahead with the defense are his memories of his father who preached at church and taught Coop the meaning of responsibility and right and wrong.

The first section of the book deals with the trial and the problems encountered with mounting a defense for Calvin in the light of the prejudice that exists in Justice causing the town to be divided between black and white.

Part two is set in 2014.  Coop’s grandson comes to Justice in order to investigate questions remaining from the trial and events in 1964.  He is named after his grandfather and also called Coop.  He finds himself immersed in another murder, but circumstances are very different.  Justice has been fully integrated with whites and blacks each holding responsible and important positions.  A black young man has been killed, and a white confesses to the crime.  Coop is asked to help the lawyers working with the white boy since all they seem to want to do is have him make a deal with the prosecution.  Coop goes ahead and a second and the definitive part of the novel takes place.

What has occurred in Justice influencing both periods and both trials is well thought out, and very well delineated. The book is guaranteed to keep the reader glued to it’s pages and fascinated by what is going on.  Excellent book written by an author at the top of his game.

10/14 Paul Lane

THE COLOR OF JUSTICE by Ace Collins. Abingdon Press (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-1426770036. 320p.


RUTH’S JOURNEY by Donald McCaig

October 14, 2014

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The Authorized Novel of Mammy from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite books. I know it’s racist and promotes stereotypes, but I love it anyway despite it’s political incorrectness.

When I was about 11 years old, my mother dragged me to a movie theater about 45 minutes away because they were screening GWTW. I was young, had never even heard of it, but I fell in love with Scarlet and Rhett and one of the greatest love stories of all time and learned I had a romantic side. Who knew. I also didn’t know that the film was based on a book – my mother wasn’t a reader so never thought to mention that fact.

A few years later I found a copy in my stepmother’s bookshelves (she was a big reader,) inscribed to her from her high school boyfriend, later her first husband. She gave it to me and I stayed up all night reading it. I fell in love all over again, and read and re-read that book many times over the years.

I’ve read all the GWTW off shoots, and while I enjoyed revisiting Tara in all its incarnations, the only one that I thought was really good was McCaig’s Rhett Butler’s People.

So when I heard about this book, I was pretty stoked to read it, and I’m happy to say it lived up to my expectations. This is Mammy’s story, and McCaig turned around all the racism and stereotyping and brought Mammy to life as a fully realized character, not a caricature.

For starters, Mammy has a name – Ruth. Born on Saint Dominque and brought to Savannah on the heels of the revolution there, she falls in love with Jehu Glen, a free black man and a gifted carpenter. Ruth is a strong woman, surviving many disappointments in her life, yet continues to love.

We learn how she ended up with Scarlett’s mother Ellen, and how Ellen married Gerald – which was hinted at in GWTW but futher explained here, along with the mysterious Phillip. We learn of her connection with Rhett Butler’s family as well. And the cruelties of slavery are much more fully embraced here.

I don’t know how this book stands on its own as I am so familiar with GWTW that I have no basis for that understanding. So all I can say is this book brings another dimension to that one, and I ripped through it in a night. I think it’s a great addition to the saga and not to be missed by GWTW fans.

10/14 Stacy Alesi

RUTH’S JOURNEY by Donald McCaig. Atria Books (October 14, 2014). ISBN 978-1451643534. 384p.


FULL MEASURE by T. Jefferson Parker

October 12, 2014

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Patrick Norris was a marine serving in Afghanistan amid the killings, bombings chaos of war and the sight of friends killed and maimed. He is discharged, and returns home to a small town in California near the marine base of Camp Pendleton with a dream of opening his own sport fishing business, catering to a clientele that wants some guidance in fishing for game fish.

Much to his surprise and dismay, he discovers that the avocado tree ranch his family has owned and worked for years, located in the foothills of San Diego, has been destroyed by a wildfire. Consequently his parents are facing ruin in the aftermath of the blaze.

Patrick’s brother Ted is living with the family. He is a gentle, trusting person by nature but tormented by dark thoughts. With Patrick back, Ted falls in with a criminal element as a means of proving himself worthy of his brother’s and parent’s love. Patrick puts his own plans on hold in order to help his parents move through the crisis they face and also attempts to get Ted on a path to normalcy and a full life. He meets and falls in love with Iris in the course of his attempts to help both his parents and his brother.

Parker is known for his many crime novels but makes a major departure with Full Measure. He explores the emotions, thoughts and currents experienced by the characters in the book. When Ted makes some major personal blunders, Patrick goes to his aid with a love only a brother has for a sibling getting himself into major problems. This is not a typical Parker novel, delving into a world of emotions and feelings rather than describing a crime taking place. Well done, and hopefully leading to other books by the versatile Parker straying from the mysteries he is famous for.

10/14 Paul Lane

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT by David Liss. Random House (September 23, 2014). ISBN 978-1400068975. 384p.


THE LAST TOWN by Blake Crouch

October 11, 2014

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The Wayward Pines Trilogy Book 3

Ethan Burke’s life has been turned upside down. Just a few weeks ago he was sent to the small town of Wayward Pines on a case involving two missing agents. When he arrived, he found that nothing in the case was as it seemed and that Wayward Pines – a town that appeared to be perfect in every way – was hiding a big secret.

Built by a scientist named David Pilcher, Wayward Pines was meant to be a last stand against the end of humanity. But the truth about the town was kept hidden from its inhabitants. At least until Ethan arrived. Now everyone is privy to Pilcher’s agenda and all hell has broken loose. The gates that protected the town from the dangers that surround it have been breached and everyone in Wayward Pines is in grave danger.

This third and final installment in Blake Crouch’s Pines trilogy manages to close out the series without giving the reader real closure. All in all it is a somewhat satisfying end to what has been a roller coaster series and yet the story’s coda still leaves the reader hanging.

The surprise addition in Wayward is revealed in The Last Town – a little bonus to Pilcher’s screwing over Ethan, which adds to the tension built by throwing an entire town to the wolves (or abbies). We learn, too, that some of the characters here are truly unredeemable.

The Pines trilogy is super fun, definitely recommended reading this fall, and I truly can’t wait to see how the show will play out next year. I’m not sure how I feel about the end, though. On the one hand I actually appreciate the loose thread and the wondering. On the other, after zipping through all three installments I would have liked a less open ending.

10/14 Becky LeJeune

THE LAST TOWN by Blake Crouch. Thomas & Mercer (July 15, 2014). ISBN 978-1477822586. 306p.


RUN by Andrew Grant

October 10, 2014

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In this standalone thriller, Grant introduces computer consultant Marc Bowman, and right out of the box, he is fired from the same company that employs his wife. Bowman has this idea that he is sure will make him millions, only he needs the data he collected from the company to run tests, so he steals it.

The impact of that bad decision gets more and more twisted and dangerous every day. First his computer, along with his million-dollar idea, is stolen, then his wife walks out on him. Marc has the unfortunate problem of believing every person he speaks with, despite their conflicting stories, so he never knows who to really trust.

Ultimately, he finds himself on the run, zigzagging from one unreliable character to the next, dodging bullets and more in a race to stay alive and keep one step ahead of whoever is out to get him.

Grant writes his character into a corner, and the only way out is to use a ploy that doesn’t really work and creates a rather unfortunate ending. For readers who enjoy corporate espionage or high tech thrillers.

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

10/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

Another opinon:

A novel opening with the speed and power of a machine gun and continuing in that mode all the way to the very end. Marc Bowman is a computer expert working as a consultant.  His problems begin with his going to work on a normal Monday at a high tech company he is currently solving problems for.  He walks in, is escorted to his boss and fired being told only that there are cutbacks in personnel throughout the company.

Going home his wife, who is an executive level employee at the high tech company he was fired from, returns home and demands that he return company property he stole when leaving.  He did load a flash drive with data that he was developing and refuses indicating that it was his plans for a design of a breakout software package and not property of the firm. An argument ensues and  his wife stalks out, the first of a week long set of problems  for Marc.

The next morning he awakens, his wife still gone and finds the front door wide open. Marc of course calls the police. Sets of run ins with the police that came in response to his call, Homeland Security and the FBI, running and hiding ensue throughout the remainder of the week, all apparently are due to the content of the material on the flash drive.

What’s going on and what  are the  problems Marc attempts to answer in the midst of trying to rectify the breakup with his wife. This is a book that will capture the reader from the start and not let go until the end.  It is  an all nighter and definitely one to make anyone reading it a fan of Andrew Grant anxiously awaiting his next book.

10/14 Paul Lane

Note: Andrew Grant is Lee Child’s brother.

RUN by Andrew Grant. Ballantine Books (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-0345540720. 288p.


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