July bookshelf

July 1, 2014

collage 714I updated the Win Books page for July with some terrific new thrillers! As usual, there are NY Times bestsellers, solid storytellers and some newbies.

The Brads are back! #1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor delivers his most frightening and pulse–pounding thriller ever, Act of War. In former delta force operator and New York Times bestseller Brad Taylor’s latest Pike Logan thriller, Days of Rage, the Taskforce must stop their most devastating threat yet—a weapon of mass destruction.

A rising media star must battle a diabolical enemy in Eyes on You,  a riveting tale of psychological suspense from New York Times bestselling author Kate White.  In Sam Cabot’s exhilarating new novel, Skin of the Wolf, a vicious murder in Sotheby’s begins a series of inexplicable events surrounding an Iroquois ritual mask and a secret that could unleash the most terrifying chaos and destruction the world has ever seen.

Matthew Quirk gives us The Directive, a tale of two brothers, millions of dollars–and the heist of a lifetime. A.J. Colucci is out with her second thriller, Seeders, which Douglas Preston called “a bravura performance, as good as Crichton, with vivid characters, crisp writing, and exquisitely creepy science.” How can you resist!

Wendy Tyson is out with her second Allison Campbell Mystery, Deadly Assets. If 1830 Scotland makes you happy, you won’t want to miss  A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber. This “polished third pre-Victorian mystery” (Publisher’s Weekly) rounds out this month’s bookshelf.

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!

SILVER BAY by Jojo Moyes

July 25, 2014

Click to purchase

For Mike Dormer a trip to Silver Bay, Australia begins as just another work assignment. His firm has set its sites on the area as a location for a new, high-end family resort. The town has little to offer currently, with one exception – whale and dolphin watching – and the locals have almost everything resting on this industry. Even more so, they care about the animals that make their way past the bay every season.

Not only would the new development threaten Silver Bay’s main source of tourism, but it would also threaten the animals themselves. The more time Mike spends in Silver Bay, the more convinced he becomes that his company is making a mistake. Further complicating matters is the fact that his time in Silver Bay has also left Mike more than a little emotionally attached to the locals.

This is one of Moyes’s older titles, recently re-released by Penguin in e format. There are quite a few commonalities between this one and Moyes’s latest, One Plus One. Mike is quite reminiscent of Ed, for example, and the book shares the same multi-viewpoint format.

I did love Silver Bay as a setting and the added element of the whale and dolphin watching industry. These make the book stand out as unique, particularly considering I read both Silver Bay and One Plus One fairly close together.

Liza’s story was another great stand out. It’s clear from the start that she and her family are hiding things, but it’s not until close to the end that the gravity of her story really becomes clear.

The romance element is nice, and – again like One Plus One – evolves in a quite natural way. No love at first sight, insta-romance here. Instead, Mike and Liza warm up to each other gradually in spite of everything that stands in their way.

Silver Bay
is out now as an eBook and will be available in paperback in August.

7/14 Becky Lejeune

SILVER BAY by Jojo Moyes. Penguin Books (August 26, 2014). ISBN 978-0143126485. 384p.
Kindle: Penguin Books (April 29, 2014). ASIN: B00GSB2F5S.

Jack Quick’s TOP FIVE 2014

July 24, 2014

Jack was kind enough to share this list – enjoy!

Click to purchase

THE ACCIDENT by Chris Pavone: The Accident is a somewhat more conventional thriller than Pavone’s fine debut (The Expats, 2012), but he excels at developing characters’ back stories. New York literary agent Isabel Reed plows through an anonymous manuscript in one night and immediately knows two things: The manuscript, a biography of a media mogul, will be a blockbuster, and people will die if word of its existence leaks. She’s also fairly sure she knows who the author is, but he’s dead (or is he??) Word does leak, in New York and Hollywood , and ambitious young women in publishing quickly die violently. Isabel and her chosen editor, Jeffrey Fielder, are on the run from resourceful, relentless killers. Pavone’s plot twists nicely, shifting focus among a large cast of well-drawn characters and using flashbacks and changes of locale ( Copenhagen , Zurich , Manhattan , Hollywood , the Hamptons ) to build suspense. Isabel and Jeffrey, for example, are successful but frightened that changes in their business and the onset of middle age might make them has-beens, and they’re both recalling the mutual attraction they once had but didn’t act on. Like Isabel, many readers will read this one through the night. Highly recommended.

Click to purchase

THE CUCKOO’S CALLING by Robert Galbraith AKA J. K. Rowling. I may be the only remaining person on the planet who has never read a Harry Potter book or watched a Harry Potter Movie. The Hunger Games series shares that same distinction for me. However, after reading this one I may have to change my priorities. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan , Detective Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, desperate designers, and his own celebrity parents, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man. I thought it was great.

Click to purchase

HAZARDOUS DUTY by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV – Mexican drug cartels are shooting up the streets of Laredo and El Paso . Somali pirates are holding three U.S. tankers for ransom. The President is fed up and has what he thinks is a pretty bright idea—to get hold of Colonel Charley Castillo and his merry band and put them on the case. Unfortunately, that will be difficult. Everybody knows that the President hates Castillo’s guts, has just had him forcibly retired from the military, and now Castillo’s men are scattered far and wide, many of them in hiding. There are also whispers that the President himself is unstable—the word “nutcake” has been mentioned. So how can Castillo “follow” the Presidents orders without creating harm to the nation. It is truly Hazardous Duty.

Click to purchase

THE SACRIFICE by Peg Brantley – Another great read from Ms Brantley. Although it begins in Colorado which Ms. Brantley calls home, most of the action takes place in and around New Orleans , or as we say Naw’lins. Mex Anderson was an honest Mexican cop. The drug cartel punished him by killing his pregnant wife and two children. Now a high ranking member of the cartel has come to Mex with a proposition – find the leader’s missing daughter and he will give Mex the name of the man who ordered the murder of Mex’s family. The leader’s son applies additional pressure to Mex by kidnapping Mex’ s sister to be returned only if his sister is returned alive. Suspense builds until near the end when it all comes together, but wait, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet, so keep on reading. You won’t be disappointed.

Click to purchase

THE TARGET by L J Sellers – With her latest Agent Dallas outing, Ms. Sellers has once again hit it out of the park. Focusing on the world of industrial espionage and cutting edge medical technology, Sellers shows that while greed is universal and seemingly boundless, you can’t keep a good agent down, and Agent Dallas is the best of the best. Dallas lives for the thrill of working undercover and rides high on the adrenaline rush from a tense situation. The death of another agent in San Diego under suspicious circumstances starts her on the new assignment, which quickly becomes high risk. The stakes are high and the other side thinks nothing of taking those who interfere off the board- permanently. Intertwined with the case is the murder of an aging film star. Are the two cases connected? Few authors can do one successful series, but Sellers has two on-going – with Detective Jackson and with Agent Dallas. Which is better? Try both and decide for yourself.

Alabama Jack
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.


July 24, 2014

Click to purchase

I should have known from the name of this book and the name of this series, “Sweet, Texas” what I was getting into, but I forged ahead anyway. I haven’t read any of the other books in this series (that I can recall, anyway) but from the publisher’s info it could be read as a standalone. I did have the feeling that I would have appreciated it more had I read the earlier books in the series and been more invested in these characters.

Allison Lane is a wedding planner from Seattle who takes herself off to he tiny town of Sweet, Texas when her father tells her he’s getting married. Allie’s parents had a horrible marriage and an even worse divorce, and despite her occupation, she does not believe in happily ever after. She’s worried that her father is making another mistake and she wants to meet the woman who has ensnared him.

Her first night in town, she meets Jesse Wilder, one of five boys in the Wilder family and the town Lothario. There is instant attraction, but Allie has more important things to do that get into a one night stand, so she sneaks out on him. Much to her surprise, Jesse turns out to be her father’s fiancée’s son and they are thrown together quite a bit.

Jesse has never met a woman who didn’t believe in marriage, and he is determined to change her mind about love. Meanwhile Allie just adores his mother, and the rest of the family, and when one of the brother’s upcoming wedding gets severely off track, Alli steps in to help.

The basic boy meets girl, boy loses girl and then gets girl back again are all in play here, but at a very superficial level. This is a simple, sweet love story of what I call the fluffy as cotton candy type. And sometimes cotton candy just hits the spot.

7/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SOMETHING SWEETER by Candis Terry. Avon (June 24, 2014). ISBN 978-0062237262. 384p.

LANDLINE by Rainbow Rowell

July 23, 2014

Click to purchase

Rainbow Rowell seems able to shift between Young Adult and Adult books seamlessly. This is her latest, and while ostensibly for adults, those who love teen books will undoubtedly enjoy this one too.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Rebecca Lowman, who also narrated Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.  She does a fine job here.

Georgie McCool is a comedy writer working with her writing partner, Seth, on a hit TV show she hates. Seth and Georgie have their own idea for a sitcom and a week before Christmas, finally get a call from the network looking for several scripts.

Georgie panics as she, her husband Neal and their two young daughters are supposed to go to Neal’s parents for Christmas, out in Omaha.  Georgie needs to stay home and write, so an unhappy Neal takes the kids to Omaha himself.

When Georgie calls, her calls all go directly to voicemail until the mailbox is full. Her daughters call her sporadically, but she never talks to Neal. That is, until the night she crashes at her mother’s house and uses the landline in her old bedroom to call Neal’s house, not his cell. Somehow, she ends up talking to Neal – but not present day Neal, this is Neal back in 1998, a week before he proposes to her.

Suspend your disbelief and go along on an adventure through Georgie & Neal’s past to their present, and let me warn you that you will be laughing and crying along the way. Rowell writes these amazing characters that are warm and loveable yet still feel real,  but most of all, they are simply unforgettable. Teen book or adult, all her books are just a joy to read.

7/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LANDLINE by Rainbow Rowell. St. Martin’s Press (July 8, 2014). ISBN 978-1250049377. 320p.
Audiobook: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (July 8, 2014). ISBN: 978-1427239327
Downloadable: Audible Audio Edition. Macmillan Audio. Listening Length: 9 hours and 3 minutes.

Lisa Scottoline Giveaway!

July 22, 2014

WinAll5Mother-daughter author team @Lisa Scottoline and @Francesca Serritella have a new essay collection just out called HAVE A NICE GUILT TRIP.

Lucky for you I have a copy of this book–plus their FOUR previous books–to give away to one lucky winner. (Yes, the winner gets all 5 books!)

The following titles will be included in the prize pack:





1 – Have a Nice Guilt Trip
2 – Best Friends, Occasional Enemies
3 – Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim
4 – My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space
5 – Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog



Send an email to contest@gmail.com with “GUILT TRIP” as the subject. You must include your snail mail address in your email.

All entries must be received by August 20, 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 in the United States only. 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.


You can also enter to win this awesome “Guilt Trip Giveaway” prize pack worth more than $1,000!

Visit this page on Lisa’s website for full details and the entry form:




July 21, 2014

Click to purchase

The second cookbook from this professional ice cream maker is a must have for anyone who loves ice cream. This book builds on her first cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, which included mostly recipes for ice cream and a small section on things like toppings and sauces.

Jeni’s basic ice cream recipe is bit different than any other I’ve ever tried, and best of all, it’s foolproof and freakin’ delicious! I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker that I bought at Costco several years ago, and that is the machine she tested her recipes with so perfection was in the making. In the new book, she used a newer model Cuisinart and the quanitities in some of the recipes are slightly different, but I didn’t have any problems using my old machine. I have a friend who uses a different brand altogether, (Breville, I think,) and these recipes worked beautifully for her as well, so I would venture a guess that any type of home ice cream maker should work here.

This new cookbook is more of a companion to the first. The basics are not here – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry ice creams are in the first book. There are lots of new flavors here like Sweet Cream Ice Cream; Extra-Strength Root Beer Ice Cream; Black Forest Cake Ice Cream; Graham Cracker Ice Cream; Hummingbird Cake Ice Cream; Mango Manchego Ice Cream; Dark Chocolate & Rye Whiskey Ice Cream (Steve, this one’s for you!)  Also included are other types of frozen desserts like Crème Sans Lait, a dairy & egg-free ice cream for vegans, Stone Fruit Sorbet; Fresh Ginger Frozen Yogurt; Middle West Eggnog Frozen Custard; Buttermilk Soft-Serve (yum!)

Then there are the desserts, and if you don’t want to make ice cream you can use store bought to create  incredible desserts like Macaroon Cake; Apple Rhubarb Bette; Pear & Blackberry Crisp With Almond Streusel; Sweet Empanadas; Cast-Iron Pancake and many more. Also included are sauces like Whiskey Caramel (delicious!) and Honey Spiked with Chilies, and Jeni’s famous “gravels,” crunchy toppings for sundaes, like Salty Graham Gravel and Everything Bagel Gravel. But I think it is the ice cream cakes that really put this book over the moon. Who can possibly resist Skunk as a Drunk Cake, “black and white and whiskey all over” or Cocoa Rococo, “four different chocolates kick up the luxe factor.”

Jeni is now selling her ready made ice cream at my local Fresh Market for $10/pint, but I haven’t tried it yet. I am having a lot of fun this summer with this cookbook and know I will for years to come.

7/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

JENI’S SPLENDED ICE CREAM DESSERTS by Jeni Britton Bauer. Artisan (May 20, 2014). ISBN 978-1579655921. 224p.

HAVE YOU SEEN MARIE? by Sandra Cisneros

July 20, 2014

Click to purchase

I fell in love with Sandra Cisneros when I read her literary treasure, House on Mango Street. This new book is an illustrated fable, a bit of a departure, but her voice is still there, whispering on every page. The illustrations are by the artist Ester Hernández, and they are lovely.  

The story is a simple one; two friends  search a San Antonio neighborhood for a lost cat named Marie.  One of the women has recently lost her mother, and she is dealing with the loss and her grief. Ms. Cisneros explains in the aftermath that she recently lost her mother, and this story grew out of that experience.

“In Mexico they say when someone you love dies, a part of you dies with them. But they forget to mention that part of them is born in you…”

When I lost my mother, I remember thinking that I was now an orphan. My son, a writer & editor, assured me that I was way too old to be an orphan – the term is limited to children under the age of 18 who lose their parents. Despite the definition, that was how I felt, so I was not surprised to see Ms. Cisneros felt likewise. I really related with her way of grieving in this book, and I would think almost anyone who has lost someone will as well.

While it is over 100 pages, it is laid out like a typical picture book, with large illustrations on each page along with just a line or so text, so it’s a very quick read. Ostensibly a fable for adults, children may also enjoy it.

7/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HAVE YOU SEEN MARIE? by Sandra Cisneros. Vintage (April 8, 2014). ISBN 978-0307743862. 112p.

THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR edited by Ellen Datlow

July 19, 2014

Click to purchase

Volume 6

From nightmarish visions to vengeance of the worst kind, editor Ellen Datlow’s latest anthology features new horror of every possible imagining.

In “The Fox” by Conrad Williams, a family vacation takes a dark and treacherous turn. Priya Sharma’s “The Anatomist’s Mnemonic” features a character whose fetish becomes an obsession he can no longer ignore. Neil Gaiman’s “Down to a Sunless Sea,” which first appeared in The Guardian and later in the Fearie Tales collection edited by Stephen Jones, is a chilling tale of death at sea. Hitchcock himself makes an appearance of sorts in Kim Newman’s “The Only Ending We Have.” And Brian Hodge takes readers back to Lovecraft’s Innsmouth in “The Same Deep Waters as You.”

Each of the twenty-four tales appearing in the anthology were new in print in 2013 and interestingly eleven of the authors included are completely new to this anthology series. Some of the stories are horrifying while others are more eerie and quiet and some are downright bizarre. Whatever your particular horror taste may be, though, this latest Best Horror of the Year is sure to have something perfect for you and may even turn you on to a few new authors as well.

Table of Contents:
“Apports” by Stephen Bacon
“Mr. Splitfoot” by Dale Bailey
“The Good Husband” by Nathan Ballingrud
“The Tiger” by Nina Allan
“The House on Cobb Street” by Lynda E. Rucker
“The Soul in the Bell Jar” by KJ Kabza
“Call Out” by Steve Toase
“The Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” by Robert Shearman
“Bones of Crow” by Ray Cluley
“Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales” by Jeannine Hall Gailey
“The Fox” by Conrad Williams
“The Tin House” by Simon Clark
“Stemming the Tide” by Simon Stranzas
“The Anatomist’s Mnemonic” by Priya Sharma
“The Monster Makers” by Steve Rasnic Tem
“The Only Ending We Have” by Kim Newman
“The Dog’s Paw” by Derek Künsken
“Fine in the Fire” by Lee Thomas
“Majorlena” by Jane Jakeman
“The Withering” by Tim Casson
“Down to a Sunless Sea” by Neil Gaiman
“Jaws of Saturn” by Laird Barron
“Halfway Home” by Linda Nagata
“The Same Deep Waters as You” by Brian Hodge

7/14 Becky Lejeune

THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR edited by Ellen Datlow. Night Shade Books (June 3, 2014). ISBN 978-1597805032. 448p.


July 18, 2014

Click to purchase

Nick Fennimore nearly lost his mind when his wife and daughter went missing, and allowing him to overstep his bounds earned DCI Kate Simms a demotion. She fought her way back and when heroin overdoses start multiplying in a seedy part of town, no one really cares until a pop star joins their ranks.

The case is dumped on Simms, who quietly enlists Fennimore’s help. Then another prostitute turns up dead, brutally beaten, tortured and raped, and Fennimore really needs to put his skills to the test. Misogynistic bosses and lying witnesses are thwarting Simms in her investigation, but she soldiers on, until her family is threatened, and then things really come to a head.

Working around the clock puts her family life in shambles, and there is some definite tension between Fennimore and Simms, but their back story is tantalizingly glossed over, adding more intrigue to these characters.

This is not your cozy British mystery but rather a gritty urban thriller like those of Jeffery Deaver, Ken Bruen or George Pelecanos.

A.D. Garrett is a pseudonym for author Margaret Murphy and forensics Professor Dave Barclay.

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

7/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

EVERYONE LIES by A.D. Garrett. Minotaur Books (July 15, 2014). ISBN 978-1250045720. 432p.

ONE HUNDRED NAMES by Cecelia Ahern

July 17, 2014

Click to purchase

Kitty Logan is one misstep away from unemployment. A disastrous feature story has landed her in court for libel and now no one in journalism will touch her. No one except her longtime friend Constance.

Constance gave Kitty her first job and has been her friend and mentor ever since. Even in the wake of the current disaster, Constance hasn’t given up on her. But Constance is sick and doesn’t have much time left. On her one and only visit, Kitty asks her if there was ever a story she wished she’d written but never had the chance – the one that got away. Constance tells her there is and instructs Kitty to retrieve a file titled “names” from her home, promising to tell her all about it on their next visit. Sadly, Constance passes away never having explained the story.

Now, Constance’s magazine wants to put together a special edition to honor their founder and Kitty is given the opportunity to write Constance’s last story. Unfortunately for Kitty, all she has to work with is a list of one hundred names. With time running out, she knows this story is her chance to redeem herself while also paying tribute to the one person who never lost faith in her. But first, she’ll have to figure out what the story is really meant to be.

Each new book by Cecelia Ahern is a gem, and while I’m sure to love every new release, I know I can expect something completely different with each new book.

In One Hundred Names, Kitty not only has a lot to learn about herself but also has a ways to go to earn back the respect of her friends and colleagues. Her infamous story cost a man his reputation and could have been avoided if she’d not lost sight of the essential wisdom Constance imparted on her at the start of her career. It is relearning her passion and how to appreciate the things around her that become important in teasing out Constance’s story.

One Hundred Names is a charming tale, one that will stay with you long after you finish.

7/14 Becky Lejeune

ONE HUNDRED NAMES by Cecelia Ahern. William Morrow Paperbacks (May 6, 2014). ISBN978-0062248633. 496p.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 281 other followers