Win the July ’17 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

July 1, 2017

Welcome to the July bookshelf of signed thrillers! Amazing books this month from some of my favorite authors and some new-to-me authors. To enter, go to the Win Books page. Best of luck!

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USE OF FORCE by Brad Thor: When the body of a high-value terrorist washes ashore during a storm in the Mediterranean Sea, Scot Harvath is hired by the CIA to determine if the suspect was involved in planning a major attack they’ve been fearing all summer.

THE LIBRARY OF LIGHT AND SHADOW by M. J. Rose: Sought by society patrons who admire her ability to create stunning “shadow portraits” revealing her subjects’ most scandalous secrets, a mystical artist in 1925 Manhattan renounces her gift in the wake of a tragedy and flees to southern France, where she confronts toxic people from her past.

PARADISE VALLEY by C. J.  Box: Setting a trap for a serial killer she has hunted for three years, investigator Cassie Dewell is disgraced when the operation goes horribly wrong, a situation that is further complicated by the loss of her job, the disappearance of a troubled youth and her determination to catch the killer at any cost.

DEADFALL by Linda Fairstein: Investigating the drive-by murder of a high-profile city employee, assistant district attorney Alexandra Cooper teams up with NYPD detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace to search for answers in secret societies, a big-game hunting operation, the illegal animal trade and covert government deals.

AFTERLIFE by Marcus Sakey: Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds … and an unforgettable love story, in a book that is soon to be a major motion picture!

WATCH ME DISAPPEAR by Janelle Brown: A beautiful Berkeley mom with a radical past vanishes while hiking, leaving her family to piece together her secrets, in this keenly observed novel for readers of Emma Straub and Maria Semple.

DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES by Holly Seddon: A shut-in who meddles in her neighbors’ lives and her twin, whose secrets have separated her from her husband and child, reevaluate complex family dynamics that have led to their respective circumstances before their lives are shattered by terrible revelations.

PERISH FROM THE EARTH by Jonathan F. Putnam: Steamboat owner’s son Joshua Speed enlists close friend and fledgling lawyer Abraham Lincoln to defend a young traveling artist who has been wrongly accused of a murder linked to a rigged card game.

FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager: Emerging a lone survivor of a serial killer’s massacre a decade earlier, a former college student struggles to ignore traumatic memories and move on as one of a group of other survivors who look to her for answers when one of them is found dead in a suspicious suicide.

THE FIFTH REFLECTION by Ellen Kirschman: A shocking police procedural told through the eyes of a police psychologist. When a young child goes missing, Dr. Dot Meyerhoff is pulled into the vortex of a terrible crime. Torn between her allegiance to the troubled investigator and her complicated connections to the missing child, Dot must find a way to help—or lose everything she holds dear.

PERSONS UNKNOWN by Susie Steiner: Enduring cold-case work as the price she must pay for a transfer back to Cambridgeshire and a better work-life balance, pregnant detective Manon Bradshaw becomes unwittingly embroiled in the murder of her former brother-in-law when the case threatens her family and pits her against close colleagues.


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! Books with multiple authors will be signed by at least one of the authors.

Penguin Random House books for giveaway were provided by the publisher. #PRHpartner

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!

ThrillerFest XII

July 20, 2017

I couldn’t be there but hope to go next year! Here are the winners of the 2017 Thriller Awards!

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Noah Hawley — BEFORE THE FALL (Grand Central Publishing)
The stories of 10 wealthy victims of a boat sinking intertwine with those of a down-on-his-luck painter and a 4-year-old boy, the tragedy’s only survivors. By the Emmy-, Golden Globe- and Peabody Award-winning writer of Fargo.



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Nicholas Petrie — THE DRIFTER (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Forcing himself to manage his PTSD when a fellow Marine commits suicide, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Peter Ash helps his friend’s widow and discovers a cache of money and explosives that place him at the center of a wide-scale plot with ties to the world he tried to leave behind.


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Anne Frasier — THE BODY READER (Thomas & Mercer)
For three years, Detective Jude Fontaine was kept from the outside world. Held in an underground cell, her only contact was with her sadistic captor, and reading his face was her entire existence. After her experience with isolation and torture, she is left with a fierce desire for justice—and a heightened ability to interpret the body language of both the living and the dead.


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A.J. Hartley — STEEPLEJACK (TOR Teen)
Repairing roof fixtures in her ethnically diverse industrial city in an alternate world resembling Victorian South Africa, 17-year-old Anglet Sutonga investigates the death of a young apprentice while caring for her sister’s baby against a backdrop of racial tensions, political secrets and a stolen historical icon.


Click to purchase Kindle ebook

James Scott Bell — ROMEO’S WAY (Compendium Press)
Mike Romeo, the former cage fighter living low in L.A., doesn’t look for trouble. He doesn’t have to. It comes after him. So when he’s hired by a California senatorial campaign to do undercover work, Romeo doesn’t have any illusions. If there’s one thing Romeo wants, it’s justice. And he’s going to get it––his way.


Joyce Carol Oates — “Big Momma” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)

Also receiving special recognition during the ThrillerFest XII Awards Banquet:

Lee Child, ThrillerMaster
In recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre.

Lisa Gardner, Literary Silver Bullet Award
Tom Doherty, Thriller Legend Award

THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly

July 19, 2017

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Detective Renée Ballard works the “late show”, the overnight shift, in Hollywood, California. It is considered a punishment shift, and it’s where she was moved after filing a complaint about Olivas, her boss in Homicide. He tried to kiss her at a party in front of her partner, but her partner wouldn’t back up her claim so Olivas got away with it and her partner got a promotion. Yes, workplace politics are alive and well on the Los Angeles police force.

Her partner on the late show is Jenkins, who has a sick wife at home and volunteered to work the shift so he could be home with his wife during the day. He has no interest in overtime, just wants to put in his time and go home. The night shift doesn’t usually handle cases, they just gather information and turn it over to the day shift detectives, but Ballard finagles her time management to keep the cases she wants – like the transgender prostitute that was beaten and tortured and left for dead, and an old lady’s stolen credit card. She gets a real thrill out of solving cases and is willing work her butt off to get the job done.

The big case at the center of the story is a shootout at a strip club. Four men are killed, as well as a waitress. When Ballard’s ex-partner is killed, she decides to do a little investigating on the side, as Olivas won’t allow her anywhere near his investigation. She soon figures out that the killer was probably a cop, which doesn’t play well with her brethren. All the storylines are tied up at the end, with one surprise after another.

This is the start of a new series for Connelly, and his first with a woman as the lead. Ballard is a terrific character, with enough backstory and trauma to make her really interesting, and enough guts and ingenuity to make her a terrific cop. The supporting cast is also well developed, and the multiple story lines are handled with Connelly’s usual finesse. And I loved the reference to the Amazon Prime series, Bosch – a nice Easter egg.

I was shocked to realize this book was over 400 pages, it was a very fast read for me. Connelly has a way of drawing me into his stories that make it almost impossible to put down the book. If you’re a Harry Bosch and/or Lincoln Lawyer fan, you will love this new one, too. This is an excellent series debut from the finest crime fiction writer out there. Don’t miss it.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (July 18, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316225984. 448p.


KISS MY BOOTS by Harper Sloan

July 18, 2017

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Coming Home Series, Book 2

I loved the first book in this series, Lost Rider, so I am super excited to be kicking off the blog tour for this new book! Plus, one lucky reader will win a copy of Lost Rider!

This book centers on Quinn Davis. The first book was a romance between Quinn’s brother and her best friend. This romance is between Quinn and Tate, the boy she loved as a teenager. Tate spent every summer in this small Texas town where his grandparents lived. But he left for Emory University and never came back. He finished medical school, practiced in Atlanta and spent time with a woman who he thought was also only interested in a physical relationship.

Eventually, circumstances changed. His grandparents died and he bought their house, including his grandfather’s medical offices, and he moved back, hoping to find the girl he left behind.

Quinn has some serious abandonment issues, between her mother leaving her as a very young child, and Tate leaving, too. But even those she’s dated, she’s never felt about anyone the way she feels about Tate. So when he comes home, they decide to start over.

There are some sweet moments, especially with her family, and some sexy moments with Tate, and a really funny scene with one of Tate’s exes. While it didn’t have the depth of the first book in the series with all that back story and drama, it was a fast, fun read.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

KISS MY BOOTS by Harper Sloan. Pocket Books (July 18, 2017). ISBN 978-1501155215. 368p.


To win a copy of the new paperback of LOST RIDER by Harper Sloanplease send an email to with “LOST RIDER” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by August 5, 2017. 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. Your books will be sent by SIMON & SCHUSTER|POCKET BOOKS.

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.

Praise for Lost Rider, Book 1:

“Sloan hits it out of the park with her first Coming Home contemporary western romance…Maverick is a perfect hero: multilayered, complicated, deeply damaged, yet blooming with the new promise of love. Leighton is appealing and real, as are a strong supporting cast of characters whom readers will be glad to follow into sequels. Sloan enhances the gripping story with country songs that open each chapter. This absolutely spectacular effort catapults Sloan to the top of her genre.” —Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

About the author:

Harper Sloan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Corps Security and Hope Town series. She started writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night. Harper lives in Georgia with her family. Visit her at or


July 14, 2017

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Kelly and her sister Olivia have been estranged for many years. Their mother was the town whore and eventually walked out on the family. Kelly thought that Olivia was just like their mom and convinced their father to send her to boarding school before she ended up a teenage mother. They haven’t seen each other since, so Kelly and her dad, Jeff, are surprised when Olivia shows up.

Kelly and Jeff, run the family business, a tulip farm. They live in a small town about an hour outside of Seattle. Olivia has been living in Phoenix, doing staging for a real estate company. Things are really slow in hot, hot Phoenix in the summer so she decides to spend some time reuniting with her family.

Both girls have serious relationship issues, with each other, their mother, and with men. Kelly was in a five year long relationship and when the guy broke up with her, she really didn’t care. When the boy she had a crush on in high school starts pursuing her, she’s interested. He manufactures tiny homes, like the ones on HGTV, so that was a fun subplot.

Olivia has been following in her mother’s footsteps, happily seducing men but never really having a relationship. And Kelly’s best friend Helen is secretly in love with Jeff, the sisters’ father. All three women have big secrets, but eventually find happiness with each other and the men in their lives. It is a joyful and occasionally painful road to get there.

I learned a bit about tulips, which was nice. I grew up in New York and when I was a kid, I planted tulips every year, then dug the bulbs up again after they finished blooming and stored them in a Barbie doll lunchbox in the garage. Tulips don’t grow in Florida, although I guess you could refrigerate them and fool them into thinking it’s winter but I haven’t tried that. I live in a tropical paradise and while tulips are lovely, I don’t mind not growing any.

I liked the characters a lot and enjoyed spending time with them, even for just one night. There were three romances here and everyone had their happy ending. Another fun read from a terrific storyteller.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS by Susan Mallery. HQN Books (July 11, 2017).  ISBN 978-0373802760.  448p.


Author Spotlight: Emelie Schepp

July 13, 2017

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The paperback release of the international bestselling Marked For Life by Crime Writer of the Year 2016, Emelie Schepp, just came out in June in the UK! I’m excited to be part of her blog tour.

“Schepp couples an insightful look at the personal and professional lives of her characters with an unflinching
multi-layered plot loaded with surprises.” –Publishers Weekly

“A fast-paced thriller with a good blend of police procedure, the draw of a ninja-strong female lead, and enough adrenaline to make a good night’s sleep a near impossibility.” -Booklist

When the head of the migration board is shot dead in his living room, the last thing the police expect to find at the crime scene is a mysterious child-sized handprint in the childless home. The young and brilliant but emotionally cold, public prosecutor Jana Berzelius steps in to lead the investigation, unintimidated by the hysterical widow or the threatening letters she tried to hide. Jana is steely, aloof, impenetrable… until more bodies begin to surface.

On a deserted shoreline a few days later, the bruised and heroin-riddled body of a young boy is found along with the original murder weapon, and the sinister underworld of the migration board’s dealings begin to unravel.

Berzelius is drawn more deeply into the case when she recognizes something strangely familiar about the scarred and beaten boy – a name carved deep into the flesh of his neck that triggers flashes from the night terrors she’s suffered since childhood. As memories begin to emerge of her own violent, fear-ridden past, Berzelius must trace her connection to this boy in hopes of finding out what happened to her.

Now, to protect her own secrets, she must find the suspect behind these murders, before the police do. Read an excerpt below!


EMELIE SCHEPP is an international bestselling Nordic crime author with Marked for Life published in 29 countries. From a background in marketing, publicity and project management Emelie was last year awarded Crime Writer of the Year 2016 as voted by Swedish readers, and won The Specsavers Readers’ Choice Award. She lives with her husband and two children in Sweden.


It was inevitable that the media would seize upon the story. As soon as the TT national wire service reported that a young boy had been found murdered, the Norrköping police press officer found himself fielding calls from dozens of journalists eager for more details. Since it involved a minor shot to death, the entire nation was gripped, and on the morning TV shows various experts were invited to give their views. The presence of a weapon near the body led many to assume the boy was involved in criminal activity, which sparked discussions about the level of violence among today’s youth, and the tragic consequences.

When the phone rang with the news, it woke Jana Berzelius from her sleep. She got out of bed and took a shower, hoping it would wake her up. Thanks to Per, she had a dreadful hangover.

They’d ended up having three glasses of Scotch – more than she could handle. And before that they had shared a bottle of wine with their meal and ignored the advice about drinking one glass of water for every glass of something stronger.

Feeling a little better after her shower, she swallowed a painkiller for her headache and stretched out on the bed for a few moments, her hair still wet. She counted slowly to twenty, then got dressed, brushed her teeth and looked for a packet of peppermint-flavoured gum. Only then was she ready for the meeting at the police station.

‘We are here to summarize what we’ve been able to discover about the boy who was found dead out at Viddviken this morning.’

Gunnar used a magnet to put up the photo on the whiteboard before continuing.

‘Anneli, who is still at the scene, says the boy had been shot. She estimates that he died between 19.00 and 23.00 on Sunday night, though we’ll need to wait for the medical examiner to confirm that. According to Anneli, broken vegetation around the body indicates that the boy was in motion, and his injuries are consistent with having been shot from behind.’

Gunnar took a sip of water and cleared his throat.

‘At present we don’t know whether the victim has other injuries or if he’d been sexually assaulted. Again, we’ll have to wait for the autopsy – the medical examiner has given his word the report will be with us as soon as possible, hopefully tomorrow. The boy’s clothing has been sent to forensics.’

He got up and went to stand by the map on the whiteboard.

‘We’re still combing the area, but as yet we haven’t found any footprints or trace evidence left at the murder scene by the perpetrator. The only thing we can be relatively certain about is that the dead boy at Viddviken is the same boy who was seen on CCTV footage from Östanvägen.’

‘And the murder weapon?’ said Henrik.

‘We don’t yet know whether the weapon found near the body was used to shoot him. All we can say for certain is that the weapon found near the boy was a Glock, and Hans Juhlén was killed . . .’

‘. . . with a Glock.’ Henrik completed the sentence.

‘Exactly. The serial number is as yet unknown. The weapon’s been sent to the national lab. They’ll examine the bullets still in the gun and let us know whether they’re a match for the ones that killed Hans Juhlén. If they are, it supports the theory that this boy was somehow involved in Juhlén’s murder. We’ve taken his fingerprints too.’

‘And?’ said Mia.

‘They matched. The handprints and fingerprints in Hans

Juhlén’s house match the boy’s,’ said Gunnar.

Emelie Schepp’s Marked for Life is out 6th July (HQ, £7.99)

Facebook Emelie Schepp

Instagram @emelieschepp

Twitter @emelieschepp





July 12, 2017

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Sunshine Mackenzie is an Internet cooking sensation with cookbooks, an upcoming Food Network show and millions of fans. Until the night of her surprise birthday party, when someone hacks her social media accounts and accuses her of being a fraud. Since she can’t really cook, and her recipes are created by her producer’s wife, who she’s slept with, fraud seems an apt description. And her life implodes. Danny, her husband, leaves her and returns her cookbook advance, wiping out all their cash. Then he sells the apartment out from under her, leaving her penniless, homeless and pretty much friendless.

Since she can’t really cook, and her recipes are created by her producer’s wife, who she’s slept with, fraud seems an apt description. And her life implodes. Danny, her husband, leaves her and returns her cookbook advance to the publisher, wiping out all their cash. Then he sells the apartment out from under her, leaving her penniless, homeless and pretty much friendless. So Sunny decides to go home to the Hamptons.

Most people think of the Hamptons as a summer enclave for the rich and famous, and that is true. But there are people who live there all year round, and Sunny grew up there. Her sister still lives there but they are estranged, haven’t spoken in years. So when Sunny shows up, her welcome is a cop ticketing her for trespassing. Eventually, her sister lets her in and a strained relationship resumes.

Sunny finagles a job as the “trash” consultant at a high end restaurant using her niece’s name instead of her own. A few of the staff recognize her but don’t bother her. She has a plan to get the chef to teach her to cook and re-start her career, but he’s not interested. Then she finds out she’s pregnant and things get even more complicated.

This is a redemption story, but to get to that Sunny has to hit rock bottom. I was tempted to put down the book more than once as her life went on the skids as she was a completely unsympathetic character. Kudos to Laura Dave who somehow kept me turning pages anyway, and I was very glad I did. I liked how the story moved and turned, but the ending felt a bit rushed and incomplete. A few more pages would have been nice. In spite of all that, ultimately I did enjoy the book.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HELLO, SUNSHINE by Laura Dave. Simon & Schuster (July 11, 2017).  ISBN 978-1476789323.  256p.


WIRED by Julie Garwood

July 11, 2017

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Buchanan/FBI Series, Book 13

This series is new to me and I’m not sure who Buchanan is, but the FBI is front and center. I guess it doesn’t matter because I don’t feel like I missed a thing.

Allison Trent is a most unlikely computer hacker. A really good hacker, who only hacks for good. Like the time some bad hackers stole the life savings of all the residents of a nursing home. She stole it back, gave the money to the FBI along with a detailed, step by step accounting of who did it and how. All anonymously. She is a sort of Robinhood of hackers. Oh, and she models on the side to make extra money because she’s still has a few months left to go before college graduation and she’s gorgeous.

Allison and her older sister were orphaned as young children, and an aunt and uncle took them in and raised them. Her sister has moved away, and Allison is still earning money for her aunt and uncle, who do not treat her kindly, to say the least. They basically look at her as a means of support and harass her repeatedly.

One day her best friend Jordan invites her on a tour of a new FBI computer center. While there, Allison is questioned by two of the agents. The next thing she knows, she is put in an office by herself and asked to hack into the FBI computers to find a leak. Which she does. They hire her and one of the agents, Liam, takes charge of her.

Liam is a hottie who is constantly traveling for work so doesn’t form any lasting relationships. To him, sex is recreational, a way to kill time between assignments. But something happens with Allison – he is really drawn to her and can’t get her out of his mind. And she finds herself falling for him but afraid that he is just using her.

This is a very fast read. Liam and Allison are interesting, well drawn characters but the rest of the cast we barely get to know. The biggest hole in the plot, well, more like a major annoyance to me, is that Allison, this brilliant coder, doesn’t know something so simple, so basic as thow to block a phone number to keep her relatives from harassing her. By the end of the book it was really annoying me, but that’s just me. Other than that, I enjoyed the book and read it very quickly as it really held my interest. I loved the idea of a woman who could code

I loved the idea of a woman who could code circles around men, but the fact that she also models was a bit much –  she couldn’t get part time work coding? Really?

Other than that, I enjoyed the book and read it very quickly as it really held my interest. If you can suspend your disbelief, it is an enjoyable read.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WIRED by Julie Garwood.  Berkley (July 4, 2017). ISBN 978-0525954460. 320p.



July 10, 2017

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A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World

Joan Nathan is the queen of Jewish cookbooks, and her latest is terrific. Be sure to read the introduction, a history of Jewish food that is completely fascinating, as well as a short but clear explanation of Jewish dietary laws, kashrut. The recipes included are all kosher, including substitutions as needed, although there is a caveat to check with your rabbi if you are not sure.

The forward is written by Alice Waters, so that was also a must read for me.

The book is divided as follows:

Soups and Their Dumplings
Grains and Such

There is also an excellent index and bibliography.

The recipes have basis in many countries, even some I never thought of as especially Jewish, like Mexico and Sri Lanka. All are interesting, some are trendy (Shakshuka, anyone?) and some are classic, like Matzo Brei, Chopped Liver, and Apple Kuchen (cake). But it’s the unusual that really drew me to this cookbook, starting with Ferrara Haroset with Chestnuts, Pine Nuts, Pears and Dried Fruits from Rome. We liked this so much at Passover I used it again as a filling for Hamentaschen, and it worked beautifully. I would never have thought of using tahina in cookies, but Tahina Cookies made a believer out of me – if you like Halvah or Mexican Wedding Cookies, try these cookies.

I was partial to a lot of the Italian Jewish recipes, like Tagliolini colla Crosta, Crusty Pasta with a Bolognese Sauce that has pine nuts, ground almonds and raisins in it and Roman Ricotta Cheese Crostata with Cherries or Chocolate. The Spinach-Feta Burekas is Bulgarian, but is called Buricchi by Italian Jews, and Borek by Ottomans and Balkan Jews. It is a laminated dough filled with spinach and feta, and reminded me of the Greek Spanikopita. I have never attempted a laminated dough and probably will substitute filo dough here.

The Roast Turkey with Challah-Chestnut-Cranberry Stuffing is as delicious as it sounds – I cut the recipe in half and used it for a stuffed turkey breast and it worked really well. Yuca Latkes with Cilantro Cream, Sweet Plantain Guava Kugel and Green Chile Relelleno Latkes all have Hispanic origins, sometimes by way of Miami!

The final recipe in the book is Libyan Saefra, King Solomon’s Cake, which Nathan believes predates baklava and is believed to be an aphrodisiac. This is a filled cake, and the filling is a spiced date mixture. The ingredients are very unusual but not hard to find – Cream of Wheat and semolina are used instead of flour, for example.

All of the recipes include their origin stories, some are longer than others but all are interesting. You can see the research and the love that went into this cookbook.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

KING SOLOMON’S TABLE by Joan Nathan. Knopf (April 4, 2017). ISBN 978-0385351140. 416p.

Author Spotlight: Emma Straub

July 8, 2017

Books Are Magic: Author Emma Straub’s new bookstore | Signature Views Mini-Doc – Author Emma Straub gives a tour of her new bookstore Books Are Magic, which recently opened in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood, and discusses its origin.

Emma Straub is the New York Times-bestselling author of Modern Lovers, The Vacationers, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, and Other People We Married. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, and Elle. Her work has been published in fifteen countries.

Visit Emma Straub’s Amazon page

CAMINO ISLAND by John Grisham

July 7, 2017

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A library, a bookstore, and a Florida setting – count me in! I couldn’t resist and I’m happy to say this was a really good read. I tend to run hot and cold with Grisham’s books, sometimes I love his books, other times, not so much. I put this one in the love column for sure. And interestingly enough, it’s not a legal thriller.

The premise starts with a heist. Princeton University is home to the only original manuscripts of all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels as well as his notes, letters and papers. The manuscripts are priceless, to say the least, so when they are stolen, all sorts of agencies get involved in trying to find them.

The insurance company investigator needs help. They think that the owner of a small but very successful bookstore owner may have the manuscripts. The bookstore is on Camino Island outside of Jacksonville, Florida, (which bears a strong resemblance to Amelia Island, where Grisham has a home.)

The investigator zeroes in a Mercer, a novelist who grew up on the island. Mercer has just been let go from her teaching job, has mountains of student debt to pay off, and is three years late on her contracted next book.  The investigator offers to pay off her student loans and pay her a ton of money besides. All she has to do is stay in her former summer home for a six month period, befriend the bookseller, and see what she can learn. She learns a lot about rare books, so I did as well, and it was completely fascinating.

I loved the premise of the book and Grisham really brought it home for me. Luckily, the library at Princeton is apparently nothing like the one described in the novel, lest someone get the bright idea to make fiction a reality. Grisham is quite a diverse writer, and he once again goes off in a different direction from his legal thrillers. This is a thriller, just no lawyering involved here. There are some reviews who cast this with a chick lit light, but I really didn’t see it. I will say that some of my favorite Grisham books, besides his first few legal thrillers, are his non-thrillers like Playing for Pizza and Skipping Christmas. Camino Island is just another really good read.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CAMINO ISLAND by John Grisham. Doubleday; First Edition edition (June 6, 2017).  ISBN 978-0385543026. 304p.