Win the March ’18 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

March 1, 2018

Welcome to the March bookshelf of signed thrillers! These are terrific titties from bestselling authors and maybe some that are new to you. Best of all, one lucky reader is going to win all these books, signed by the authors. More books may be added throughout the month, so check back often. To enter, go to the Win Books page.

Best of luck!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

THE BISHOP’S PAWN by Steve Berry: Former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone uncovers a disturbing link between a case from his past and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. that risks innocent lives and threatens the legacy of the Civil Rights movement’s iconic martyr.

THE CUBAN AFFAIR by Nelson DeMille: Nelson DeMille’s #1 New York Times bestseller featuring DeMille’s newest character—U.S. Army combat veteran Daniel “Mac” MacCormick, a charter boat captain setting sail on his most dangerous cruise yet. When his shaky finances compel him to accept a lucrative job for a 10-day fishing tournament to Cuba, Mac learns that one of his clients is seeking to claim millions hidden by her grandfather, who was forced to flee Castro’s revolution years earlier.

HOUSE WITNESS by Mike Lawson, A Joe DeMarco Thriller: The new novel in Mike Lawson’s acclaimed series takes political fixer Joe DeMarco to New York for behind-the-scenes work on a high-stakes murder case. Investigating the murder of his employer’s illegitimate son, DeMarco begins to question the guilt of a chief suspect when he realizes that someone has been interfering with the case’s witnesses.

THE THIRD VICTIM by Phillip Margolin: When a series of abductions, tortures and murders are traced to the home of a prominent attorney in rural Oregon, a rookie lawyer becomes a second chair to a legendary criminal defense attorney who holds a dangerous secret.

LET ME LIE by Clare Mackintosh: Struggling to come to terms with her parents’ double suicide, new mother Anna commits herself to uncovering what really happened only to be confronted by a mysterious adversary who would keep the past hidden.

DEAD CALM by Annelise Ryan, A Mattie Winston Mystery: The honeymoon will have to wait for newlyweds deputy medical examiner Mattie Winston and homicide detective Steve Hurley when a man and woman are found dead next to each other in bed in what initially appears to be a grim but straightforward murder-suicide. 

SHALLOW GRAVE by Karen Harper:  While volunteering with a support group for children affected by domestic violence, forensic psychologist Claire Britten, aided by her partner Nick Markwood, investigates a suspicious death at a wildlife sanctuary.

SPEED THE DAWN by Philip Donlay, A Donovan Nash Thriller: In the style of Clive Cussler, best-selling author Philip Donlay climbs to a new height of terror in his 8th Donovan Nash thriller. 

You can win autographed copies of 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 to enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

THE RECIPE BOX by Viola Shipman

March 22, 2018

Click to purchase

Sam Mullins grew up on the northern shore of Michigan on her family’s orchard, and couldn’t wait to leave and make her own mark on the world. She went to culinary school in New York and landed a much coveted job – baking for a television celebrity chef in his restaurant/bakery. Except he’s a jerk and can’t even cook, and when the head chef quits, Sam is picked to create something wonderful for the Good Morning America team that will be filming in the bakery that morning. She does, and everyone loves it but her boss – he trashes her grandmother’s beloved slab pie and orders her to make something else. Finally growing a spine, she, too, quits.

Sam heads home to the family orchard and bake shop where her grandmother and mother rule supreme. They are delighted she has shown up for a visit but she doesn’t tell them why she’s suddenly home, at least not for a while.

The recipe box is a family tradition. On each daughter’s 13th birthday, they are given a wooden recipe box filled with family recipes going back generations. The key to the box is worn on a chain around the neck, close to the heart. When Sam went off to culinary school, she left her recipe box at home but now she is feeling the pull of family and all that means.

In a side story, there is a produce delivery man she has been chatting with every morning of her working life in New York City. After turning down several invitations to date him, they remain friends. After she gets home, he tells her he’s taking a few days off and wants to see the Michigan she loves. This romance adds a bit more story to the story, as it were.

Every chapter is named after a recipe and the recipes are all included. Most are desserts but there is at least one savory dish as well.

The book held my attention but it verged on being sickeningly sweet, if you’ll pardon the pun. It actually felt smarmy at times and way too heavy handed and I just don’t like being manipulated. The story was good, I didn’t need to be hit over the head about the importance of family and tradition and love on every page. All that said, it moved me to tears more than once and I couldn’t put it down, so I guess it was compelling smarminess, if you will. If you like reading stories about food and families, and don’t mind emotional minefields, this is the book for you.

I am planning on making that slab pie for sure, and probably a few of the other recipes as well.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE RECIPE BOX by Viola Shipman. Thomas Dunne Books (March 20, 2018). ISBN 978-1250146779. 336p.

THE BISHOP’S PAWN by Steve Berry

March 21, 2018

Click to purchase

Cotton Malone Novel, Book 13

Steve Berry and his wife Elizabeth are both ardent advocates of historical preservation. Their passion has taken them to a multitude of places and sites as well as the founding of a charitable foundation, “History Matters,” to raise both awareness as well as money to preserve historical places. Many of Berry’s novels have had a little known historical event become the basis for the story told in the book.

Bishop’s Pawn is the latest adventure of Berry’s main protagonist Cotton Malone, but includes several changes in the format of the story. It is written in first person with Malone being the one telling the story. It is also out of the continuing time sequence of Malone’s career with the Magellan Billet, a secret group attached to the Justice Department. Insteaed, we are taken to the beginning of Cotton’s work for Stephanie Nelle, who founded the Magellan Billet and is the supervisor.

Eighteen years ago Malone was working as a lawyer in the Navy and trying to outgrow his reputation as a maverick. He is approached by Stephanie and asked to help with an investigation currently underway by the Justice Department. Cotton takes the assignment with the hope of getting into a situation other than his present tedious job with the JAG.

Cotton then finds himself involved with an extremely rare coin and a set of documents that provide explosive data on the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Malone becomes embroiled in a war between the Justice Department and the F.B.I. for possession of both objects.

Dr. King is pictured here as the giant that he was in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, but also shown as a man with faults and hesitations. The real life war between the F.B.I. and Dr. King is brought vividly into the scenario.

J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the F.B.I. at the beginning of Dr. King’s work, had an obvious hatred for the man. Hoover ordered wire taps, surveillance, and branded Dr. King as a trouble maker all against orders from Congress. Berry brings out the distinct possibility that Hoover ordered the assassination of Dr. King and was instrumental in bringing James Earl Ray, Dr King’s killer, conveniently into the picture in order to do the actual shooting.

The book is a fascinating study of both the events surrounding Dr. King’s assassination and portraits of some of the individuals that both worked for and against him. Berry eloquently pictures the F.B.I. as Hoover’s fiefdom, and due to the secret files held on many people by him, was able to establish total control over the organization as well as becoming a law unto himself.

The ending consists of the airing of Berry’s thoughts about the assasssination with actual facts presented to back up his theory. I feel that while Steve Berry may have written better books, Bishop’s Pawn is beyond any doubt the most thought provoking of them. Totally mesmerizing and the “king” of all nighters.

3/18 Paul Lane

THE BISHOP’S PAWN by Steve Berry. Minotaur Books (March 20, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250140227. 352p.

ALTERNATE SIDE by Anna Quindlen

March 20, 2018

Click to purchase

So Anna Quindlen finally decided to write a love letter to New York City. Manhattan, to be precise. And while she may point out its foibles and idiosyncrasies, even the bad stuff is wrapped up in love.

Nora and Charlie have been married for many years and have boy and girl twins in college and a dog. They live in a townhouse which is crammed in between the townhouses on either side of them, all on a dead end street in Manhattan, an almost unheard of thing in the city. This is a clannish group of New Yorkers who share a handyman and a small parking lot, overseen by George, the self-appointed street mayor, issuing coveted parking spots, warning about any infractions to the desired appearance of the block, and offering non-negotiable recommendations of flowers to plant and when to put out the holiday decorations.

Nora and Charlie consider theirs to be one of the better marriages among their circle of friends. They are well off, and attention to class distinction is paid here. Charlie is an investment banker, but his career has never taken off the way he thought it would and he dreams of leaving the city for greener pastures. Nora is the director of a small, private museum and loves her job, her family, and most of all, her home, but definitely feels that something is lacking in her life.

Then one of the neighbors, a wealthy attorney with a viscous temper, attacks the Latino handyman, beating him with a golf club and causing serious injury because his truck was blocking the parking lot. The neighbors are divided; was it provoked? Was it an accident? Charlie was a witness and stands up for his neighbor, but Nora heard the whole thing and knows Charlie is wrong. That incident creates a wedge in their marriage and in the neighborhood, causing feelings to shift and change and ultimately deteriorate.

An interesting look at friendship, marriage and class warfare within the city that never sleeps, with lots to talk about for book discussion groups. I didn’t love it, maybe because I need at least one character to care about, to relate to, and Nora just barely made the cut. I’m from New York and know people like her so I understood her, but also know I could never be friends with her, and fortunately that is not a deal breaker. The book did give me pause – and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Thought provoking for sure.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ALTERNATE SIDE by Anna Quindlen. Random House (March 20, 2018). ISBN 978-0812996067. 304p.


March 19, 2018

Click to purchase

The  Highlanders Series, Book 5

I tend to avoid historical romances set in Scotland because I can’t help but compare them to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and let’s face it, there is no comparison. So I was determined to just read this book and judge it on its own merits, so I did. It was okay, nothing bad to say about it but nothing great, either.

From Amazon:

In New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands’ captivating romance, a lass targeted by an unknown foe is saved—and seduced—by a bold Highlander

Edith Drummond owes her life to Niels Buchanan and his brothers. Waking after an illness to a castle overrun by rugged Highlanders is disconcerting, but so is learning that she’s slowly being poisoned. Niels insists on staying by her side, and Edith soon discovers that even more dangerous is her wild attraction to the fierce warrior.

Niels has never met a more courageous—or enticing—woman than Lady Edith. The idea of such a bonny lass being forced to enter a nunnery is more than any red-blooded Scotsman could bear. He’ll gladly marry her himself. But while sweeping her off her feet is easy, it’ll take all his skill to defeat her family’s relentless enemies, and convince her to surrender to his sweet embrace. . . .

This definitely falls into the historical romantic suspense category. People are dropping dead with some regularity and we don’t find out the who or why of it until the end. The romance plays nicely against this backdrop and we get the requisite happily ever after. Maybe if I had read the entire series I would have been more invested, but I didn’t like this enough to pursue any more. If you like Scottish historicals with a lot of suspense, then this is the book for you.

9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SURRENDER TO THE HIGHLANDER by Lynsay Sands. Avon (January 30, 2018). ISBN 978-0062468987.  384p.


FAKE WIFE by Stacey Lynn

March 18, 2018

Click to purchase Kindle ebook

Corbin is your typical hot millionaire playboy who works in the family business. He’s not close with his parents but truly adores his grandmother and the time he spent at her home on the beach. When she passes away, he is devastated, especially when he hears about his inheritance. She left him the only home he ever loved, but with a catch – he has to be married within 6 months to inherit.

Teagan is not having a very good day. First she loses her job, then heads home to find her boyfriend in bed – their bed – with another woman. She tears out of the house and boom! Next thing she knows she’s rear ended a very expensive car. And worst of all, she recognizes the driver, Portland’s most eligible bachelor and her secret crush, Corbin.

Much to her shock, he is awfully nice about the damage to his car. In fact, he comes up with a crazy proposition: she should come home with him, marry him, then they can get it annulled or divorce after he inherits. She needs a job and a place to live so it’s a win-win for both of them. Until they fall in love.

It’s a silly premise for a book but a really fun read – pure escapism including a lot of heat. It was exactly what I needed.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FAKE WIFE by Stacey Lynn.  Loveswept (January 9, 2018). ASIN: B06ZZL8W1V. 219p.

THE BIG GET-EVEN by Paul Di Filippo

March 17, 2018
A very well told story about a scam – not just any scam but one for the sum of twenty million dollars. There are two main characters plotting this masterpiece. There is Glen, a disbarred lawyer and a man just out of prison who narrates the story. By chance and certainly not planned, he saves Stan’s life.
Stan is an arsonist who has a grudge against Barnaby Nancarrow, a major real estate developer, a rather crooked one, and sort of Stan’s former partner. Nancarrow hired Stan to burn properties owned by him in order to collect on the insurance. Nancarrow, was shall we say, not very honest with Stan in terms of paying him for the work and keeping him out of trouble with the law.
Stan and a woman named Vee, who is also somewhat miffed with Nancarrow, manage to convince Glen that they are aware of several factors that can be used in a scam. The scam that could net the group twenty million dollars in a relatively short period of time and for not much work.
There are more members of the team gathered for the venture including a very talented computer geek. He lives with Vee and his part will be to set up certain documents to aid in getting Nancarrow’s interest piqued. While all are in it for the money at first they do get to liking their fellow schemers making the novel a bit of a comedy.
The writing is certainly entertaining and will appeal to any reader looking for a good read. No deep dark messages nor hidden meanings to divert the reader’s attention from a well done novel.3/18 Paul Lane

THE BIG GET-EVEN by Paul Di Filippo. Blackstone Publishing (March 6, 2018).  ISBN 978-1504783910. 352p.


March 16, 2018

Click to purchase

A Thriller of Russian Cyber Warfare, Fake News, and Modern Espionage

Spy vs Spy grown up fashion: a novel about a new and different manner to wage war against your opponent; no guns, no bombs, no mass charges of soldiers. Simply setting up an attack via the use of disinformation. And one such scenario is brilliantly set up by Max Karpov.

The CIA learns that a propaganda attack is about to be launched against the United States by Russia, masterminded by a former FSB officer, Andrei Turov. He is now a millionaire and good friend of Vladimir Putin. It is termed “the children’s game,” a chess stratagem geared to a checkmate in four moves. It will be launched by a single breaking event and than continue using a sustained campaign of both disinformation and cyber attacks. The single breaking event is the shooting down of a plane that Putin is on, killing all aboard and putting the blame on the United States.

Christopher Niles, a former CIA information officer who knows Turov and his close relationship with Putin, is assigned to break open the plot and begins his attempt along with a small team. Karpov has set up a plausible action versus reaction plot which is beyond any doubt a brilliant description of the events described.

The reader will be pulled in many different ways during the course of the book. It is very much a novel that cannot be put down until the ending is reached. And it could be prophetic in it’s depiction of how future conflicts between nations could be fought with results behind the scenes and public opinion being manipulated as a means of victory or defeat.

Max Karpov delineates that the United States is very much behind Russia in it’s ability to wage the “new” war. The book may be a wake up call but first and foremost it is brilliant plot showcasing a major literary talent.

3/18 Paul Lane

THE CHILDREN’S GAME by Max Karpov. Arcade Publishing (March 13, 2018).  ISBN 978-1510734814. 384p.


March 15, 2018

Click to purchase

Montana Heat Series, Book 2

Cara Potter runs a half-way house of sorts for ex-cons who need a helping hand. She gives them a job in her diner, and place to live while they get back on their feet. Her father is a notorious drug lord, and she wants nothing to do with him. Instead, she helps those who have gotten into trouble but want to turn their lives around.

Dawson King is so deep undercover that he just got out of prison on drug charges. While there, he befriended and saved the life of his roommate, who sends him to Cara. King is there to take down her father but he quickly learns that Cara has nothing to do with that business. She finds herself attracted to him, but is leery, with good reason. Nonetheless, they fall in love, only she doesn’t even know his real name.

Lots of suspense and action, both the violent kind and the sexual kind, make this a real page turner. This is the second book of a terrific series.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MONTANA HEAT: TRUE TO YOU by Jennifer Ryan.  Avon (February 27, 2018).  ISBN  978-0062804242. 320p.



March 14, 2018

Click to purchase

The Duke’s Daughters Series, Book 2

Lady Olivia Howett is determined not to make the same mistake her sisters have made. She loves helping those less fortunate than herself, and thinks she ought to marry the man her sister threw over, Lord Carson. He works hard in Parliament to help make England a better place, and Olivia thinks that together, they would be the perfect couple. So she proposes. Really.

Shockingly, he says no and in a scene straight out of Gone With the Wind, the man lying on the couch overhearing said proposal and the flinging of china after the rejection finds Olivia most interesting. He is Edward Wolcott, a bastard. Really. His father won’t claim him and polite society cuts him with some regularity, but he decides to help Olivia grow up. And she does, with growing self awareness and eventually, she sees that Lord Carson isn’t the one for her.

This was a fun romance and has a few hot sex scenes as well. If that opening wasn’t such a blatant ripoff of GWTW, I would have liked it more.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE DUKE’S DAUGHTERS: LADY BE RECKLESS by Megan Frampton. Avon (February 27, 2018). ISBN 978-0062666642.  384p.


Tamora Pierce: How I Started Writing Female Heroes

March 13, 2018

Fantasy author Tamora Pierce on how she started writing female heroes