Win the September ’19 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

September 1, 2019

Welcome to the September bookshelf of signed thrillers!

This month the International Thriller Writers have provided a bunch of exciting new thrillers to help fill your bookshelf! More books may be added throughout the month, so check back often.

Best of luck!

LABYRINTH by Catherine Coulter: An FBI Thriller, Book 23. The #1 New York Times bestselling FBI Thriller series returns with another tour de force in which agents Savich and Sherlock stumble into a bizarre case that’s more complicated and twisted than any they’ve ever encountered. Together they have to weave their way through a labyrinth of lies to find the truth of a terrible secret.

LETHAL AGENT by Vince Flynn & Kyle MillsA Mitch Rapp Novel, Book 18. An unprecedented and terrifying bioterrorism plot threatens to kill millions in the midst of a divisive presidential election in this new thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling Mitch Rapp series.

THE STRANGER INSIDE by Lisa Unger: Introducing one of the most compelling and original killers in crime fiction today, Lisa Unger takes readers deep inside the minds of both perpetrator and victim, blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice, and showing that sometimes people deserve what comes to them. Even good people are drawn to do evil things…

SINS OF THE FATHERS by J. A. Jance: A J.P. Beaumont Novel, Book 24. Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont is drawn into an intriguing, and shockingly personal, case in this superb tale of suspense from New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance.

ELEVATOR PITCH by Linwood Barclay: The New York Times bestselling author of A Noise Downstairs and No Time for Goodbye returns with an edge-of-your-seat thriller that does for elevators what Psycho did for showers and Jaws did for the beach—a heart-pounding tale in which a series of disasters paralyzes New York City with fear.

THE STALKING by Heather GrahamKrewe of Hunters, Book 29. Krewe of Hunters agent Andre Broussard has deep ties in New Orleans and Cajun country beyond. He knows that more than one monster has stalked the bayou. Has a deadly threat been resurrected, or does someone have a dark inspiration?

THE DECEPTION by Kat Martin: Maximum Security, Book 2. A sequel to The Conspiracy finds a woman devastated by the death of her runaway addict sister before partnering with a bounty hunter to track down a killer in the dark world of human trafficking.

BLACK NOWHERE by Reece Hirsch: Lisa Tanchik Series, Book 1. Special Agent Lisa Tanchik is the best at taking down cybercriminals. So when the FBI discovers a multibillion-dollar black market online, she’s tasked with finding the creator and bringing him to justice.

LOWCOUNTRY BOOMERANG by Susan M. Boyer:  A Liz Talbot Mystery Series, Book 8. Private investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews are all set to enjoy some quality time on the beach. That’s until they get the news about Darius. Darius DeAndre Baker, star of the hit TV show, Main Street USA, has had enough of the Hollywood highlife. After ten years of visiting everyone else’s hometown, he returns to his own—Stella Maris, South Carolina.


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 you can enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


September 17, 2019

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE STRANGER INSIDE by Lisa Unger. Park Row; Original edition (September 17, 2019). ISBN 978-0778308720. 384p.



About Lisa Unger

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels, including THE STRANGER INSIDE. With millions of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Lisa Unger is widely regarded as a master of suspense. In 2019, she received two Edgar Award nominations, an honor held by only a few writers including Ruth Rendell and Agatha Christie. The Edgar-nominated UNDER MY SKIN is also a finalist for the prestigious Hammett Prize, and the Macavity Award for Best Novel. And the original short story THE SLEEP TIGHT MOTEL is a #1 bestselling single.

Unger’s critically acclaimed books have been voted “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today showGood Morning AmericaEntertainment WeeklyAmazonIndieBound and many others. Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesWall Street JournalNPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family. Visit

Lisa & The BookBitch back in 2013!


AKIN by Emma Donoghue

September 16, 2019

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Noah Selvaggio is a widowed and now retired Chemistry professor living alone in New York City. We find him preparing to take a trip back to Nice, a city in the south of France, and the place of his birth. He is planning to take along a series of puzzling photographs that were taken by his mother living there during the Nazi occupation.

He is suddenly disturbed by a call from social service advising him that he is a great uncle to a child he has never seen. And he is the only available relative since the boy’s father has died and his mother is currently incarcerated. Noah reluctantly agrees to take the eleven year old boy with him to France while the agency finds another relative to take the lad in.

The story is about the trip and the relationship of Noah and the boy during the week that they spend together in France. Yes, it is a heartwarming portrait involving several factors. Noah investigates the photos taken by his mother and develops a picture of her past and her role in the French resistance movement. He also begins to look at Michael, the young boy as something other than an inconvenience.

Donoghue is a wordsmith, presenting her wonderful story in a manner that quickly draws in the reader by the creation of people that act and feel as many would if taking part in the happenings described. It’s a five star book, one that will cause a good feeling for the people that read it.

9/19 Paul Lane

AKIN by Emma Donoghue. Little, Brown and Company (September 10, 2019). ISBN 978-0316491990. 352p.



PUMPKINHEADS by Rainbow Rowell

September 15, 2019

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Josiah and Deja are seasonal best friends.  Every fall they spend two months together working at DeKnock’s World Famous Pumpkin Patch, and then don’t see each other again until they return to work the following September.  But this Halloween is different, it is their senior year of high school, and it is their last ever shift at the pumpkin patch.  Josiah is hoping to secure the title of Most Valuable Pumpkin Patch Person for the fifth time, but Deja has a different plan.  Her plan involves playing hooky from their final shift at the Succotash Hut and seizing the moment by setting off on an adventure across the patch.

Let me start by saying graphic novels are not my preferred genre, I respect the talent that goes into creating them, but they usually don’t connect with me.  When I saw that Rainbow Rowell had written a graphic novel, however, I knew I had to read it.  Luckily Pumpkinheads did not disappoint.  Josiah and Deja’s characters were well developed despite the short length of the story and limited text (Hicks’ expressive facial illustrations also deserve credit here).  Within a short time-frame Rowell fills the reader in on the foundation of their friendship making the reader invested in the result of their mad dash across the pumpkin patch.  Rowell’s dialogue is engaging and humorous, with Deja’s bubbly personality and penchant for seizing the moment complimenting Josiah’s shyness and sense of duty to his beloved pumpkin patch.

As for the illustrations, Faith Erin Hicks brings DeKnock’s Pumpkin Patch and the feeling of a cozy fall evening to life.  Her illustrations are detailed, make use of a crisp fall color palate, and include plenty of humorous touches. The inclusion of a map of the patch on the inside cover of the book was a nice addition. You will want to visit the Pie Palace, S’Mores Pit, and Corn Maize while trying a Pumpkin Bomb and kettle corn.

Overall, a charming story of friendship set against a delightful fall background.

9/19 Caitlin Brisson

PUMPKINHEADS by Rainbow Rowell. Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks. First Second (August 27, 2019). ISBN 9781250312853. 224p.



CALL HER MINE by Melissa Foster

September 14, 2019

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Harmony Pointe, Book 1

From the publisher:

Two besties and a baby make for an instafamily and a surprising romance in a delightful series by Melissa Foster, the New York Times bestselling author of the Sugar Lake novels.

Ben Dalton has always been honest, except where his heart is concerned. He’s been in love with his best friend—saucy, smart-mouthed Aurelia Stark—forever. But Ben’s a planner, and timing has never been on his side. When he finally decides to make his move, Aurelia beats him to the punch with a move of her own—to a different town.

Aurelia loves her new life in the charming town of Harmony Pointe. She has a great apartment and her very own bookstore, and best of all, the sinfully hot, commitment-phobic friend she’s crushed on for years is no longer just around the corner. Maybe she’ll finally be able to leave her unrequited love behind and move on.

But when a baby is left on Ben’s front porch—a baby that is presumably his—Aurelia is there for him. Neither one knows the first thing about babies, but how hard can it be? Ben and Aurelia are catapulted into a world of love, laughter, and tracking down the baby mama, and it might even add up to a very happily ever after… just not one either of them expects.

Aurelia owns a bookstore, so of course I had to read this. I am a complete sucker for any book that features a bookstore or library. Those are my happy places.

This is the first book of a new series from Foster. This is light and fluffy and entertaining, even with the specter of the unwanted baby left on the doorstep. It’s also a very short book, sort of between novella and novel, so not a whole lot of character or plot development. It’s a simple story and it works. There are some sad moments to be sure, but the happiness washes it all away and left me with a smile on my face. If you are looking for a fun, sexy fast read, this is your book. It was a good romance for sure.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CALL HER MINE by Melissa Foster. Montlake Romance (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1542007382. 265p.




September 13, 2019

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Summer Resort Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

As the summer ends, friendship begins…

When single mom Joy Lee abandoned her old life to take a job at a lakeside resort, she found something that her family’s wealth and influence could never buy: peace of mind. Not easy to come by for the once-burned divorcée who keeps everyone at a distance. But when her new friend, Maris, dares her to take a chance with the drive-in’s charismatic new owner, everything changes for Joy and her young son.

A difficult childhood has left Maris Kennedy with definite priorities. Her job running Summer’s End, the camp store and café, comes first. Always. Nothing could ever make her risk that hard-won security—especially not her free-spirited colleague. But the more she encourages Joy to open herself up to new experiences, the more Maris begins to wonder what she, too, might be missing.

Learning how to trust will bring Joy and Maris together. And soon they form a friendship that leaves them as close as sisters—and open to love where they least expect it…in Summer’s End.

This is the sequel to Cooper’s Charm, which I read last year and loved. I remembered these characters and the setting and was very happy to be back with them.

Foster has given us another two-fer, two romances in one, and she does a really good job with it. I think this story worked so well because the women involved, Joy and Maris, become the best of friends. Even though they’ve been working together for years, they never really had much of a relationship. Maris is single minded in her pursuit of making her business a success. And Joy is just as single minded in making her son a priority.

Single motherhood is never easy, but Joy’s husband took off as soon as he learned she was pregnant. Her family disowned her, disapproving of the wastrel she married. Maris has buried both her parents, and has no family other than the people who work at the campground where her store is. As the women slowly knock down their barriers, a real friendship, a sisterhood in fact, is formed.

This is a wonderful story of the power of women’s friendships, and of love. It is heartwarming and at times, sexy, and occasionally even humorous. There is a lot to like here if you like contemporary romance as much as I do. Foster has become a favorite.

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SISTERS OF SUMMER’S END by Lori Foster. Berkley (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1984805386. 336p.



29 SECONDS by T. M. Logan

September 12, 2019

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Sarah is a young instructor at Queen Ann’s University located near London. We meet her at the point of several crossroads in her life.

First, her beloved husband has just taken a break from the marriage and gone away to have a fling with another woman. Second, her appointment as a tenured instructor at the university is coming up for review. Without this status her place at the university becomes very tenuous as well as her ability to get another position if the current job is declared redundant causing her to lose that position.

The head of her department, and the one man holding the key to her promotion, is Alan Hawthorne. Professor Hawthorne is renowned at the university, hosts a television show, and has managed to marry a wealthy woman that insures his job via her gifts to the school. Unfortunately, Alan has a history of behaving inappropriately to women working at the university and insuring their sexual favors by holding their jobs over their heads. He has decided that Sarah is to become his next conquest and starts to demand that she satisfy his demands. Between her errant husband and Hawthorne, Sarah has arrived at the end of her rope and does not know where to turn.

Fate suddenly lends a hand. Sarah finds herself in a position to fend off kidnappers from taking a young girl prisoner by her prompt action against them. The girl’s father insists upon expressing his gratitude to Sarah, and due to the coincidental fact that he is a crime boss, is able to make her an offer that is strange, criminal, but arriving at a very appropriate time in her life. She is told that all she has to do is give him a name and that person will be made to disappear. Sarah now has a husband that has taken a vacation to be with another woman, and a supervisor that has make it clear that her continuance at her work depends upon how well Sarah fulfills his demands.

The situation is not as easy as it would appear, and the novel creates the wonderful need to continue to devour the pages until completely read. The reader will change his or her mind several times as Sarah’s thoughts go back and forth over what to do, and of course, who to do it to. A very engrossing novel and certainly one that assures that we will continue to seek out future books by Logan.

9/19 Paul Lane

29 SECONDS by T. M. Logan. St. Martin’s Press (September 10, 2019). ISBN 978-1250182296. 368p.


HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK by Kristin Rockaway

September 11, 2019

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Please welcome a new reviewer to the site! Caitlin was my “work daughter” when I was at the Palm Beach County Public Library. She’s still there and working hard in Youth System Services. I miss her every day!

Mel Strickland is an overqualified help desk employee at a start up incubator who spends her days putting up with a sexist boss and male co-workers who are constantly downloading viruses onto their laptops.  After a series of bad dates, and being on the receiving end of one too many pictures of male genitalia through a dating app, Mel decides to put her coding skills to good use and creates her own app. JerkAlert allows women to document the harassers and ghosters they encounter in the world of online dating. Mel is unprepared, however, when JerkAlert goes viral overnight, bringing with it unexpected consequences for her career and personal relationships.

It is refreshing to read a book where the heroine is employed in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field. “How to Hack a Heartbreak” tackles sexism and how women must work twice as hard as men to gain respect in the tech field. I’ve seen this book classified as romance, and while Mel does have a love interest, (Alex is a programmer at the start up where Mel works,) I would consider it more along the lines of women’s fiction.  Mel’s relationship with Alex is underdeveloped and I found it difficult to get invested in their romance.  More important are Mel’s relationships with her group of girlfriends who offer never ending support and empowerment while she works at starting her own business. While the ending felt a bit rushed, “How to Hack a Heartbreak” is a fun read that takes an uplifting and feminist look at making it in the tech world, all with a side of romance.

9/19 Caitlin Brisson

HOW TO HACK A HEARTBREAK by Kristin Rockaway. Graydon House (July 30, 2019). ISBN 9781525834257. 352p.



THE AUSSIE NEXT DOOR by Stephanie London

September 10, 2019

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From the publisher:

“A sweet, sexy read, featuring a couple that feels both true-to-life and aspirational.” Kirkus Review, Starred Review

American Angie Donovan has never wanted much. When you grow up getting bounced from foster home to foster home, you learn not to become attached to anything, anyone, or any place. But it only took her two days to fall in love with Australia. With her visa clock ticking, surely she can fall in love with an Australian―and get hitched―in two months. Especially if he’s as hot and funny as her next-door neighbor…

Jace Walters has never wanted much―except a bathroom he didn’t have to share. The last cookie all to himself. And solitude. But when you grow up in a family of seven, you can kiss those things goodbye. He’s finally living alone and working on his syndicated comic strip in privacy. Sure, his American neighbor is distractingly sexy and annoyingly nosy, but she’ll be gone in a few months…

Except now she’s determined to find her perfect match by checking out every eligible male in the town, and her choices are even more distracting. So why does it suddenly feel like he―and his obnoxious tight-knit family, and even these two wayward dogs―could be exactly what she needs?

An American girl moves to Australia to escape her notoriety and falls in love with the place. Angie is sweet and kind but has a lot of baggage. Growing up in the foster care system, she became the poster child for its horrors and just wanted to live her life in peace. She can’t find any in the US so moves halfway around the world to do so.

Jace is her landlord. While he doesn’t tell her for most of the book, it was fairly obvious that he is high functioning autistic, the hottest trend in diverse romance. If anything can “normalize” autism, reading about characters like Jace certainly will. He is not scary, he just has some personality quirks, and really, who doesn’t? Angie likes his quirks, they make her feel comfortable and their relationship works. Of course, it takes some time to get to that point!

There are some very funny scenes and some really sweet ones as well. Both of these characters have their challenges, but the way they complement each other makes the struggle to get to their happily ever after worth all the effort. Very well done and sure to appeal to fans of the Helen Hoang books, The Bride Test and The Kiss Quotient. Loved it!

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE AUSSIE NEXT DOOR by Stephanie London. Entangled: Amara (August 27, 2019). ISBN 978-1640636682. 350p.


GHOST FIRE by Wilbur Smith

September 9, 2019

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Smith brings us another action adventure with this one featuring members of the Courtney family. Theo and Constance Courtney have grown up in India in the protective environment normally experienced by ex pats from England. The story opens as the area they live in is being attacked by enemies looking to conquer the city. The two are told by their parents to remain in their house in order not to be affected by the combat going on around them. Constance is determined to see what the war looks like and runs off to a section of the wall protecting the city, and Theo, looking to protect her goes after her. When their parents come home and see them gone, they dash to the wall to bring the two home. In an accident caused by a cannon ball hitting a section of wall, their parents are killed with Theo and Constance made orphans.

With the two siblings forced to take care of themselves, Smith moves them through world centers in which France and England are at war with each other. All events and areas in which these events take place have been researched by the author in order to present an accurate description of what is happening to both Theo and Constance. They become separated and Smith follows each as they interact with the events they find themselves involved in.

The story culminates in the New World of North America where the battles between England and the French and Indians continue. Theo, due to circumstances, arrives there and through his own brave actions becomes an officer in a ranger group that is attached to the British army sent to fight in the new world. The story ranges through the skirmishes and battles that took place during the period resulting in a British victory and a migration west into new lands. The Indians that sided with the French in the war are portrayed by the author quite well. He describes their life style and beliefs using Theo’s being forced to become a member of a tribe due to events he meets with.

Wilbur Smith usually paints his protagonists with a heroic brush making them larger than life. My own feeling is that this action enhances a good story making it better. His ability to fully paint a picture of a period and area involved in his books coupled with heroic people is a welcome trademark in his novels. He is a prodigious writer with his books welcomed by his readers with the faith that he will continue to produce fascinating novels for many more years.

9/19 Paul Lane

GHOST FIRE by Wilbur Smith. Zaffre (September 3, 2019). ISBN   978-1499862249. 432p.



THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE by Katherine Center

September 8, 2019

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From the publisher:





“Center gives readers a sharp and witty exploration of love and forgiveness that is at once insightful, entertaining, and thoroughly addictive.”

“An appealing heroine, a compelling love story, a tearjerking twist, and a thoroughly absorbing story. Another winner from Center.”

A spirited, independent heroine meets a smoking-hot fireman in Center’s smart romance… If you enjoyed ‘The Kiss Quotient,’ by Helen Hoang, read Things You Save in a Fire”’

From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about courage, hope, and learning to love against all odds.

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew―even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…and it means risking it all―the only job she’s ever loved, and the hero she’s worked like hell to become.

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt and healing tour-de-force about the strength of vulnerability, the nourishing magic of forgiveness, and the life-changing power of defining courage, at last, for yourself.

There is a whole firefighter romance subgenre, but that generally means hot firemen. As in men. And while there are certainly hot firemen here, our heroine is also a firefighter, and she takes her job seriously. Extremely seriously. So when her estranged mother asks us to leave her beloved Austin job and move to Boston for her, Cassie’s first – and second – response is hell no. But then she receives an award for saving a bunch of kids from a school bus and wigs out on the councilman who gives her the award, who manages to grab her ass in the process. Apparently they have history. She flattens him and her options are to apologize or get out. With the help of her female boss, she finds a job near her mother and heads cross country.

The small fire station she joins is Boston Irish, over a hundred years old, and has never had a woman working there. Lots of changes in store for Cassie, and she is on her best behavior. But the other newbie, a rookie they call Rookie, is too hot for even Cassie to ignore. They are pranked and teased mercilessly, just for being new, so there is no way for them to pursue anything romantic or that would be unbearable. But when the Rookie begs her to be his date at his parents’ anniversary party, she caves and that everything they have kept buried comes to the surface.

There is a lot of information on the inner workings of fire stations, both new and old, and it is all presented in a way that is both informative yet completely entertaining. The characters are great, I really loved this feminist firefighter and how she deals with everything thrown at her. Her backstory was really good as well. There are some laugh out loud moments, and enough drama to really keep the pages turning. This is a terrific romance with enough depth to bring these characters to life and get the reader invested in them and their story.

There are lots of starred reviews for this and tons of praise, all of it well deserved. It isn’t often that a book lives up to its hype for me, so shout out to Mary Kay Andrews, who helped bring this book to my attention. Thanks, I loved it!

9/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE by Katherine Center. St. Martin’s Press (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1984805386. 336p.