Win the May ’17 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

May 1, 2017

Welcome to the May bookshelf of signed thrillers! Lots of new books to win – some favorite authors or find a new author. To enter, go to the Win Books page. Best of luck!

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PRICE OF DUTY by Dale Brown: When Russia constructs its most dangerous weapon since the atomic bomb and launches carefully plotted attacks on unsuspecting U.S. and European targets, Brad McLanahan and his Scion team arm themselves with the world’s most advanced technological weaponry to prevent a full-scale cyber war.

THE FALLEN by Eric Van Lustbader:When the Testament of Lucifer is discovered in a Lebanese mountain cave, Gnostic Observatine sect leader Bravo Shaw, his sister Emma and Fra Leoni become the world’s defenders against the devil’s advance guard and an End of Days plot to enslave the human race.

DYING BREATH by Heather Graham: Special Agent Griffin Price is on the case for the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI’s special unit for paranormal investigators in the 21st book of this exciting favorite series!

THE SECRET ROOM by Sandra Block: Sandra Block returns with her third engrossing novel of psychological suspense featuring psychiatrist Zoe Goldman.

A TWISTED VENGEANCE by Candace Robb: As the fourteenth century comes to a close, York seethes on the brink of civil war―and young widow Kate Clifford, struggling to keep her businesses afloat, realizes that her mother is harboring a dangerous secret…

REUNITED WITH THE P.I. by Anna J. Stewart: In this Honor Bound romance, a perilous change of heart looms for two former lovers…

THE GOOD BYLINE by Jill Orr: Riley just wants to write obituaries, but when her first assignment is the death of a childhood friend, mystery ensues.

DANGEROUS ENDS by Alex Segura: Fast-paced, hardboiled and surprising, Dangerous Ends pushes Pete Fernandez into a battle with a deadlier, more complex threat, as he tries to shake off the demons haunting Miami’s own, sordid past.


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!

TREMAINE’S TRUE LOVE by Grace Burrowes

May 26, 2017

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True Gentlemen, Book 1

Not sure how I missed this, but this book was a 2016 RITA Finalist for Historical Romanace and now that I’ve read it, I know why. And look at me, starting a series with book 1! This book is from 2015, and there are two more out already. I found it on a list from Overdrive, the company from which my library (most libraries) gets most of their ebooks. Luckily I found the next two in my library on the shelf (thanks, Barbara!) especially since the ebooks have a waiting list. The fourth book in the series, His Lordship’s True Lady, comes out in June – at least on Kindle. I should be all caught up by then.

Tremaine St. Michael is of mixed heritage, Scottish on his mother’s side and a French comte on his father’s. But mostly he is a man of commerce, always wheeling and dealing and making himself a fortune in the process, mostly in the sheep/wool business. He’s visiting the Haddonfield’s in hopes of buying their rare Merino sheep. But it is the eldest daughter, Nita, who is distracting him from his business.

Nita has decided she’s never going to marry. She inherited her mother’s gift of healing, and much prefers taking care of her neighbors than staying at home. But Tremaine is unlike any of the men she has met before. Their chemistry is interesting to watch ignite.

The usual drama ensues, including a duel which doesn’t come up as often as you would think in these historical romances, so that was a nice touch. I also like that the setting was in the country, not in London like a lot of historical romances. A bit of sex, nothing too graphic, but enough to make it interesting. It was a fun, fast read and I can understand why it was nominated for the RITA award.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TREMAINE’S TRUE LOVE by Grace Burrowes. Sourcebooks Casablanca (August 4, 2015) ISBN: 978-1492621027. 416p.


Author Spotlight: Colson Whitehead 5/17

May 25, 2017

Colson Whitehead on his early writing

Author Colson Whitehead (THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD) explains how publishing think pieces at the Village Voice made him a better fiction writer.

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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, (and an Oprah’s Book Club selection) the #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.


SINCE WE FELL by Dennis Lehane

May 24, 2017

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It’s been about two years since the last Lehane book, World Gone By, but it is always worth the wait and this book is no exception.

Since We Fell starts out as a character study of sorts. The first third of the book examines Rachel’s life in an attempt to help the reader understand what comes next. I thought the mystery of the book was put forth here – Rachel doesn’t know who her father is. Her mother always refused to tell her and when her mother finally agreed to tell her when she became of age, her mother died.

Next is the Rachel who is a successful, globe trotting TV journalist. But that career ends abruptly when she has a breakdown on live television during a trip to Haiti. The destruction and despair are palpable, but it is the personal that finally does her in. We don’t learn exactly what happened until later on, but we learn about the life of an agoraphobe.

Rachel is married to a news manager who can’t deal with her failure. Eventually she realizes he was not the perfect husband and marries again. Her second husband, Brian, is the love of her life. He travels quite a bit for work, but always communicates with her. The second third of the book is about their life together, his willingness to be shut away with her and how well he seems to know and understand her.

The last third of the book is the thriller some readers may be expecting. By this point I was beginning to think everything I’d read up to this point was the point, but I was wrong. The tension starts ratcheting up when Rachel ventures out on her own to meet a friend, then thinks she sees her husband going into a building around the corner. Brian is supposed to be on a plane out of the country, and this sparks the inner reporter in Rachel and off she goes.

There are many twists in this crazy roller coaster ride that positively hurtles to the finish line, and the pacing invariably speeds up towards the end. This was a terrific read for both literary readers and thriller readers, something that is not easy to accomplish. Hats off to Lehane, one of our most gifted writers. This is a cinematic read for sure, and I can see another fine film in Lehane’s future.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SINCE WE FELL by Dennis Lehane. Ecco (May 9, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062129383. 432p.


Authors should be paid for their work!

May 23, 2017

I read this very upsetting article in The Guardian –

Cheap books, high price: why’s ‘one-click’ sales can cost authors dear

US sales on the web giant have recently begun defaulting to secondhand merchants, meaning writers receive nothing at all from purchases

It is a hard sell: the idea that cheaper books might be a bad thing. But an adjustment to how Amazon sells books on its site is being attacked by authors’ groups, which claim secondhand copies of new books sold at rock-bottom prices are selling in such high quantities from the retailer that authors are unable to earn a living.

A week ago, buyers on, the US site, began seeing heavily discounted secondhand copies of books sold by third-party sellers being presented as the default buying option, instead of new copies supplied to Amazon by publishers. Using that “buy-in-one-click” button for, say, George Saunders’s novel Lincoln in the Bardo, you’ll get it for a bargain $10.52 – but that’s an “as-new” copy from a secondhand seller, not a new copy sourced by (which will cost you $14.64).

Read the rest here:

I link all my reviews to Amazon because I try and make enough money to pay for my website, and I usually just about break even. But it is upsetting to learn that if you buy a “used” new book from a third party seller, the author doesn’t make a dime. I like cheap books as much as anyone, but authors deserve to get paid. This practice doesn’t seem to affect anyone else – the publisher still makes their money, so why shouldn’t the author?

So if you are going to buy a book on my recommendation, please click through the link I provide – usually in the book cover. Then make sure you are purchasing a NEW copy, if that is what you want, directly from Amazon and not from a second party seller.

Climbing off my soapbox now.


New Jewish Fiction Jan-June 2017

May 22, 2017

I recently did a presentation on new Jewish fiction at my library and thought I’d share the list here as well. These are books by Jewish authors or about Jewish subjects that have been published from January through June, 2017.


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Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan: Interweaves the experiences of a young Lithuanian emigrant in Ireland at the start of the twentieth century, the unlikely friendship between a
young Irish deaf boy and a lonely caretaker in 1958, and the identity crisis of an Irish journalist in the present day. “Gilligan makes a stellar U.S. debut with this wistful and lyrical multigenerational tale linking the struggles of two immigrant Jewish families in Dublin with an Irish Catholic woman’s complicated relationship with her Jewish lover.” Publisher’s Weekly


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The Patriots by Sana Krasikov: Three generations of a Jewish-American family endure the difficult challenges of the Depression and the Cold War while pursuing dreams of better lives and reflecting on painful experiences from their earlier lives in Moscow. “In a galvanizing tale of flawed and courageous protagonists, erotic and political passion, and harrowing struggles for survival, Krasikov masterfully and devastatingly exposes the “whole dark clockwork” of totalitarianism and asks what it means to be a hero, a patriot, a human being.” Booklist



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A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman: An Israeli comedian, a bit past his prime, conveys with semi-questionable humor anecdotes from his violence stricken youth during a night of standup. Meanwhile, while a judge in the audience wrestles with his own part in the comedian’s losses. “Grossman brings real humanity to this heart-wrenching and well-written novel, offering insight into one man’s psychological makeup and how society has damaged him. An excellent translation; highly recommended.” Library Journal


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We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter: A novel based on the true story of a Jewish-Polish family recounts how the Kurcs are scattered throughout the world by the horrors of World War II and fight respective hardships to survive, reach safety and find each other. “First-time novelist Hunter got the idea for this book in conversations with her grandmother after unearthing family history of which she’d been ignorant…engrossing read is best recommended for those who enjoy fiction set during World War II and sprawling family sagas.” Library Journal


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The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff: The Nightingale meets Water for Elephants in this powerful novel of friendship and sacrifice, set in a traveling circus during World War II. Sixteen-year-old Noa, forced to give up her baby fathered by a Nazi soldier, snatches a child from a boxcar containing Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp and takes refuge with a traveling circus, where Astrid, a Jewish aerialist, becomes her mentor. “Against the backdrop of circus life during the war, the author captures the very real terrors faced by both women as they navigate their working and personal relationships and their complicated love lives while striving for normalcy and keeping their secrets safe.” Publisher’s Weekly

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On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman: Living in her suburban hometown, while her fiance is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, Faith discovers mysterious artifacts in her home’s attic that
make her question a promising new relationship and everything she believes. “Lipman is known for her dialogue, so snappy, funny, and real that it cancels out any dubiousness about the kooky mystery plot. Warm, clever, a little silly, a lot of fun.” Kirkus Reviews



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The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan: “Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!” Letters and journals reveal the struggles, affairs, deceptions and triumphs of five members of a village choir during World War II as they band together to survive the upheavals of war and village intrigue on the English home front. ” Ryan’s novel, reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, captures the experience of the war from a woman’s perspective. Readers may have come across this kind of story before, but the letter/diary format works well and the plot elements satisfyingly come together.” Publisher’s Weekly

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The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky: One very special work of art—a Chaim Soutine painting —will connect the lives and fates of two different women, generations apart, in this enthralling and
transporting debut novel that moves from World War II Vienna to contemporary Los Angeles. “Umansky’s richly textured and peopled novel tells an emotionally and historically complicated story with so much skill and confidence it’s hard to believe it’s her first.” Kirkus Reviews



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The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck: Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. At the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, three widows’ lives and fates become intertwined. “Haunting, a beautifully written and painfully vivid glimpse into one of the most horrific times in world history.” Bookpage


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What To Do About The Solomons by Bethany Ball: Reminiscent of Nathan Englander’s For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and told with razor-sharp humor and elegant acuity, What to Do About the Solomons is an exhilarating first book from a bright new star in fiction. A humorous multigenerational family saga set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of a kibbutz near Jerusalem. “For all its humor, penetrating disillusionment underlies Ball’s memorable portrait of a family, once driven by pioneer spirit, now plagued by overextension and loss of direction, unsure what to do with its legacy, teetering between resentment, remorse, and resilience.” Publisher’s Weekly

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All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan: A controversial, award-winning story about the passionate but untenable affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, from one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists. When an Israeli translator named Liat goes to New York for six months of study, she meets Hilmi, a charismatic and kind Palestinian born in Hebron, and their passionate affair grows into something more, forcing them to choose between love and duty. “Bernstein Prize winner Rabinyan’s modern take on forbidden love between young dreamers on opposite sides of a bitter cultural conflict enthralls and delights.” Publisher’s Weekly


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The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal: “They’ve chosen the one thing that will make our family life impossible. It’s genius really, when you think about it. It’s the perfect sabotage.” After her daughter, Gwen, has trouble adjusting to her new beau, James, Julia Alden must do her best to unite two households, but when Gwen turns for comfort to James’ 17-year-old son, Nathan, the consequences will test her mother’s loyalty and threaten their fragile new happiness. ” In finely wrought prose, with characters who seem to walk beside us and speak aloud, Segal’s latest novel is a sympathetic portrait of the difficulties in finding love and raising teenagers.” Kirkus Reviews


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Shtum by Jem Lester: After strategically faking a separation with his wife to influence a tribunal’s decision about the future of his severely autistic son’s education, Ben Jewell moves in with his elderly and cantankerous father and learns harsh lessons about accountability. Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, Shtum is the impassioned debut novel about fathers and sons and autism with all the heart and verve of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. “Lester’s debut, based on his experience of raising a child with autism, is an emotional and uplifting tale of love and sacrifice.” Publisher’s Weekly



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The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish: A mysterious collection of papers hidden in a historic London home sends two scholars of Jewish history on an unforgettable quest….”Kadish’s characters are memorable…Kadish leaves no stone unturned in this moving historical epic. Chock-full of rich detail and literary intrigue.” Kirkus Reviews




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The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor: A historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families. A heart-breaking, heart-warming read for fans of The NightingaleLilac Girls, and Sarah’s Key. “Excellent writing, unusual storytelling, and sympathetic characters make a winning combination.” Kirkus Reviews



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The Songs by Charles Elton: Iz Herzl, famed political activist and protest singer, has always told his children that it is the future not the past they should concentrate on. Now, at 80, an almost forgotten figure, estranged from everyone who has ever loved him, his refusal to look back on his extraordinary life leaves his teenage children, the brilliant Rose and her ailing younger brother, Huddie, adrift in myths and uncertainty that cause them to retreat into a secret
world of their own. “A heartbreaking read. Recommended for fans of literary fiction.” Library Journal

Author Spotlight: Gideon Rachman

May 21, 2017

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Easternization by Gideon Rachman

Asia’s Rise and America’s Decline From Obama to Trump and Beyond

**Named BOOK OF THE WEEK by Fareed Zakaria, CNN**

Gideon Rachman, Financial Times Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator, will be in the US for events during the week of 5/22. He is primed to discuss growing tensions with North Korea, Trump’s reversal on Xi Jinping & China and broader brush-stroke arguments about the growing shift of economic and political power away from the West and towards Asia.

· CHICAGO, IL: Chicago Council on Global Affairs – 5/22
· SAN FRANCISCO, CA: World Affairs Council San Francisco & Mechanics Institute – 5/23·
· SEATTLE, WA : Town Hall Seattle – 5/24
· NEW YORK, NY: 92nd Street – 5/25

NY Times Op Ed: How Trump Can Solve His Chinese Puzzle

“Reviewing China’s challenge to America’s decades long predominance in Asia’s waters, Mr. Rachman links it to a broader Chinese goal, led by Mr. Xi, of finally overcoming China’s so-called “century of humiliation.” This is a fascinating story…”

“This intelligent and provocative new book by [The Financial Times] leading Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator, Gideon Rachman, reminds us of different requirements for journalistic excellence: historical education, engagement in scholarly debates and tireless travel to interview global decision-makers.”

The fresh and persuasive argument laid out in EASTERNIZATION, contends that the rise of China is bringing to an end, the era of American dominance of world affairs. As Rachman explains, the eclipse of America is driven by a historic shift in power from the West to Asia – that is bringing to a close, 500 years of Western dominance of world affairs.

The book crisply outlines the mounting evidence for “Easternization”; catapulted by Asian countries exponential growth over the last fifty years. This escalating power-shift eastward is directly shaping the lives of people around the world, from Russia to Brazil to Ethiopia, and domestically within the U.S. – jeopardizing a tenuous peace between East and West.

EASTERNIZATION goes further to explain the appeal of Trump, Brexit and the growing wave of nationalist populism in Western countries and considers how this phenomenon will play into and escalate changes to the global balance of power. A timely preface addresses the election of Donald Trump and his pledge to “make America great again” – by returning the US to a golden era, when America’s status as the richest and most powerful nation in the world was unchallenged. Rachman argues that the Trump strategy, by failing to adapt intelligently to an irreversibly changed world, is actually likely to escalate the decline of US power around the globe – and increase the risk of instability and conflict between the major powers.

Drawing from interviews with top political and military leaders, EASTERNIZATION is an absorbing, cogent argument and a must-read for anyone interested in the underlying forces driving fiscal and political upheaval and threatening the West’s global power.

« From the Winner of the 2016 Orwell Prize and the 2016 European Press Prize Commentator Award «

“A focused delineation of the shifting center of gravity toward Asia and the need for a strenuous Western response without losing global primacy. Financial Times chief foreign affairs commentator Rachman (Zero-Sum Future: American Power in an Age of Anxiety, 2011), a recent winner of the Orwell Prize, presents a fair, astute assessment of China’s rise during the past few decades in relation to its nervous neighbors, and especially the nuanced—and highly criticized—response of President Barack Obama… Rachman carefully looks at both India’s and Russia’s roles in the global shift toward “easternization,” and he considers the American and Western response, which has been largely ineffectual since the crises of 2008…A sage, forward-seeing study to be heeded.” —KIRKUS

“Excellent… Rachman’s theme takes him on a most interesting and stimulating tour du monde. His discussion of the impact of China’s rise on south-east Asia, contrary to the great majority of accounts, is subtle and nuanced… A most informative, readable and interesting piece of work that deserves a wide readership.” —Martin Jacques, GUARDIAN

“What this book is really about, and is very good at describing,
is the growing impact of China on its neighbors, on the world” —THE ECONOMIST

“A vivid and persuasive analysis of the dramatic shifts in global power…In his timely new book, Easternization, Gideon Rachman articulates a clear and persuasive idea… [His] flair for rich anecdotes, clever writing, strong analysis and original insight are impressive… Easternization hits its mark, with a wide range of arguments and prognostications that scholars and policymakers must contemplate as we consider the coming Asian century.” —FINANCIAL TIMES

About the Author

Gideon Rachman is chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times. He won the European Press Prize awards, regarded as the “European Pulitzers,” as well as the Orwell Prize, Britain’s leading award for political writing, in 2016. Before joining the Financial Times in 2006, Gideon spent 15 years as a journalist and editor at The Economist  – and he has worked as a foreign correspondent in Bangkok, Brussels, and Washington. His first book,Zero-Sum Future (2010), predicted the rise in international political tensions and turmoil that followed the 2008 global financial crisis. He is married with four children and lives in London.

EASTERNIZATION by Gideon Rachman. Other Press (April 4, 2017). ISBN: 978-1590518519. 336p.


May 20, 2017

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Kovac and Liska take on multiple twisted cases as #1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag explores a murder from the past, a murder from the present, and a life that was never meant to be. 

Win a copy of the new paperback of THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoag!

I loved this book when it came out in hardcover last year. My review:

The Kovac-Liska Series

This is the latest entry in the popular Kovac-Liksa series, but they are no longer working together for the Minneapolis police homicide unit. Detective Nikki Liska is now working the new cold case squad in hopes of spending more time with her teenage sons.

Detective Kovac is lost without her but learning to deal with a young, green partner on a new case; a brutal home invasion. An Asian studies professor and his wife were killed by a Samurai sword from the professor’s collection.

Liska is assigned a twenty-five year old murder of a highly honored sex crimes detective, and for some reason, his family does not want the case reopened and Liska doesn’t even want it. There is no DNA, which is the primary resource to help solve cold cases, but she is determined to do the best she can anyway, even while envying her old partner his new case.

This is a dark, gritty thriller but Hoag manages to lighten it up now and then with some black humor. A real page turner that is sure to please her legion of fans.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

1/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoag. Dutton; Reprint edition (May 2, 2017).  ISBN 978-0451470072. 512p.

To win a copy of the new paperback of THE BITTER SEASON by Tami Hoagplease send an email to with “BITTER SEASON” as the subject.

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

All entries must be received by May 31 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 the publicist.

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.

SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR by Dorothea Benton Frank

May 19, 2017

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This is Frank’s annual tribute to South Carolina’s Lowcountry in her latest beach read. I generally enjoy her books, especially because I’m now at the same age as her protagonists.

The story goes back in time to when two couples, Adam and Eliza, and Carl and Eve, first met one summer when they rented condos next door to each other. Carl and Eve live in Raleigh, and Adam and Eliza live out in the country, a nice distance from Charleston, but they both rented on the Isle of Palms, one of the barrier islands off the coast. Eliza and Adam have twin boys, and Carl & Eve have a daughter the same age, and they all become friends.

Except it turns out that Adam and Eve were high school sweethearts. Their spouses don’t know and they don’t feel the need to inform them. The friendship between the couples grow over the years, sharing summer after summer together but for me, a lot of the relationship stuff felt forced and even awkward at times.

Eventually all good secrets come out and the effect on their marriages isn’t good. Will they all work it out? It takes more than a death in the family or a magical trip to Corfu to put it back together – and I have to say I really hated the ending of this book. It just felt completely contrived, as if the author had written herself into a corner and took the easy way out. I was drawn in for the first 300 pages, despite some reservations, but the ending truly was a disappointment.

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR by Dorothea Benton Frank. William Morrow (May 16, 2017). ISBN: 978-0062390783. 384p.




May 18, 2017

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Sanna Lund is the fifth generation to live and work on the family apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Once a thriving family business, now it is just Sanna and her aging father, and business is terrible. Sanna is obsessed with making cider, but doesn’t have the first idea about how to sell it.  Her father borrowed money to purchase all the expensive equipment necessary for making and bottling cider, but it is just collecting dust. She also has a gift – she can see colors in the apples that grow on their orchard. By mixing different colored apples she can achieve the flavors she wants. It’s the touch of magical realism that Reichert is known for.

Isaac Banks is a web designer whose ex-wife, a drug addict, has overdosed and died. Their young son, Bass, doesn’t know and Isaac can’t bear to tell him, so instead he takes him on a road trip for the summer. They wander aimlessly until they reach Door County, where he learns the Lund family could use some help in their orchard. Sanna is suspicious when her father hires Isaac, but they have a trailer out back where father and son can live. Then the senior Lund falls off a ladder and is seriously injured, and it’s Isaac and Bass that pick up the slack.

Sanna is surprised to find herself attracted to Isaac, and he to her, but he also realizes that he is going to have to move very slowly to win her over. Sanna has a brother who moved away from the orchard and is now trying to talk her father into selling to a big developer. There are other complications along the way before the happily ever after is reached.

Another enjoyable and delicious read – with recipes.

Enjoy this short video – Amy E. Reichert talks about her new book, THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER, and why Wisconsin is more romantic than you thought!

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER by Amy E. Reichert. Gallery Books (May 16, 2017). ISBN: 978-1501154928. 336p.


Author Spotlight: Tasha Eurich

May 17, 2017

3 strategies for becoming more self-aware | Tasha Eurich – Tasha Eurich (organizational psychologist and author of INSIGHT) gives three tips for becoming more self-aware, based on her extensive research of highly self-aware people.

Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life by Tasha Eurich

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The first definitive book on the science of self-awareness, Insight is a fascinating journey into everyone’s favorite topic: themselves.

Do you understand who you really are? Or how others really see you? We all know people with a stunning lack of self-awareness—but how often do we consider whether we might have the same problem?

Research shows that self-awareness is the meta-skill of the 21st century—the foundation for high performance, smart choices, and lasting relationships. Unfortunately, we are remarkably poor judges of ourselves and how we come across, and it’s rare to get candid, objective feedback from colleagues, employees, and even friends and family.

Integrating hundreds of studies with her own research and work in the Fortune 500 world, organizational psychologist Tasha Eurich shatters conventional assumptions about what it takes to truly know ourselves—like why introspection isn’t a bullet train to insight, how experience is the enemy of self-knowledge, and just how far others will go to avoid telling us the truth about ourselves. Through stories of people who’ve made dramatic gains in self-awareness, she offers surprising secrets, techniques and strategies to help readers do the same – and therefore improve their work performance, career satisfaction, leadership potential, relationships, and more.

At a time when self-awareness matters more than ever, Insight is the essential playbook surviving and thriving in an unaware world.

INSIGHT by Tasha Eurich. Crown Business (May 2, 2017). ISBN 978-0451496812. 368p.