Win the June ’17 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

June 1, 2017

Welcome to the June bookshelf of signed thrillers! This is a bonanza of exciting 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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ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE BOURNE INITIATIVE by Eric Van Lustbader: After Russian general Boris Karpov dies and his cyberoperation to steal the U.S. president’s nuclear launch codes proceeds from beyond the grave, Jason Bourne is marked a traitor by the U.S. government when it’s revealed that Karpov trusted Bourne.

DANGEROUS MINDS by Janet Evanovich: A follow-up to Curious Minds pits mismatched partners Riley Moon, a financial analyst; and Emerson Knight, an eccentric billionaire’s son, against a big-league criminal whose activities pose a series of puzzle-like clues. By the best-selling author of the Stephanie Plum novels.

THE CHILD by Fiona Barton: When an infant’s skeleton is discovered in a demolished house, Kate Waters strives to uncover the baby’s identity and unearths links to a decades-old kidnapping, but she is torn between helping the police and revealing her sources.

MURDER IN SAINT-GERMAIN by Cara Black: Accosted by a paranoid counterterrorism agent who may be compromised by PTSD, private investigator Aimée Leduc wonders if the Serbian warlord who the agent was tracking may have come to Paris with a blood vendetta, a case that is challenged by Aimée’s wedding, the demands of early motherhood and a series of attacks on other agents.

TRAP THE DEVIL by Ben Coes: When the instigators of an invisible coup assassinate the secretary of state and target the president and vice president as part of a plan to take over the government and launch a full-scale war, Dewey Andreas is dispatched by the CIA to offer additional security only to find himself framed for the murders he would prevent.

INDIGO by Charlaine Harris, et al: In a brilliant collaboration by New York Times and critically acclaimed coauthors Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden, Kelley Armstrong, Jonathan Maberry, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Tim Lebbon, Cherie Priest, James Moore, and Mark Morris join forces to bring you a crime-solving novel like you’ve never read before.

LOCKDOWN by Laurie R. King: A school career day that is hosted by a range of presenters is thrown into turmoil by an anonymous enemy with a thirst for revenge in a stand-alone novel of psychological suspense by the best-selling author of the Mary Russell series.

THE SPY ACROSS THE TABLE by Barry Lancet: Book 4 in the Jim Brodie Thriller Series. An antiques dealer tries to investigate who killed two of his friends at a theatre in Washington, D.C., but runs afoul of the head of Homeland Security after the first lady, a mutual friend of one of the slain, gets involved.

ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus: When one of five students in detention is found dead, his high-profile classmates—including a brainy intellectual, a popular beauty, a drug dealer on probation and an all-star athlete—are investigated and revealed to be the subjects of the victim’s latest gossip postings.

RED SKY by Chris Goff: This is the pulse-pounding follow-up to Dark Waters in the Raisa Jordan Thriller Series. 

YOU’LL NEVER KNOW DEAR by Hallie Ephron: When a one-of-a-kind porcelain doll that went missing the day her sister was abducted decades earlier resurfaces, Lissie uncovers sinister clues about a mysterious individual who would threaten the lives of the women in her family.

UNSUB by Meg Gardiner: A psychological thriller inspired by the unsolved case of the Zodiac Killer follows the efforts of a young detective who resolves to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city 20 years earlier.

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!


THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES by Susan Bishop Crispell

June 22, 2017

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A delicious read filled with magical realism, pie and wishes fulfilled – what’s not to like?

Rachel Monroe has a special gift, or a curse as she thinks of it. She can fulfill wishes. She first learned she had this as a child when her younger brother was annoying her and she wished him gone. He disappeared along with everyone’s memories of him – except her. Her parents took her to one psychologist after another, and eventually she was hospitalized until she agreed that he never existed.

While hospitalized, she met her best friend, the only one who really understood. As she got older she refused to wish for anything and refused to hear wishes, but nonetheless, as people around her wished for things, little pieces of paper, like the fortunes from fortune cookies, would float into her orbit. If she read them, the wish was granted so she tried very hard not to. Eventually, she couldn’t take it anymore and by the time she was 26 years old, she knew she had to escape.

Rachel takes off in her car until it breaks down in the small town of Nowhere, North Carolina. The car dies in front of an old Victorian home and the owner comes out, offers to call for help and invites her to stay until her car is fixed. Her name is Catch.

Catch also has a gift. She’s a terrific baker and supplies pies for the town’s restaurants and residents, but her real gift is the ability to make people keep secrets. A neighbor will appear at her back door and ask for help and Catch bakes them a special pie and the secrets are kept.

These two women forge a friendship based in understanding one another. Rachel is attracted to Catch’s neighbor, a young, good looking man who befriends her. But as the town learns about Rachel, things take an ugly turn. Rachel has to decide if this is where she belongs after all.

Fans of Amy E. Reichert or Menna van Praag will love it. I did.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES by Susan Bishop Crispell. Thomas Dunne Books (September 6, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250089090.  304p.

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Summer Reads | Six Picks

June 21, 2017

It’s the first day of summer – Read It Forward editors Abbe and Emma give six recommendations for summer reads!


THE LIGHT WE LOST by Jill Santopolo

June 20, 2017

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Lucy and Gabe met as students at Columbia University in New York City – on September 11, 2001. Yes, that September 11th. There was that shared trauma, but something more and Lucy was upset to find out shortly thereafter that Gabe had a girlfriend. But she moved on.

Until they met again. And it didn’t work out again. Or the next time. Star crossed lovers? Perhaps. And then finally the time was right.

By then Lucy was a successful children’s television producer and Gabe had found his calling in photojournalism. They quickly moved in together and were deliriously happy. At least Lucy was. They were in love, but Gabe was feeling stifled in his career. He wanted to go to where there were wars, where he thought his photographs might make a difference. And without telling Lucy, he arranged for such a job. Until he had to tell her because he was leaving. She was crushed.

Lucy eventually moved on. She met a man and slowly, very slowly, he wooed his way into her heart and eventually they married. But Gabe kept popping up every few years or so. At a reunion. On a stopover in NY. Lucy’s husband wasn’t a fan, but he dealt with it as best as he could. And Lucy was happy, for the most part. But Gabe was always there in her heart and after thirteen years, their history would finally catch up with them in a devastating way.

This book was unputdownable and I loved it, despite shedding tears along the way. The writing reminded me of Rainbow Rowell and especially Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, so if you are fan of those authors, try this one.

A terrific, terrible modern romance.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LIGHT WE LOST by Jill Santopolo. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (May 9, 2017).  ISBN 978-0735212756.  336p.

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Alan Alda at Random House Open House

June 19, 2017

This is great – enjoy!

Alan Alda tells stories and speaks about the importance of communication and empathy. Filmed at the Random House Open House, 5/12/17.

 


THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn

June 18, 2017

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She resisted.

The Alice Network was a real spy ring comprised of women during World War I led by Louise, the “Queen of the Spies.” This completely fascinating book is historical fiction based on rather mindblowing facts. It moves back and forth between World War I and the end of World War II with one character, Eve, the link between the wars.

Eve was a young girl with a stutter who really wanted to contribute during the war. She was recruited into the elite Alice Network, where she worked undercover as a waitress named Marguerite in a restaurant in Lille, France during the war.

The owner of the restaurant, René Bordulon, was a collaborator with the Germans, and all the top German brass frequented his restaurant. Eve was fluent in French, English and German but because of her stutter, she was able to play the simpleton who barely spoke French. Eventually René made his move on Marguerite, and they began an affair. She was petrified but got so much good information over pillow talk that it was worth it.

Meanwhile American Charlie St. Clair was on the hunt for her cousin, missing since the end of WWII. Charlie had a “little problem,” she got pregnant while at college and her mother has taken her to Europe for her “appointment” to get rid of the little problem. But Charlie wants to find her cousin Rose, her best friend growing up, and she refuses to believe that she is dead as her parents have told her. Shortly after arriving in Europe, she runs away from her mother and meets Eve, an older woman now with horribly disfigured hands, a vile mouth, and a severe case of PTSD. Nonetheless, Eve agrees to help and her driver, a big Scotsman, drives off with the women in search of Rose.

The story moves back and forth between Eve’s time as a spy during the war and the search for Rose, and eventually the story becomes even more intertwined. This is riveting stuff even though at times, it was quite difficult to read. The author’s notes at the end parses fiction from fact and the facts heavily win out. An excellent read for fans of historical fiction, especially with a women’s bent. This would be a fabulous choice for a book discussion as well.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn. William Morrow Paperbacks (June 6, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062654199.  528p.

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Author Spotlight: Terry Brooks

June 17, 2017

Author Terry Brooks on bookstore shopping and his ideal writing spaces | Author Shorts – Author Terry Brooks (THE BLACK ELFSTONE) discusses his approach to bookstore shopping and his particular requirements for a writing space.

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THE FALL OF SHANNARA: THE BLACK ELFSTONE

The Fall of Shannara (Book 1)

The first book of the triumphant and epic four-part conclusion to the Shannara series, from one of the all-time masters of fantasy.

Across the Four Lands, peace has reigned for generations. But now, in the far north, an unknown enemy is massing. More troubling than the carnage is the strange and wondrous power wielded by the attackers—a breed of magic unfamiliar even to the Druid order. Fearing the worst, the High Druid dispatches a diplomatic party under the protection of the order’s sworn guardian, Dar Leah, to confront the mysterious, encroaching force and discover its purpose.

But another crucial journey is being undertaken. Exiled onetime High Druid Drisker Arc has been living in quiet seclusion, far from the politics and power struggles of his former life, until two brutal attacks by would-be assassins force him to seek out an infamous murder-for-hire guild—and find the hidden enemy who has marked him for death. At his side is Tarsha Kaynin, a young woman gifted with the wishsong and eager to be schooled in its formidable power by a master. She, too, is pursuing a mission: to locate her wayward brother, whose own magic has driven him to deadly madness and kindled his rage for vengeance . . . against his sister.

In their darkest hours, facing dangerous adversaries, the lives and quests of Dar Leah, Drisker Arc, and Tarsha Kaynin will be inextricably drawn together. And the challenges each confronts will have resounding consequences for the future of the Four Lands.

Praise for Terry Brooks

The Sword of Shannara is an unforgettable and wildly entertaining epic, animated by Terry Brooks’s cosmically generative imagination and storytelling joy.”—Karen Russell, New York Times bestselling author of Swamplandia!

“If Tolkien is the grandfather of modern fantasy, Terry Brooks is its favorite uncle.”—Peter V. Brett, New York Times bestselling author of The Skull Throne

“I can’t even begin to count how many of Terry Brooks’s books I’ve read (and reread) over the years. From Shannara to Landover, his work was a huge part of my childhood.”—Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind

“Terry Brooks is a master of the craft and a trailblazer who established fantasy as a viable genre. He is required reading.”—Brent Weeks, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Angel Trilogy

“The Shannara books were among the first to really capture my imagination. My daydreams and therefore my stories will always owe a debt to Terry Brooks.”—Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Beyonders series and the Fablehaven series

THE FALL OF SHANNARA: THE BLACK ELFSTONE by Terry Brooks. Del Rey (June 13, 2017). ISBN 978-0553391480. 336p.


BEFORE GREEN GABLES by Budge Wilson

June 16, 2017

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The Prequel to Anne of Green Gables

Yes, that Anne of Green Gables, most recently reimagined as a Gothic nightmare on Netflix as “Anne with an E.” The Montgomery book was one of my favorites in childhood. Then I reread it in my children’s lit class in library school and loved it even more. Gothic nightmare is so not for me, but this book, this prequel, most certainly is.

The original (and subsequent sequels) are ostensibly children’s books but adults will certainly find much to enjoy as well. This prequel is an adult book and I don’t think it works the same way backwards; most children would probably not enjoy this but I sure did.

I have a new supervisor at work and she asked about a shelf full of children’s books that were in the reference workspace, including several copies of Anne of Green Gables. I explained that one of our librarians had attempted an adult book group that would read children’s literature, including Anne. It didn’t go well, I’m very sorry to say. But I mentioned how much I loved that book and she asked if I had read the prequel that came out a few years ago and my jaw dropped – I had missed it completely!

In the original, we meet Anne around age twelve when she is adopted. The book hints at some unhappiness in her past, and this prequel expands on it. We learn what happened to Anne Shirley before she got adopted and I was mesmerized, first by the writing, so reminiscent of the original, and then by the story itself. If you are a fan, you probably read this already but if, like me, you somehow missed it, do yourself a favor and find a copy. I’m so very glad I did.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BEFORE GREEN GABLES by Budge Wilson. Berkley; Reprint edition (February 3, 2009).  ISBN 978-0425225769.  400p.

 

 


APPETITES: A COOKBOOK by Anthony Bourdain

June 15, 2017

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with Laurie Woolever

As a long time Bourdain fan, both of his books – Kitchen Confidential is a classic and started a whole new trend in tell-all kitchen memoirs – and his TV shows, and even his mysteries, I was really curious to see what sort of cookbook he would put out. Would everything be Vietnamese or at least Asian inspired? Would I have to shop online for esoteric ingredients? Would I have to eat blazingly hot food studded with a variety of chiles? The answers: not all but certainly a strong Asian influence abounds, some esoteric ingredients, and occasional overuse of chiles, which appears to be an occupational hazard among celebrity chefs (not sure about local chefs.)

All that said, this is a terrific cookbook. The chapters:

Breakfast
Fight
Salads
Soups
Sandwiches
Party
Hamburger Rules
Pasta
Fish and Seafood
Birds
Thanksgiving
Meat
Side Dishes
Dessert
Stocks, Sauces and Dressings

Yes, there are definitely things I will never make, no matter how delicious Bourdain swears the food to be. I recently purchased gojuchang paste, a Korean red pepper paste, and there are a few recipes in this book that uses it. But nothing that also didn’t call for several other chiles or ingredients I didn’t have. I kept going back to one of the recipes, “Budae Jjigae,” a Korean army stew that Bourdain says is based on the legend that it is made from “scourged army PX canned goods during wartime.”  We are talking hot dogs, Spam, canned baked beans, packaged Ramen noodles – those are the easy ingredients – then other things like kombu, dried anchovies, godhugaru, cheongju etc. but frankly it was the Spam that put me off more than anything else.

All that said, there are a lot of good basic recipes, like scrambled eggs and omelets, and interesting salads like “Do Chua Salad with Herbs, Scallions, Sprouts, and Egg” that is sure to be a summer staple at my house. I loved several of the soup recipes, especially the Cream of Tomato, New England Clam Chowder and Black Bean Soup.

The recipe for Linguine with White Clam Sauce is amazing, the best I’ve ever made and pretty simple, relying on 5 dozen clams for unbelievable flavor. A quick work night dinner of Spaghetti with Garlic, Anchovies and Parsley is quick, easy and delicious.

Some of the side dishes are really good, classic dishes like Candied Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. The Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame is another really easy dish, flavored with tahini, white miso and toasted white sesame seeds, an unusual dish that I will be making often.

The Osso Bucco (yes, there are several Italian dishes represented) looks really good, I’m planning on making it for a special occasion quite soon. I made a variation of his Veal Milanese; instead of using cutlets I used veal rib chops pounded out and they were incredible – so simple and so good.

The Thanksgiving chapter is a revelation and definitely will be in use this November. This is lifechanging, from scheduling to turkeys to gravy and everything else.

Shall we talk desserts? Bourdain opens that chapter (and I use the term loosely) by saying, “Fuck dessert,” then recommending some cheeses. And that’s it.

Which brings me to the voice. Bourdain’s voice is so prevalent throughout this book I could hear him in my head as I read. Recipes, as is the fashion of the day, all have little introductory stories, one which caused me to wonder if he wrote it while dissolving his marriage or after (see Veal Milanese.)

I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the photographs by Bobby Fisher. They are extraordinary, not just of the dishes and ingredients which are always, always interesting – none of the perfect fake food look here. But beyond the food there are pictures that made me laugh out loud – Bourdain blowdrying a chicken (really!) and Eric Ripert, sausage gravy dribbling down his face.

I love this book and hope you will, too.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

APPETITES: A COOKBOOK by Anthony Bourdain. Ecco; First edition (October 25, 2016). ISBN 978-0062409959. 304p.


Full panel videos from BookCon!

June 14, 2017

I couldn’t go and in case you missed it too, here are some of the panel discussions including the fabulous Margaret Atwood, “proud to be a geek” Mayim Bialik, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Krysten Ritter,  and lots more. Enjoy!


THEFT BY FINDING by David Sedaris

June 13, 2017

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Diaries (1977-2002)

A few years ago, David Sedaris was the closing speaker at the Public Library Association Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was lucky enough to attend, and got to briefly meet one of my favorite authors. But even better than just shaking his hand was listening to him speak. He is one of a very few authors that when they go on book tour, you have to purchase tickets to see him and let me tell you, totally worth it!

He read a bit from his book that was out then, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, which I had read and enjoyed. He spoke for a bit but then the rest of his talk, at least what I recall, was him reading from his diaries. He had a few thousand librarians laughing so hard they were crying, and I was one of them.

So when I heard this book was coming out, I was overjoyed. And this is only part 1.

Sedaris is a prodigious journaler. He has been keeping journals for most of his life and when I say keeping them, I mean not just writing but storing them so he has plenty to draw from. In fact, maybe too many. He has over 150 diaries, filled on both sides of the page with his tiny writing. He had to go through all of them to hone it down to these books. And, I’m sorry to say, some things get lost along the way.

If you’re a long time fan you won’t miss the stuff that’s missing because you’ve probably heard it before. If you are new to Sedaris, you may want to start elsewhere. Holidays on Ice is a particular favorite of mine (especially with the Santa cover if you can find it.) I especially love his audio books and if you can afford it, get the The Ultimate David Sedaris Box Set. Many an airline ride has pleasantly passed quickly listening to him read his own work.

Sedaris is an observer of life. He spent his early adulthood wandering the country, working odd jobs and dining at an IHOP nightly. He meets a lot of quirky people along the way and it is these observations, usually completely on the mark, that are the hallmark of his humor. Pay close attention or the punchlines will go rushing past you – I had to stop several times and reread a line or two. Push on through early adulthood to read about his first stint on NPR talking about being a Macy’s elf at Christmas (which is replayed annually) some jokes, recipes, and lots more. A sure bet for fans.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THEFT BY FINDING by David Sedaris. Little, Brown and Company (May 30, 2017). ISBN 978-0316154727. 528p.

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