Win the November ’18 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

November 1, 2018

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Welcome to the November bookshelf of signed thrillers! Lots of terrific books to win this month from bestsellers to debuts. More books may be added throughout the month, so check back often.

To enter, go to the Win Books page.

Best of luck!

YOU DON’T OWN ME by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke: Asked by the parents of a celebrity doctor to feature their son’s case on “Under Suspicion,” television producer Laurie Moran dives into the case, placing herself in the path of a mysterious stalker.

LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE by Janet EvanovichWhen three consecutive managers from a famous deli go missing, leaving no clues behind but a single shoe each, latest manager Stephanie Plum navigates Lula’s theories about alien abductions to avoid becoming the next victim.

MURDER SHE WROTE: MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER by Jessica Fletcher & Jon Land: When an FBI investigation into possible financial malfeasance leads to the apparent suicide of her longtime publisher, Jessica Fletcher begins an investigation that centers on a mysterious missing manuscript.

FIND ME GONE by Sarah Meuleman: A successful fashion magazine columnist investigates the mysterious disappearances of Agatha Christie, Barbara Follett and Virginia Woolf before endeavoring to figure out what happened to a friend who went missing during their teen years.

SILENT SCREAM by Karen Harper: Assisting a college roommate at a Florida peat bog archaeological dig where long-buried bodies have been discovered perfectly preserved, forensic psychologist Claire Britten uncovers clues pointing to her criminal lawyer husband’s murder case.

HIGH CRIMES by Libby Fischer HellmannHow do you solve a murder when there are 42,000 suspects?  That’s the task facing Chicago PI Georgia Davis, hired to hunt down those behind the assassination of Resistance leader Dena Baldwin at a demonstration fourteen months after the 2016 election.

WE, THE JURY by Robert Rotstein: Follows the fictional trial of a man who killed his wife with an ax on the eve of their twenty-first wedding anniversary as the jurors sort through conflicting and even more startling evidence against the central figures involved.

THIEVES by Steven Max Russo: Esmeralda works for a housecleaning service during the day and as a restaurant hostess at night. It isn’t long before Esmeralda finds herself trapped by both circumstance and greed, forced to try and defend herself against one of her partners in crime, who she quickly discovers is far more dangerous than she ever thought possible.


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!


ALL CHAINED UP by Sophie Jordan

November 13, 2018

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Devil’s Rock, Book 1

From the publisher:

There are bad boys and then there are the men of Devil’s Rock . . .

Some men come with a built-in warning label. Knox Callaghan is one of them. Danger radiates from every lean, muscled inch of him, and his deep blue eyes seem to see right through to Briar Davis’s most secret fantasies. But there’s one major problem: Briar is a nurse volunteering at the local prison, and Knox is an inmate who should be off-limits in every way.

Knox feels it too—a shocking animal magnetism that drives him to risk his own life to protect Briar’s. Paroled at last, he tries to resist her. She’s too innocent, too sweet, and she has no idea what Knox is capable of. But a single touch can lead to a kiss—and a taste . . . until the only crime is denying what feels so right . . .


This is the first book in the Devil’s Rock series – of course, I’ve already read a few of the newer books but no matter, they do not need to be read in order. This is a terrific romance with Jordan’s legendary smokin’ hot love scenes. But more than just the sex, there is a lot of heart here, and plenty of emotion. It is inescapable when a man gets out of prison for saving lives in a prison riot.

Devil’s Rock is a prison, not your typical romance setting but Jordan makes it work. The woman has mad skills.

In light of all the consent issues going on in romances today, Jordan was fairly prescient in her handling of it in this earlier title. These characters are drawn to one another despite their differences which frankly, seem insurmountable, yet true love wins out as it always does. Thank goodness.

11/18  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

ALL CHAINED UP by Sophie Jordan. Avon (March 29, 2016). ISBN 978-0062423689. 384p.

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IMAGINE JOHN YOKO by John Lennon & Yoko Ono

November 12, 2018

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With contributions from the people who were there

From the publisher:

Personally compiled and curated by Yoko Ono, Imagine John Yoko is the definitive inside story-told in revelatory detail-of the making of the legendary album and all that surrounded it: the locations, the creative team, the artworks and the films, in the words of John & Yoko and the people who were there.

Features 80% exclusive, hitherto-unpublished archive photos and footage sequences of all the key players in situ, together with lyric sheets, Yoko’s art installations, and exclusive new insights and personal testimonies from Yoko and over forty of the musicians, engineers, staff, celebrities, artists and photographers who were there-including Julian Lennon, Klaus Voormann, Alan White, Jim Keltner, David Bailey, Dick Cavett and Sir Michael Parkinson.

“A lot has been written about the creation of the song, the album and the film of Imagine, mainly by people who weren’t there, so I’m very pleased and grateful that now, for the first time, so many of the participants have kindly given their time to ‘gimme some truth’ in their own words and pictures” Yoko Ono Lennon, 2018

In 1971, John Lennon & Yoko Ono conceived and recorded the critically acclaimed album Imagine at their Georgian country home, Tittenhurst Park, in Berkshire, England, in the state-of-the-art studio they built in the grounds, and at the Record Plant in New York. The lyrics of the title track were inspired by Yoko Ono’s “event scores” in her 1964 book Grapefruit, and she was officially co-credited as writer in June 2017.

Imagine John Yoko tells the story of John & Yoko’s life, work and relationship during this intensely creative period. It transports readers to home and working environments showcasing Yoko’s closely guarded archive of photos and artifacts, using artfully compiled narrative film stills, and featuring digitally rendered maps, floorplans and panoramas that recreate the interiors in evocative detail. John & Yoko introduce each chapter and song; Yoko also provides invaluable additional commentary and a preface.

All the minutiae is examined: the locations, the key players, the music and lyrics, the production techniques and the artworks-including the creative process behind the double exposure polaroids used on the album cover.

With a message as universal and pertinent today as it was when the album was created, this landmark publication is a fitting tribute to John & Yoko and their place in cultural history.

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Even though I requested this a couple of times, the publisher did not come through for me on this book. So I have my library’s edition in hand.

There is some strange stuff going on with this book. It shows as only being available from third party sellers on Amazon, which is very odd for a new book. There is a “collectors edition” with a different ISBN, but which looks identical, for $150 with a publication date of 11/13/18.

The reviews on Amazon, while positive, often refer to the sticking pages and the soiled cover. That said, my library cover is pristine and I am the first person to check out this book. The pages are heavy paper, but don’t feel especially of high quality, and are not sticking together in my library copy.

All you really need to know about me is that “Imagine” is my favorite song, the song I want played at my funeral. (Yes, I’m planning ahead.) It never fails to move me and will generally bring me to tears every time I hear it. This has been going on for decades. (Granted, I am an easy crier.)

I like the book. I like how, when closed, the end papers  form a blue sky with white, puffy clouds. I like all the pictures but wish some of them, all those tiny pictures, were enlarged a bit. Same with the sheet music. It is a large book, I don’t understand why so many pictures were miniaturized while a quote, “The guitar is all right as a hobby, John, but you’ll never make a living at it!” seen in many other books, is given a two page spread. But nobody asked me.

This is a book for die hard fans like me. Not sure who else would care. It’s on my wishlist.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

IMAGINE JOHN YOKO by John Lennon & Yoko Ono. Grand Central Publishing (October 9, 2018). ISBN 978-1538747155.  320p.


THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory

November 11, 2018

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From the publisher:

“There is so much to relate to and throughout the novel, there is a sharp feminist edge. Loved this one, and you will too.”–New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay

The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn’t turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own…

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn’t come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…


Another terrific read from Guillory, who is quickly becoming a must read author for me. This is ostensibly the sequel to The Wedding Date, but in the way that romances tend to have sequels. The main character, Carlos, was friends with the main character in The Wedding Date. So if you haven’t read that one, no biggie other than why didn’t you read that one, it was so good! And so is this one.

I loved these characters, they had their faults which only made them seem more real. It is very important in a romance to have characters that you feel invested in, otherwise, who cares. These characters were very well developed and I couldn’t wait to see how their story turned out. Happily ever after, of course, this is a romance, but with a lot of fun, food and sex along the way. And laughs. Lots of laughs.

Another hat tip to diversity here, Carlos is Latino and Niki is black so that’s there, but it is just the way it is and not a commentary on racism. This was just a great story and I highly recommend it. So do librarians – it topped the LibraryReads.org list for October.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE PROPOSAL by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley (October 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399587689.  336p.

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HER LAST MOVE by John Marrs

November 10, 2018

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A fascinating study of a psychotic serial killer, one that is quite different from other novels dealing with similar themes in the sense that the actual killings by the murderer are described down to the last detail. These are very gory and might cause readers to wonder why such descriptions are utilized when more cursory ones could be used. The fact is that these are necessary for the full understanding of the mind set of the killer, and that is probably the aim of the author. At the same time Marrs does a great job of bringing into focus the thoughts and feelings of the police working the case as well as other individuals directly affected by the action.

Becca Vincent is an officer with the London Metropolitan police. She has faced the problem of being a woman in a world still dominated by men. She is longing to be assigned to an important case and prove her ability to her supervisor as well as her peers. She manages to get herself assigned to working with the group looking for the the killer. At the same time Joe Russell, a facial recognition expert, is seconded to Becca’s group in order to provide any help his particular talent can provide. In an afterward to the novel Marrs indicates that a group of these gifted individuals are actually a part of the London police and have been instrumental in bringing many law breakers to justice via picking them out from crowds.

The procedures and actions of a modern police department are well delineated by the author and make for a most interesting read. Becca is a single mother with a daughter with Downs syndrome and Joe is having problems with his marriage and making it work. Descriptions of both private lives coupled with the case they are working on together make this book a fascinating study into human feelings and emotions. Very well done and certainly a novel that will provide much interest in reading future books by John Marrs.

11/18 Paul Lane

HER LAST MOVE by John Marrs. Thomas & Mercer (November 8, 2018).  ISBN 978-1503948020. 352p.

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THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory

November 9, 2018

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From the publisher:

THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER
#5 LibraryReads Pick

One of…
Entertainment Weekly’s “12 Romances for V-Day”
Cosmopolitan’s “2018 Anticipated Reads”
Elle’s “2018 Must Reads”
Harpers Bazaar’s “New January Must Reads”
The Fug Girls’ “Best Books of the Year”
Elle UK’s “Books to Get You Through 2018”
Nylon’s “January Must Reads”
Hello Giggles’ “New Release Recs”
Electric Lit’s “Books by WoC to Read in 2018”
Bitch Media’s “2018 Must Reads”
BookBub’s “2018 Romance Must Reads”
Bookriot’s “Must Read 2018 January Releases”
RetailMeNot’s “2018 Must Reads”

“A swoony rom-com brimming with humor and charm.”–Entertainment Weekly (The Must List)

“What a charming, warm, sexy gem of a novel….One of the best books I’ve read in a while.”–Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Hunger

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in this fun and flirty multicultural romance debut.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…


Even when I include the publisher’s synopsis, I don’t usually include all the blurbs and self promotion. In this case, I think they are so well deserved that I did include it all.

I loved this book. It is fresh, original, and diverse. The wedding date theme is not unusual, it is the major meet-cute plot of many a romance and rom-com. It is one that I enjoy, but Guillory really takes it to the next level. There is a lot of hot sex, which always works for me, and great characters that you just can’t help but care about. I loved the way she touches on racism without being in your face but rather more in the way of that’s the way it is and this is how we deal with it.

This is a terrific, fun read that I highly recommend. Now I’m off to read her newest, The Proposal. Stay tuned…

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory. Berkley (January 30, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399587665.  336p.

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HEADS YOU WIN by Jeffrey Archer

November 8, 2018

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I must confess that I have been a fan of Archer’s books for quite a while and enjoyed being pulled into them, unable to put them down. “Heads You Win” frankly left me wondering why he would try the experiment that he did in this book. The details of the story are, as usual well researched and carefully constructed, but the method was not really to my taste.

Alexander Karpenko was born in Leningrad and grew up there residing in a small apartment with his mother and father. His thoughts were of going to work as a laborer and perhaps becoming a foreman someday. Fate intervenes when his father is assassinated by the Russian KGB after beginning to form a union to aid the workers he supervises. Elena, Alexander’s mother had worked as a chef in the kitchen preparing the meals for the workers in his father’s crew. She now has to work more hours and catches the eye of a supervisor who has lusted after her and now feels free to begin forcing her to do his will since her husband is dead. Alexander sees him backing his mother into a corner and smashes him with a board to save her.

This is the prelude to the story and the experiment tried by Mr Archer. Alexander’s uncle steps in and helps him and Elena flee Russia. Getting them to the docks where two ships are preparing to sail and Alexander has to choose which one to go on. One is bound for Southampton and the other to New York. Two concurrent stories are told throughout the remainder of the book. One in which the pair board the ship bound for England and the other for the United States. In one story Alexander enters politics and in the other becomes a businessman. He is successful at both endeavors and we follow him and Elena as they progress in their new lives.

It appeared to me that Archer had the makings of two separate books just by changing the names of the characters involved in one. Following along is not the problem it would seem to warrant and that is the best reason to finish the book. I’m sure that the author meant this as an experiment knowing that his reputation would support sufficient interest. I admire the attempt, but trust that Jeffrey Archer will keep to his normal format and his usual method of keeping his readers mesmerized.

There must be a logical ending to this novel and that it is, but flat and my reaction was ????

11/18 Paul Lane

HEADS YOU WIN by Jeffrey Archer. St. Martin’s Press (November 6, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250172501. 448p.

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THE NOEL STRANGER by Richard Paul Evans

November 7, 2018

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The Noel Collection, Book 2

From the publisher:

From “The King of Christmas,” Richard Paul Evans, the next exciting holiday-themed novel in his New York Times bestselling The Noel Collection.

Maggie Walther feels like her world is imploding. Publicly humiliated after her husband, a local councilman, is arrested for bigamy, and her subsequent divorce, she has isolated herself from the world. When her only friend insists that Maggie climb out of her hole, and embrace the season to get her out of her funk, Maggie decides to put up a Christmas tree and heads off to buy one—albeit reluctantly. She is immediately taken by Andrew, the kind, handsome man who owns the Christmas tree lot and delivers her tree. She soon learns that Andrew is single and new to her city and, like her, is also starting his life anew.

As their friendship develops, Maggie slowly begins to trust again—something she never thought possible. Then, just when she thinks she has finally found happiness, she discovers a dark secret from Andrew’s past. Is there more to this stranger’s truth than meets the eye? This powerful new holiday novel from Richard Paul Evans, the “King of Christmas fiction” (The New York Times), explores the true power of the season, redemption, and the freedom that comes from forgiveness.


I didn’t read the first book in this series but I read the Christmas book before that, Mistletoe Secret, and loved it. This one, not so much.

I know he writes short books, but it didn’t feel like the characters were developed enough. Despite that, there was plenty of angst. There was an air of foreboding that ran through the story that I didn’t really care for in a romance. I also didn’t necessarily believe that these characters fell in love so quickly, especially considering what Maggie had gone through. It didn’t feel like she was mentally stable enough to make these kinds of decisions. Maybe I’m turning into a cynic? I hope not.

Once again my opinion isn’t mainstream, this book has 4.5 stars on Goodreads but there aren’t many reviews. Yet. Amazon didn’t have any so I’m guessing it wasn’t part of their Vine (early review) program. It was okay, but I would recommend Mistletoe Secret over this new one. The best thing I can say about it is that it is a quick read.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE NOEL STRANGER by Richard Paul Evans. Simon & Schuster (November 6, 2018). ISBN 978-1501172052.  352p.

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Guest Blogger: Jon Land

November 6, 2018

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I am thrilled to welcome Jon Land to the blog! And don’t forget that you can win a signed copy of Murder She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder. Just head over to the Win Books page for all the details.

TOP TEN TELEVISION CRIME/MYSTERY SHOWS
by Jon Land

To celebrate the publication of MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER, my SECOND effort writing as Jessica Fletcher in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series, I thought I’d put together my Top Ten list of the most influential crime/mystery shows in television history.

THE UNTOUCHABLES: Fans will remember Robert Stack’s brilliant turn as Elliot Ness, the Walter Winchell narration, and that great Nelson Riddle instrumental theme song. What gets forgotten is that this was the show that defined cops and robbers tales for years to come. Often imitated, but never equaled, Ness and company’s battle with underworld Chicago in the days of Al Capone and Frank Nitty played out week after week in hardboiled and violent fashion.

HILL STREET BLUES: One of the shows that changed television forever, upping the ante across the board as far as writing, plotting and characterization. The late Steven Bochco’s ensemble cast battle bad guys, their worst tendencies, and each other while going about their daily jobs fighting crime. Many of the great crime shows that dominate the cable airwaves owe a huge debt to Blues, which more than any other show at the time brought moral ambiguity to the small screen.

COLUMBO:  What can I say about the rumpled detective famously played by Peter Falk that basically redefined the television mystery? It wasn’t a whodunit so much as how’s-he-solve-it, and Columbo never disappointed. The series invited the audience to play along, searching for the elusive prime clue to be revealed only in the final moment. Episodes ran in various forms for an astounding 30+ years. In not a single one did Columbo ever draw his gun or lose his zeal. Still one of the smartest and best-written shows in television history.

MURDER, SHE WROTE:  Okay, I’m a little prejudiced but this fabulously successful television show starring Angela Lansbury in the title role ran for a dozen years, all but one of them among the top ten rated shows, spawned four TV movies, and is still enjoying a successful run in syndication on Hallmark Mysteries. The notion of an amateur sleuth spawned a slew of imitators that never achieved this level of success or resonated as much or as long in pop culture. It’s safe to say that Jessica Fletcher is America’s premier sleuth with a near 100% name recognition value.

THE ROCKFORD FILES:  The clever answering machine staple opening alerted us from the start of every episode that we were in for a detective tale of fresh ilk. Its light tone, crack ensemble, recurring cast and James Garner’s star turn in the lead role made it must-see TV before anyone had officially coined the term. Garner’s deadpan delivery defined a show that took itself just seriously enough. I can’t remember a single plot-line; all I remember is how much I loved the show.

LAW AND ORDER:  Take your pick as to which one. SVU is still on the air and the original faded out only after a 20+ year run. The series breathed new life into a then moribund TV genre by reinventing the form and managing to survive a slew of cast changes. Such changes had doomed the likes of Route 66, but creator Dick Wolf’s genre-bending format rendered cast members basically interchangeable. Every week, Law and Order did and does deliver on its promise, touching on front-page topics in never letting us down.

CSI: Again, take your pick, but for me the early years of CSI: Las Vegas, starring the great William Petersen similarly helped redefine the television crime genre. Entire episodes would go by without a single gunfight, the action that demanded and commanded our attention limited at times to the claustrophobic confines of police labs where the contents of microscope slides spurred the biggest reveals. Each episode is basically a puzzle waiting to be assembled. We often know, at least suspect, who the killer is, the fun lying in the process used to catch him. Consider CSI the anti-Columbo. The rumbled detective wouldn’t even know how to spell electron spectrograph, while Petersen’s Gil Grissom couldn’t solve a case without one.

NYPD BLUE: Tame by comparison with today’s cable fare, this second Steve Bochco creation nonetheless raised eyebrows everywhere in terms of content ranging from language to sexually-charged subject matter. Yes, it’s known primarily for its salaciousness and being way ahead of its time, but it was also an outstanding police procedural that weathered numerous cast changes in dominating talk around the water cooler for years. Gritty, grungy and morally ambiguous, this is television, and crime drama, at its level best.

PERRY MASON:  Enjoy legal thrillers? They owe their existence to this splendid series of eighty books penned by Earl Stanley Gardner and a television show by the same name starring Raymond Burr in the title role that ran for a decade. The episodes, and the books, continue to hold up and the notion of a sleuthing lawyer and his entourage spawned the likes of John Grisham and Scott Turow, not to mention the slew of lawyer shows that have long been a television programming staple.

MIAMI VICE: One of the true game changers in the history of the airwaves that everyone rushed home to watch when it aired on Friday nights. The show brought both pop music and men’s fashion into the mainstream with musicians and designers alike battling for inclusion from the moment Phil Collins’ “Into the Air Tonight” themed the climactic shootout in the premier. Brandon Tartikoff legendarily based the series on the phrase “MTV cops” he once jotted down on a notepad. True or not, the show brought television into the forefront of pop culture, setting the stage for when the small screen would actually come to define it.

I’m already starting to think of some of the shows I left off this list. How about you? Which would you add?


Murder She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder

Jessica Fletcher investigates a mysterious manuscript with deadly consequences in the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series…

Jessica Fletcher has had plenty to worry about over her storied career, both as a bestselling novelist and amateur sleuth. But she never had any reason to worry about her longtime publisher, Lane Barfield, who also happens to be a trusted friend. When mounting evidence of financial malfeasance leads to an FBI investigation of Lane, Jessica can’t believe what she’s reading.

So when Barfield turns up dead, Jessica takes on the task of proving Barfield’s innocence–she can’t fathom someone she’s known and trusted for so long cheating her. Sure enough, Jessica’s lone wolf investigation turns up several oddities and inconsistencies in Barfield’s murder. Jessica knows something is being covered up, but what exactly? The trail she takes to answer that question reveals something far more nefarious afoot, involving shadowy characters from the heights of power in Washington. At the heart of Jessica’s investigation lies a manuscript Barfield had intended to bring out after all other publishers had turned it down. The problem is that manuscript has disappeared, all traces of its submission and very existence having been wiped off the books.

With her own life now in jeopardy, Jessica refuses to back off and sets her sights on learning the contents of that manuscript and what about it may have led to several murders. Every step she takes brings her closer to the truth of what lies in the pages, as well as the person who penned them.


PAST TENSE by Lee Child

November 5, 2018

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A Jack Reacher Novel, Book 23

I can start every review Lee Child review like this: Jack is back and all is right in my world. I just feel safe knowing he’s out there, fictional though he may be. I do find it necessary to block out the image of Tom Cruise as Reacher, it really doesn’t work in the books, not with descriptors like Bigfoot and the Incredible Hulk, with “fists like Thanksgiving turkeys.”

And then we move on to this latest adventure.

Reacher is in Maine and planning on hitchhiking across America to San Diego. But his first ride takes him to New Hampshire, where he sees a sign for the tiny town where his father was born. He doesn’t know much about his father, so he decides to check it out.

There is a rather deserted motel on the outskirts of the town where a young couple’s car has broken down. They reluctantly check into the motel but things are creepy here.

You know that these two plot lines are going to intersect at some point, but it takes a really long time for that to happen. Meanwhile, Reacher is learning things about his family that he never knew. And of course, he also gets into some trouble.

First he saves a woman from a drunken encounter with a menacing man by beating him senseless. It turns out he is connected to the local mob. He gets in some more fights, making the police unhappy with him as well. But being Reacher, he sticks around until he can figure out his family situation. And of course, the motel.

I loved learning more about Reacher’s family, but I didn’t enjoy the motel plot line as much. It just seemed like a retread for some reason. Twenty-three books into this series, not every one is going to be perfection. I understand that, and while I didn’t love this one, I liked it a lot and read it in one night. So no real complaints here other than having to wait another year for Reacher’s next adventure. Hopefully, it will be better.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

PAST TENSE by Lee Child. Delacorte Press (November 5, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399593512. 400p.

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THE REAL DEAL by Lauren Blakely

November 4, 2018

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April Hamilton is heading home to the wealthy enclave in Connecticut for her family reunion. She loves her family, she really does, but they don’t understand why she moved to New York City. They don’t understand how she is making a living doing face painting, and they really don’t understand why she isn’t married and moving home.

Several relatives have already warned her they are fixing her up on blind dates while she’s home, so she asks her best friend to accompany her as her “date.” He’s gay, but they won’t know. But at the last minute, he can’t make it and he suggests a bartender he knows who is also an actor on the side and an escort. Not that kind of escort, but the kind who looks good as a date but is strictly platonic. April reads his ad and loves it and arranges to meet him.

Theo Banks is gorgeous, smart and funny and boy, is he in trouble. He has never been attracted to a professional assignment before and he is not sure how this is going to work. But he really needs the money, she is willing and able to pay, so off they go to Connecticut. Where her family falls in love with him, and they fall in love with each other.

There are a lot of laughs and a lot of drama to get through before they reach their happily ever after. I loved these characters and every page of this super fun, sexy romance.

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE REAL DEAL by Lauren Blakely. St. Martin’s Griffin (July 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250165930.  368p.

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