Win the October ’18 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

October 1, 2018

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Welcome to the October 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!

THE 7 ½ DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE by Stuart Turton: Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden Bishop must solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle in order to escape the curse, in a world filled with enemies where nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

UNDER MY SKIN by Lisa Unger: After the murder of her husband, Poppy spirals into grief and loses her memory of what happened immediately after his death, but just when Poppy begins to move on from the unsolved murder she senses someone is following her.

THE REAL LOLITA by Sarah Weinman: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World: A true-crime investigation of the 1948 abduction of Sally Horner details the crime itself and how it inspired Vladimir Nabokov’s classic novel, “Lolita.”

AN EASY DEATH by Charlaine HarrisGuiding two wizards through the magic-wary country of Texoma, a gunslinger navigating the Great Depression in the wake of FDR’s assassination searches for a low-level magician who may be able to save the tsar in this alternate history.

HOLY GHOST by John Sandford: When the mayor of Pinion, Minnesota tries to turn his small town into a religious shrine, his plan is interrupted by the discovery of a dead body.

TRUST BUT VERIFY by Karna Small Bodman: A shadowy group of Russian oligarchs all want the Director of the White House Office of Homeland Security dead.

THE BLUE KINGFISHER by Erica Wright: Kat Stone Series, Book 3: What happens when a master of disguise tries to be herself for once? If you’re private investigator Kat Stone, trouble seems to find you with or without your favorite wig.

MARDI GRAS MURDER by Ellen Byron: A Cajun Country Mystery, Book 4: When the body of a stranger shows up behind the Crozat Plantation B&B, putting a damper the Mardi Gras festivities, owner Maggie Crozat soon discovers that someone will kill to become Miss Pelican Mardi Gras Gumbo Queen after another murder occurs.

TRIMMED TO DEATH by Nancy J Cohen: The Bad Hair Day Mysteries, Book 15: Hairstylist Marla Vail enters a bake-off competition that’s a real killer when a contestant ends up dead.

NAKED TRUTH by Rick Pullen: Reporter Beck Rikki again confronts the deceptions and lies of the rich and powerful in America when he is invited to meet with the chief justice of the United States, only to have the jurist show up dead.

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!

DECK THE HOUNDS by David Rosenfelt

October 15, 2018

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An Andy Carpenter Novel, Book 18

Just in time for Christmas is another charming Andy Carpenter adventure . As his fans are acutely aware, Andy is a lawyer. He is a good one as all the novels written about him will attest. Minor problem is that he inherited a lot of money and has elected to live the good life as a gentleman scholar. That is to maintain a law office and never be in it, instead spending his time with his family; his gorgeous wife, one child and two dogs.

At the risk of being redundant, he has a staff of very unique people to help him when he is forced by circumstances beyond his control to defend someone in court. His wife, Laurie, was at one point a police chief and acts as his detective as needed. He has another lawyer to help him and Marcus, the silent type – and very strong to handle the rough stuff. He also has access to the second in command of an FBI field office. She is always in the office and will do anything to help Laurie including supplying information needed by Andy (disguised as Laurie) to move forward with a case.

There is also Edna, Andy’s secretary and office manager who has developed an allergy towards working. She is sent checks for her salary, and cashing these seems to be her sole function at work. She also likes surveying the beach as much as possible and living and working in New Jersey this is always a possibility. His best friend Willy and his wife manage the dog rescue service that he and Andy founded after a case of capital murder with a death sentence was successfully turned over by Andy freeing Willy from death row.

So the field is set, the team in place and all we need is someone to defend in court. And this is done neatly when Andy gives a handout to a street person and then later sees that man fend off an attacker, with a dog seemingly belonging to him helping out. Laurie and Andy decide to take the man home and allow him to stay in rooms in their attic while letting him attempt to reenter the active world. Lo and behold it seems the man used to be a member of military special forces and has become skilled in killing his country’s enemies.

The newspapers sense a story in the Carpenters doing such a good deed and print the story with photos of the homeless man. And wouldn’t you know it there is a charge of murder against him which is now served. Okay, we have the background and the basis for another excellent read starring Andy and his crew. Don’t worry there are many things to discover, places to go and a trial to go through. Don’t even doubt that the book will be interesting, humorous, and another incentive to keep eyes peeled for the next Andy Carpenter novel.

10/18 Paul Lane

DECK THE HOUNDS by David Rosenfelt. Minotaur Books (October 16, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250198488. 368p.



AN EARL LIKE YOU by Caroline Linden

October 13, 2018

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Wagers of Sin Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

When you gamble at love . . .

When Hugh Deveraux discovers his newly inherited earldom is bankrupt, he sets about rebuilding the family fortune—in the gaming hells of London. But the most daring wager he takes isn’t at cards. A wealthy tradesman makes a tantalizing offer: marry the man’s spinster daughter and Hugh’s debts will be paid and his fortune made. The only catch is that she must never know about their agreement . . .

You risk losing your heart . . .

Heiress Eliza Cross has given up hope of marriage until she meets the impossibly handsome Earl of Hastings, her father’s new business partner. The earl is everything a gentleman should be, and is boldly attentive to her. It doesn’t take long for Eliza to lose her heart and marry him.

But when Eliza discovers that there is more to the man she loves—and to her marriage—her trust is shattered. And it will take all of Hugh’s power to prove that now his words of love are real . . .

The marriage of convenience, one of the most frequently used plot devices in historical fiction, is at the center of this story. But usually there is more involved than the rich girl marrying a peer, or vice versa, because of financial need. There needs to be some drama to help move the story along, and while their circumstances, both the hero and the heroine, were fraught, it still felt like something was missing.

That said, I really liked these characters and was invested in their outcome.  I liked the secondary characters as well, especially Eliza’s father. He was the heavy here and added the real drama to the story.

This was my first time reading this author, and I would definitely read another of her books. Maybe I’ll look for the first book in this series next.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

AN EARL LIKE YOU by Caroline Linden. Avon (August 28, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062672940. 384p.





October 12, 2018

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A Mile High Romance, Book 4

From the publisher:

From Nicole Helm, the bestselling author of the Big Sky Cowboys, Navy Seal Cowboys, and Stone Cold series, comes this breathtaking new romance set in the middle of Big Sky country—Colorado’s gorgeous Rocky Mountains . . .

As the oldest of three brothers, Shane Tyler takes his responsibility to the family ranch seriously—and it’s clear to him that the younger man who wants to marry his widowed mother is only looking for a meal ticket. He’s determined to stop the nuptials whatever it takes, but the shy wedding planner his mom hired is harder to intimidate than he expected.

When Cora Preston worked up the nerve to leave her abusive ex and move with her young son to Gracely, it was a huge step. Accepting the position as wedding planner at brand-new Mile High Weddings took even more courage. But Cora’s biggest challenge is turning out to be the bride’s handsome—and stubborn—oldest son, Shane, and the way the strong-willed cowboy makes her feel.

Can the heat crackling between them warm two hearts suspicious of love?

I read my first Nicole Helm book a few weeks ago, it was a Christmas story in a different series, and I really liked it. Then this book sort of fell into my lap (it helps that my lap was in the library) and I thought, serendipity!

I must admit to some confusion with some of the characters because, as usual, I didn’t read the earlier books in this series. I have a feeling things would have made a lot more sense to me if I had. But even though I wasn’t quite clear on everything going on in the background, there was enough of a story to keep me intrigued and turning pages. I’ll be looking for more of this author.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A NICE DAY FOR A COWBOY WEDDING by Nicole Helm. Zebra (August 28, 2018). ISBN 978-1420146943. 320p.


THE LADY IS DARING by Megan Frampton

October 11, 2018

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The Duke’s Daughters Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

Five well-bred sisters, one sensational scandal. Now the Duke of Marymount’s daughter Ida is about to find love in the most unconventional way . . .

It was easy for society to overlook Lady Ida Howlett; they found her bookish, opinionated, and off the marriage mart. But little did they know that behind a calm exterior beats the heart of an adventuress, one who, determined to discover her runaway sister’s whereabouts, steals a carriage and sets off on a daring mission. Then she discovers she’s not alone! Bennett, Lord Carson, is inside, and he refuses to leave.

Lord Carson’s plans had always been to find a soft, gentle wife who would run his home and raise his children. Still, he makes a bargain with Ida—he won’t desert her during her mad adventure. He’ll make sure she’s safe, and then find a suitable lady to fall in love with. But when rules (and garments) become discarded during this long, intimate journey, it’s soon clear that this surprisingly daring lady is the woman he’s needed all along.

Another excellent addition to Megan Frampton’s body of work. The characters are brought to life and I found Lady Ida to be a real kick. She is feisty and independent but determined (dare I say it?) to live her best life. Bennett at first appears to be the usual royal stick in the mud, but he is surprised to find hidden depths within himself.

I love stories where characters change and grow, and they both do so here. This is a fast, fun romp and a delightful read.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LADY IS DARING by Megan Frampton. Avon (September 25, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062666673. 352p.




FIREFLY by Henry Porter

October 10, 2018

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One the most horrific problems affecting the world today is the migration of literally millions of people which provides the backdrop for this novel. This is the attempt by large segments of populations in the middle east and Africa to flee repressive regimes, starvation and mass murder in order to begin new lives in countries that are considered safe. Porter presents a no holds barred portrait of peoples caught up in the need to escape from the lands of their birth due to changing conditions that do not allow them to live there.

Naji is a thirteen year old boy born in Syria who is thrust into manhood when his father dies. It becomes necessary for his family to flee their home as situations arise that cause their lives to become untenable. It becomes Naji’s job to travel through the middle east, into Europe and eventually into Germany to arrange for his family to be accepted there by relatives. This is a journey that must be done by foot as Naji’s family does not have the funds to send him by plane or even train.

Naji has obtained pictorial evidence held on his cellphone of plans by a vicious ISIS cell who discover what he has and mount an organized attempt to catch and kill him and retrieve the evidence. When Britain’s MI6 gets wind of what Naji has they mount a search for him by contracting Luc Samson currently a private detective but previously an agent for MI6 to spearhead the operation.

Porter employs a back and forth system between Maji and Luc to tell the story. We see a young boy that is forced to grow up very fast while attempting to comply with his family’s needs and a professional that develops an attachment for this brave young man while chasing him. Luc finds a possible romance and Naji lifetime friends in the course of the action. The novel is, of course, a definite all nighter and keeps the reader glued to the book and aghast at the realities of what is happening in our time and affecting decisions made by all governments. There are no solutions offered by the author for the simple reason that none are probably possible in the face of the titanic stage the action is played out on. But, the book does provide some insight into what is happening to real people through no fault of their own and affecting so much of the world.

10/18 Paul Lane

FIREFLY by Henry Porter. Mysterious Press (October 2, 2018).  ISBN 978-0802128959. 480p.



A NOTORIOUS VOW by Joanna Shupe

October 9, 2018

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The Four Hundred Series, Book 3

From the publisher:

Joanna Shupe returns to New York City’s Gilded Age, where fortunes and reputations are gained and lost with ease—and love can blossom from the most unlikely charade

With the fate of her disgraced family resting on her shoulders, Lady Christina Barclay has arrived in New York City from London to quickly secure a wealthy husband. But when her parents settle on an intolerable suitor, Christina turns to her reclusive neighbor, a darkly handsome and utterly compelling inventor, for help.

Oliver Hawkes reluctantly agrees to a platonic marriage . . . with his own condition: The marriage must end after one year. Not only does Oliver face challenges that are certain to make life as his wife difficult, but more importantly, he refuses to be distracted from his life’s work—the development of a revolutionary device that could transform thousands of lives, including his own.

Much to his surprise, his bride is more beguiling than he imagined. When temptation burns hot between them, they realize they must overcome their own secrets and doubts, and every effort to undermine their marriage, because one year can never be enough.

This is a terrific serie – I love the time period, 1890’s, and the setting, New York City. Shupe writes wonderfully damaged characters and Oliver Hawkes is no exception. Hawkes went deaf as a teenager, and has put up with derision, taunting and worse for most of his life. It has driven him to the point of becoming a recluse, and luckily, he is wealthy enough to be able to afford it. To see how deaf people were treated at that time was appalling, and I appreciated the historically accurate references.

Lady Christina is another messy character, the daughter of abusive parents. Her mother has been demeaning her for all of her life, leaving Christina with virtually no self esteem and the desire to make everyone around her happy. It would never occur to her that she deserves to be happy, too.

This is a marriage of inconvenience, if you will. Of course it leads to a very happy ending but there are dreadful trials along the way. It was a one night read for me, I couldn’t put it down. A wonderful escape that made me (almost) happy to be living in 21st century America.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A NOTORIOUS VOW by Joanna Shupe. Avon (September 25, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062678942. 384p.




WHY NOT TONIGHT by Susan Mallery

October 8, 2018

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Happily Inc, Book 3

From the publisher:

Susan Mallery welcomes you to Happily Inc, where true love isn’t just for fairy tales…

Natalie Kaleta will do anything for the artists at her gallery, including risk life, limb and the effect of humidity on her naturally curly hair. Braving a downpour to check on reclusive Ronan Mitchell, Natalie gets stranded by a mudslide at his mountain home, where the brooding glass artist reveals his playful side, sending her inconvenient crush from under-the-radar to over-the-top.

After a secret tore apart his family and made him question his sense of self, Ronan fled his hometown for Happily Inc, but the sunny small town can’t fix his damaged heart. He won’t give in to his attraction for beautiful, perpetually cheerful Natalie. She’s untouched by darkness—or so he thinks.

Natalie knows that when a heart goes through the flame, it comes out stronger. Life may not be a fairy tale, but sometimes dreams do come true. Why not this one? Why not tonight?

This has become one of my favorite series and this book is one of the reasons. All the books have been wonderful and real escapist fiction, which frankly, I need right now.

The series centers around the Mitchell brothers, all famous artists. They had a difficult childhood, their father was unfaithful to their mother and that was the least of their problems. He is also a famous artist, and was very abusive towards his children. They have all responded to those problems differently, but Ronan is the most sensitive and brooding of the bunch.

Natalie is a ray of sunshine, and Ronan doesn’t know quite why he is finding that appealing. Being trapped together always moves a romance along nicely, and it does here but it’s the follow through that matters. Malley has it down, and the story just works. There are laughs and love and some sex, and all in all, another excellent read.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

WHY NOT TONIGHT by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (September 18, 2018). ISBN 978-1335474605. 384p.




October 7, 2018

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From the publisher:

This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document, a story about the extremes of human behavior existing side by side: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.”—Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

I find Holocaust books difficult to read so I try and limit them to only one or two a year. I’m sorry I wasted a read on this book.

The story is interesting for sure, as it is based on a true story. In fact the actual subject of the book, the protagonist, writes an afterward. But it is the writing that is most off-putting to me. I believe this is a first novel and it definitely reads like one. There is a lot of telling, not showing, and the dialogue is often stilted. This was surprising, as Morris is a screenwriter so I would think the dialogue would be in her wheelhouse, and the descriptions aren’t great either. At first I thought maybe it was translated, as that can have an impact on language for sure, but I don’t think so.

That said, it has over 20,000 five star reviews on Goodreads, which is one of the reasons I picked it up. While the writing style was not for me, obviously I am in the minority here. Most of the reviews recommend it for book discussion and I can understand that and may, in fact, use it for my book group at the library. I find the best discussions happen when there is disagreement about a book, so maybe.

If you’ve already read it, or plan on reading it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris. Harper (September 4, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062870674. 288p.



SEASON OF WONDER by RaeAnne Thayne

October 6, 2018

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From a nice Jewish girl, Christmas book reviews, day 4. 

Haven Point Series, Book 9

From the publisher:

It’s a long way from New York to Idaho…but could they have found a home at last?

Dani Capelli has never truly belonged anywhere. And from her earliest days as a foster child in Queens, she would have been lost if it weren’t for her love of animals. Until high school, when she fell hard for the wrong boy, and found herself pregnant—and married—by graduation. Two daughters later, Dani realized her mistake and filed for divorce, and with the help of scholarships and loans—and a lot of macaroni and cheese dinners—she enrolled in vet school. Things were finally looking up…until her ex-husband became her late husband, in the most notorious way possible.

Now Dani and her daughters need an out-of-town pass more than ever. So when the retiring Haven Point veterinarian offers her a chance to settle in the small Idaho town and take over his practice, she jumps at it. But adjusting to the charming mountain community isn’t easy; thirteen-year-old Silver begins acting out while six-year-old Mia is growing too attached to Haven Point and everything in it, especially their next-door-neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Ruben Morales. And Dani can’t blame her. Ruben is everything she’s secretly wanted—and everything she can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.

As the holidays draw near, their shared concern for Dani’s daughters brings them closer together, giving Ruben the chance to show this big-city woman just how magical Christmas in Haven Point can be…and that the promise of a home at last is very real in the most wondrous season of the year…

Stores start putting out their Christmas stuff now (or even earlier) and the Christmas books start coming now, too. Wish someone would write a new Hanukkah romance. Hanukkah celebrates a miracle, too, so why not?

I started this series with book 8 and I’m moving right along. Guess they come fast when Christmas is right around the corner.

This is another warm, wonderful story with interesting characters who you can’t help but care about. I love the small town setting, too. Not sure why, if I had to live in a small town I’d probably lose my mind but I do love reading about them. Same with the winter – I’ve lived in Florida for over 40 years and don’t think I could handle cold weather and all that snow and ice. But I love watching it on TV!

Thayne is a good storyteller with the ability to draw the reader in right from the get go. I got so involved that I hated to put the book down until I got to the happy ending. Love those happy endings.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable holiday read with a sweet romance, look no further.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SEASON OF WONDER by RaeAnne Thayne. HQN; Original edition (September 25, 2018). ISBN 978-1335947932.  320p..




October 5, 2018

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From a nice Jewish girl, Christmas book reviews, day 3. 

From the publisher:


One of America’s most critically acclaimed storytellers, David Baldacci has enthralled millions with his popular novels. Showcasing his remarkable versatility, Baldacci gift-wraps a beloved holiday classic…

Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington, D.C., to L.A. in time for Christmas. Forced to travel by train, he begins a journey of rude awakenings, thrilling adventures, and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.

David Baldacci’s THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischief…and shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles.

So I was cleaning out a closet and found this book. (Yes, my closets have books in them, at least they did. I think I’ve gathered them all by now.) It is written by the thriller master, David Baldacci, and is so far out of his wheelhouse that he seems like he is channeling Debbie Macomber. But he’s not. I don’t think.

Anyway, I decided to read it and I’m very happy I finally did. This is a wonderful Christmas story and right after I read it, I found the Hallmark movie version. They did a good job, they’ve had lots of practice turning romance novels into romantic comedy movies. It is set on a train, and in a coincidence, some friends recently took a train trip across Canada, which sounded really nice. I was definitely in train mode for this book.

There is a bit of a mystery going on (I guess Baldacci just couldn’t help himself) in that several of the guests have lost something. Nothing too major, things like a favorite pen and a pair of sunglasses. But who is taking these things, and why?

If you think of this as a kinder, gentler Murder on the Orient Express, without the murder of course, you get the idea. Two of the passengers had a relationship several years earlier that ended badly, but being stuck together for days on a train leads to some soul searching and reconciliation.

If you, too, have this book laying around, I recommend picking it up and reading it. You could also buy it or borrow it from your library.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci. Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 4, 2018)). ISBN 978-1492641599.  320p..