Win the August ’19 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

August 1, 2019

Welcome to the August bookshelf of signed thrillers!

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

Best of luck!

OUTFOX by Sandra Brown: Convinced recently married Jasper Ford is a conman, who he believes murdered eight women for their fortunes, FBI agent Drex Easton insinuates himself into the couple’s life, but his own attraction to Jasper’s wife threatens to compromise his investigation.

THE RUSSIA ACCOUNT by Stephen Coonts: CIA officer Tommy Carmellini navigates an international financial conspiracy that puts CIA head Jake Grafton in the crosshairs of an assassin. By the best-selling author of Flight of the Intruder.

THE MURDER LIST by Hank Phillippi Ryan: A bright, hard-working law student married to a faithful and devoted husband discovers that everything she believes about her life is false and is caught up in a game of cat-and-mouse for her very survival.

DESPERATE CREED by Alex Kava: With the killers hot on her trail, Frankie races to meet Maggie. But she has no idea that she’s driving straight into the grasp of another killer—a monster storm system.

DEAD AT FIRST SIGHT by Peter James: Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did. In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide. You never really know what people are capable of.

THE SWALLOWS by Lisa Lutz: When one of her creative writing assignment generates some disturbing responses from students, new teacher Alexandra Witt ignites a gender war, with deeply personal–and potentially fatal–consequences for everyone involved.

MIAMI MIDNIGHT by Alex Segura: While running a small bookstore by day and working cases in Miami at night, PI Pete Fernandez is hired by a Cuban mobster to find out who killed his son and to locate his missing daughter-in-law—a case that reveals an unexpected truth about his own blurred past.

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR by Hallie Ephron: A professional organizer whose husband is a hoarder distracts her growing relationship troubles by focusing on her new clients, one of whom takes her tipsy fantasy about life being more pleasant without spouses a little too far.



WHAT YOU DID by Claire McGowan: A vicious assault. A devastating accusation. Who should she trust, her husband or her best friend? From the New York Times bestselling author of There Was an Old Woman comes a novel about a professional organizer with a deadly problem she may not be able to clean up.

THE WAREHOUSE by Rob Hart: A darkly satirical thriller set in a near-future America wracked by violence, unemployment and climate change finds two employees of a world-saving global giant discovering their employers’ true agenda.

THE LAST WIDOW by Karin Slaughter: An electrifying latest entry in the best-selling series finds Will and Sara pitted against a mysterious group that would unleash a deadly epidemic

You can win autographed copies of these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books from debut authors to bestsellers, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author! Books with multiple authors will be signed by at least one of the authors.

Penguin Random House books for giveaway were provided by the publisher. #PRHpartner

Don’t forget, if you subscribe to the newsletter or follow this blog, you get an extra entry into every contest you enter. Check out the Win Books page for more information on all these books and how you can enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


August 24, 2019

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Rob Hart has written a novel about a possible future in the business world. He sets up a scenario where today’s shifts in commerce become magnified and then frightening.

The type of change in the way we do business has evolved over the last several centuries. It began with what has been termed the Industrial Revolution, in which the small shop employing a few people making products on a scale geared to lower sales turned into giant companies employing thousands turning out thousands of these same products. Costs are lower and so are the prices. The problem is the stultifying work involved doing the same thing hour after hour from one day to the next.

The Warehouse is a well done glimpse into a world where one gigantic company, known as the Cloud, supplies most of the wants of its myriad customers with almost anything they may require. Hart envisions the Cloud as employing hundreds of thousands in a work environment that includes those hired living within the area controlled by the company. They work there, they live there, they eat there, and spend all their time on its premises.

Paxton is a man that had started his own business, but failed when the product he was trying to sell could not obtain a patent. He managed to get a job with the Cloud and feels very grateful for it.

Zinnia, a pretty young lady, also gets a job but she is there being paid by an outside group to do damage to the company by finding it’s secrets. She is fit for this job because she has done it in other situations with success.

Paxton and Zinnia do meet, with him falling in love with her. On the other hand, Zinnia thinks of Paxton as a means of ferreting out information due to his fast rise at the Cloud.

Taken by themselves, the problems and worries of the two make for a very fascinating story and are well worth the read. But, of course there is more involved. The Cloud is a company that has become larger and more powerful than many countries and is a law unto itself. The prediction by the author certainly is a good guess in a novel that is an 1984 look alike. The fact is that with the advent of selling on the internet as a way of operating, costs of doing business for formerly huge stores are too high to really compete with an operation that does not need to have a place geared to walk in trade.

The Warehouse, in addition to the story of Paxton and Zinnia and their meeting, is also thought provoking since the premise of a huge company becoming more powerful than their government is very visible in today’s business area. A very well done look at what could be our near future fate.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE WAREHOUSE by Rob Hart. Crown (August 20, 2019). ISBN 978-1984823793. 368p.



THE NANNY RULES by Melynda Price

August 23, 2019

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From the publisher:

Don’t touch the nanny. It’s one rule I’m most certainly going to break.

Since becoming a single father, I have two things that keep me sane—my daughter Lily and playing football for the NFL. But when my meddling sister hires a nanny without my knowledge, I’m not thrilled to come home and find the woman has taken over my house. Our instant attraction is one more complication I don’t need in my life.

But my daughter loves Amelia, and I will do anything for that tiny munchkin. Even if it means walking around with blue balls most of the time. Why does the nanny have to be so sweet—and drop dead gorgeous? She’s driving me crazy. Never in my life have I wanted a woman more.

I just need to make it through this season. I can do that. Hands free, of course. But then there’s that moment, and I know she’s thinking what I’m thinking and, well, yeah. Screw the rules…

This is a typical romance plot line, and when it is done as well as this book is, it is easy to understand why this storyline gets used again and again.

Good looking, built football player? Check!

Single dad/widower? Check!

Gorgeous nanny with a heart of gold? Check!

It’s all here, including a really cute kid, some sad background, hot sex and the happily ever after. This one checked all the boxes for me and I read it in one sitting. The football was just an added bonus – the bit of fantasy with the Browns may just come true one of these days (love me an underdog!) And I loved this book!

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE NANNY RULES by Melynda Price. Berkley (September 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1984805386. 336p.


LEVIATHAN by James Byron Huggins

August 22, 2019

The author creates a novel loosely tied to the Norse legends of heroic men fighting dragons in ancient days. It is appropriately set on an island off the coast of Iceland and takes place in modern times. An experiment by a group of scientists has turned a kimono dragon into a fearsome creature via changing the relatively mild dragon into a real dragon via adjustment of it’s DNA It can bend steel and granite and has the ability to shoot fire at it’s enemies. The purpose of the change is to create an unconquerable weapon of war and it certainly has done so.

The experimental company is comprised of scientists, soldiers, and support personnel. When Leviathan escapes it’s confinement area all realize that the beast, if it reaches the outside has the ability to literally wipe out the entire population of earth. Making the matter even more dangerous is the perception of the beast that every living human being is it’s enemy and must be destroyed.

The battle to somehow destroy Leviathan is spearheaded by a mechanically inclined electrical engineer named Connor, who finds ways to take on the dragon and supply the incentive for others to join in the fight since a bad outcome could mean the end of mankind.

The descriptions of the many attempts to stop Leviathan are very well done and actually appear to accelerate as the reader goes ahead with the novel. Huggins has a solid background of authoring similar books featuring fights against almost supernatural creatures by men and women who seem to exceed what is normal in life.

8/19 Paul Lane

LEVIATHAN by James Byron Huggins. WildBlue Press (July 9, 2019). ISBN 978-1948239868. 480p.


OLD BONES by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

August 21, 2019

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Nora Kelly, Book 1

The very prolific writing team of Preston and Child introduce a new pair of lead protagonists. They each have appeared shortly in one of the authors’ books featuring their Sherlock Holmes lookalike Agent Pendergast. Starting with this novel, they appear to be headed for their own series of stories. Nora Kelly is a young curator for the Santa Fe Institute of Archaeology and Carrie Swanson a fledgling agent for the FBI.

The story begins when Clive Benton, a recognized historian, approaches Nora with information he has received pointing towards the finding of the lost camp of the Donner party. The Donner party refers to a group of pioneers heading towards California during the years 1845-46. In crossing the Sierras they were trapped by massive snow storms. With no food to be had due to the weather they ate the animals with them – cats, dogs, and the oxen pulling their wagons. The culmination of their plight resulted in a documented case of cannibalism.

Benton requests that Nora’s employer finance an archaeological expedition to reach the lost third Donner site, and to sweeten the pie indicates that one of the people with them was carrying a fortune in gold coins. The institution agrees that the find itself would be a major discovery with the possible discovery and recovery of the gold coins a great addition. The expedition is arranged and due to Benton’s information the third site is found and digging begins.

There is no problem enjoying another well written book by the two authors but it would not be like them if a bit of the macabre was not introduced. Could there be something supernatural mixed in with the bones and relics found? Probably yes and how, if there, does it affect the story? Very few of the novels that I have read by the authors is less than a five star book and “Old Bones” is no exception.

8/19 Paul Lane

OLD BONES by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Grand Central Publishing (August 20, 2019). ISBN 978-1538747223. 384p.




August 20, 2019

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The author, in an afterward, indicates that he had found an ad in the British Chronicles for the year 1797 looking for an individual to live a completely isolated life for seven years. This person would have no contact with other people for the period. If the seven years passed with no contact with the outside world, and after obtaining a report from the person, a stipend would be paid for life each year for as long as the individual lived. Nathan could find no further information about the ad’s results and finally decided to write a novel detailing possible results for both the buyer and the seller of this strange service.

That is precisely what is detailed in the book. Herbert Powyss, in the interest of publishing the results of said experiment to present to the Royal Society in London, hires John Warlow to live in three rooms in the house Powyss lives in. He is to live in complete isolation from the outside world. Food and other necessities would be delivered to Warlow via a dumb waiter and to relieve him of worries about his wife and children they would receive a cash allowance for the period of the experiment. Conditions would involve no contact with anyone other than receipt of the necessities sent silently via the dumbwaiter.

The novel becomes a very intriguing read in two ways. First, of course, is the actions of all the people involved in the account. Details are discussed for Warlow and Powyss as each begins to play their parts. Also, others involved including Warlow’s wife, and the servants working for Powyss are major parts of the story. The period in which the novel takes place is during the French Revolution and the ensuing entrance of Napoleon and French militarism including war with England. These conditions play out in the background and have an effect on the personnel involved with the story. Second, and the most interesting part of the narrative, are the psychological changes each participant undergoes. How does Warlow react through the complete loneliness he experiences. The feelings held by Powyss confronted by both the conditions created by him as part of the experiment as well as meeting with Warlow’s wife every time she passes by to pick up the allowance she receives while her husband cannot work. The servants all have some obligation towards Warlow – readying his meals, sending books and other items contracted by him for the course of his confinement, cleaning his clothes and emptying the chamber pot used for waste disposal.

The novel is impossible to put down before completed. The world of almost 250 years ago is described and Nathan brings in conditions during that time and how they influence what is happening in the novel. A different novel and one that is guaranteed to capture and keep the readers’ interests.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE WARLOW EXPERIMENT by Alix Nathan.  Doubleday (August 20, 2019). ISBN  978-0385545334. 272p.



NOTTINGHAM by Nathan Makaryk

August 19, 2019

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Not surprisingly, Nottingham is a novel about Robin Hood and his merry men. But not your ordinary tale of Robin, Little John,Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck and the chaste and beautiful Maid Marion and their struggle against the evil that permeated the county they live in. The author has written quite an interesting version of the legend of Robin.

Instead of complete evil being faced by overwhelming good, Makaryk postulates a story involving people with real motives and why their actions could have led to the tale of Robin being what it is.

In the first place, there is no evidence that Robin Hood and his band ever really existed although the author has done research into the mid 1100’s in England, the period ascribed to Robin Hood and used some of the facts he unearthed in the story.

The story begins at a point where Robin of Locksley and his friend William are serving in the army of king Richard during his crusade in the holy land. They are taking part at the siege of the city of Acre, and planning a near future attack on Jerusalem against the forces of Saladin. During the fight at Acre, it is discovered that a shipment of new weapons needed by Richard if he is to continue to fight has been lost in transit. Robin and William are sent back by Richard to find these weapons and deliver them to the army.

The men detached, on the temporary assignment, find themselves in the midst of problems in and around Nottingham with the current Sheriff unwilling to do anything about it. He is too nice and does not want to offend anyone. Robin and William decide that they have to take care of the problem and dive right in. Robin meets up with his long time lady love Marion and as before they talk about marriage when there is time. William also meets a young lady whose family has become destitute and she must take a servant’s position at Locksley castle. Robin attracts a group of citizens that want to help solving the problems facing Nottingham and follow him into Sherwood forest where they begin robbing rich people riding through. Since Marion is there the author comes up with the basis for the term merry men in relation to Robin’s band. Since Marion had a hand in organizing them they became known as Marion’s men. This is one of the examples of possible fact turning into the source of glorified fiction and creating the legend. There are many other instances where what did happen turns into what is thought to have happened.

Nottingham is a novel that will keep the reader interested and is appropriate for anyone that has read the books and seen the movies dealing with the Robin Hood legend. The length of the book keeps it from being an all nighter and there is a bit too much description of the events that could have turned real life into legend.

Recommendation – read the book, it is different enough in its presentation to the legend making it an interesting read.

8/19 Paul Lane

NOTTINGHAM by Nathan Makaryk. Forge Books (August 6, 2019). ISBN 978-1250195609. 496p.



THE PERFECT SON by Lauren North

August 18, 2019

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This novel is North’s first book and it definitely heralds the appearance of a very talented author on the literary scene. It is an emotional roller coaster taking hold of the reader and holding him or her until the quite satisfying ending.

Tess Clarke is a happily married young woman with a young son the cement further bonding the couple. They have also purchased a new home away from the hustle and bustle of London assuring a better lifestyle for all three. Her husband, Mark, has just been promoted to the sales department with the firm he works for when suddenly tragedy strikes. On a sales trip to Germany, Mark, leaving ahead of other staff members coming there, is killed when the plane he is on crashes, killing all aboard.

Tess is devastated but somehow manages to put her son, Jamie’s well being ahead of her own. Not knowing how to act she imagines conversations with Mark and his probable replies in examining the world she now lives in. Mark’s brother Ian visits her and instead of being a comfort tells Tess that her husband borrowed 100,000 pounds from him and he needs the money returned immediately. Ian tells her that she should immediately check out her husband’s will, his insurance policies and benefits that could have accrued to the estate.

Not exactly a comforting presence is he? At the same time a grief counselor visits her in order to help Tessa come to grips with her loss. Trouble is that the counselor had lost a young son to leukemia shortly before these events and Tessa gets to feeling that the woman is interested in taking Jamie from her and not in helping her.

The story is told via the descriptions of the days before Jamie’s birthday and what happens during this period. Ms North handles the slow but sure decay of Tessa quite well, keeping the reader glued to the pages and also changing his or her mind about the ending several times. Very well done and an excellent start for this new author.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE PERFECT SON by Lauren North. Berkley (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1984803849. 368p.


NEVER A BRIDE by Megan Frampton

August 17, 2019

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Duke’s Daughters, Book 4

From the publisher:

The next thrilling installment in Megan Frampton’s scintillating A Duke’s Daughters series.

She’s a deliciously scandalous woman who is no man’s bride…

He’s a black sheep, forced to return home.

Together, they enter a make-believe betrothal that shocks London society…

After twelve years in Her Majesty’s Navy, Griffith Davies must leave his sea-going life of outrageous freedom behind, forced to rejoin London society as the heir to the Duke of Northam. But though he is now shackled to the land, he has no desire to wed some innocently dull young thing.  Who best to shield him from the matchmakers than a woman as notorious as he?

Lady Della Howlett’s reputation was tattered years ago, so entering into a false engagement with Griffith is hardly going to make matters worse. What’s one more shock to the ton to set their tongues wagging? And this pact certainly has its pleasures; the passion Griffith commands in her goes well beyond their agreement. Could her feelings might be more honorable than she’d first imagined?

Soon, Griffith and Della are arousing more than scandal, they’re courting heartbreak.  And more than their reputations could still be at risk.

I was really enjoying the latest trope of having 21st century characters inhabiting the 18th century. By that I mean strong, independent women with careers and men who appreciate them. But this time really felt like it was beyond the scope of suspending disbelief. I’ve read books two and three of this series and enjoyed them, but this one was definitely my least favorite.

Lady Della’s story was a familiar one. As a young girl, she is talked into running away with a young man her family is sure to disapprove of, and, as it turns out, with very good reason. What does she see in him? Well, he listens to her when no one else does. When she finds herself pregnant, she leaves him, somehow figuring she will manage on her own in Regency England. She ends up living with another young mother from the Caribbean, whose husband is missing. Together they take in all kinds of strays, from young girls to kittens to furniture.

Griffith is a man who loves his job as captain of a ship in her majesty’s navy. What was interesting (and completely unrealistic) is that both of these characters, Griffith and Della, are fierce defenders of the poor, the homeless, the low born. They truly are a match made in heaven, especially sexually. Della is a dominant, and Griffith loves how she orders him about and takes the lead in everything. When he tries to, he is punished.

This was just too much for me. I finished it as it was a very quick read, but I didn’t love it and I’m very sorry to say, cannot really recommend it.

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NEVER A BRIDE by Megan Frampton. Avon (April 30, 2019).  ISBN 978-0062867407. 368p.



THE DOLL FACTORY by Elizabeth Macneal

August 16, 2019

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The author sets her story in the London of the 1850’s and sets it very well, describing the city at that time with both its problems and also its attractions. She does an excellent job of presenting the persona involved with their distinct personalities and their reactions to their own time.

The Great Exhibition, a huge hall, is being erected in 1850 in London to showcase as many of the symbols of life at the time, as well as objects that might illustrate the future. Among the exhibitions are portraits done by the artists of the day. The building has an important part to play in the events depicted in the novel.

Iris is a young lady that, due to her background and lack of money, works in a shop making items for the woman in charge. Her sister Rose works with her. As the novel begins, Iris goes to the grounds of the Great Exhibition to have a look at this marvel. In passing she bumps into Silas, whose forte is obtaining either by purchase or killing birds and other animals, mounting them and selling them to artists to use as models in their paintings. Iris forgets the encounter, but Silas imagines that she fell in love with him at that moment. Silas is a psychopath with these tendencies beginning during his early life when he fantasized that a girl he knew was secretly in love with him. When she didn’t respond to him he lured her away from their area and in a secluded woods killed her.

Iris delivers an order from her shop to an artist named Louis Frost. He is struck by her beauty and asks her to model for him. Iris consents but indicates as part of her terms that Louis teach her to paint as well as paying her for the time. The artist later notes that Iris has the talent to become a first class artist, and also falls in love with her, and she with him.

The novel is dedicated to describing the interactions between the three people. It is extremely well done and while the ending is a direct output of the actions of the characters and not a surprise, it provides a good read with the desire instilled to buy more books by Elizabeth Macneal.

8/19 Paul Lane

THE DOLL FACTORY by Elizabeth Macneal.  Atria/Emily Bestler Books (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-1982106768. 368p.




August 15, 2019

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From the publisher:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author brings us her most ambitious and provocative work yet—a searing and timely novel that explores the most volatile issue of our time—domestic violence.

At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.

She’s come home.

Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.

And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment—five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian—a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.

But the Oysterville she left behind has changed. Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to pass on their thriving seafood restaurant to the next generation. And there’s Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who’s also returned home after being wounded overseas. Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more . . . until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline’s best friend and the most beautiful girl in town. With her modeling jobs drying up, Sierra, too, is on the cusp of reinventing herself.

Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle—where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.

Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything—and everyone—she loves.


Susan Wiggs is one of my favorite writers. She excels at telling wonderful stories with characters you can’t help but care about, but there is usually something deeper as well. This is a book of the #MeToo movement, set in the fashion industry, which for some reason, has been exempt from this. At least I haven’t seen any earth shattering stories, but as in any industry where mostly men are in power, one can’t help but wonder…

The story moves back and forth between present day and Caroline’s childhood and coming of age. We meet Caroline and Will as young teens, then Sierra a couple of years later. Theirs is a complicated relationship, as are most friendships of three people, especially when one of them is a good looking guy. Caroline and Will have an instant connection which never really fades away. But instead of pursuing that, he falls for the beautiful Sierra, while Caroline watches from the sidelines. When they all wind up in the small town of Oysterville, the friendship rekindles with some unexpected changes.

I think from the start we can’t help but hope Caroline and Will end up together, but he is married to Sierra and they seem happy – at least at first. But as life goes on, it brings change. When a couple doesn’t grow together, they tend to grow apart and that is never good for a marriage.

Caroline inherits these children from a friend who dies of an overdose. She knew the woman had been in some sort of abusive relationship, but never knew or even suspected drug use. Caroline is a woman who has struggled for years to break into the fashion industry, then has her dreams snatched away in a public spectacle. At a loss, she takes on these children and runs home to Oysterville. The guilt Caroline feels for not pushing their mother, not helping her more, leads her to start a support group for abused women. Somehow she is shocked to find out how many women, even in such a small town, are affected.

This was a very good read, filled with the empathy and power that words can bring to such a dark subject. Book groups will find lots to discuss here.

8/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE OYSTERVILLE SEWING CIRCLE by Susan Wiggs. William Morrow (August 13, 2019). ISBN 978-0062425584. 384p.