Win the May 2020 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

May 1, 2020

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Hello, my lovely readers! 

I am so happy to be able to offer you a new contest for May with some terrific thrillers, sure to help you escape the nightmare we are living in. Spend some time in someone else’s nightmare, it will make your life seem positively idyllic!

FAIR WARNING by Michael Connelly: The hero of The Poet and The Scarecrow is back in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author (and my favorite!) Michael Connelly. Jack McEvoy, the journalist who never backs down, tracks a serial killer who has been operating completely under the radar–until now.

DEAD LAND by Sara Paretsky: V.I. Warshawski Novels, Book 20. Chicago’s legendary detective, V.I. Warshawski, knows her city’s rotten underbelly better than most, but she’s unable to avoid it when her goddaughter drags her into a fight over lakefront land use in this propulsive novel.

SEEING DARKNESS by Heather Graham: Krewe of Hunters, Book 30. When a terrifying past-life regression during a girls’ weekend in Salem reveals a local politician’s sinister nature, FBI Krewe of Hunters special agent Jon Dickson teams up with an apprehensive witness to stop a twisted serial killer.

THESE WOMEN by Ivy Pochoda: From the award-winning author of Wonder Valley and  Visitation Street comes a serial killer story like you’ve never seen before—a literary thriller of female empowerment and social change.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS by Cara Black: In June of 1940, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Hitler spent a total of three hours in the City of Light—abruptly leaving, never to return. To this day, no one knows why. The New York Times bestselling author of the Aimée Leduc investigations reimagines history in her masterful, pulse-pounding spy thriller.

A BAD DAY FOR SUNSHINE by Darynda Jones: Sunshine Vicram Series, Book 1. New York Times bestselling author Darynda Jones is back with the first novel in the brand-new snarky, sassy, wickedly fun thriller, and the forecast looks anything but sunny.

THIS IS HOW I LIED by Heather Gudenkauf: A pregnant detective, still haunted by the cold case murder of her best friend decades earlier is forced to relive the past and finally understand what happened when new evidence comes to light and the case is reopened.

BLACK FLAG by David Ricciardi: Jake Keller Series, Book 3. CIA officer Jake Keller faces stakes that are very high and very personal in the latest electrifying thriller from the author of Rogue Strike. After years of relative calm, piracy has returned to the high sea. As the threats close in from all sides, Jake finds himself faced with a familiar choice: back off, or go on the offensive.

TAKE ME APART by Sara Sligar: A seductive, twisting tale of psychological suspense, Take Me Apart draws readers into the lives of two darkly magnetic young women pinned down by secrets and lies. Sara Sligar’s electrifying debut is a chilling, thought-provoking take on art, illness, and power, from a spellbinding new voice in literary suspense.

CROSS OF FIRE by David Gilman: Master of War, Book 6. Winter, 1362. After years of successful campaigning in France, Thomas Blackstone, a common archer knighted at Crécy, has rised to become Edward III’s Master of War. But the title is as much a curse as a blessing; a group of trained killers, burning with vengeance, draw ever-closer.


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 authors, and how you can enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!


HELLO, SUMMER by Mary Kay Andrews

May 22, 2020

5/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HELLO, SUMMER by Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin’s Press (May 5, 2020). ISBN 978-1250256928. 480p.

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BEACH READ by Emily Henry

May 20, 2020

BEACH READ by Emily Henry. Berkley (May 19, 2020). ISBN 978-1984806734. 384p.

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ON OCEAN BOULEVARD by Mary Alice Monroe

May 19, 2020

5/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

ON OCEAN BOULEVARD by Mary Alice Monroe. Gallery Books (May 19, 2020). ISBN 978-1982146948. 384p.

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A TASTE OF SAGE by Yaffa S. Santos

May 18, 2020

A TASTE OF SAGE by Yaffa S. Santos. Harper Paperbacks (May 19, 2020). ISBN 978-0062974846. 320p.

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THE VIRGIN AND THE ROGUE by Sophie Jordan

May 16, 2020

THE VIRGIN AND THE ROGUE by Sophie Jordan. Forever (April 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1538700327. 384p.

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BATTLE STATIONS by Roger Jewett & Irving A. Greenfield

May 12, 2020

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US Navy Historical Thrillers, Book 1

From the publisher:

A heart-stoppingly realistic military thriller

An authentic naval thriller series you don’t want to miss! Perfect for fans of Patrick O’Brian, Alexander Fullerton, C. S Forester and Alexander Kent.

Lives are changed forever in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor…

1941

Andrew Troost, heir to generations of naval tradition, has just been made admiral, when reports fly in of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Troost’s son, Warren, has followed in his footsteps and is one of the men fighting for his country on a PT boat in the Pacific.

In New York City, Tony Trapasso hears the call to action and gets ready to join the naval action.

With him is Jacob Miller, a young man choosing to become a naval pilot instead of following the rabbinical calling of his Jewish forebears.

They meet Glen Lascomb, a fresh-faced youth, raised on an Iowa farm, who is about to be catapulted into a sea of flaming oil in the Leyte Gulf…

This is their story — the saga of heroic Navy men caught in the raging crosscurrents of a war that thrust them together and tore them painfully apart…

BATTLE STATIONS is the first military action and adventure story in the US Navy Historical Thriller series: a heart-pounding international Second World War thriller, encompassing major battles such as Midway and Okinawa.


The author undoubtedly did a good amount of personal interviews with surviving veterans of World War II in order to come out with the very satisfying book that he did just have published. Jewett concentrates on the U.S.Navy and selected fictional characters serving there in order to tell the story of events that occurred during the war.

He begins the novel a little before the outbreak of hostilities for the U.S.  Andrew Troost, a captain in the U.S. Navy, is seconded as liaison with the British Navy prior to his country entering the war.  Troost is aboard a ship moving to become one of the escort vessels for a fleet of tankers and cargo ships sailing to deliver their cargos to an England at war. He experiences the ship that he is on being torpedoed and sunk. He and one other sailor are the only ones surviving the attack.

Returning to duty, Troost is reassigned to an American ship just in time to go through the attack on Pearl Harbor and that begins the story featuring the US Navy and its place in the war in the Pacific.  Other characters introduced include the son of Andrew Troost starting his own career in the navy. At the same time, Andrew Troost is promoted to Rear Admiral.

The son of a gangster in New York City refuses to allow family influence to keep him out of combat. There is the son of a Jewish Rabbi whose family envisioned him becoming a Rabbi and studying for that. He becomes a Naval aviator and finds that he loves flying. Another individual was raised on a farm in Iowa. With them are the women that also take part in the war, either as actual combatants or as lovers of the men described.

Roger Jewett blends all the personnel he has created and made a very powerful story about war and the real effect on the people that take part in it.  No one leaves a war the same as when they enter it.  Jewett does an excellent job of logically bringing this change in all the characters in front of his readers.  We all understand that someone placed in a position of kill or be killed can never emerge from this experience without complete change, and the author does an excellent job of bringing this out.

The novel ends near the final stage of WWII as the U.S. is waiting to invade Okinawa. This may mean that another novel is planned, moving through the last days of the war and possibly touching on the return of the combatants described to civilian life. In any situation that means another Roger Jewett book; I will head the line to pick it up and enjoy it.

5/2020 Paul Lane

BATTLE STATIONS by Roger Jewett & Irving A Greenfield. Sapere Books (April 24, 2020). ISBN: 978-1913518639. 351 p.

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A DUKE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Grace Burrowes

May 11, 2020

A DUKE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Grace Burrowes. Forever (April 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1538700327. 384p.

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CORONAVIRUS DIARY: May 9, 2020

May 9, 2020

I’ve been home now for 7 weeks. I feel so fortunate I am able to work from home, and that I still have a job. The work keeps me chained to my computer from 7:30 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon, and it gives me a sense of purpose.

I set my alarm Monday through Friday mornings, I get up, I do my hair (haha,) I put makeup on, I get dressed. Not dressed like I’m going to work, I’ve been pretty much living in tank tops, jeans, and flip flops (Florida!), and once or twice a week, I wear a comfy dress. One that I could wear to the beach, for instance.

I do this not because I don’t like hanging out in my pajamas. I like that as much as the next person. But early in this pandemic, I had read this article from a journalist, I think from the Wall Street Journal – sorry I can’t find that article now so it could have been the Washington Post or the New York Times, I read them all every day. Anyway, he had quarantined himself for a few weeks just to see how it would work. And what I took away from that article was that I need routine, and I need to get dressed. Saturday, I can hang out in PJs all day if I want.

I get groceries delivered once a week or so, or send my husband to the store every other week, so I am cooking with what I have. When I say “send my husband,” please know that is entirely his choice. He’s got this slightly protective macho thing where he doesn’t want me going shopping. Or my daughter. Even though we are less at risk than he is. But it is not worth fighting about, so I try and keep it to a bare minimum, which for me is twice a month. Costco has “senior hour,” which he qualifies for, so he goes then. Our supermarket, Publix, has senior hours for 65+, so we can’t go then. But if he goes right after that hour, the store is empty. Now I understand Costco is limiting the amount of meat to three packages per person. I have no room in my freezer, so when we run out, vegetarian it is, or maybe they’ll be restocked by then.

Surprise Box of Veggies

Speaking of vegetables, there is a farm a few miles away that has started selling boxes of fresh produce for $10. It’s awesome! They have a horseshoe-shaped driveway, and people waiting alongside it. Then they just put the box in your car. You don’t get out or anything.

I’ve gone through more than 15 pounds of flour in these weeks that I’ve been home. Mostly because I am doing the sourdough starter. I feed it twice a day, that’s pretty much 2 cups of flour a day. Plus lots more if I actually bake with it. So far, I’ve made pretzels, rustic sourdough bread, and sourdough sandwich bread. But the best thing I’ve made is Sourdough Banana Pancakes. I found the recipe on Instagram (thanks, Chef Johanna Hellrigl – for the photo, too!) and they were the easiest and best pancakes I ever made. We are doing breakfast for dinner every week or two, which my family thinks is great, so lucky me, it’s about the easiest dinner to make, so we are all happy.

I’ve also found myself making food that lasts for at least two meals or more. Turkey. Brisket. My family’s favorite meatloaf from Old-School Comfort Food by Alex Guarnaschelli. It’s Alex’s mom’s recipe and their family favorite, too! I turned pork butt into “Pressure Cooker Garlicky Cuban Pork,” which is so good! But my delivery didn’t include tortillas, the store was out. So I made flour tortillas for the first time. I never quite got the round aspect down, but they tasted good. I also made “Big Bellied Argentinian Empanadas” one night from the fantastic Gran Cocina Latina cookbook by Maricel Presilla. I’ve made them many times, but always with frozen empanada dough. For the first time, I made the dough (all local stores sold out of the frozen!) but I chickened out at attempting the traditional rope edge. I was down to my last egg, so I didn’t do the pretty egg wash either. I especially love this recipe because they are baked instead of fried (so much easier!) and are so good!

We’ve made pizza a couple of times. I made a Chicago style pizza, or as I think of it, pizza casserole, that was awesome!

Chicago “pizza”

Then I spent two (or was it three?) days making Anthony Falco’s “Sourdough Pizza Dough,” and it was so bad I could have cried. The dough looked beautiful every step of the way until it came time to make the pizza. The dough didn’t stretch, it tore. Adding a ton of flour made it somewhat more malleable, but it tasted like crap. Looks good in the pictures though!

Then my boss told me she made pizza and the crust came out like crap. She thought maybe old yeast or something. We are calling it the “Quarantine Pizza Curse.” We’ve also been eating lots of pasta –  mac & cheese, homemade “beefaroni,” pasta with veggies, frozen ravioli when I really don’t feel like cooking. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often. I’m trying to balance all those carbs with fish and chicken and salads, but to be honest, I don’t always achieve that balance I’m seeking.

Because I am home, I have the luxury of time. There is no more rushing to get dinner ready. I have time to make things from scratch. Time to try new recipes. On my “lunch break” from work, I can throw a cake in the oven or start marinating something delicious for dinner.

Reading has always brought me comfort and escape. But it is not enough right now. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I love to cook and to bake. That is my happy place and let’s face it, we all need something to bring us joy right now. I found mine, and I hope you have found yours!

As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!

 

 

 

 


THE TOURIST ATTRACTION by Sarah Morgenthaler

May 8, 2020

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Moose Springs, Alaska: Book 1

From the publisher:

When Graham Barnett named his diner The Tourist Trap, he meant it as a joke. Now he’s stuck slinging reindeer dogs to an endless string of resort visitors who couldn’t interest him less. Not even the sweet, enthusiastic tourist in the corner who blushes every time he looks her way…

Two weeks in Alaska isn’t just the top item on Zoey Caldwell’s bucket list. It’s the whole bucket. One look at the mountain town of Moose Springs and she’s smitten. But when an act of kindness brings Zoey into Graham’s world, she may just find there’s more to the man than meets the eye…and more to love in Moose Springs than just the Alaskan wilderness.


Just had to add my two cents here. Caitlin recommended this book for me. She said, “Quirky town, Alaska, and a cute dog,” and that was all she had to say. She was so right, I loved it! Book 2 in the series, “Mistletoe and Mr. Right,” comes out in October, but I can’t wait. I plan on begging Sourcebooks Casablanca for an advance copy!


“Rom-com” is a term that gets used a lot to describe romance novels lately and The Tourist Attraction is one of the best examples of the genre I have read recently, combining laugh out loud scenes with banter-filled chemistry between the two leads. Almost from the beginning, Zoe Caldwell’s dream vacation to Alaska starts to go wrong. She encounters a chainsaw-wielding man, a stubborn horse, and a bread loving moose.

The one positive through all her misadventures is local diner owner Graham Barnett. Graham loves his hometown but hates the tourists that descend on Moose Springs every summer. The irony is the more he tries to make the tourists hate his diner the more popular it becomes. Even the Growly Bear, a drink that is described as blue with gummy bears floating in it, goes viral.

I absolutely loved Zoe and Graham as a couple. Her enthusiasm and appreciation for Alaska’s unique wilderness is infectious and Graham is the perfect combination of grumpy with a heart of gold. He may regularly throw tourists out of his diner, but he also makes sure his blind dog has matching hats and pajamas. Zoe and Graham are both quirky and had me rooting for their happy ever after.

It is not just the sharp dialogue that makes The Tourist Attraction stand out. Morgenthaler also shows a strong appreciation for her setting and the descriptions of the Alaskan mountains, glaciers, and wildlife had me ready to pack my bags.  At the same time, she also raises important points about the impact that the tourism industry has on the native wildlife giving an otherwise comedic story a little nuance.

The Tourist Attraction was a welcome escape, and at a time when travel seems like a far distant possibility, it allowed me to take a trip to Alaska and visit the charming town of Moose Springs. Morgenthaler is planning at least two more books about Moose Springs and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment.

5/2020 Caitlin Brisson

THE TOURIST ATTRACTION by Sarah Morgenthaler. Sourcebooks Casablanca (May 5, 2020). ISBN 9781492693116. 352 p.

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CRASH by David Hagberg & Lawrence Light

May 6, 2020

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From the publisher:

The second Great Depression is coming. The world’s economies are groaning under too much debt. If one thing goes wrong, the entire rickety system collapses. Now, acclaimed award-winning New York Times bestselling novelist David Hagberg and renowned financial reporter Lawrence Light have combined forces to dramatize―hour by hour―how this all-too-real catastrophe could go down in Crash.

With debt-burdened governments and businesses worldwide about to go bust, a cabal of Wall Street big shots plot to destroy the globe’s stock exchanges. To provide that one thing that goes wrong. In 24 hours, a powerful computer worm will smash the exchanges and spark an international panic, pushing a debt-laden world into the abyss. The Wall Street gang’s investment bank will be the last one standing, able to make a killing amid the ruins.

But one person, who works for their bank as a computer expert, spots the worm embedded deep in its network. Cassy Levin invents a program to destroy the cyber-intruder. Angered by Cassy’s discovery, her bosses order her kidnapping.

Her boyfriend, a former Navy SEAL, is alarmed at Cassy’s disappearance and unravels the plot. Ben Whalen only has until the next morning to save the woman he loves and prevent the economic apocalypse.

This story is based on the genuine threat posed by towering debt, which will make the 2008 financial crisis look puny.


An interesting, well-written novel and also a warning about the possibility of a major worldwide financial crisis due to the outrageous amounts of debt currently held by nations, companies, and individuals.

A group of Wall Street executives has entered into a plot to wreak havoc in worldwide financial markets by the introduction of a worm into companies’ web sites which will destroy the exchanges and cause panic around the world. Their idea will allow one huge company to escape the devastation of the worm and rake in fortunes buying at the depressed prices which will become available, and then selling at huge premiums over purchase price. Everything seems to be moving towards the fiscal Armageddon planned when one brilliant analyst working for that company comes up with an apparent fix for the worm. Her position is, of course, to advise management and expect that they will jump at the chance to prevent catastrophe. Unfortunately for Cassy Levin, the analyst finding the fix, it is the management that she advises that is setting up the project and to protect themselves, order her kidnapping and killing.

But there is an unknown ace in Cassy’s hand. Her fiancee is an ex-Navy Seal with the fighting skills that this group has. In looking for his love he finds that she has been kidnapped and employs all methods to find her and rescue her.

The story by itself is engrossing with action aplenty and there are lessons in quite a bit of the high finance that is necessary to do what is being planned. As already stated, the authors do make a strong case for a reexamination of the financial freedom that is too easily available. Events occurring in 2008 in the U.S. are brought up in which banks and financial institutions had to be bailed out by the government due to them being overextended. The overreaching by these financial institutions is blamed on the attitude of the Federal Reserve bank itself which in setting rediscount rates for banks regulates the number of loans that can be granted. The loose policies allowed loans freely granted to people and companies that by any analysis could not afford to service them, laying the groundwork for a probable financial collapse only forestalled by a government bailout.

5/2020 Paul Lane

CRASH by David Hagberg & Lawrence Light. Forge Books (April 28, 2020). ISBN: 978-1250249890. 320p.

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