Win the July ’18 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

July 1, 2018

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

To enter, go to the Win Books page.

Best of luck!

GIVE ME YOUR HAND by Megan Abbott:  Distancing herself from an intense best friend who inspired her scientific ambitions before divulging a life-changing secret, Kit competes for a dream research job and finds herself in a dangerous game of cat and mouse

WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT by Sandra Block: Years after she was the victim of a brutal sexual attack, Dahlia finds a video of her assault and after finally discovering who to blame she sets out to make everyone pay.

THE DARKEST TIME OF NIGHT by Jeremy Finley: A debut novel by an award-winning Nashville investigative reporter presents the suspenseful tale of a politician’s wife whose efforts to protect her family and rescue her missing grandson ensnare her in a conspiracy involving UFO research and her own past.

THE LAST TIME I LIED by Riley Sager: An artist who witnessed the disappearance of her bunkmates at summer camp as a young girl accepts an opportunity to return to Camp Nightingale as a painting instructor and tries to discover what really happened to her friends.

CAGED by Ellison Cooper: Focusing on her research after the death of her fiancé, an FBI neuroscientist investigates the torturous murder of a senator’s daughter before discovering that her dangerously obsessed killer has abducted a second victim. A first novel.

THE FIFTH TO DIE by J. D. Barker:  While secretly continuing his pursuit of Anson Bishop, the Four Monkey Killer, Detective Porter, suspended from his latest murder investigation, becomes obsessed with finding Bishop and is led into a world darker than he could have ever imagined.

FINAL RESTING PLACE by Jonathan F. Putnam:  Twenty-nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln has spent his entire adult life running from his past—from the poverty of the dirt-floor log cabin where he was raised, from the dominion of his uneducated father, and from a failed early courtship. But now, Lincoln’s past is racing back to haunt him.

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!


July 19, 2018

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Wildstone, Book 1

As usual, I’m reading this series out of order. I had stumbled across the second book, Rainy Day Friends, and liked it so much I searched out this one. And I’m very glad I did.

Quinn Weller lost her sister in a terrible accident, and is trying hard to get past it. Working as a sous-chef in a trendy restaurant in Los Angeles keeps her busy. She’s been dating Brock, but they decide that friendship is better and he starts playing the field. Then she gets some interesting news.

A lawyer contacts her and drops a bombshell – everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. She has an inheritance in Wildstone, a few hours away from L.A., and she has to go there in person to learn what it is.

Moving to Wildstone is not in her plan, but she slowly realizes it is what she needs. Mick Hennessey grew up there but couldn’t wait to get away from his father and the small town. His life is now in San Francisco and he’s quite successful, but after his father dies he finds himself running back and forth to Wildstone to help out his mom.

Quinn and Mick have instant chemistry, but neither is looking for a relationship. But fate has its own way of dealing with things, and their journey is a good one. This was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend this series, especially for fans of Kristan Higgins and Colleen Hoover.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

LOST AND FOUND SISTERS by Jill Shalvis. William Morrow Paperbacks (June 20, 2017). ISBN 978-0062448118. 400p.


RESCUED by David Rosenfelt

July 18, 2018

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 An Andy Carpenter Novel, Book 17

I’ve been reading this series since the first book literally dropped into my hands through the book drop at the library where I was working. The cover, a skyline of NYC, drew me in but the writing has kept me coming back book after book. The cover of that original book, Open & Shut, has been updated with dogs to match up with the rest of the series. And it is a dog-centric series.

Andy Carpenter is a lawyer who inherited enough money so that he doesn’t need to work. He takes only one or two cases a year, and that suits him just fine. It gives him more time to spend with his dogs, his wife and son. probably in that order.

When a large truck is found at a New Jersey rest stop with a dead body in the front and lots of dogs barking in the back, Andy is called to help out. He has a rescue foundation for dogs, and with this many, his help is needed. Turns out his help is also needed when his wife’s ex-boyfriend is accused of being the killer.

Self defense is the way to go and it is not looking good for Andy and his legal team until the very end of the book, but getting there is half the fun.  With his wise cracks, witty repartee and all the series regulars in place, I had a good time reading this book. These books do not have to be read in order but I think it best if you read the first book, it sets up the rest of the books in the series.

If you love dogs, wise cracks and legal fiction, and I do, this is a terrific read.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RESCUED by David Rosenfelt. Minotaur Books (July 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1250133069. 304p.


ALL YOUR PERFECTS by Colleen Hoover

July 17, 2018

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Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite writers, and this may be her best book yet.

Infertility is the issue that is causing a major rift in Quinn and Graham’s marriage. Sex has become a means to an end and when that end doesn’t result in pregnancy, month after month, Quinn sinks further and further into depression. Hoover handles this tough topic with grace and sensitivity.

Graham tries to be supportive but he hides his fears in hopes of protecting her. That doesn’t work and we watch as this marriage inevitably starts unraveling. It is a heartbreaking journey.

The book moves back and forth through time so we get to watch Quinn and Graham falling in love while simultaneously watching them fall apart. It was a difficult read at times, as the pain of infertility hit pretty close to home for me, but nevertheless, I couldn’t put it down.

Hoover has a way of drawing the reader in and making us care about her characters, even when it is painful to do so. By alternating the darkness of a marriage on the rocks with the light of falling in love, she makes us think about how a relationship goes from one extreme to the other. I never saw this ending coming, and it was a masterful finish to a very thought provoking, emotional read. I loved it.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ALL YOUR PERFECTS by Colleen Hoover. Atria Books (July 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501171598.  320p.


See Colleen on Tour!


07/17 Denver, CO 7:00 PM TATTERED COVER BOOKSTORE Tickets
07/23 Portland, OR 7:00 PM POWELL’S BOOKS Call Store for details: 503-228-4651 or pre-order
07/24 Seattle, WA 7:00 PM THIRD PLACE BOOKS Tickets
07/25 San Francisco, CA 7:00 PM BOOK PASSAGE Tickets
07/26 San Diego, CA 7:30 PM WARWICK’S Tickets
07/27 Phoenix, AZ 7:00 PM CHANGING HANDS BOOKSTORE Tickets
07/28 Los Angeles, CA 4:00 PM THE RIPPED BODICE Tickets
07/29 Dallas, TX 6:00 PM HALF PRICE BOOKS Information
08/02 Atlanta, GA 7:00 PM EAGLE EYE BOOKS Tickets
08/03 Asheville, NC 6:00 PM MALAPROP’S BOOKSTORE/CAFE Tickets
08/04 Cincinnati, OH 5:00 PM JOSEPH-BETH BOOKSELLERS Tickets
08/05 Chicago, IL 3:00 PM ANDERSON’S BOOKSHOP Tickets
08/06 Detroit, MI 6:30 PM SCHULER BOOKS & MUSIC, Okemos Tickets
08/07 Minneapolis, MN 7:00 PM BARNES AND NOBLE/Edina Call for more details: 952-920-2124
08/08 Kansas City, KS 7:00 PM RAINY DAY BOOKS Tickets
08/09 Austin, TX 7:00 PM BOOK PEOPLE Tickets

COTTAGE BY THE SEA by Debbie Macomber

July 16, 2018

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Another sweet romance from the Queen of sweet romance, and she is in fine form.

Annie Marlow is living her life when an unspeakable tragedy strikes. Sinking into depression, a friend finally suggests she go to her “happy place,” whatever that is.

Annie decides to go back to the beach town where she spent happy summer vacations as a child. She even manages to find the cottage her family rented every year. The owner is the granddaughter of the original owners, but she is an agoraphobic recluse and not inclined to rent out her cottage. Until Keaton intervenes.

Keaton is a painter/handyman and helps out the owner so she is willing to listen to him. Annie gets her cottage and a new friend in Keaton. As she struggles to find peace, Keaton has his own struggles. Together, they learn to overcome their problems and help each other find happiness.

This is a beautiful story of redemption. The setting is lovely, the characters warm and interesting, and the story line compelling. I loved it.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COTTAGE BY THE SEA by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (July 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-0399181252. 352p.



July 15, 2018

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Highland Brides, Book 6

I continue on my quest for men in kilts and this is a good one if you don’t mind the amnesia trope.

Aulay Buchanan is laird but he’s staying in his hunting lodge. One morning he finds a woman floating in the water, tied to a mast that has broken off of a ship. He pulls her in and revives her, but she doesn’t know who she is or how she ended up there, and to makes things even more interesting, she is deathly afraid of someone.

Aulay names her Jetta so he can call her something. His brother is a healer who recommends lots of rest and Aulay decides to stay at the hunting lodge until he can determine who she is afraid of and why. He sends out a few trusted men to try and find out which ship she came from and that leads to other problems.

Eventually, fleeting memories come back to Jetta but it isn’t until almost the end of the book that she realizes who she is and how she came to be there. But by then, Aulay and Jetta have fallen in love and try as they do to fight it, they get their happily ever after.

This was a one night read for me and I do recommend it, especially if you like Scottish romances. It’s a fast read and a good one.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE HIGHLANDER’S PROMISE by Lynsay Sands. Avon; Reprint edition (June 26, 2018). ISBN 978-0062842671.  288p.


CALYPSO by David Sedaris

July 14, 2018

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So I broke a crown, a molar, next to another crown and they both have to be replaced. In the dentist’s waiting room, I was reading this book and laughing out loud like an idiot despite the pain in my mouth. I was reading on my phone so I don’t know what the other people in that office were thinking and I really didn’t care. There’s nothing like getting bad news and knowing at least you have a funny book to get back to. Feel free to send donations. Did I mention I need TWO crowns?!

I am a long time David Sedaris fanatic. When I worked at Borders, I stumbled across Holidays on Ice, with the original cover showing Santa standing at an urinal. I’m not sure why that cover was changed. That book has the story about when David was a Christmas Elf in a department store and NPR airs that story every year at Christmas. It still cracks me up no matter how many times I’ve heard it. I got to see him in person a few books ago at the American Library Association conference and I laughed until I cried. I probably mention all of this in every review I do of his books because, why not.

So Calypso. A friend/co-worker told me she didn’t especially like it, she thought it was very melancholy. I was shocked. Then she said maybe I’m losing my sense of humor and I assured her that she was. Yes, there are some parts of the book – dealing with his aging father, his sister’s suicide, that are sad. But even in those stories there is humor.

I loved “Your English is So Good,” in which David dreams up the idea to teach foreign business traveler’s visiting America English. He goes off on upselling, buying a magazine at the airport and being asked if he wants a bottle of water then demanding coffee, ONLY coffee, at the Dunkin’ Donuts and the cashier asks if he wants a cup. This is funny stuff! I also liked his collecting words that should be outlawed, like “awesome!”

Another fun essay is called “Little Guy” in which he laments his lack of height and wonders how tall Rock Hudson was. That leads to how his computer is always so wholesome and his sister Amy’s computer is always spewing porn no matter what question Google is asked. The essay that titled the book, “Calypso,” explains how a friend of David’s is an artist but her latest project is just finding pieces of plywood that she sees things in. Like the face on the cover of this book. Which led to a whole diatribe on his seeing various doctors while on book tour across America. The tumor stuff was unbelievable and I will leave it at that.

I loved this book and there are some Trump references in it that also made me laugh.

Thank you, Mr. Sedaris, I sure needed that.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CALYPSO by David Sedaris. Little, Brown and Company; 1st Edition edition (May 29, 2018). ISBN 978-0316392389. 272p.


July 13, 2018

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The Survivors, Book 3

I missed the first book in this series, but after reading the second and third, I just reserved the first at my library. It’s a really interesting series.

I love historicals, especially Regencies, but these books differ in that they don’t focus on high society despite the royalty of the characters. And it’s a refreshing change.

Rafe Beaumont is the fifth son of an earl, so he’ll never inherit the title. That’s okay with him, he inherited the good looks of both his parents and women can’t leave him alone. That does him in good stead as he is a spy, and having women spill secrets in bed is his forte. Until he meets Collette Fortier.

Fortier’s father was an assassin for Napoleon, and now that the Bourbons are in power he has been jailed. The only way Collette can help him is by finding a secret code that the British have and exchanging it for her father. To that end, she is staying with a “cousin” who is sponsoring her at all the social events of the season. Collette is desperate to get these codes and when she meets Rafe,  she doesn’t think he can help her so she blows him off. Rafe has never been turned down by a woman and of course he’s intrigued. Then he is assigned to find out what he can about her, and things get really interesting.

This was a fast, thoroughly enjoyable read. The tension between the two spies really builds and keeps the pages turning. I am looking forward to more from this author.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

AN AFFAIR WITH A SPARE by Shana Galen. Sourcebooks Casablanca (July 3, 2018).  ISBN 978-1492638957. 416p.





July 12, 2018

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How to Score, Book 2

From the publisher:

From the author of the critically acclaimed Blue Plate series comes the second novel in the How to Score series about a rescue dog shelter owner and a wide receiver who needs a little rescuing himself.

Caught between the media’s crosshairs and his own questionable decisions, Colorado Blizzards wide receiver Chris Lalonde has a choice: watch his storied career burn to the ground or rehab his bad-boy image at the local dog shelter. His goal: rescue the oldest, saddest, most mange-infested canines in the hopes that the pups can rescue his reputation in return. What he doesn’t expect? Hazel Grant, shelter owner, do-gooder, and beautiful all-American girl next door. She has no time for Chris’s excuses, antics, or cheesy pick-up lines…challenge accepted.

Hazel Grant can’t believe she got saddled with Denver’s cockiest–and most eligible–football player for a volunteer. She needs people she can trust and count on, not a man packaged in abs and wrapped in confidence who thinks scoring touchdowns is an honest day’s work. But since the shelter is in need of some serious TLC, she can’t afford to turn away help.

Chris and Hazel get along like cats and dogs. But when it comes to Chris Lalonde, there’s a new surprise around every corner, and Hazel finds that, like the pups she cares for, Chris has hidden depths, secret talents, and meets every test she throws at him. As the pressure mounts to save the shelter–and Chris’s career–lust bubbles to the surface, and suddenly love becomes anybody’s game…

Football, dogs and romance – this is definitely my happy place. I liked these characters as they were well developed and real. I loved this animal shelter that cares for and rehabilitates abused animals, and wished there was one like it in every neighborhood. Hazel’s money troubles was a bit of a stretch seeing as her uncle owns an NFL franchise, but I went with it because it was such a fun read. I love this whole sports romance sub-genre, and this is an excellent example. Not sure why it’s only available as an ebook but no one asked me. If you have a Kindle or don’t mind reading on a tablet, go for it.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RESCUING THE RECEIVER by Rachel Goodman. Pocket Star (June 11, 2018).  ASIN: B078MD4J5C.

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

July 11, 2018

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The Ravenels, Book 4

Sometimes I do judge a book by its cover, and this was one of those times. Although to be honest, I love Lisa Kleypas so if I had known about this book sight unseen I still would have read it. But I stumbled across it in the library (hello, serendipity!) and here I am.  And the thing is, I have read the other books in this series so I think I missed this because it came out while I was post-eye surgery and not able to read. That’s my excuse and I can live with that.

We met our heroine, Dr. Garrett Gibson, previously in the series but now it is her time to shine. Convinced that no man would possibly be interested in the first and only physician in England, she doesn’t even bother with social niceties. Until she meets Ethan Ransom.

Ethan is a spy who is intrigued by the brilliant and beautiful doctor, and secure enough in his place in the world not to care that she (gasp!) works. Born in poverty, he has worked his way up to his position, by way of Scotland Yard and very hard work. He is also brilliant and more importantly, a man of good character and a silver tongue. That charm really swept me away as it did Garrett, a woman who is not used to it but is used to solitude. Instead, she is caught up in a great romance.

These two unconventional characters really made for an interesting and compelling romance. The story line was intriguing and relevant, and the sex was hot. That’s pretty much all I ask for in a historical romance, and Kleypas delivers once again.

As a note of added interest, Kleypas named her character after Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first physician in England. She was a fascinating and accomplished woman and I really appreciated this nugget of truth that had me searching out the real deal. Well done.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas. Avon (February 27, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062371911.  400p.


THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK by Jonathan Santlofer

July 10, 2018

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A Memoir

Jonathan Santlofer is an artist and a writer and someone I consider a friend. In 2013, he lost his wife, Joy, quite suddenly, and his way of coping was to draw and write. This book is the culmination of that endeavor.

There are many books written about grief and many about losing a spouse, but most are written by women about losing their husbands. I hate to generalize but I’m going to. Men tend to be more stoic about loss, less likely to talk about it, much less write about it. But Jonathan is not your average man.

I’ve known Jonathan a long time but didn’t hear about Joy’s passing until a year or so after the fact. At the time, he couldn’t really talk about it and I understood that. When he told me about this book many months ago, I got a digital galley and put it aside. Even though he told me about it and I knew he wanted me to read it, I had to come to grips with reading about his pain. It’s a difficult thing to do when you know and care about the person who is in pain. But with publication looming, I put aside my usual escapist fare and sat down to read it.

Jonathan’s voice was immediately recognizable. This isn’t some new-agey, self-help guide but rather a journey through loss and devastation, grief and pain, and ultimately hope and love. There are many drawings as well, drawing was one of his coping mechanisms and he explains how it helped him. The drawings are simple and beautiful and so expressive of a life well lived.

Joy had been working on her own book called Food City when she passed. A food historian who taught at NYU, she had worked for six years on this book about the food history of New York City and it was truly a labor of love. When she died, she left a manuscript that was twice as long as was contracted for and in need of serious editing. Jonathan and their daughter raised money to pay for an independent editor and along with her publisher, and both of them, they were able to get the book completed. (See my review here.) It was the culmination of an exhaustive project, yet bittersweet that Joy never got to see her finished book. But what a way to honor her.

Lest you think this book is a maudlin meandering of thought, it most certainly is not. Jonathan has a terrific sense of humor and understands the absurdity of life and loss.. He is self deprecating and self aware, and even through some of the most difficult parts of the book, his humor shines through. Don’t get me wrong, I cried through much of this but I also laughed.

Stories about how friends tried to help, or didn’t, were mostly encouraging, occasionally discouraging, and often funny. The set ups, (single men are always a target) not to mention a friend who tried to get him to hire hookers from a website, and poignantly, the realization that widowers are treated differently (better) than widows. I especially loved the chapter, “Stupid Things Said by Smart People,” which was so honest and pointed to something many people struggle with.

A couple of quotes that I thought were simple, eloquent and elucidating:

The fact is, losing one’s partner is an unsolicited litmus test. Some friends pass the test beautifully and others fail.

And this:

Grief is two-pronged: to get past it is to move on, a good thing; to get over it, to forget your grief and your former life and all that is attached to it, impossibly sad.

Comparisons to Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking are inevitable, and Jonathan is the yin to her yang. This is a beautifully written, haunting and emotional memoir about loss, grief, love, and moving on. It is thought provoking, intelligent, important and ultimately inspirational. This is a book worth reading and sharing.

I’m very glad Jonathan decided to share his Widower’s Notebook.

7/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE WIDOWER’S NOTEBOOK by Jonathan Santlofer. Penguin Books (July 10, 2018). ISBN 978-0143132493. 272p.