Win the June ’18 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

June 1, 2018

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

To enter, go to the Win Books page.

Best of luck!

THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY by Ruth Ware: From the New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood! After erroneously receiving a mysterious letter about a large inheritance, Hal attends the deceased’s funeral and realizes that something is very, very wrong.

THE MOSCOW OFFENSIVE by Dale Brown: When the President of Russia secretly buys an air freight company to transport dangerous cargo to the United States, Brad McLanahan and the heroes of the Iron Wolf Squadron join forces with the new Alliance of Free Nations in Eastern Europe to stop the imminent attack.

ISLAND OF THE MAD by Laurie R. King: When a friend’s mentally unstable aunt goes missing along with a cache of jewels, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes follow leads to a 1925 Venice shaped by Mussolini’s Blackshirts, the gilded Lido set and the music of Cole Porter.

A STEEP PRICE by Robert Dugoni: Investigating the brutal murder of a young woman who had resisted an arranged marriage in favor of an education, Seattle homicide detective Tracy Crosswhite navigates work dynamics that are placing her career and her life on the line

BUM DEAL by Paul Levine: Second-string linebacker turned disillusioned defense attorney Jake Lassiter finally switches teams. Appointed special prosecutor in a high-profile murder case, he vows to take down a prominent surgeon accused of killing his wife. There’s just one problem…or maybe three: no evidence, no witness, and no body.

IN THE HUSH OF THE NIGHT by Raymond Benson  Special Agent Annie Marino investigates a human trafficking ring and finds herself in the Michigan forest with an escaped Russian woman and her neighbor, who has a relative suspected of being in the ring, as they are pursued by the ring’s murderous leaders.

THE CHATEAU by Tiffany Reisz: As the Jack-of-All-Wicked Trades for a secretive French military intelligence agency, Kingsley Boissonneault has done it all—spied, lied, and killed under orders. But his latest assignment is quite out of the ordinary. His commanding officer’s nephew has disappeared inside a sex cult, where women reign and men are their willing slaves. Or are they? It’s Kingsley’s job to find out.

THE FAIRFAX INCIDENT by Terrence McCauley: In 1933 New York City, private detective Charlie Doherty, hired by a wealthy widow to investigate her husband’s mysterious death, comes face to face with some of the most evil men in the world during his quest to find the truth.

HOW IT HAPPENED by Michael Koryta: After a troubled teen, no stranger to the law, admits to her involvement in a brutal murder, Rob Barrett, an FBI investigator and interrogator stakes his reputation on her confession only to have the information she provided prove false.

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!


SIX SEASONS by Joshua McFadden

June 23, 2018

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A New Way with Vegetables
with Martha Holmberg

Let me start by saying that while this is a vegetable forward cookbook, it is not vegetarian, so if the thought of chicken or fish or pork touching your veggies makes you ill, this is not your cookbook. But if you enjoy occasional vegetarian dishes or just love veggies and are trying to find new ways to make them, then run out and buy this book immediately. It is terrific.

The book is divided into “six seasons” –  the usual four that we all know, except summer is divided in thirds; early, mid, and late. The book is laid out in seasonal order, too, so if it is fall and you look in that section for recipes, you should easily be able to find those ingredients at your market or farm stand because they are in season. Get it? All that said, I live in South Florida so I had to throw all of that out the window since our growing “seasons” (and I use the plural loosely) are pretty much summer all year long except in summer, when it is just hot as Hades and not much grows except the mosquitoes.

There is an interesting forward and a few terrific essays:

How Getting Dirty Helped Me Become a Cook
How This Book Can Help You Become a Better Cook
What I learned While Writing This Book with Joshua

Then there are a few chapters that are out of season, if you will:

My Larder
Go To Recipes
Pickles: Six Seasons in a Jar

The rest of the book is laid out seasonally, starting with Spring.

It is also a beautiful book, nice heavy pages are actually sewn into the binding. I mention this because not a lot of cookbooks are that way, and it is a definite plus, especially with a big book like this one. It just means that the book will like flat on the counter when you cook from it. Did I mention it has about 275 recipes and is almost 400 pages long? Another physical feature of the book that I liked was that the pages are tipped in color so you can easily see the seasons.

McFadden has an interesting way of creating salad dressing that I haven’t seen before. He recommends adding the vinegar and seasonings to the salad and to keep tasting until you like it, then add the oil at the end. You don’t end up with an emulsified dressing but rather a well seasoned salad and I liked it. Not all the time, but when I get beautiful veggies from the farm and want to make a platter or simple salad, it just seems to work really well this way.

Besides recipes, there are lots of tips on how to buy, clean, and store your veggies which is very useful. There is an entire page on broccoli, then several recipes like Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage, which is a personal favorite. What I like about this recipe is the addition of “Whipped Ricotta,” although I would have liked it better if I didn’t have to flip to another page for that recipe, as well as for the dried breadcrumbs – not out of a can but yet another recipe within the recipe. I do like how clear the directions are for preparing the broccoli for this dish:

1 pound broccoli, stems trimmed and peeled, stems sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch coins, and tops cut into florets

Just takes the guessing out of it, which works for me. By the way, broccoli is a ‘midsummer’ vegetable. Early summer vegetables includes fennel, beets and the usually overlooked celery (a side note: check out the hilarious celery episode of “Portlandia“) and then make one of 7 celery recipes like “Celery Salad with Dates, Almonds, and Parmigiano” or “Braised Celery and Radicchio Salad with Perfect Roast Chicken.”

Late summer includes corn, eggplant, sweet peppers, and chiles among others. Recipes like “Corn and Tomato Salad with Torn Croutons” and Red Pepper, Potato, and Prosciutto Frittata Topped with Ricotta” are just light and easy summer suppers or sides.

Fall veggies include carrots, Brussels sprouts, artichokes and kale. Winter has these plus cabbage, turnips, kohlrabi and potatoes, and of course, winter squash. Recipes include “Pumpkin Bolognese,” “Turnip, Leek, and Potato Soup,” and a really unusual and delicious “Battered and Fried Cabbage with Crispy Seeds and Lemon,” a kind of cabbage leaf tempura that is heavily spiced and makes a wonderful appetizer.

Circling back around to the beginning of the book is Spring veggies, starring asparagus, English peas, Fava beans and lettuces. There is an adulterated version of carbonara with the lovely addition of those English peas that works really beautifully, and if you haven’t tried raw asparagus, spring is the time to do it with “Raw Asparagus Salad with Breadcrumbs, Walnuts, and Mint.” Add fresh mint to anything and I’m on board.

The “go to” recipes includes vinaigrettes like “Caper-Raisin Vinaigreette,” Pancetta Vinaigrette” and a wonderful “Lemon Cream” dressing. Also there are, butters like “Brown Butter,” “Pistachio Butter” and “Alla Diavola Butter” – yum! You’ll also find the “Whipped Ricotta” and a “Tonnato” sauce, an Italian tuna sauce. There are also come breads, like “Slightly Tangy Flatbreads” and “Pecan Dough” and really useful instructions on how to cook farro, freekeh and couscous. Pickles include a “Basic Vegetable Pickle Brine,” “Cold Brine,” and a”Hot Brine.”

Photographs abound and they are glorious. There is also an extensive index that is very useful as well. All in all, this is a beautiful cookbook that deserves a place on the bookshelf within easy reach.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SIX SEASONS by Joshua McFadden. Artisan; 1st Edition edition (May 2, 2017). ISBN 978-1579656317. 384p.


June 22, 2018

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Wildstone, Book 2

So once again I missed the first book of a series, but I would never have known and I don’t think I missed anything – other than what was probably a really good read. Shalvis is a terrific storyteller and I love her sense of humor so I just reserved Lost and Found Sisters at my library.

Lanie Jacobs is a young widow whose life took a turn towards a Lifetime movie after her husband’s death when four more women came forward and claimed they were also married to him. Lucky for Lanie, she was the first so she got the insurance policy but money doesn’t cure everything. She feels totally humiliated so when a temporary job offer comes up out of town, she jumps on it.

Lanie is a graphic designer and it is the Capriotti family run winery that gives her some respite. She is a bit shell shocked over the whole ordeal with her husband, so keeps to herself. But the Capriotti family doesn’t get that – they are a big, loud, nosy, loving Italian family that likes nothing more than feeding and taking care of everyone, family and employees alike.

Mark Capriotti is a single father with twin girls. An Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff, he resigned his military career after his wife took off, abandoning their young girls. He knew the only way he’d be able to handle it was to move back home. With all the loving family support, he is managing.

River Brown is hired after Lanie when she shows up at the winery, pregnant and obviously living in her car. The Capriotti’s take her in, give her a job and a place to live and things seem to be finally going well. Except River is there for some nefarious purpose that we don’t find out until everything blows up.

Mark is determined to be the best cop and best father he can be, and in his mind, that means no dating, no women at all until his girls are grown up. Lanie has lost all confidence in her ability to judge men, and has some real trust issues. Nonetheless, they form a friendship that eventually grows into something more.

This was a very enjoyable escape with terrific characters, an interesting storyline and a wonderful setting. I liked the little bit of mystery and the budding romances. Shalvis usually writes contemporary romance, but this book is much more women’s fiction with a touch of romance. Pour yourself a glass of wine and settle in for a good read.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RAINY DAY FRIENDS by Jill Shalvis. William Morrow Paperbacks (June 19, 2018). ISBN 978-0062448149. 384p.



June 21, 2018

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The Bareknuckle Bastards, Book 1

From the publisher:

When Wicked Comes Calling . . .

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain . . .

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion . . .

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted . . . and the only thing he’s ever desired.

That’s a good synopsis but I have to add that it is the characters that really take this historical romance to a higher level. The Devil is smart and ruthless and never thought he would succumb to a woman’s charms. Felicity is smart and beautiful, but has low self esteem and thinks herself plain.

It is more than the Duke’s good looks that draw her to him, it is the element of danger. I guess bad boys have always been popular, even in merry old Regency England. A bad boy with a heart, of course, steals Felicity’s heart despite his denials.

One of the best things about reading historical romances is the opportunity to learn about life in those times. MacLean offered up fascinating history of locks and the ice business that really held me enthralled. There is a lot of intense drama and a bit of steamy sex, and all in all this was a good start to a new series. I’m looking forward to more.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER by Sarah MacLean. Avon (June 19, 2018). ISBN 978-0062842640. 368p.



June 20, 2018

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Nick Dybek presents a beautifully written and memorable novel about a great love beginning on the outer edges of one of the most bloody battles of World War One at Verdun.

Tom is a young American traveling to Europe at the end of the war. He stays on after driving an ambulance during the fighting in order to help with the labor of identifying the dead and possibly uniting families looking for their relatives after the war. We find him in a job collecting bones from the battlefield and bringing them back for possible identification and burial.

Lonely, he is attracted to Sarah, a beautiful American woman visiting the area in search of her husband who disappeared after wandering off from his division and not being seen since. The two fall into an affair, and later meet again at an Italian hospital where a shell shocked soldier dubbed “Douglas Fairbanks” (the American silent screen star) is in the psychiatric ward. The patient has no memory of who he is and what happened to him. Sarah feels that the soldier has enough resemblance to her missing husband to possibly be him. Tom and Sarah are joined by Paul, an Austrian journalist who has his own motives for wanting to meet the amnesiac known as “Douglas Fairbanks.”

The novel shifts to the 1950s in Hollywood where Tom has become a successful screen writer. He again encounters Paul who has continued to fight the demons of how to live and function again after the trauma that he has gone through. They talk and attempt again to come to terms with the events that have caused so much pain for them and for Sarah.

The story ends at this point with everything still up in the air; a situation most likely to occur in real life after facing the horrors of modern warfare. A very captivating novel drawing in the reader and immersing them into emotions and actions of thecharacters facing horrors that should never be faced by human beings.

6/18 Paul Lane

THE VERDUN AFFAIR by Nick Dybek. Scribner (June 12, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501191763. 304p.

Queen’s Park Book Festival 2018

June 19, 2018

Oh, to be in England in late June! June 30, to be exact, for the Queen’s Park Book Festival!

90 authors, 3 stages, 31 events…

Saturday 30 June – Sunday 1 July | Queen’s Park, Kilburn, NW6 6SG | #QPBookFest









Events include:


The Queen’s Park Book Festival is delighted to announce a packed weekend of literary celebration and debate in the heart of one of London’s favourite parks on Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July. 

Back by popular demand, the festival will bring together a mix of local, national and international writers and fresh literary talent led by the new Festival Director Thomas du Plessis. With over 40 events across the weekend there is something for everyone, with the programme covering current affairs, politics, fiction, stage and screen, sport, music, cookery, poetry and more, as well as free children’s events and family-friendly activities. The festival will also put local talent front and centre, shining a light on the extraordinary creativity of North West London.

Tickets on sale now at



Literary giants and local legends Zadie Smith (Feel Free) and Nick Laird (Modern Gods) join academic and critic John Mullan to talk about their lives in writing and to read from new works. Three novelists, Susie Boyt, Tessa Hadley and Lucy Hughes-Hallett,discuss the importance of reading to them as writers. Susie’s novel Love and Fame, Tessa’s short story collection The Past, and Lucy’s novel Peculiar Ground are all recently published in paperback. Man Booker shortlisted author Philip Hensher (The Friendly Ones) and brilliant young novelist Joe Dunthorne (The Adulterants) discuss their most recent books with John Mullan. Celebrating 50 years of the Man Booker Prize, 2013 winner Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries) interrogates the importance of prizes to writers with former Man Booker judge Stuart Kelly and member of the Advisory Committee for the Man BookerDerek Johns.

 Cathy Rentzenbrink (The Last Act of Love) and Louisa Young (You Left Early: a true story of love and alcohol) tackle the difficulty of writing about the loss of someone you loved. Amanda Craig (The Lie of the Land), Winner of the first Costa Book AwardFrancesca Segal (The Awkward Age) discuss happy and unhappy families in literature with Hannah Beckerman (The Dead Wife’s Handbook).

Three brilliant writers, author Gulwali Passerlay (The Lightless Sky: My Journey to Safety as a Child Refugee)author JJ Bola (No Place to Call Home: Love, Loss, Belonging) and artist Sophie Herxheimer (Velkom to Inklandt: Poems in my grandmother’s Inklisch) share their incredible refugee experiences with the journalist Emily Dugan.

Two of the finest writers of contemporary crime fiction, Sarah Hilary (Come and Find Me) and Ali Knight (The Silent Ones) reveal to renowned crime critic Barry Forshaw how closely guarded – and dangerous – secrets give their novels a chilling edge.

Elizabeth Fremantle (The Poison Bed) and Imogen Hermes Gowar (The Mermaid & Mrs Hancock) unpick the mesmeric nature of historical fiction. Nigerian British writer and Betty Trask award winner Irenosen Okojie discusses her short story collectionSpeak Gigantular with Shyama Perera. New York Times bestselling author Natasha Solomons talks about how she spins historical research into immersive fiction.


Beloved local and former Tory MP Stanley Johnson (Kompromat) and editor, journalist, television presenter, author and daughter Rachel Johnson (Notting Hell) discuss the intersection of politics and TV. In this special event marking a hundred years since (some) women won the vote, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, award-winning journalist and author Caitlin Davies (Bad Girls: A History of Holloway Prison), acclaimed author Rachel Holmes (Eleanor Marx: A Life) consider the rich history of women and politics in Britain in an event chaired by journalist and author Melissa Benn (What should we tell our daughters?).

Celebrating the National Health Service’s 70th Anniversary, Health Editor for BBC News Hugh Pym (Inside the Banking Crisis: The Untold Story), Adam Kay (This is Going to Hurt) and Rachel Clarke (Your Life In My Hands: A Junior Doctor’s Story) will debate its future and how this cherished institution will need to adapt to survive. Broadcaster and journalist Michael Cockerelltalks to former Scottish Labour Party MP and journalist Tom Harris about his new book, Ten Years in the Death of the Labour Party. 


Bringing together our brightest stage and screen visionaries, English theatre director and film producer Nicholas Hytner(Balancing Act) and actor and music historian Simon Russell Beale allow their 30-year long conversation about Shakespeare to spill out on stage. Award-winning director Stephen Frears and author of A Very English Scandal John Preston will talk to Amol Rajan about the remarkable story of Jeremy Thorpe and the upcoming new BBC series adaptation of Preston’s book directedby Frears. A fringe event at the Lexi Cinema will host a special screening of the iconic 1931 horror film Frankenstein to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with John Sutherland(Frankenstein’s Brain: Puzzles and Conundrums in Mary Shelley’s Monstrous Masterpiece).


BBC Sports Editor and author Mihir Bose (From Midnight to Glorious Morning?), former England cricketer Chris Lewis (Crazy: My Road to Redemption) & BBC presenter, editor and author Amol Rajan (Twirlymen: The Unlikely History of Cricket’s Greatest Spin Bowlers) discuss the latest scandals, developments and the future of the game itself. With the 2018 World Cup in full swing, former chief sports writer for the Guardian Richard Williams (The Death of Ayrton Senna), sports historian and local resident Simon Inglis and football writer Simon O’Hagan come together to discuss and analyse what we’ve witnessed so far.


English actress, novelist, musician, journalist and BBC radio 3 presenter Clemency Burton-Hill will discuss her new book Year of WonderClassical Music for Everyday with journalist and author Hannah Beckerman.


Restaurateur and award-winning author Russell Norman (Polpo) will interview Michelin-starred chef Giorgio Locatelli (Made at Home: The food I cook for the people I love) about his celebrated career and passion for cooking, as well as the secrets behind his latest recipes. For the intellectually hungry, there will be a literary brunch with veggie burger king, fractal artist and New Age entrepreneur Greg Sams (founder of Whole Earth foods, creator of the veggie burger, alternative thinker, published writer, entrepreneur), in conversation with local journalist and former Newsnight Editor Stephen Haggard.


The festival opens with an exclusive free event for the beneficiaries of the local literary charity Real Action, hosted by award winning children’s author David Solomons. Visitors will be able to find out the stories of the WW1 Servicemen of Queen’s Park who died in WW1 from local historians and experts from an exclusive investigation. The festival has commissioned local theatre company Palimpsest to create a special event with WW1 poetry readings and recitals for the festival. Author of Humans of Greater London, Cathy Teesdale has been commissioned to create an exclusive exhibition Humans of Queen’s Park, which champions and celebrates local residents of Queen’s Park. Local social enterprise Advantages of Age which celebrates growing old will present ‘The Tales from the Hot Tub’ with ten local writers and poets discussing their unique take on modern life, inspired by nights in a Kilburn hot tub.


An event entitled ‘stormy waters’ will be a spirited and beguiling look at modern life through the eyes of three poets: Caroline SmithChrys Salt MBE and Dzifa Benson in conversation with Rachael Newberry. Local authors and poets will be reading from their own work and stories written specifically for Queen’s Park Book Festival, presenting their unique view of Queen’s Park including: Yvonne Bailey-Smith (writer and psychotherapist), Mary Daly (writer and Brent Labour counsellor), Duncan McDowall (writer and local autobiographer), Mulumba Tshikuka (debonair writer and performer). Hosted by local writer and festival organiser Hud Saunders. The 8 local short stories will be published in a pamphlet specially for the Queen’s Park Book Festival, that will be given out free to the audience on the day.


There are free children’s events throughout the weekend with authors including Ben LyttletonAlex Bellos (Football School: The Amazing Quiz Book ), Yuval Zommer (Bugs and BeastsKevin Tsang (Sam Wu is NOT afraid of ghosts), Katherine Webber (Wing Jones) and Lou Kuenzler (Not Yet Zebra)Booking

Tickets on sale now to buy at Attendees can collectively fund the free events and charity events at the festival when purchasing tickets via a small voluntary donation via the website.


YES WE (STILL) CAN by Dan Pfeiffer

June 19, 2018

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Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump

From the publisher:

From Obama’s former communications director and current co-host of Pod Save America comes a colorful account of how politics, the media, and the Internet changed during the Obama presidency and how Democrats can fight back in the Trump era.

On November 9th, 2016, Dan Pfeiffer woke up like most of the world wondering WTF just happened. How had Donald Trump won the White House? How was it that a decent and thoughtful president had been succeeded by a buffoonish reality star, and what do we do now?

Instead of throwing away his phone and moving to another country (which were his first and second thoughts), Pfeiffer decided to tell this surreal story, recounting how Barack Obama navigated the insane political forces that created Trump, explaining why everyone got 2016 wrong, and offering a path for where Democrats go from here.

Pfeiffer was one of Obama’s first hires when he decided to run for president, and was at his side through two presidential campaigns and six years in the White House. Using never-before-heard stories and behind-the-scenes anecdotes, YES WE (STILL) CAN examines how Obama succeeded despite Twitter trolls, Fox News (and their fake news), and a Republican Party that lost its collective mind.

An irreverent, no-BS take on the crazy politics of our time, YES WE (STILL) CAN is a must-read for everyone who is disturbed by Trump, misses Obama, and is marching, calling, and hoping for a better future for the country.

Regular readers of this blog (and my twitter feed) know which way my political leanings go. I am a huge fan of Crooked Media and their podcasts, especially Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It, and when I have time Pod Save the World, Pod Save the People, an occasional Crooked Conversation and more. I swear they have saved my sanity over the past year. So when I heard Dan (I hope it’s okay to use his first name, I feel like I know him!) had written a book, I immediately grabbed a review galley and I was off to the races.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I didn’t expect it to be such an easy read, and a fast read. It feels like a friend telling you stories over a couple of beers, and these stories are good. Fifty pages in, I had already laughed out loud and cried, and I just kept going until I (digitally) turned the last page.

It starts off with a bit of Dan’s background, how he got into politics and some of the campaigns he worked on prior to Obama. I knew he was a really smart guy and he illustrates how hard work can make all the difference. I didn’t know a whole lot about how campaigns work so I found that very interesting.  Then it’s on to the White House years, with a president who is intelligent, disciplined, thoughtful and yes, competitive. To his credit, Dan doesn’t really rip into Trump for a few chapters and I admired his discipline.

If you’re a Trump fan, this is probably not your book unless you want your world blown apart. If you miss Obama, you will definitely enjoy this read. It’s a warm look back, as well as a look forward – hoping Millennials, especially, can get us out of this Trumpian nightmare by going to the polls. Feel free to comment, but maybe read the book first?

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

YES WE (STILL) CAN by Dan Pfeiffer. Twelve (June 19, 2018). ISBN 978-1538711712. 304p.



June 18, 2018

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Romantic Escapes, Book 2

This British import is a delightful read set in the hipster haven, Brooklyn.

Sophie Bennings had the worst possible breakup after a two year relationship when she found out her boyfriend was married. Luckily, she is offered a last minute job exchange to America and she jumps on it, escaping as quickly as she can. Sophie is a food writer, and her magazine and their American counterpart want to switch things up for a six month period, so off she goes.

The apartment she is provided with is above a delicious bakery, and the owner’s cousin, Todd, is her gorgeous co-worker. Todd is the perfect antidote to Sophie’s messy love life, but everyone warns her off him, he is a notorious player. But he’s also kind and considerate and Sophie & Todd become friends….and then more. But the relationship is doomed to fail as Todd has some serious commitment issues, and Sophie’s work visa has an expiration date.

These characters are terrific, Brooklyn becomes another character as well, and this was just a delicious read.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LITTLE BROOKLYN BAKERY by Julie Caplin. HarperImpulse (May 25, 2018). ASIN: B077CYJ3QM.  272p. (e-book only)



June 17, 2018

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The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 9

I love visiting the tiny hamlet of Avalon on the shores of Willow Lake, and even though this is the ninth book in the series, Wiggs keeps on proving what a terrific writer she is.

This story centers around Sonnet, the former mayor’s kid who is now a young adult and is still struggling with her career choices, her difficult relationship with her father, and life in general. She returns to Camp Kioga for her step-sister Daisy’s wedding but when she sees her former best friend, Zach Algers all grown up, it’s like a punch to the gut.

Growing up as the bi-racial daughter of a single mother was not always easy for Sonnet. But Zach, whose mother died, was also being raised by a single parent and that shared experience brought them close together. But Zach had moved on after his father was convicted of embezzling money from the town coffers. He doesn’t want to return to town but he can’t say no to Daisy.

Then Sonnet finds out her mother has cancer, and is pregnant, and her priorities become crystal clear. She moves home to Willow Lake to help take care of her mother and in the process, does some real soul searching and grows up in the process.

One thing leads to another and Sonnet and Zach find each other again, this time as adults with all that implies. They fall in love, but there are some real hurdles to get over before they can find their happy ending.

Another terrific story in a wonderful series.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RETURN TO WILLOW LAKE by Susan Wiggs. MIRA; Original edition (February 26, 2013). ISBN 978-0778314998. 384p.


TO DIE IN VIENNA by Kevin Wignall

June 16, 2018

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A very neatly done novel about conflict between different spy agencies. Freddie Makin had once been an agent for a super secret group known as S8. He was a survivor of an ambush in Yemen five years ago when three of his fellow agents had been killed when driving towards a rendezvous with suspects wanted by their group. Freddie had been so traumatized by the killing, blaming himself for poor planning that he resigned his position. He than became a spy for hire and the story finds him doing surveillance on Jiang Cheng an academic. After many months of observing Cheng Freddie finds that there really isn’t anything in Cheng’s behavior to warrant the attention given.

Suddenly the situation changes radically. Someone is sent to kill Freddie who fortunately turns the tables on his would be killer. He quickly realizes that it is probably something that he saw in relation to his watching Cheng that has prompted the attempt on his life. The novel than becomes a masterful study of Freddie’s old trade craft returning as he begins unraveling the reason for the attack on himself and on people including Cheng and others. And is it the CIA that is doing the attacking? Freddie is well portrayed as a normal human being prone to being hurt and possibly killed while looking into what is happening to him. Clues are available to the reader and the reason for the attacks is a logical one resulting in a logical finale to the book.

NOTE: Soon to be a major motion picture starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The book certainly has the ingredients to be a good one.

6/18 Paul Lane

TO DIE IN VIENNA by Kevin Wignall. Thomas & Mercer (June 14, 2018).  ISBN 978-1477805169. 270p.


June 15, 2018

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The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 8

I think this was the most anticipated book in the series. A couple of books ago was a sort of cliffhanger featuring Daisy, and I know I was delighted to finally get to her story.

Daisy Bellamy and Julian Gastineaux met as teens at summer camp and they became best friends. They were from different worlds; Daisy, heir to the Bellamy fortune and founding family of the summer camp, and Julian, a scholarship kid.

Nonetheless, they stay best friends, keeping in touch over the years. Julian figures out the only way he’ll be able to afford college is through the armed services. He excels, as he does with everything, by working his butt off, and this time his reward is being sent to Columbia with an elite group of soldiers. Unfortunately, they are all killed.

Daisy is devastated, but eventually realizes that life must go on. She is still young, and a strong single mother to her son. His father, Logan, was a one night stand. But surprisingly, Logan is trying to be a good father and he decides the best course of action would be to marry his child’s mother. Talk about your rebound decisions, but Daisy does marry Logan and while they get along, there is no real connection between them other than their child. But they are both determined to make the marriage work. Until Julian returns.

This was a very difficult read at times, extremely emotional and gut wrenching, but ultimately love does conquer all. I think this is one of my favorite books of the series, mostly because I was so invested in these characters through the previous books and I wanted them to find their happy ending. I loved it.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY by Susan Wiggs. MIRA; Original edition (July 28, 2015). ISBN 978-0778317715. 432p.