POISON by Galt Niederhoffer

November 21, 2017

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Niederhoffer’s day job is being a very successful producer of award winning films. Her night job is just as successful: writing books and articles which are published. It is therefore no surprise that her latest novel, Poison, is mesmerizing, well written and capable of grabbing the reader and not letting go until the end.

The book is more than a good novel but also geared to deliver an important message. That has been done for centuries in which fiction is used to point out a fault or faults in society and bringing them home to the reader. Witness the impact that Gulliver’s Travels had in illustrating the problems inherent in England at the time of it’s writing.

Cassandra (Cass) and Ryan Connor were married several years before the book begins. Both are successful individuals; Cass a professor at the university level and Ryan a well established architect. Cass had been married previously and had two children when her husband suddenly passed away. Although she thought that she would never marry again, Ryan came into her life and a whirlwind courtship ensued. The couple moved from New York to Seattle in order to get a fresh start and with a baby arriving, cemented what looked like a fairy tale relationship.

Unfortunately small problems that became bigger began to erupt and the result was Cass actually began fearing for her life. Niederhoffer’s point became clear when Cass found no sympathy from friends, authorities and even her own mother. All had the chauvinistic point of view that more often than not women cause most of these problems and the man in the situation is blameless.

Without looking at the point of the novel it still is a fascinating, well written book that will entice the reader to stay with it until finished. It is an excellent crime story with a logical and satisfying ending. Understanding the point that Niederhoffer wants to bring out makes the book doubly interesting and cause for a good deal of reflection on the injustices women may go through in defending themselves legally against a man.

11/17 Paul Lane

POISON by Galt Niederhoffer. St. Martin’s Press (November 21, 2017).  ISBN 978-1250085290. 304p.


SOMEONE TO WED by Mary Balogh

November 17, 2017

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A Westcott Novel, Book 3

Due to an illegal marriage, Alexander Westcott finds himself the new Earl of Riverdale. This was not something he coveted, especially when he finds that the previous Earl has let the estate go into disrepair. Alexander didn’t inherit money in addition to his title, so as the gentry is wont to do, he must marry money.

Wren Heyden is a neighbor of the new Earl. She has been a recluse for most of her life. Born with a large strawberry birthmark covering half of her face, she was scorned and abused by her parents until a kindly aunt took her in. She married well, and they adopted Wren, giving her a comfortable life, albeit a lonely one of her own choosing. When her aunt and uncle die, she inherits everything.

The young heiress only wants for one thing; a husband. She invites a few of her unmarried male neighbors to visit, hoping to find a husband in one of them and is quite taken with the Earl. But as much as he needs to marry for money, he isn’t going to rush into anything. They agree to start a courtship, and Wren finds herself in way over her head. He has social obligations, a large family, and wants her to participate in his life. She is very much afraid, but takes small steps to that end, and finds herself falling for Alexander.

Alexander is not looking for great passion, just companionship, and affection. But the relationship deepens, much to both of their surprise. But Wren has to learn to get past  her abusive childhood, and with Alexander’s help, she does.

This is an interesting, lovely romance from Balogh. The sex is more sensual than explicit, but the romance rings true. Another wonderful entry into the Westcott series.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SOMEONE TO WED by Mary Balogh. Berkley (November 7, 2017). ISBN 978-0399586064.  400p.



November 16, 2017

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Dan Morgan Thriller

Dan Morgan, the principal protagonist in other Leo J. Maloney books, works for the Zeta Division; a top-secret action group dedicated to hunting down and eradicating America’s enemies. Like Maloney, Dan has worked in Black Ops with his described actions based on first hand knowledge of that world. Dan has witnessed his daughter, against his better judgement, taken into the Zeta Division finding himself with the dual worries of his own tasks and the safety of the girl.

In this novel, one of Dan’s friends, Four Star General James Collins, has been accused of stealing Tomahawk missiles to sell to a foreign power. Dan decides to try and prove the general innocent in spite of orders from the Zeta commander to stand down from that job. At the same time the Division is seeking to capture a Black-market middle man with a connection to a high level North Korean military officer.

As in previous Maloney books, the action is constant and fast and furious. The themes of his books are simplicity itself. The Zeta Division is chasing the enemy with total dedication to the task and with the most modern military weapons and techniques. Military precision is the keynote of operations with coordination in the hands of the commander of the division.

A short summary of Maloney’s next book is featured at the end of Rogue Commander. It will be dedicated to the same treatment of quick and violent action although it is likely that Dan’s daughter will have more of a role in the story.

11/17 Paul Lane

ROGUE COMMANDER by Leo J. Maloney. Lyrical Underground (October 31, 2017).  ISBN 978-1616509804. 254p.


THE PERFECT MATCH by Kristan Higgins

November 15, 2017

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Blue Heron Series, Book 2

So I just realized I have read a book in this series, the fifth book, in fact, last year and never got around to reading any more until I was prompted to by my work daughter, Caitlin. I read the first book, this is the second in the series and apparently, I read the fifth book last year. Just when I thought I was reading a series in order!

This book put me in mind of another book I recently read and will be reviewing in early December when it comes out, Roomies by Christina Lauren. Both center around a fraudulent marriage to gain an immigrant the cherished green card.

Honor Holland has been best friends with Brogan since elementary school. At one point they decided to have sex and do so on occasion over the years. When Honor has her annual pelvic exam, the doctor mentions she might want to start thinking about having children. She’s 35 years old and her best childbearing years are behind her, so she decides to propose to Brogan. She has fancied herself in love with him for years, so why not. Of course, he says no and she is humiliated. To make matters worse, her best friend immediately moves in on Brogan and the next thing Holland knows, they are telling her they are in love, Holland sees red and it’s a real wine tossing, punch throwing, cat fight.

Holland’s grandmother tries to set her up with a penpal’s grandson from England who has been living in the area and needs a green card. Tom is intrigued to meet the hellion he saw rolling around the bar floor, but despite his good looks and dreamy accent, Tom acts like a real jerk. But then they meet up again, and Honor decides he is possibly marriage material.

Tom needs to stay in America for his ex-fiancee’s son. After she died, and his father took off, Charlie has been living with his grandparents who are not happy about it. They use Tom as a babysitter when they’ve had enough, which works for Tom. He fell in love with the kid the first time he met him. Honor is touched by their relationship, and after a wild night of sex, she agrees to marry him.

Of course Honor falls in love with Tom, fighting it all the way. And he with her. But they are both so damaged from their past relationships that it doesn’t look like either one of them will be able to move to where they need to be. Meanwhile, this book is laugh out loud funny, sweetly emotional and all in all, a terrific read. I loved it.

11/17  Stacy Alesi AKA the BookBitch™

THE PERFECT MATCH by Kristan Higgins. HQN Books (October 29, 2013). ISBN 978-0373778195. 448p.




November 14, 2017

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November 2017 LibraryReads Pick

The top ten books published each month that librarians across the country love. I get a lot of wonderful recommendations from these lists, and I can honestly say I think there was only one book in the past several years that I didn’t love, so check it out.

The titular “edge of the world” is a peninsula in Ireland that is undergoing some big change, a reflection of the change that Hannah Casey is going through. Hannah has returned home from a posh London life after an acrimonious divorce to share the hot pink cottage of her childhood with her mother. Hannah is the town librarian, not a job she loves by any stretch of the imagination. She always wanted to work in an art museum, but that was not meant to be. She is, I’m sorry to say, the stereotypical librarian, shushing people, taking control of the books as if it pains her to lend them, and consequently does not have the best reputation in this small town.

Hannah is determined to move out of her mother’s house, but during the divorce, she was so angry at her husband that she refused any sort of financial settlement, and now her ex isn’t interested in helping her out. She borrows some money from the credit union and sets out to restore the tiny cottage her great aunt had bequeathed to her. A local builder, a real craftsman, takes on the project but he is a bit eccentric.

Big changes afoot on this tiny peninsula as the local politicians decide to put all their resources into a big marina and hotel that will entice the cruise ship trade. But that means the rest of the island is out of luck, and slowly Hannah becomes “Joan of Arc”, at the center of the rebellion.

This is a lovely, charming book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I admit, most books about books and libraries usually get my immediate attention, but this one goes beyond that, with unforgettable characters and setting, making this an altogether excellent read.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LIBRARY AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD by Felicity Hayes-McCoy.  Harper Perennial (November 14, 2017). ISBN 978-0062663726. 368p.



November 13, 2017

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Sunshine Creek Vinyard, Book 3

I actually have been reading this series (in order!) so I was delighted to get this third book. This series is about a family who owns a vineyard, and they are best read in order to make sense of who these people are. This book centers around one of the brothers, Parker, who is trying to find his place in the family business. He is a chef with a food truck and decides to convert an old barn on the property into a wedding venue for his older brother, and then a restaurant. The wedding date gives him a firm deadline, and his brother has turned into “groomzilla” after the bride turns over the wedding planning to him.

Parker is starting from the ground up, and building out the restaurant from square one. A gorgeous young woman shows up one day, claiming to be a chef and looking for work. Gabriella is nothing if not determined; when Parker explains that he is no where near ready to hire, she is undeterred. She offers to audition, cook him a meal, and if he likes it he can make her first in line for when he is ready to hire. Not one to turn a pretty lady away, he agrees.

Gabriella has a bit of baggage herself, and she is definitely keeping it on the down low. But she cooks and looks like a dream and Parker offers her one night of pleasure. He is not ready for any kind of relationship and she’s fine with that, too. But she keeps coming around, helping out with the building, the wedding planning, the restaurant planning and Parker finds himself increasingly drawn to her, and loves working with her. Until her past explodes in his face.

This is another good read in a terrific series, a one nighter for me. Loved it.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TANGLED UP IN TINSEL by Candis Terry. Avon Impulse (October 10, 2017). ASIN B01ARKZN7M. 171p.

THE BEST MAN by Kristan Higgins

November 12, 2017

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The Blue Heron Series, Book 1

I may be late to this party but I’m going to be catching up fast! Thanks to my “work daughter,” Caitlin, I read this wonderful book and now have several more to keep me busy. I’m thinking this series will be how I spend my Christmas vacation, if I can wait that long.

Set in a small town surrounded by vineyards in the Finger Lake region of upstate New York, this is a sweet, funny romance with warm, quirky characters. Faith Holland is the youngest of four, and her family is one of the founding families of the town. They have two homes on a vineyard, the old house (built in the 1700’s) where her grandparents live, and the new house (built in the 1800’s) where she grew up. The story moves back and forth from when she was jilted at the altar to her happily ever after.

Faith and Jeremy were inseparable from the day they met and despite a brief break in high school, their college years apart, and even his stint in medical school, no one in their small town was surprised that they were getting married except Jeremy’s best friend and best man, Levi. Levi has always known that Jeremy is gay, but Jeremy hasn’t come out and is determined to live the same type of life as his parents. But at the wedding, he brings Jeremy and Faith to the church basement where they finally break up. Faith flees to San Francisco, where they were supposed to honeymoon, and ends up staying there for several years. And then it’s time to come home.

Faith and Levi have never really gotten along, despite both of their relationships with Jeremy. Now Levi is the Chief of police, and giving Faith a speeding ticket on her first day back isn’t improving their relationship. They both have a lot of baggage and despite that, end up in a very physical relationship – her first with a straight man.

There is no explicit sex but you still manage to feel the heat between them, a nice feat of writing. I found myself laughing out loud more than once while reading this book, and I can’t wait for the next one!

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BEST MAN by Kristan Higgins. HQN Books (February 26, 2013). ISBN 978-0373777921. 432p.


THE QUANTUM SPY by David Ignatius

November 11, 2017
QUANTUM SPY by David Ignatius

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A huge step up from the current capacities of our present day computers comprises the theme of David Ignatius’ book. The concept is a Quantum computer which is depicted as being so fast with the ability to decrypt any encryption in existence. The possession and use of such a device will easily make anyone having and using it masters of the digital world.

The novel depicts a conflict between the United States and China to get the where-with-all to develop the first working model of a Quantum computer. Harris Chang, a CIA agent, is assigned to investigate a possible breach of a Quantum research lab by a suspected Chinese informant. The hunt for the suspected mole leads Chang into a world of cutting-edge technology and into a situation where he is involved in a fine line between loyalty to his country and possibly treason.

The possibilities presented by this computing advance are described in easily understood language. The description of the stresses and strains placed on Harris Chang make for an excellent introduction and understanding of this man. Chang is, by his own definition, not a Chinese American, but an American by birth and inclination. His investigations are underscored by a possible mistrust by his boss and co-workers of his ethnicity. The novel itself is backed up by the description of what could be the results of possession of the first working models of this huge advance in computation.

Extremely well written and easily carrying the reader into a world of digital advance, and allowing the reader a rapt attention to the situations and characters involved.

11/17 Paul Lane

THE QUANTUM SPY by David Ignatius. Quercus (November 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1681440279. 288p.


BLISS by Lynsay Sands

November 10, 2017

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Lady Helen Tiernay has had it with her neighbor, the awful Lord Holden. She has had to bail out some of his tenants, seen others removed from their homes and even disfigured. Thoroughly disgusted, she turns to writing letters of complaint to the King.

Lord Holden has been off fighting wars for the King. But his estate man has also been complaining to the King about the “tyrant of Tiernay.” When Holden arrives home, the King’s emissary pays him a visit. By royal decree, he is to marry Lady Helen, thus ending all the complaint letters and giving the King one less thing to worry about.

Lady Helen is appalled, and Lord Holden incensed – he has no idea who she is and has no desire to marry. But marry they will.

Lady Helen decides to keep from consummating the marriage, thus clearing the path to annulment. She tries various ways to kill Lord Holden’s ardor, from chewing garlic to serving him sour ale and moldy food. But the King’s emissary is not having it and forces them to consummate the marriage.

Eventually, Lady Helen realizes that she is falling in love with the man she thought an ogre, and he has no idea what has been happening on his estate while he’s been off fighting wars. He does know that he has also fallen in love with Lady Helen and is determined to get to the bottom of whatever is bothering her.

This is a very funny book with some great sex scenes, and even some of those often start off sensuously but end up hilarious. Set in England during 1173, I think this is the earliest historical romance I’ve ever read, and that aspect was very interesting. This is a really fun read, and I can definitely see why Lynsay Sands is so popular. I’ll be looking for more from this author.

11/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BLISS by Lynsay Sands. Avon (July 25, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062019615. 384p.



November 9, 2017

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A Different Class of Spy

Set in England in the early 1900’s, the novel uses the founding of the British Secret Service to spin a very well done story about people involved in its inception.

Captain Vernon Kell is looking to set up such a service to serve England both at home and abroad but finds that upper-class individuals traditionally used in high-level government work are not suited for the dirty work needed to get things done in the world of spying. He is working under orders to find some evidence of German activity involved in obtaining secret information on British activities that are geared towards bettering British military capabilities. The use of upper-class gentlemen to do the field work in the spy game gets several killed with no useful information obtained.

One of the men is a policeman named Bill who is killed by Russian anarchists. The killing is noted by Bill’s friend, a man named Wiggins. Kell approaches Wiggins to help find and arrest Bill’s killers and has hit on the best person possible for the job. Wiggins served in the British war against the Boers in South Africa, and as an urchin on London’s streets helped the great detective Sherlock Holmes form a group of children into “The Baker Street Irregulars.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, places this group into activity aiding Holmes in several novels.

The description of London at the point the novel is set in is extremely well researched by H.B. Lyle. We have the combination of horses and horse-drawn wagons, with early motor cars, buses, and trucks; slum areas and homes for the well-to-do, and the beginnings of opportunities for the poor class to climb the economic ladder thanks to the burgeoning industrial revolution.

This novel is obviously the first of what should be a series of books about the organization that later became both MI5 and MI6. The principal characters are in place and a period that has the problem of impending war looming over it. The book stands quite well on its own and the author’s styling is certainly an attraction for novels that will follow.

11/17 Paul Lane

THE IRREGULAR by H.B. Lyle. Quercus (November 7, 2017).  ISBN 978-1681440279. 288p.