ONCE UPON A BAD BOY by Melonie Johnson

July 11, 2019

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Sometimes in Love, Book 3

From the publisher:


Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend―the one who took her heart and ran away.


Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them―Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet―is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

This is the third book of the series and I’m quite proud of myself for reading them all in order. That said, this was my least favorite of the series so far. Not that it’s bad or anything, it just wasn’t as good as the first two, which I loved.

The characters are well developed and there is a bit of a twist near the end. I just had some trouble with this couple and the way they interacted, it didn’t feel real to me. A lot of the tension between them seemed contrary to what else was going on, like the sex. It seemed very high school to me, I just didn’t buy it. Despite that, I raced through this book and did enjoy it. I really like these women and I’m looking forward to seeing whose story is next. It is hinted at but it really could go a different way and I wouldn’t be surprised.

While this was not my favorite entry in the series, I still recommend it!

5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ONCE UPON A BAD BOY by Melonie Johnson. St. Martin’s Paperbacks (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-1250193056. 384p.


LAYOVER by David Bell

July 10, 2019

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Joshua Fields is a workaholic. The good part of that is he works for his father who has every intention of turning their thriving business over to his son as soon as Joshua is ready. The bad part of that is that he is always traveling; in and out of airports all around the country and living out of suitcases in one hotel after another. He has a girlfriend that he thinks he will marry but is not that excited about the prospect. He also does not like flying, and lives on Xanax in order to be able to board a flight.

The story begins with Joshua meeting a beautiful girl at an airport, sharing a drink, and a kiss and realizing that he wants to have more with Morgan; the lady in question. He than begins a round of chasing after her from one city after another until they meet again. This time the two share a beautiful interlude of sex until Morgan just disappears again. Joshua chases after her; does not meet his father at a very important meeting with prospective customers in Florida, and becomes involved with Morgan’s problems which may include being involved with murder.

The events of the novel are laid out in a very enticing way, and they lend themselves into having to finish the book in one delightful read. It has been several years since Mr Bell’s last book was published and that for me was a spoiler via hoping that his next book will be available shortly. But than again one cannot ask a gifted writer to hurry the next finished project and risking the possibility that it will not match his previous books. A five star novel and one that does continue the author’s literary reputation and the hope that more of his works will be available shortly.

7/19 Paul Lane

LAYOVER by David Bell. Berkley; 1st PB edition (July 2, 2019). ISBN 978-0440000877. 416p.



DEATH HAS DEEP ROOTS by Michael Gilbert

July 9, 2019

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Inspector Hazlerigg, Book 5

This novel was first published in 1951 by Gilbert, a lawyer and a prolific writer. He passed away in 2006, leaving behind quite a legacy of published works which are fortunately being reissued for today’s reader. “Death Has Deep Roots” is in no way a dated piece and will take it’s place among current day novels in the mystery and conspiracy genre. The only difference the reader will find is that it was written shortly after the end of World War II and is grounded in an event that was than fresh in the minds of the entire world.
Victoria Lamartine, a young lady that was very active in the French resistance during the war, is on trial for her life accused of the murder of Eric Thoseby, a major in the British army.  The crime committed in England is being tried in British court, but the background and causative factors stem from events in France in 1943 as the French underground fought the Nazi army of occupation. The murder weapon is a knife that was shown to have been used in a manner reminiscent of skills taught to the members of the French underground.

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The novel presents two continuing events to tell the story.  First, there is Lamartine’s trial, very well described and carefully illustrating the work of both the prosecutor and the defense attorney. Second, Nap Rumbold, member of the defense team, is granted just eight days to travel to France and the areas where events pertinent to the association of Lamartine and Thoseby occurred in 1943. Also brought out in the story is the fact that Victoria became pregnant and had a boy in an affair during the period. The child died due to conditions experienced in fleeing the Germans.  It is thought that Thoseby was the father with Victoria seeking him out and killing him when he did not acknowledge the child.
The novel is absolutely one that will grab the reader and make him or her stay glued to the book until finished.  It will also be of interest that more of the author’s works will be reissued in the next few years making him a gifted writer for today’s readers as well as those that began when he first started publishing.

7/19 Paul Lane

DEATH HAS DEEP ROOTS by Michael Gilbert. House of Stratus; New edition edition (December 11, 2011). ISBN 978-0755105205. 240p.

THE ME I USED TO BE by Jennifer Ryan

July 7, 2019

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE ME I USED TO BE by Jennifer Ryan. William Morrow Paperbacks (July 2, 2019). ISBN  978-0062883919. 384p.



IF SHE WAKES by Michael Koryta

July 6, 2019

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The book opens as Tara Beckley, a senior at Hammel college, a small university level school situated in Maine, is driving a visiting dignitary to a conference being sponsored by her college. Suddenly, there is a horrendous accident, killing the professor and leaving Tara in a vegetative state. She is aware of her surroundings and what is going on, but in what is termed “locked-in syndrome,” unable to move or communicate with the outside world.

Abby Kaplan, a former stunt driver involved in an accident resulting in one fatality, is now an insurance investigator is assigned by the college to look into the accident and make a determination of who is at fault. The events occurring in the novel revolve around both Abby and Tara and what happens to them. Tara, of course, is completely paralyzed but soon realizes that someone wants her dead in order to cover their tracks regarding the accident. Abby has her own demons beginning with her early career as a very talented stunt driver, but than stopped when she is involved in the accident resulting in a fatality.

Koryta’s reputation as an author that easily grabs his readers and creates situations that keep them glued to the book does it again. With the introduction of a professional killer named Dax, the son and also the nephew of two brothers that were famed for their murders, the reader cannot put the book down until finished. The description of Tara caught in her state, yet aware of the outside world, gives the reader an introduction to a human situation that, fortunately, is not a common one. Abby, normally a brave young lady must conquer her fears of driving while working on the case and does find that those circumstances hinder her in a situation that demands she override them. Even Dax is capable of attracting the reader in his own cold blooded way.

The novel moves with the ease Koryta has always demonstrated. The ending flawlessly flows from the events described in the book, and my recommendation to all is read this one and than just sit tight until Koryta’s next book comes out.

7/19 Paul Lane

IF SHE WAKES by Michael Koryta. Little, Brown and Company (May 14, 2019). ISBN 978-0316294003. 400p.



KING OF KINGS by Wilbur Smith

July 5, 2019
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The author is the successful writer of more than 50 books in his career. All of them are well written, equally well researched and generally set in a tumultuous period of history. One of his characteristics is the creation of characters that are larger than life be they hero or villain. In many cases he has utilized families in his novels as the centerpieces to the story. King of Kings utilizes two of the families created in other books and is the continuation of a novel bringing them together. These are Penrod Ballantyne who is a professional soldier; a major in the British army during the late 1800s and Ryder Courtney an adventurer and met looking to set up a silver mine. The period is during the time when England’s general Gordon was regent in Khartoum and was assassinated by a native army led by the Mahdi and his army of dervishes. It reaches climax when the British sent General Herbert Kitchener to retake the city via a battle at Omdurman and therefore conquers the Sudan for his country.
We meet Ballantyne at the moment that he has a fight with his fiancee and she sends him away. At the same time Courtney is married to the sister of the fiancee and she goes with him in search for the silver mine. The novel is pure Wilbur Smith high adventure played out in Ethiopia during a period when it’s rulers fluctuated between natives and invading armies of both Italy and than England. The question of whether Penrod will win his fiancee back is tied in neatly to the events depicted in the novel. In addition what problems does Ryder face if he finds a producing silver mine in the middle of a country facing war from every side. Can it successfully be developed in a land where the rule of law changes continuously?
Readers of Smith’s books will also expect problems to arise that are above those posed and these must be faced and fixed along with all the other troubles faced by the protagonists. As indicated there several evil individuals present who are really really evil and contribute to a well done novel presented by a gifted author.

7/19 Paul Lane

KING OF KINGS by Wilbur Smith.  Zaffre (April 2, 2019). ISBN 978-1499862010. 464p.



MRS. EVERYTHING by Jennifer Weiner

July 4, 2019

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From the publisher:

An instant New York Times bestseller 

“A multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant.” —People
“Simply unputdownable.” —Good Housekeeping
“The perfect book club pick.” —SheReads

Named a Best Book of Summer by Entertainment WeeklyCosmopolitanWoman’s DayPopSugarHelloGiggles, and Refinery29

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. 

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

This is unlike any of Weiner’s previous books; it’s more a family saga and a coming of age story for the two main characters, and I loved it. These two women go through everything life throws at them, and how they deal with it, and with each other, is compelling reading. The way they grow and change and everything that happens is a slice of life portrayal through the past fifty years or so. I’m old enough to remember a lot of what was going on at the time and it was not always wonderful.

There are some difficult moments, but they are necessary and worthwhile. This country went through a lot of turmoil in the the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and Weiner’s characters do as well. She covers a lot of the turmoil, and some of it bleeds through to today. But it’s the characters and how they are brought to life and grow and change that make this book so exceptional. They do not necessarily follow the path most easily taken, and it is that honesty that is so refreshing. This is a truly American story, and definitely women’s fiction with some history and even a touch of romance thrown in. Book groups will find lots to discuss – I found myself talking about it with my daughter, even though she hadn’t (and won’t) read it, but she was very interested in the story and I was happy she was willing to listen. Highly recommended.

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MRS. EVERYTHING by Jennifer Weiner. Atria Books (June 11, 2019).  ISBN  978-1501133480. 480p.



HOW TO LOSE A FIANCÉ by Stefanie London

July 3, 2019

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From the publisher:

Sophia Andreou has always been the “good daughter” who tried to keep her domineering father happy. She followed the rules and did everything that was asked of her. But this time, her father is asking too much. The family company is crumbling, and her father has arranged a marriage to a Greek billionaire who can save their property business. What?! Umm no thank you. If Cinderella can dress up to win a prince, surely Sophia can do the opposite and ditch hers…

Dion Kourakis has come a long way from being an orphan with only a single friend to his name. Now he runs a billion-dollar investment company and has the respect of everyone in Europe. His charming personality covers a lot of emotional scars, including his desire to make his mentor proud.

Dion doesn’t exactly want a bride to go along with his next business deal, and he plans on letting the lass down gently when they meet…

Only, his future bride has turned out to be nothing like what he thought she’d be. She’s quirky and has a habit of turning up to social events in strange outfits. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what she’s up to, but the harder she tries to convince him she’d be an awful wife, the more he wants to convince her they’d be perfect together.

This is a very fast read, it’s just over 200 pages. But London does a really good job of character development of the main protagonists in a very tight story, my usual pet peeve with books this short. That said, it would have been better with more of Sophia’s mother’s backstory. That character was integral to the plot yet barely developed. Actually, her father, too, should have been more developed. And I didn’t understand the relationship between Sophia’s father and Dion’s father; the plot had some holes in it for sure. But this book is all about the romance, and there was good development there plus some really funny, laugh out loud scenes mixed in with some hot sex. If you want a short, entertaining, fun, sexy read, this is your book. I enjoyed it.

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HOW TO LOSE A FIANCÉ by Stefanie London. Entangled: Indulgence (June 17, 2019). ASIN: B07R1PJD93. 207p.


THE PLUS ONE by Sarah Archer

July 2, 2019

©Library Journal, 2019

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PLUS ONE by Sarah Archer. Gallery Books (April 23, 2019). ISBN 978-1501197581. 320p.


BEFORE I WAKE by David Morrell

June 30, 2019

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It is to be expected that an accomplished author such as Morrell would handle any form of literary endeavor with the same masterful touch as any other. In this, Morrell’s third selection of short stories, the truth of the matter is that he does.

This current volume contains fourteen stories ranging in themes from science fiction to horror, all presented with a forward by Morrell indicating a short background of what he did with the stories. A few have characters from his novels as well as independent situations involving those individuals introduced elsewhere.

A review of a volume such as “Before I Wake” presents the difficulty of trying to capture all of a book filled with different situations. That part normally captured in a full length novel must merely include the comment that the author is the tried and true master of all his creations. I read all of the book in one sitting, liked most of the stories, some not so much, and did find that the experience is only different from the author’s novels in that the situation presented must be done in a shorter time.

In the accepted rating system of stars – one or more up to five -I can’t do anything else but give five stars because of the way the author has easily grabbed my attention and allowed me the pleasure of a wonderful reading experience. Read the book, at the very least you will find one or probably many stories to become fascinated with.

6/19 Paul Lane

BEFORE I WAKE by David Morrell. Subterranean; Deluxe Hardcover edition (June 30, 2019). ISBN 978-1596069121. 376p.