NIGHT OF MIRACLES by Elizabeth Berg

December 11, 2018

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From the publisher:

The feel-good book of the year: a delightful novel of friendship, community, and the way small acts of kindness can change your life, by the bestselling author of The Story of Arthur Truluv

Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets.

When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most.

“Elizabeth Berg’s characters jump right off the page and into your heart” said Fannie Flagg about The Story of Arthur Truluv. The same could be said about Night of Miracles, a heartwarming novel that reminds us that the people we come to love are often the ones we don’t expect.


This is the sequel to The Story of Arthur Truluv, one of my favorite reads last year and I admit to being nervous about it. What if I didn’t love it? Would it ruin the Truluv book for me? I put my fears aside and dove in, and I am so glad that I did.

It is another charmer filled with warm, wonderful characters that we can’t help but care about. They grew and changed since the last book, but in a way that seemed natural and believable. Victory is mine, I loved it!

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NIGHT OF MIRACLES by Elizabeth Berg. Random House (November 13, 2018). ISBN 978-0525509509. 288p.

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BEST. STATE. EVER. by Dave Barry

December 10, 2018

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Florida Man Defends His Homeland

From the publisher:

New York Times bestseller—a brilliantly funny exploration of the Sunshine State from the man who knows it best: Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry.

We never know what will happen next in Florida. We know only that, any minute now, something will. Every few months, Dave Barry gets a call from some media person wanting to know, “What the hell is wrong with Florida?” Somehow, the state’s acquired an image as a subtropical festival of stupid, and as a loyal Floridian, Dave begs to differ.

Join him as he goes in hunt of the legendary Skunk Ape; hobnobs with the mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs; and visits Cassadaga, the psychic capital of the world, to have his dog’s aura read (apparently, she’s “very spiritual”). Hitch a ride for the non-stop thrills of alligator-wrestling (“the gators display the same fighting spirit as a Barcalounger”), the hair-raising spectacle of a clothing-optional bar in Key West, and the manly manliness of the Machine Gun Experience in Miami.

It’s the most hilarious book yet from “the funniest damn writer in the whole country” (Carl Hiaasen, and he should know). By the end, you’ll have to admit that whatever else you might think about Florida—you can never say it’s boring.


I’m a long time Dave Barry fan. I read him when he was writing his column for the Miami Herald. I watched “Dave’s World,” the short-lived TV sitcom based on his life. I was delighted when my daughter found his books and read them all in a week, laughing the entire time. But I was surprised, and not in a good way, when I found out that the Literacy Coalition selected this book for Palm Beach County Read Together.

I had agreed to facilitate a book discussion at my library on whichever book they picked, as our publicity had to be in a couple of months before the selection was announced. After the announcement, the 20 or so regulars that attend my book discussions picked up their books, and shortly after that, began a parade of unhappy readers.

The book is cute, it definitely has its moments, but it is not, in any way, shape or form, a piece of literature in need of a discussion. One by one my book club participants returned the book and informed me they would not be attending the discussion. I understood, but my hands were tied. At the end, two of my regulars showed up, and half a dozen women who came because they thought Dave Barry would be there. Not my finest hour.

To make matters even more aggravating, the Literacy Coalition, for the entirety of this series, has made available on their website a downloadable discussion guide. But when I downloaded it, I found blurbs about the book, a brief, funny bio of Dave Barry, a handful of fun Florida facts and half a dozen Florida trivia questions. No discussion questions whatsoever. There is not a discussion question to be found for this book, and believe me, I looked. And it dawned on me that there really isn’t anything to discuss. There is no real substance here, and book discussion revolve around substance.

I didn’t love this book, which had nothing to do with the book discussion debacle. I found the essay on the Keys way too long and in need of serious editing. I liked the essay on the Villages and the one on shooting machine guns, gun hater that I am, because it was funny. But most of it just was Dave pointed out the silly things Florida is home to and the reasons people move here by the thousands. I was surprised to learn that Florida is the third most populous state in the nation so at least I learned something.

If you are a huge Dave Barry fan, then you will probably enjoy this book but then again, if you are that fan, you’ve probably already read it. And FYI, the reviews on Amazon are stellar.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BEST. STATE. EVER. by Dave Barry. G.P. Putnam’s Sons; Reprint edition (September 5, 2017). ISBN 978-1101982617 . 240p.

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ONCE UPON A RIVER by Diane Setterfield

December 9, 2018

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A beautifully written book set in a small town in England sometime during the reign of Queen Victoria. The town is located along the banks of the Thames river (maybe, as Setterfield herself indicates). It is the same river passing through London,meandering by Oxford and other towns along the bank and it provides the center point for a novel describing events in and around Radcot, one of these towns during another time and place. The “Swan” is the locale near Radcot where the local folk go to enjoy drink and companionship after the day’s work is done.

One day, a man, obviously hurt, staggers into the “Swan” carrying what appears to be a dead little girl. After putting her down he collapses but later disappears. In the meanwhile the little girl proves that she is alive by waking up and astounding the patrons of the tavern by doing so. In the course of time three families claim that the now living, but unfortunately mute girl is, theirs, resulting in many differences of opinion among the residents of the area. The gist of the novel revolves about the thoughts and actions of the various factions setting up a novel written in a style reminiscent of books penned in the period described.

While other readers claim that the novel is a sort of fairy tale there is enough low key descriptions of sex, murder, and evil to dispel this idea. What the book is is a well written story which will keep the reader glued to the pages. There was a long period between this novel and Setterfield’s previous book and reading this one gives rise to the hope that it won’t be that long until her next one appears.

12/18 Paul Lane

ONCE UPON A RIVER by Diane Setterfield. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (December 4, 2018).  ISBN 978-0743298070. 480p.

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A PRINCESS IN THEORY by Alyssa Cole

December 8, 2018

The Reluctant Royals, Book 1

From the publisher:

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Selected as one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2018!


Once again I read a series out of order. I read the second book first, and loved it so much I hunted down this one. If you loved the Eddie Murphy movie, “Coming to America,” you will love this book. I loved them both.

Cole is a rising star in the romance genre, and landing on the NY Times Notable books list firmly entrenches her as romance royalty. Her characters are skillfully drawn and come to life on the page, the plot moves with laughs and sex and, well, romance. Everything a good, contemporary romance should have is here in a fresh new way. Don’t miss it.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

A PRINCESS IN THEORY by Alyssa Cole. Avon (February 27, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062685544.  384p.

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THE MANSION by Ezekiel Boone

December 7, 2018

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Ezekiel Boone, the master of the macabre, presents his latest novel which could be a ghost story or possibly a tale about an entity run amock.

In any of the cases, it is well done and a fascinating read as the reader is drawn into a dark world and certainly a mesmerizing one. At one point several years prior to the opening of the book Billy Stafford and Shawn Eagle were partners in an attempt to create a computer that was intuitive rather than one that worked only one or zero as is common today. They worked like men possessed both nights and days while living in a country shack owned by Eagle’s family. They ate what they could scrounge and lived for the work.

Shawn began seeing a young lady and fell for her head over heels. Suddenly there was a break in the partnership and it was Billy Stafford that left along with Emily, Shawn’s girlfriend. Almost at the same time Shawn developed an advanced computing system and became an overnight billionaire. Billy and Emily married but lived in poverty with Billy falling prey to drinking and becoming a drunk.

At a point in the future Shawn decides to resurrect a next generation computer that he and Billy were working on prior to the split. He recognizes that only Billy has the skill to complete this project and proposes that Billy come to work again with him with the chance of making a fortune if the project is successful. The work is set up in a reconstructed building next to the shack they utilized years ago. The computer has been given the name of “Nellie” and what occurs with it makes for a fascinating look at either a ghost or ??

An all-nighter, the book has very well delineated characters appearing and moving the plot rapidly along.

12/18 Paul Lane

THE MANSION by Ezekiel Boone. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (December 4, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501165504. 432p.

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NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty

December 6, 2018

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From the publisher:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.


I loved most of Moriarty’s books, some more than others. The reviews on this one were mixed, but I really enjoyed it. The characters were brought to life and the setting was interesting. The book does go a bit off the rails towards the end, but Moriarty is a skillful story teller and she manages to get it back on track again. The book was almost five hundred pages yet it read faster than that, I was surprised to see how long it was.

It was an entertaining read and I enjoyed it.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty. Flatiron Books (November 6, 2018). ISBN 978-1250069825. 464p.

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WRONG LIGHT by Matt Coyle

December 5, 2018

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The next entry in the popular Rick Cahill series. Rick was a member of the police force when tragedy struck about 10 years ago when his wife was murdered. At first Rick became the prime subject until the investigation against him was suddenly dropped.

Unfortunately, widespread suspicion against him still remained and his life as a member of the police force was over. He was forced to make a living as a private detective with the memory of his wife’s murder always hovering over his head.

His current case was to be hired to protect the life of a popular radio show hostess – Naomi Hendrix’s voice fills the southern California night bringing a wide audience to her station employers.

But one demented individual has begun calling her with threats on her life.and awaiting the best moment to capture her and fulfill his own twisted fantasy.
In taking the job Rick finds himself becoming very attracted to Naomi even when finding out that she has her own secrets to hide. And at the same time he looks for a missing girl whose abduction he may have inadvertently caused.

Matt Coyle has done an excellent job in creating a protagonist with his own major issues continually haunting him; while working towards their solutions

12/18 Paul Lane

WRONG LIGHT by Matt Coyle. Oceanview Publishing (December 4, 2018).  ISBN 978-1608093168. 352p.

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THE ACCIDENTAL BEAUTY QUEEN by Teri Wilson

December 4, 2018

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Well, happy birthday to me! I love when my birthday falls on a Tuesday because then I feel like all the good books published that day are my gifts, and this one made a terrific present. (Feel free to call me silly but that is truly how I feel.) And a bonus: it can be your present, too! You can win a copy of this book, read on for all the details. Plus find out the inspiration for this book from Teri Wilson herself!


Charlotte Gorman is a grade school librarian and an identical twin. Her twin sister, Ginny, is a beauty queen like their deceased mother was. Ginny invites Charlotte to hang out at the swanky Orlando resort where the Miss American Treasure pageant is being held, but shortly after she arrives, Ginny has a terrible allergic reaction that would preclude her from competing – unless her twin will take her place.

For identical twins, these women are as different as night and day; Charlotte is the stereotypical dowdy librarian while Ginny is a glamazon. Nevertheless, Charlotte acquiesces in the name of sisterhood, meets and falls for one of the judges, and almost brings the pageant down.

This is a charming story with a lot of laughs and a warm, heartfelt ending. Reid (Royally Wed) also writes Hallmark Channel movies so do not be surprised if this book ends up there, obvious comparisons to The Parent Trap and Miss Congeniality notwithstanding. This is fast paced chick-lit that is sure to appeal to fans of Meg Cabot, Stephanie Evanovich, and Rainbow Rowell.

©Library Journal, 2018.

12/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE ACCIDENTAL BEAUTY QUEEN by Teri Wilson. Gallery Books (December 4, 2018). ISBN 978-1501197604. 304p.

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From Teri Wilson:

I first got the idea for The Accidental Beauty Queen last summer when I served as a judge at the national Miss United States pageant, which is the pageant featured in Miss Congeniality. It’s an actual thing! Who knew?

I’d never participated in a pageant in any way before, although I always watched them on television when I was a little girl. The directors of Miss United States are big Hallmark Channel fans, and several of my books have been made into Hallmark movies so they reached out and asked if I would be interested in being their “celebrity” judge. My answer was an immediate yes…so long as they let me try on the crown. (I mean, come on. How could I not?)

I knew before I even got there that I’d end up wanting to write something set at a pageant, so I was on the lookout for inspiration. During the judges’ interviews, I met a contestant who told me she was an identical twin. When I asked if her twin sister was there to support her, she said, “Yes, she’s right out in the hallway. But if you saw us together side-by-side you’d never know we’re identical twins. She’s a real tomboy.” That was all the inspiration I needed.

I like to describe the book as Miss Congeniality meets Parent Trap. I had more fun writing it than any other project I’ve worked on. But it’s more than a pageant book or even a romance. It’s really about two sisters rediscovering their connection after a lifetime of pulling away from each other. And of course it’s about inner beauty with a big dose of women’s empowerment. I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on it!

About the Author:

Teri Wilson is the author/creator of the Hallmark Channel Original Movies Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and The Art of Us, as well as a fourth Hallmark movie currently in development. Teri is a double finalist in the prestigious 2018 RWA RITA awards for her novels The Princess Problem and Royally Wed. Teri also writes an offbeat fashion column for the royal blog What Would Kate Do and is a frequent guest contributor for its sister site, Meghan’s Mirror. She’s been a contributor for both HelloGiggles and Teen Vogue, covering books, pop culture, beauty, and everything royal. In 2017, she served as a national judge for the Miss United States pageant in Orlando, Florida, and has since judged in the Miss America system. She has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses, Audrey Hepburn films, and good books. Visit her at TeriWilson.net or on Twitter @TeriWilsonAuthr.


To win a copy of The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson, please send an email to contest@gmail.com with “BEAUTY QUEEN” as the subject.

You must include your U.S. street address in your email.

All entries must be received by December 31, 2018. One (1) name will be drawn from all qualified entries and notified via email. This contest is open to all adults over 18 years of age in the United States only. Your book will be sent by SIMON & SCHUSTER|GALLERY BOOKS.

One entry per email address. Subscribers to the monthly newsletter earn an extra entry into every contest. Follow this blog to earn another entry into every contest. Winners may win only one time per year (365 days) for contests with prizes of more than one book. Your email address will not be shared or sold to anyone.


CYBER ATTACK by Tim Washburn

November 27, 2018

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“Cyber Attack” is not the first novel to be written revolving around a cyber attack on the United States. It is, though, one of the most realistic and hard hitting that I’ve read so far. It also delineates the fact that it can be mounted by a relatively small group of computer experts and be very effective.

Such is the situation in Washburn’s story when five men, financed and trained by one individual, successfully initiate action against vulnerable areas in the U.S. doing immense damage to both people and infrastructure.

Utilizing individual reactions to the various sectors attacked allows the full horror to unfold. There is an attack on Chicago stopping all computer related equipment bringing the city to a complete halt, another on a maximum security prison causing a pitched battle between prisoners and the national guard. A third targeting a battleship at sea for testing of their weapon systems and misdirecting the firing to other targets. Planes fall from the sky as their computerized flight systems are stopped.

The horror of what is happening unfolds and aptly brings the situation forcefully to the reader. Washburn takes the opportunity to bring out his personal opinion that due to rivalries among groups in both the military and government the United States is woefully not ready to fully combat the type of attack described.

Two FBI agents, Hank Goodnight and computer programmer Paige Randall, are assigned to attempt to stop the hackers. They are specifically trained to combat fire with fire in order to find and destroy those individuals attacking the nation. Their progress coupled with the work of many government agencies provides the defense mounted. At the same time the reasons for the attack are described and indicate the motivations of the attackers.

A frightening story and one that the author surely means as a wake up call. Excellent and mesmerizing read.

11/18 Paul Lane

CYBER ATTACK by Tim Washburn. Pinnacle (November 27, 2018).  ISBN 978-0786042524. 464p.

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THE OTHER MISS BRIDGERTON by Julia Quinn

November 26, 2018

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A Bridgertons Prequel

From the publisher:

She was in the wrong place…

Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers’ hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain’s bed…

He found her at the wrong time…

Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he’s stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he’s stuck with her.

Can two wrongs make the most perfect right?

 When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew’s secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…?


I thought that the kidnapping plot was passé, but Quinn brings it back and makes it work, provided you can suspend your disbelief. And I did.

While the publisher’s description calls the men pirates, as does Poppy, they are in fact privateers, a higher class of scoundrel and one usually supported by the Crown. As is the case here, plus a nice twist, that “Captain James” is in reality, a spy of sorts, a courier for the government. But it is a secret, and he cannot tell Poppy his real name or occupation. Nevertheless, she finds herself strongly attracted to him, and he to her.

During her two seasons, Poppy discovered that she couldn’t abide a man who refused to see or appreciate her intellect, and that left her woefully short of suitors that suited. But the Captain delighted in her quick wit and inquiring mind, and she in his.

After being cooped up on the ship for weeks, Captain James takes Poppy to his favorite tavern in Lisbon where they run into some trouble. Just when you think it will be smooth sailing, everything goes awry. But no worries, this is a romance after all, so they do find their happy ending.

This was a fun read and a good prequel to the Bridgerton series. And in very exciting news, Shonda Rhimes is bringing the Bridgerton series to Netflix. Read the details here: BookBub

11/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE OTHER MISS BRIDGERTON by Julia Quinn. Avon (November 20, 2018).  ISBN 978-0062388209. 400p.

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