NOT THE GIRL YOU MARRY by Andie J. Christopher

November 20, 2019

Click to purchase

From the publisher:

How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a millennial makeover in this romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher.

Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he’s not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who’s focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she’s determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.

I loved the movie this book was based on, and I liked that the book is gender-reversed, Millenial sensitive, and has a biracial lead. But somehow it just didn’t come together the way I thought it should, or would. The characters supposedly had instant chemistry, but I didn’t really feel it. The fake dating thing plays out for the entire book, until the very end, so it felt the tiniest bit unsatisfying.

I did like the characters but they could have been fleshed out a bit more. They fell a little flat for me. The con they were playing on one another often felt forced instead of more naturally occurring, if that makes sense. Maybe this plotline just works better visually, I don’t know. Or maybe because I loved the movie it was based on, my expectations were just too high. All that said, it is a very light, cute romantic romp, and ultimately, I did enjoy it. Just not as much as I had hoped.

11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NOT THE GIRL YOU MARRY by Andie J. Christopher. Berkley (November 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1984802682. 336p.



THE SECOND SLEEP by Robert Harris

November 19, 2019

Click to purchase

One of the bullet points written about this latest novel by Robert Harris indicates that it is unlike anything he has done before. That statement is very much true. Harris always gives us a well-written book, a plot second to none, and of course characters that are painted in the most mesmerizing manner with portraits of them that allow each to live for the reader. The plot is a very pleasant surprise and not what the reader expects. But assuredly the change in the novel’s direction is one that will be well received and quite satisfying.

Christopher Fairfax, a young priest arrives in a remote village in the hinterland of England in the year of the book 1468. He was sent there in order to hold services for the village’s previous priest who had just passed away. The area around the town is overrunning with ancient artifacts such as glass, human bones, paintings and other miscellaneous memorabilia stemming from long ago. The previous priest had been an ardent collector and exhibitor of what he found. He was killed in a freak fall while moving around in one of the areas he had been working in.

Fairfax becomes fascinated by the collection and determines he will make an inroad into the meaning of what is freely available on the ground. He will work in the area and become amazed at what he is unearthing. His very faith is shaken to the core by the interpretation of the findings and. he is almost killed in the search and also finds time to have a romantic interlude with one of the ladies living there.

The strength of Robert Harris’s book lies in what is discovered and the facts this leads to. It is only fair to say that this is certainly one of the author’s best books and any more of the plot revealed would surely take away the joy of following the path Harris makes. A very well done novel and another in the series of excellent books created by Robert Harris.

11/19 Paul Lane

THE SECOND SLEEP by Robert Harris. Knopf (November 19, 2019). ISBN 978-0525656692. 320p.




November 18, 2019

Click to purchase

Nothing like a good old fashioned ghost story to get a reader’s attention. But couple that with a well done novel set in the England of 1917 still engaged in a world war raging just across the channel. The combination of the two events in the hands of an author at the top of his game is a sure bet to capture and keep readers glued to the book.

On an island off the coast of Devon, Lord Highmount has set up a seance in an attempt to contact his two sons who have been killed in the war. Lord Highmount is a manufacturer of materials important to the war effort has had secret plans for an effective gas mask turn up in enemy hands in Berlin. It is to determine if enemy agents will come to the seance that two people have been dispatched by the British intelligence service to attend the event. The first is Kate Cartwright a young lady that is able to see the departed and possibly communicate with them. The other is Captain Donovan recently returned from the trenches of France and a first-class secret operative.

The guests gather at the residence of Lord Highmount and we immediately learn that most of them have something to hide. The story develops as a major storm shuts down the island and prevents any travel between the mainland and the residence. Part of the tale involves Kate and the mysterious Captain Donovan developing romantic feelings towards each other. Nice touch and probably foretelling future novels involving the two.

Events proceed and the reader is treated to two seances with events described by Ryan and allowing the plot to thicken. A good story and coupled with a good writing style means a good book and an interest in future novels by the author.

11/19 Paul Lane

A HOUSE OF GHOSTS by W. C. Ryan. Zaffre (October 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1785767111. 400p.




November 17, 2019

Click to purchase

Wild Rose Ranch Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

If you like bad-boy heroes, western settings, and a sexy, sassy heroine you will love Jennifer Ryan’s newest Wild Rose Ranch book! Perfect for fans of Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, and Jodi Thomas.

One minute down-on-his-luck rancher Austin Hubbard slept soundly, the next, a sassy spitfire dumped a pitcher of water on his head and woke him up—in more ways than one. Hired to help him rebuild his ranch, Sonya Tucker ends up helping him put the tattered pieces of his life back together. The capable, all-business accountant is on a mission to get the ranch up and running, but can he convince the temptingly beautiful woman to take a chance on him?

Sonya was dismayed that Austin had lost it all: money, family, respectability. Things she—who’d been raised by her mother at Nevada’s notorious brothel Wild Rose Ranch—only dreamed about. But working with the long, lean cowboy shows her that Austin is honorable to his core. Together they slowly grow to see what the love between them might bring.

But then Austin’s powder keg of a family feud explodes, exposing long-buried secrets, and threatening their new-found love…

Just when I was thinking I hadn’t read a good cowboy romance in a while, this one dropped in my lap. I liked the first book in this series, but I think this one is even better. I guess like the premise of a smart woman bossing around a cowboy! At least here, it really works. It sort of turns on its head the cowboy saving the woman, although there is a hint of that as well. But mostly Sonya is fierce and in charge.

Both of these characters have a lot of baggage and troubling backgrounds, and they both can appreciate that in the other. I couldn’t help but root for them to get together, but first, they had to learn to trust one another. Another good cowboy romance!

11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RESTLESS RANCHER by Jennifer Ryan.  Avon (November 12, 2019). ISBN 978-0062851901.  384p.




November 16, 2019

Click to purchase

NOTE: This book is being reissued with a new cover in January 2020. If you want to read it then, see the links below. If you want to read it now, you can purchase the original paperback through Amazon, just click on the green book cover.

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan comes this hilarious romance about a woman who trades in the comforts of city life in hopes of finding love in a small Scottish town in the middle of nowhere.

Faced with the harsh reality that there are 25,000 more women than men in London, Katie’s dating prospects are at an all-time low. While she’s glad it’s not a man’s world anymore, it wouldn’t hurt if there were more eligible bachelors.

More likely to get murdered than married, according to gleeful media reports, Katie resigns herself to the fact that there’s no sex in the city for her and decides to head for the hills—or the Scottish Highlands to be exact. Despite the fact she’s never been one for muddy rain boats—and Fairlish is in the middle of nowhere—the tiny town does have one major draw: men. LOTS of them!

But while Katie relishes the chance to do battle with armies of admirers, she’s not excited about going head to head with her shady new boss, Harry. At least there’s the local eye-candy to distract her, including gorgeous newshound Iain. But he is at loggerheads with Harry, and she can’t afford to get on Harry’s bad side any more than she already has.

Life in the country might not be one big roll in the hay, but now that Katie has taken the plunge, can she ever turn her back on the delights of Fairlish and return to city life…?

Buy this book 1/7/20

When I received a review copy of Where Have All the Boys Gone? (I’ll admit the cute cover caught my eye) I assumed it was a new book by Jenny Colgan since it had a publication date of January 2020 listed.  After reading it, however, I discovered that it is a reprint and was originally published in 2005.  It made more sense once I realized this was a reissue of a much earlier book by Colgan.

All the hallmarks of a Jenny Colgan book are there: a picturesque Scottish town, a heroine who leaves behind big city life, a dash of humor and of course romance, but Where Have All the Boys Gone? is missing a certain amount of polish. I thought the plot had potential, and Fairlish was certainly a quirky town, but unfortunately, this book fell rather flat for me.  The writing was pedestrian and at times the dialogue rather stilted. The characters are very one dimensional.

The defining characteristic of the main character Katie, and her best friend Louise seems to be wanting to find a boyfriend.  Katie does have two love interests but didn’t have much chemistry with either of them, and they are also very one-dimensional characters. Combine that with a rushed ending and this is ultimately a pretty forgettable story.

Overall, Where Have All the Boys Gone? really wasn’t anything particularly special in terms of plot or characters.  If you enjoy cozy romances and books set in Scotland, I would still recommend Jenny Colgan, but start with The Little Beach Street Bakery, The Café by the Sea or The Bookshop on the Corner.  Where Have All the Boys Gone? certainly isn’t an accurate representation of her abilities as a writer.

11/19 Caitlin Brisson

WHERE HAVE ALL THE BOYS GONE? by Jenny Colgan. HarperCollins; 1st Paperback Editio edition.

Kindle 2020

Audible 2020


36 RIGHTEOUS MEN by Steven Pressfield

November 15, 2019

Click to purchase

A story based on the Hebrew legend of 36 Righteous men, whose hidden presence in the world keeps it from destruction. No one knows who these men are, but according to the legend, if they are ever all killed the world will be destroyed.

James Manning and Covina (Dewey) Duwai are detectives working for the New York City police department involved with a special unit handling special crimes. They are called to investigate a case of two men being murdered via the same method, and then it is discovered that two others were killed in Russia in a similar fashion. Investigating the cases, Manning and Dewey enter the Jewish community in New York in which the concept of 36 Righteous Men appears. If all of them, wherever they are, are killed then so the legend states the world comes to an end.

The novel is narrated by Dewey who becomes Manning’s helper and chronicles the events as investigations into these murders goes from New York to Israel and moves into an excavation site in the desert.

The book is a quick read, interesting enough to finish, but unfortunately, the premise behind it and what happens is more than a little far fetched. I’ve read other Steven Pressfield books and will pick up what he writes, but this one is far from his best.

11/19 Paul Lane

36 RIGHTEOUS MEN by Steven Pressfield. W. W. Norton & Company (November 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1324002895. 360p.



GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN by Talia Hibbert

November 14, 2019

Click to purchase

The Brown Sisters, Book 1

From the publisher:


“Absolutely charming… a flawless balance of humor, heat, sweetness, and depth, and I loved every page.” – Helen Hoang, USA Today bestselling author of The Bride Test


Talia Hibbert, one of contemporary romance’s brightest new stars, delivers a witty, hilarious romantic comedy about a woman who’s tired of being “boring” and recruits her mysterious, sexy neighbor to help her experience new thingsperfect for fans of Sally Thorne, Jasmine Guillory, and Helen Hoang!

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

Enjoy a drunken night out.

Ride a motorcycle.

Go camping.

Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.

Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.

And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

This is a British import and a wonderful read! I read the advance copy, an e-galley, on my Kindle. I’m telling you this because most of the time, I can’t see the cover of the book. Either it’s just plain white with the title and author in black text, or as in this case, it is the actual cover but small. At least until it is opened, but I started reading this on my phone (yes, I do that, especially when I’m waiting…in line, at a red light, to pay, whatever!) My point being, I never really looked at the cover so I didn’t realize that this was a book with a biracial couple until I was about halfway through it. That just seemed meaningful to me for some reason. I’m not going to analyze it but did want to mention it.

The push for diversity in romance has been strong, and we, the readers, are reaping the benefits. It is lovely to read about someone who looks like you or acts like you, and everyone should have that opportunity.

Chloe has fibromyalgia and other various ailments, most of which leave her in pain most of the time. She tires easily and takes a lot of medication to manage her pain. And she’s smart, book smart, but not necessarily people smart. She’s been hurt by the people who should never hurt her; her friends, and her fiance. Ex-fiance, and former friends. So she lives a somewhat lonely existence, save for her two sisters, and the rest of her family.

Red thinks she is gorgeous, but also stuck up. Snooty rich girl, like his former girlfriend. But as Chloe tries to accomplish her goals, she learns Red is not the scary, tattooed biker she assumed him to be. And Red learns that Chloe, while maybe from a family with money, is nothing like his ex. Of course, it takes most of the book for them to reach those conclusions, and there is a lot of fun, and some angst, along the way. And a lot of sex, too.

I loved these characters. I was completely immersed in their world, and could not put down this book. Happily, there is a sequel coming, centering around one of Chloe’s sisters. If it’s only half as good as this one, it will still be another terrific read. I loved this book!

11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN by Talia Hibbert. Avon (November 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0062941206. 384p.



VAN OPS: THE LOST POWER by Avanti Centrae

November 13, 2019

Click to purchase

The present novel is indicated as Avanti Centrae’s first book in the series about a super-secret division of the CIA. This group is dedicated to investigating possible harmful activities of people or groups with an initiation into the past. Centrae begins the novel in Spain with the description of a battle fought in the year 1057 led by the King of Aragon and against an invading army of Moors. He captures a secret weapon first wrested by the conqueror Alexander the Great.

The scene then shifts into the present time when Maddy Marshall and her twin brother Will Argones  attempt to visit their estranged father who has summoned them. They hear shots when approaching his house and in an ensuing attack both their father and Will’s wife who was with them are killed. Immediately after the battle is over Maddy, Will and a friend that appears on the scene are sent by their father via his will on a mission to find the lost secret weapons of Alexander. In the course of the action, they travel to Spain, then to Israel and then rapidly elsewhere. In Israel, they are forced to undergo testing which involves a contest of kill or be killed in order to continue. Why they submit to this trial and other dangerous tests is beyond me but does form part of the novel’s plot.

We learn that the hiding of the secret weapon the Spanish royal family of Ferdinand and Isabel were involved and many of their descendants were killed in the search for the secret weapon. Employing a good deal of literary license that certainly stretches the imagination Maddy, Will and their friend move forward in the search. The novel is a fast read though not by any means an all-nighter. It is something to pick up for the idea postulated and enjoyed on that basis.

11/19 Paul Lane

VAN OPS: THE LOST POWER by Avanti Centrae. Black Opal Books (November 9, 2019). ISBN 978-1644371596. 376p.




November 12, 2019

Click to purchase

Marked for Retribution series, Book 3

This is the third book featuring private detective Kate Weller and appears in its ending as if the author will turn to other material for her next novel.

Kate is working for the Nate Price Investigations team but has found the man she wants to marry, and the book opens as she travels to his home to meet his family. At the same time, the Investigators have been invited to spend a restful week on a private island owned by Julian Frazier, a friend of one of the agency’s wealthy clients. They can bring their significant others with them, and of course, Kate has already done so. Unfortunately, a restaurant owned by Eric’s family (her boyfriend) has a key employee who becomes injured, and Eric, with the help of Kate, has decided to wait the few days until the employee returns and then joins Nate Price’s team on the private island.

The Price group has arrived on the island and after a welcome, has been told by Julian that he would like them to play a game of solving a mystery. When they agree, they are advised that Julian’s wife was murdered several years earlier, with the murderer known but not convicted due to key evidence being disallowed by the court. Julian would like the group to find out who it was that paid for his wife’s murder and also the cover-up later. To help out he has paid very well for the individuals that were involved in the original investigation to come to the island and allow themselves to be interviewed by the Price group.

This very well done novel follows the game and investigations that Price’s group is involved with. In spicing up the book, the writing includes the reactions of everyone to the presence of a psychopath who intends to really involve all in the murders of four of those present. Kate and Eric do arrive several days after the others have gone to the island and are involved in a very satisfying ending. Questions are who are the psychopaths and what really happened to Julian’s wife causing her death.

11/19 Paul Lane

ISLAND OF LAST RESORTS by Mary Ellis. Severn House Publishers; First World Publication edition (November 5, 2019). ISBN 978-0727889348. 224p.


WE MET IN DECEMBER by Rosie Curtis

November 11, 2019

Click to purchase

From the publisher:

Following a year in the life of a twenty-something British woman who falls hard for her London flat mate, this clever, fun, and unforgettable romantic comedy is the perfect feel-good holiday read.

Two people. One house. A year that changes everything. 

Twenty-nine-year-old Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling, but grand, Notting Hill house-share with four virtual strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor, at a Christmas dinner hosted by her landlord. They don’t kiss, but as far as Jess is concerned the connection is clear. She starts planning how they will knock down the wall between them to spend more time together.

But when Jess returns from a two-week Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else—beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his. 

I generally love anything British, but I didn’t love this book. I felt like I was wading through molasses to get to the end. It was slowwwww. That said, I did like the characters quite a bit, at least the two main characters. The rest were all sort of lumped in together, except for maybe Sophie, Jess’s best friend since childhood. And Jess’s grandma, I loved her.

The synopsis by the publisher doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. Jess moves into the house with a bargain-basement rent because the owner of the house is one of her best friends from “uni” (university,) as they say. Becky has inherited the house, and it is worth millions, as is explained many, many times.

What I did love about this book is that Jess and Alex often take walks around different London neighborhoods, so this book is part travelogue, and I think those pages are the best bits. I learned there is a neighborhood near Notting Hill called Paddington and neighboring that is Little Venice. Which I had never heard of, and neither had my husband – and he thought he had walked all of London when he was there many years ago. In a funny coincidence, my son’s in-laws are staying in London for several months in the Paddington neighborhood, and regularly visit the Starbucks that is in Little Venice! They sent me this picture (thanks, Nancy!) And why is there no word in English for that familial relationship? In Yiddish, they are my machatunim, which Slate questions as well.

Other quibbles – the cover, and the title, and even the synopsis make this seem like it is a Christmas book, which it is not. It is written sort of like a journal, with dates starting each chapter as they move through the year from December to December. It is mostly told from Jess’s viewpoint, but Alex has several chapters as well. I didn’t love that changing point of view, it seems a bit like cheating to me. The author wanted to make sure we understood that both Alex and Jess had feelings for one another even though they date/sleep with other people and don’t declare their feelings for one another until the end. Not really a spoiler since this is a romance, and that is a very common ploy. There is no explicit sex here, just implied (for lack of a better word,) and that didn’t affect me one way or another.

This was just an okay read for me. I did like the characters and the ending, it just took too long to get there.

11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WE MET IN DECEMBER by Rosie Curtis. Berkley (November 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1984806093. 352p.