BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT by Mary Alice Monroe

July 22, 2017

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The Beach House, Book 4

Take a vacation to the Lowcountry of South Carolina with this delightful summer read.

Cara Rutledge inherited her Isle of Palm beach house, Primrose Cottage, when her mother passed away several years earlier. She and her husband rent out the cottage every summer, and this time she got lucky and found one tenant for the whole summer, instead of the usual week by week rentals. Her tenant is Heather, a young woman with some serious mental health issues.

Heather lost her mother in a car accident when she was very young, and she bears the scars of that loss. She has severe anxiety disorder, is extremely shy and nonconfrontational. Her father has recently remarried, and decided he needs to spend time alone with his new wife so arranges for the rental. Heather is an artist and has won a prestigious commission to paint shorebirds for stamps for the U.S. Post Office. Staying on the beach is sure to inspire her art. While moving someplace new is stressful, she draws comfort from her canaries.

Bo Stanton is a local carpenter who is building a deck onto the beach house. He is entranced with Heather and her canaries, and she quickly falls for the very patient young man. Together they explore the area, and Heather learns about sea turtles and shore birds and life.

When tragedy befalls Cara, she begs to move back into the cottage, as she has always found solace in her mother’s place. Heather can’t say no to her, and Cara moves in with Heather. The women both work through their troubles, finding strength in one another.

This is a beautiful story that deals with love, grief, and especially friendship, all within the confines of the beach community. The descriptions of the area made me feel like I was there, so this was a nice little getaway of a read for me.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT by Mary Alice Monroe. Gallery Books (June 20, 2017).  ISBN 978-1501125461.  416p.

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THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly

July 19, 2017

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Detective Renée Ballard works the “late show”, the overnight shift, in Hollywood, California. It is considered a punishment shift, and it’s where she was moved after filing a complaint about Olivas, her boss in Homicide. He tried to kiss her at a party in front of her partner, but her partner wouldn’t back up her claim so Olivas got away with it and her partner got a promotion. Yes, workplace politics are alive and well on the Los Angeles police force.

Her partner on the late show is Jenkins, who has a sick wife at home and volunteered to work the shift so he could be home with his wife during the day. He has no interest in overtime, just wants to put in his time and go home. The night shift doesn’t usually handle cases, they just gather information and turn it over to the day shift detectives, but Ballard finagles her time management to keep the cases she wants – like the transgender prostitute that was beaten and tortured and left for dead, and an old lady’s stolen credit card. She gets a real thrill out of solving cases and is willing work her butt off to get the job done.

The big case at the center of the story is a shootout at a strip club. Four men are killed, as well as a waitress. When Ballard’s ex-partner is killed, she decides to do a little investigating on the side, as Olivas won’t allow her anywhere near his investigation. She soon figures out that the killer was probably a cop, which doesn’t play well with her brethren. All the storylines are tied up at the end, with one surprise after another.

This is the start of a new series for Connelly, and his first with a woman as the lead. Ballard is a terrific character, with enough backstory and trauma to make her really interesting, and enough guts and ingenuity to make her a terrific cop. The supporting cast is also well developed, and the multiple story lines are handled with Connelly’s usual finesse. And I loved the reference to the Amazon Prime series, Bosch – a nice Easter egg.

I was shocked to realize this book was over 400 pages, it was a very fast read for me. Connelly has a way of drawing me into his stories that make it almost impossible to put down the book. If you’re a Harry Bosch and/or Lincoln Lawyer fan, you will love this new one, too. This is an excellent series debut from the finest crime fiction writer out there. Don’t miss it.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly. Little, Brown and Company (July 18, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316225984. 448p.

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KISS MY BOOTS by Harper Sloan

July 18, 2017

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Coming Home Series, Book 2

I loved the first book in this series, Lost Rider, so I am super excited to be kicking off the blog tour for this new book! Plus, one lucky reader will win a copy of Lost Rider!

This book centers on Quinn Davis. The first book was a romance between Quinn’s brother and her best friend. This romance is between Quinn and Tate, the boy she loved as a teenager. Tate spent every summer in this small Texas town where his grandparents lived. But he left for Emory University and never came back. He finished medical school, practiced in Atlanta and spent time with a woman who he thought was also only interested in a physical relationship.

Eventually, circumstances changed. His grandparents died and he bought their house, including his grandfather’s medical offices, and he moved back, hoping to find the girl he left behind.

Quinn has some serious abandonment issues, between her mother leaving her as a very young child, and Tate leaving, too. But even those she’s dated, she’s never felt about anyone the way she feels about Tate. So when he comes home, they decide to start over.

There are some sweet moments, especially with her family, and some sexy moments with Tate, and a really funny scene with one of Tate’s exes. While it didn’t have the depth of the first book in the series with all that back story and drama, it was a fast, fun read.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

KISS MY BOOTS by Harper Sloan. Pocket Books (July 18, 2017). ISBN 978-1501155215. 368p.

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To win a copy of the new paperback of LOST RIDER by Harper Sloanplease send an email to contest@gmail.com with “LOST RIDER” as the subject.

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

All entries must be received by August 5, 2017. 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 books will be sent by SIMON & SCHUSTER|POCKET 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.

Praise for Lost Rider, Book 1:

“Sloan hits it out of the park with her first Coming Home contemporary western romance…Maverick is a perfect hero: multilayered, complicated, deeply damaged, yet blooming with the new promise of love. Leighton is appealing and real, as are a strong supporting cast of characters whom readers will be glad to follow into sequels. Sloan enhances the gripping story with country songs that open each chapter. This absolutely spectacular effort catapults Sloan to the top of her genre.” —Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

About the author:

Harper Sloan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Corps Security and Hope Town series. She started writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night. Harper lives in Georgia with her family. Visit her at AuthorHarperSloan.com or Facebook.com/HarperSloanBooks.


SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS by Susan Mallery

July 14, 2017

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Kelly and her sister Olivia have been estranged for many years. Their mother was the town whore and eventually walked out on the family. Kelly thought that Olivia was just like their mom and convinced their father to send her to boarding school before she ended up a teenage mother. They haven’t seen each other since, so Kelly and her dad, Jeff, are surprised when Olivia shows up.

Kelly and Jeff, run the family business, a tulip farm. They live in a small town about an hour outside of Seattle. Olivia has been living in Phoenix, doing staging for a real estate company. Things are really slow in hot, hot Phoenix in the summer so she decides to spend some time reuniting with her family.

Both girls have serious relationship issues, with each other, their mother, and with men. Kelly was in a five year long relationship and when the guy broke up with her, she really didn’t care. When the boy she had a crush on in high school starts pursuing her, she’s interested. He manufactures tiny homes, like the ones on HGTV, so that was a fun subplot.

Olivia has been following in her mother’s footsteps, happily seducing men but never really having a relationship. And Kelly’s best friend Helen is secretly in love with Jeff, the sisters’ father. All three women have big secrets, but eventually find happiness with each other and the men in their lives. It is a joyful and occasionally painful road to get there.

I learned a bit about tulips, which was nice. I grew up in New York and when I was a kid, I planted tulips every year, then dug the bulbs up again after they finished blooming and stored them in a Barbie doll lunchbox in the garage. Tulips don’t grow in Florida, although I guess you could refrigerate them and fool them into thinking it’s winter but I haven’t tried that. I live in a tropical paradise and while tulips are lovely, I don’t mind not growing any.

I liked the characters a lot and enjoyed spending time with them, even for just one night. There were three romances here and everyone had their happy ending. Another fun read from a terrific storyteller.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS by Susan Mallery. HQN Books (July 11, 2017).  ISBN 978-0373802760.  448p.

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HELLO, SUNSHINE by Laura Dave

July 12, 2017

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Sunshine Mackenzie is an Internet cooking sensation with cookbooks, an upcoming Food Network show and millions of fans. Until the night of her surprise birthday party, when someone hacks her social media accounts and accuses her of being a fraud. Since she can’t really cook, and her recipes are created by her producer’s wife, who she’s slept with, fraud seems an apt description. And her life implodes. Danny, her husband, leaves her and returns her cookbook advance, wiping out all their cash. Then he sells the apartment out from under her, leaving her penniless, homeless and pretty much friendless.

Since she can’t really cook, and her recipes are created by her producer’s wife, who she’s slept with, fraud seems an apt description. And her life implodes. Danny, her husband, leaves her and returns her cookbook advance to the publisher, wiping out all their cash. Then he sells the apartment out from under her, leaving her penniless, homeless and pretty much friendless. So Sunny decides to go home to the Hamptons.

Most people think of the Hamptons as a summer enclave for the rich and famous, and that is true. But there are people who live there all year round, and Sunny grew up there. Her sister still lives there but they are estranged, haven’t spoken in years. So when Sunny shows up, her welcome is a cop ticketing her for trespassing. Eventually, her sister lets her in and a strained relationship resumes.

Sunny finagles a job as the “trash” consultant at a high end restaurant using her niece’s name instead of her own. A few of the staff recognize her but don’t bother her. She has a plan to get the chef to teach her to cook and re-start her career, but he’s not interested. Then she finds out she’s pregnant and things get even more complicated.

This is a redemption story, but to get to that Sunny has to hit rock bottom. I was tempted to put down the book more than once as her life went on the skids as she was a completely unsympathetic character. Kudos to Laura Dave who somehow kept me turning pages anyway, and I was very glad I did. I liked how the story moved and turned, but the ending felt a bit rushed and incomplete. A few more pages would have been nice. In spite of all that, ultimately I did enjoy the book.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HELLO, SUNSHINE by Laura Dave. Simon & Schuster (July 11, 2017).  ISBN 978-1476789323.  256p.

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WIRED by Julie Garwood

July 11, 2017

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Buchanan/FBI Series, Book 13

This series is new to me and I’m not sure who Buchanan is, but the FBI is front and center. I guess it doesn’t matter because I don’t feel like I missed a thing.

Allison Trent is a most unlikely computer hacker. A really good hacker, who only hacks for good. Like the time some bad hackers stole the life savings of all the residents of a nursing home. She stole it back, gave the money to the FBI along with a detailed, step by step accounting of who did it and how. All anonymously. She is a sort of Robinhood of hackers. Oh, and she models on the side to make extra money because she’s still has a few months left to go before college graduation and she’s gorgeous.

Allison and her older sister were orphaned as young children, and an aunt and uncle took them in and raised them. Her sister has moved away, and Allison is still earning money for her aunt and uncle, who do not treat her kindly, to say the least. They basically look at her as a means of support and harass her repeatedly.

One day her best friend Jordan invites her on a tour of a new FBI computer center. While there, Allison is questioned by two of the agents. The next thing she knows, she is put in an office by herself and asked to hack into the FBI computers to find a leak. Which she does. They hire her and one of the agents, Liam, takes charge of her.

Liam is a hottie who is constantly traveling for work so doesn’t form any lasting relationships. To him, sex is recreational, a way to kill time between assignments. But something happens with Allison – he is really drawn to her and can’t get her out of his mind. And she finds herself falling for him but afraid that he is just using her.

This is a very fast read. Liam and Allison are interesting, well drawn characters but the rest of the cast we barely get to know. The biggest hole in the plot, well, more like a major annoyance to me, is that Allison, this brilliant coder, doesn’t know something so simple, so basic as thow to block a phone number to keep her relatives from harassing her. By the end of the book it was really annoying me, but that’s just me. Other than that, I enjoyed the book and read it very quickly as it really held my interest. I loved the idea of a woman who could code

I loved the idea of a woman who could code circles around men, but the fact that she also models was a bit much –  she couldn’t get part time work coding? Really?

Other than that, I enjoyed the book and read it very quickly as it really held my interest. If you can suspend your disbelief, it is an enjoyable read.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WIRED by Julie Garwood.  Berkley (July 4, 2017). ISBN 978-0525954460. 320p.

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CAMINO ISLAND by John Grisham

July 7, 2017

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A library, a bookstore, and a Florida setting – count me in! I couldn’t resist and I’m happy to say this was a really good read. I tend to run hot and cold with Grisham’s books, sometimes I love his books, other times, not so much. I put this one in the love column for sure. And interestingly enough, it’s not a legal thriller.

The premise starts with a heist. Princeton University is home to the only original manuscripts of all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels as well as his notes, letters and papers. The manuscripts are priceless, to say the least, so when they are stolen, all sorts of agencies get involved in trying to find them.

The insurance company investigator needs help. They think that the owner of a small but very successful bookstore owner may have the manuscripts. The bookstore is on Camino Island outside of Jacksonville, Florida, (which bears a strong resemblance to Amelia Island, where Grisham has a home.)

The investigator zeroes in a Mercer, a novelist who grew up on the island. Mercer has just been let go from her teaching job, has mountains of student debt to pay off, and is three years late on her contracted next book.  The investigator offers to pay off her student loans and pay her a ton of money besides. All she has to do is stay in her former summer home for a six month period, befriend the bookseller, and see what she can learn. She learns a lot about rare books, so I did as well, and it was completely fascinating.

I loved the premise of the book and Grisham really brought it home for me. Luckily, the library at Princeton is apparently nothing like the one described in the novel, lest someone get the bright idea to make fiction a reality. Grisham is quite a diverse writer, and he once again goes off in a different direction from his legal thrillers. This is a thriller, just no lawyering involved here. There are some reviews who cast this with a chick lit light, but I really didn’t see it. I will say that some of my favorite Grisham books, besides his first few legal thrillers, are his non-thrillers like Playing for Pizza and Skipping Christmas. Camino Island is just another really good read.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CAMINO ISLAND by John Grisham. Doubleday; First Edition edition (June 6, 2017).  ISBN 978-0385543026. 304p.

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BEFORE THIS IS OVER by Amanda Hickie

July 6, 2017

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Rumors of a deadly virus have already begun to spread, but Australia has so far remained safe. For Hannah, though, it is a concern. A cancer survivor always anxiously aware of any minute change in her own health, Hannah also has two sons and a husband to care for. And so when talk circulates of the virus’s potential spread, Hannah starts to prepare. Stockpiling food and other necessities is at the forefront of her mind in the beginning and she feels she’s done well enough at that, ensuring the men in her household don’t dip into the emergency stash along the way. But even she realizes that keeping her eldest son from participating in a school trip, when no infection has yet to reach their shores, might be a bit of a stretch.

And yet, her concerns are founded. The virus hits Australia while her oldest son is separated from the rest of the family. She berates her husband for heading into the office and keeps her youngest son home from school while the teachers and principal believe she’s being ridiculously paranoid. And again her concerns turn out to be founded when one of the men in the office and children at the school become infected. And when her son’s school trip is trapped by blockades and quarantine measures, Hannah’s husband finally agrees it’s time to take matters into their own hands.

I loved Amanda Hickie’s debut. In a time of ebola and zika, amongst others, the fear of viral apocalypse definitely seems like a reality we could very well face. Amanda Hickie herself was inspired to write the book based on her own fears after threats of a SARS outbreak.

And those fears ring true in Hannah. The story is tinged by that fear, imbued with a sense of paranoia and dread that infects the reader from the very first page. Which of course makes it a perfectly intense read.

Before This is Over is the kind of book that will appeal to a wide audience. The outbreak aspect makes it dark and satisfying for dystopian and post apocalyptic fans, but there’s a definite literary lean to the novel that will appeal to more than just genre fans. And considering the book raises a lot of questions, most importantly how far would you go to protect the people you love most, I think it would make a great pick for book clubs looking for a very discussion worthy and timely read.

7/17 Becky LeJeune

BEFORE THIS IS OVER by Amanda Hickie. Little, Brown and Company (March 28, 2017).  ISBN 978-0316355452. 400p.

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KISS CARLO by Adriana Trigiani

July 4, 2017

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The 4th of July seems like a good time to talk about Adriana Trigiani’s latest, a book about Italian immigrants living the American dream.

I always look forward to a new book from master storyteller Trigiani, and she never disappoints. Kiss Carlo is another terrific Italian family story, this time set in the late 1940’s in Philadelphia. Dom and Mike are brothers who own a cab company, but when their father dies, he leaves behind a rift between the brothers that forces them and their families apart for more than a decade. Dom opens his own cab company and adds a telegraph office as well, run by Mrs. Mooney, a “colored” woman who loves the family like her own.

Nick is an orphan who lives with his aunt and uncle Dom in a basement apartment. He works in the family business, driving cab #4, and Mrs. Mooney is like a second mother to him. He moonlights at the Borelli theater, where he does everything and anything from cleaning the floors to feeding the actors their lines.

Calla Borelli took over directing the plays from her retired father. The Borelli theater is a community theater that puts on productions of Shakespeare, but ticket sales have been steadily declining and the family is barely hanging on. Calla has to fire Nick, they can’t afford him anymore except at the last minute, he has to fill in for one of the actors, and Nick falls in love with the stage.

Nick has been engaged for seven years, since before the War, to Peachy, but as he is tempted by Calla, and in love with acting, he realizes he can’t see a future with her. In nearby Roseto, the town is expecting the Ambassador Carlo from their sister city in Italy for a Jubilee celebration. Nick is to deliver the telegram stating that the ambassador has been taken ill and won’t arrive, but instead, Nick convinces Mrs. Mooney to go with him while he poses as the Ambassador and all sorts of hijinks ensue.

All of Trigiani’s books are about “la famiglia” and no one does a better job of it; you can practically taste the macaroni and gravy as you read. If you are looking for a beautiful escape, look no further. Kiss Carlo is an intoxicating getaway, a vacation read I wouldn’t want to miss, and neither should you!

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

KISS CARLO by Adriana Trigiani. Harper (June 20, 2017). ISBN 978-0062319227. 544p.

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THE LIGHT IN SUMMER by Mary McNear

June 29, 2017

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A Butternut Lake Novel

This was my first time reading this author, and I intend to read more of these Butternut Lake books. This was a really good, fast fun read, perfect for summer.

Of course it probably helps that the main character, Billy, is the small town librarian – that always gets me interested. She is a single mom, the result of a one-night stand, her first time having sex, when she was 18 years old. The father was a fishing guide in Alaska, and by the time she realized that she was pregnant, he had moved on with no forwarding address. Luckily, she has wonderful parents who support her and help her raise her son, Luke.

Fast forward several years and Luke is a young teen. Billy’s dad passed away, and they are both having a hard time dealing with it, but Luke refuses to discuss it. He has made a couple of new friends and is getting into trouble with them – getting suspended on the last day of school, then getting arrested for graffiti. This is a very small town in northern Minnesota, and the cop knows Luke is a good kid so he gets off with just a warning. But Billy is worried about how to handle this new person who is living in her son’s skin.

One day at work, Billy is looking out the window and sees a man driving a Porsche being ticketed. Cal is really good looking and turns out to be staying with his sister for the summer, while going through a divorce and selling off his partnership in a Seattle architecture firm. Eventually, Billy and Cal meet and there is a strong attraction, but things move slowly for a while. Billy is dealing with Luke, and Cal has his issues but they keep bumping into one another and things progress nicely.

This was a one night read for me. I loved these characters and the small town life – an idyllic summer read. Unfortunately, my library only has digital audiobooks of her earlier books – going to have to see what I can do about that!

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE LIGHT IN SUMMER by Mary McNear. Thomas Dunne Books (September 6, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250089090.  304p.

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