DANCE AWAY WITH ME by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

June 19, 2020

6/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

DANCE AWAY WITH ME by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. William Morrow (June 9, 2020). ISBN 978-0062973054. 400 pages.



BIG SUMMER by Jennifer Weiner

June 17, 2020

6/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

BIG SUMMER by Jennifer Weiner. Atria Books (May 5, 2020). ISBN 978-1501133510. 368 pages.




June 15, 2020

Phenomenal Fate, Book 1

From the publisher:

A timeless love story with bite.

It was a night like any other for funeral home director Ginny Lynn, until the exceptionally handsome—and unfortunately deceased—young man on her embalming table sat up, opened his emerald eyes and changed the course of her life forever, making her feel quite fluttery while he was at it.

Humans aren’t supposed to know Jonas Cantrell, or any vampire, exists. It’s kind of a major rule. Despite his instantaneous bond with perfectly peculiar Ginny, he has no choice but to erase her memories of their one and only meeting.

That was the plan. Before a reluctant Jonas can wipe Ginny’s mind clean, she reveals a secret that brings their worlds crashing together. Human and vampire. Past and present. Darkness and light. And while their love is strictly forbidden, it might be the only thing that can save them…

I have to begin this review by stating that if there is a contest for most beautiful book cover of 2020 then Reborn Yesterday has my vote. Yes, I know the cliché about not judging a book by its cover, but as soon as I saw the enchanting cover art for this title I was sold even before reading the synopsis. In the end though, I found Reborn Yesterday to be a somewhat underwhelming paranormal romance.

The plot itself is fairly straight forward. Mortician Ginny meets vampire Jonas when he ends up in her morgue after a prank gone wrong. They quickly fall in love, but Jonas has enemies who do not want him and Ginny to get their happily ever after. The key statement there is “quickly fall in love”. For me that ended up being the most disappointing element of this title. I feel that Bailey relied a little too heavily on the idea that Ginny and Jonas were “mates”. This is not my favorite element of paranormal romances as it makes it difficult to feel invested in the couple. There was a complete lack of tension or banter between Ginny and Jonas, instead the reader must simply accept that they are madly in love.

Even if the central romance fell a little flat for me, Bailey does a good job of creating a compelling cast of side character. Jonas’ vampire roommates Elias and Tucker, as well as Slayer Roksana. It looks like Bailey plans on giving all three their own books and those characters piqued my interest enough that I would check out future titles in the series. In Reborn Yesterday it seems like Bailey did not get to fully develop the Coney Island setting or the vampire lore for her world, so I also hope to see those elements more fully realized in future installments. Overall, a quirky paranormal that lacks a compelling central romance.

6/2020 Caitlin Brisson

REBORN YESTERDAY by Tessa Bailey. IngramSpark (March 4, 2020). ISBN  9781087857527. 383 pages.




SPECIAL MEANS by Andrew Ceroni

June 14, 2020


From the publisher:

CIA agents must play catch-up in time to stop powerful men in Homeland Security and the Defense Department from staging the overthrow of the President and his administration!

Riveting! Escalating gang violence in Denver, Colorado, and in other large cities in the nation captures the attention of the first term President. He wants a solution, and he wants it NOW. Legislation would take years. The Director of Homeland Security suggests that the remedy to the deteriorating situation may be a highly classified program deep within the charter of the Federal Emergency Management Agency-FEMA, known as Annex K. This deep-black program, nicknamed STARDUST, would be executed beneath the heaviest cloak of utmost secrecy and without the knowledge or informed consent of Congress.

When the CIA sends Agent Dave McClure to Denver to investigate inexplicable lethal violence being waged with advanced military weaponry against organized street gangs, McClure discovers that what has been unleashed is a sinister solution far worse than the problem. He unearths a nightmarish plot to do much more than eliminate gangs in America – rather, an attempt to seize the military district of Washington and overthrow the federal government. McClure’s own life is now at especially high risk. The CIA must act quickly and with overwhelming force. The clock is ticking!

Remembering the series of motion pictures starring Charles Bronson about a self-appointed vigilante hunting criminals and executing them will provide a bit of background about Andrew Ceroni’s latest novel. The United States has reached a point at which criminal gangsters and gangs are running wild with no apparent means of controlling them.

A newly elected president calls a meeting of carefully selected advisors and has a group formed composed of highly skilled military. Their mission would be to hunt down and summarily execute gangs. No arrest, no trial, no hearings. When the group is activated, functioning crime does go down in certain areas of the country. The population is ecstatic about what is going on as it is apparent that this vigilante group is doing what the police cannot come to grips with due to the many regulations hindering their work.

Dave McClure, an agent with the CIA who has appeared in prior novels by Ceroni, is sent to investigate. He finds clues to a group of skilled warriors that are plotting to stage a coup and take over the U.S. government. He alerts his supervisors who begin to mobilize forces to go after them. McClure and his fellow agents begin work to find out where the group is hiding and what their plans include. The leadership of the rogue warriors includes a four-star U.S. Army general and does involve highly trained people. Yes, you guessed it, the group formed by the seemingly benevolent actions of the president has changed their course of action to now want to take over the country with them as the leadership.

McClure finds out where the rogue group is, and what they are planning and the CIA sets up a task force to thwart their plans. Along the way, McClure’s wife is threatened with kidnapping and being held to keep her husband from continuing with his plans.

The novel is easy to read, nothing strenuous to grasp, and a feel-good work for the readers. It’s an all-nighter due to the continuous action outlined and the interest of the reader to keep abreast of things. It would be easy to continue to look for and read future books by Ceroni and that is my recommendation after finishing this one.

NOTE: The main character in Special Means works for the CIA. He does domestic assignments. The CIA only handles overseas stuff. I know – but that’s where the author put him. Thanks for reading, Paul.

6/2020 Paul Lane

SPECIAL MEANS by Andrew Ceroni. Outskirts Press (April 18, 2020). ISBN: 978-1977225764. 342 pages.


THE NEW GUY by Kathryn Freeman

June 13, 2020

THE NEW GUY by Kathryn Freeman. HarperImpulse (March 5, 2020). ISBN 978-0008365820. 400 p.


SEA OF SPIES by Alex Gerlis

June 12, 2020


The Richard Prince Thrillers, Book 2

From the publisher:

A nest of espionage. A break for the border. A race to survive.

The Allies are desperate to stop neutral Turkey supplying vital materials to the Nazis – materials which could help them win the war. But then a British agent makes a fatal mistake, and disappears in Istanbul.

In England, detective turned spy Richard Prince – back from a clandestine mission in Nazi-occupied Europe – is hunting for his lost son. Before long he is drawn into a dangerous follow-up operation, posing as a journalist in Turkey.

The mission soon goes wrong. Out of touch with London and stranded hundreds of miles behind enemy lines, Prince will have to find evidence of the Turks secret trade with the Nazis, as well as a way out.

Chances of survival? Low. Chance of completing his mission? Prince will do whatever it takes.

An astounding WWII espionage thriller from a modern master of the genre, Sea of Spies is a triumph, perfect for fans of Alan Furst, John le Carré and Robert Harris.

The second book about the WWII adventures of Richard Prince, a successful police detective in England transformed into a spy by MI6. In book one, he was dropped behind the lines in Europe and completes a dangerous mission awaiting the next assignment.

Gerlis’s second book simply increases the level of excitement to a pitch that forces the reader to read as quickly as possible and gasping, finally lay the novel down knowing that it will be difficult to patiently await book three.

The story involves Richard being sent to Istanbul charged with finding the source of shipping the metal chromium to Nazi Germany. This material is used in the manufacture of stainless steel and important in the production of tanks and many other military weapons. Turkey remains neutral during the early period of the war but does ship chromium to Germany and hides the fact from England in order to disguise their lack of neutrality. Prince is charged with finding the source of these shipments and obtaining evidence of them which when presented to the Turkish foreign minister should cause a halt to the export.

The novel brings Richard into Turkey and from there into Greece and Munich in Germany, as well as neutral Switzerland as he develops proof of the exports and fights to bring the information back to his handlers in London. There it will be used as a tool to coerce Turkey into stopping their shipments to Germany.

The adventures are depicted with a great deal of insight into the manner that could very well have been an actuality of such a trip during wartime conditions. Richard, if caught by the Nazis, will be executed and knowingly faces this every step of the way. Gerlis does not bring in any superhuman ability of his protagonist, but has him painstakingly and cautiously planning and executing every move in his assignment and his trips through a world in the midst of war.

6/2020 Paul Lane

SEA OF SPIES by Alex Gerlis. Canelo Action (June 11, 2020). ISBN: 978-1542094030. 301 p.

FLASHBACK by T. R. Davis

June 11, 2020


Flashpoint, Book 1

From the publisher:

Sarah is a thirteen year old girl who starts experiencing memories that are thousands of years old.

She is initially confused when vivid memories from an unknown woman suddenly manifest within her mind when she’s threatened with danger. She uses the knowledge in those memories to help her get out of trouble.

But a DNA swab exposing a unique gene has brought her to the attention of a company that specializes in genetic research. Sarah eagerly seizes the chance for a better life and the fact that she must share her memories as a condition of being accepted in a research project doesn’t raise any red flags for her. Not yet.

Over time, Sarah discovers she is a direct descendant of Innogen, a woman who lived during the time of the Roman invasion of The British Isles. Despite the excitement and confusion this knowledge engenders, Sarah is enjoying the life of a typical teenage girl, including a budding romance, when she realizes that many of her new friends also have ancestral memories. Sarah suspects the project’s probing questions mask a hidden agenda and that the students’ memories are central to a secret goal, but what is it?

What Sarah doesn’t know is that the company doesn’t exactly have the best interests of their young charges in mind. They have a more sinister purpose, and they don’t mind if it costs a few students their lives along the way.

Flashback is a well-done story about the possibility of “Ancestral Memory” being passed down via genetic transfer. It deals with a science fiction theme in which descendants of historically famous people could be found with the aid of the mapping of the human genome. The events occurring in the life of the ancestor might be available as memories in the current generation.

Sarah is a thirteen-year-old orphan that has been moved frequently through the uncaring foster care system in Canada. She has had no parents to love and has only the prospect of more of the same. At the opening of the story, an anthropological expedition has unearthed the burial ground of three people in England; two males and one female. By judicious process of elimination, the female is found to be that of Boudica who was a warrior Queen of her tribe living in England during the first century A.D. She led her people in battles against the invading Roman armies enjoying some success holding off the conquerors at many points.

The leader of the expedition finding the remains contacts a company that is looking into the genetic analysis of possibly famous people. The firm investigating the DNA found on the bodies and does actually find a prospect living today that might be a possibility to carry Ancestral memories of Boudica and her life.

Sarah does have the genetic disposition to carry such memories. She is contacted by the company investigating these memories and taken into a school that they sponsor. When Sarah is encouraged to accept her memories, she first thinks she is daydreaming but then begins to react as a warrior would when facing physical violence without any training in the martial arts.

T.R. Davis does not overly dwell on the science he writes about but does explain in layman’s terms the possibility of genome mapping supplying many benefits for the human race. These do include better information to fight disease, physical deformities, and other maladies plaguing mankind. The reader is given enough information to understand what the author needs understood to tell his story. A fast read and one that does grab the reader’s attention and keeps it until the end. Certainly guaranteeing that Davis’ next books will be looked for and enjoyed.

6/2020 Paul Lane

FLASHBACK by T. R. Davis. T.R. Davis (April 30, 2020). ISBN: 978-1775382560. 426 p.

SAY YES TO THE DUKE by Eloisa James

June 10, 2020

SAY YES TO THE DUKE by Eloisa James. Avon (May 19, 2020). ISBN 978-0062878069. 400 p.





June 9, 2020

THE MARRIAGE GAME by Sara Desai. Berkley; 1 edition (June 9, 2020). ISBN 978-0593100561. 352 pages.



THE HOUSE GUEST by Mark Edwards

June 7, 2020


From the publisher:

A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

The House Guest is the chilling new psychological thriller from the three million copy bestselling author of Here to Stay and Follow You Home.

Ruth and Adam are a young British couple living in New York on a temporary basis. Ruth is an actress and has had the luck to find a role in a play being done in New York. She also has starred in a short film which got her rave reviews and a good reputation as an up and coming actress.

Adam is a playwright but he hasn’t had any luck in selling a play so far. He is going to try his luck in New York writing during the time that Ruth is busy with her show and making contacts while doing so.

The couple took advantage of coming over to New York from London on a transatlantic cruise. On board, they had a tremendous piece of good luck when they met Jack and Mona, a couple about a generation older than they are and quite financially successful. Jack and Mona are not staying in New York but are immediately leaving for a retreat in New Mexico. The couple own a house in New York City and after striking up a rapport with Ruth and Adam, ask them to house sit while they are away. A fabulous deal for the British couple and they jump to it with gratitude.

On the first Monday that they are in the house, and in the midst of a very rainy day, a young lady knocks at the door indicating that she is very friendly with Jack and Mona and that she has come to stay at their house. She says that they have offered to allow her to stay at their home whenever she is in New York. When Eden, the arrival, seems to know everything about Jack and Mona and appearing that she is what she says she is, Ruth and Adam decide that they have to let her stay. The worst part is that since Jack and Mona are at a retreat, they cannot be contacted to get their okay with Eden staying at the house. The situation seems like Eden has told the truth and she would readily have been accepted by Jack and Mona.

The situation crashes when Ruth disappears one morning along with Eden and there is no word from her for three days. Adam calls the police but is advised that they will do nothing since many people do walk away from bad relationships with no notice.

Edwards takes us through the search for Ruth and while doing so, Adam meets a man who wants to help him. That individual claims that Eden is also involved with the disappearance of his daughter and if Adam joins him in the search for both Ruth and his child, it may be easier and allow two to work on any clues that the duo comes up with.

The presentation of the characters is well done and as events unfold the reader will definitely stay glued to the book and make a note to get future novels by Mark Edwards. Certainly, a five-star story with a well thought out plot.

6/2020 Paul Lane

THE HOUSE GUEST by Mark Edwards. Thomas & Mercer (June 3, 2020). ISBN: 978-1542094030. 301 p.

NOTE: This book is published by an Amazon imprint. They refuse to sell ebooks to libraries.