What I’m Reading: Alyson Richman

April 22, 2019

Author Alyson Richman shares three books that she hasn’t been able to put down!

Click to purchase

THE SECRET OF CLOUDS by Alyson Richman

Named One of the Best 2019 Winter Books by PopSugar and Chosen as One of 9 Books to Read (or Gift!) This February by Instyle!

From the #1 international bestselling author of The Lost Wife and The Velvet Hours comes an emotionally charged story about a mother’s love, a teacher’s promise, and a child’s heart….

Katya, a rising ballerina, and Sasha, a graduate student, are young and in love when an unexpected tragedy befalls their native Kiev. Years later, after the couple has safely emigrated to America the consequences of this incident cause their son, Yuri, to be born with a rare health condition that isolates him from other children. Maggie, a passionate and dedicated teacher agrees to tutor Yuri at his home, even though she is haunted by her own painful childhood memories. As the two forge a deep and soulful connection, Yuri’s boundless curiosity and unique wisdom inspires Maggie to make difficult changes in her own life. And she’ll never realize just how strong Yuri has made her—until she needs that strength the most….

A novel that will make readers examine what it means to live life with a full heart.



A letter to authors from a rabid reader & reviewer

March 31, 2019

Dear authors,

I am writing you this letter because I love you and feel that you need a tiny bit of advice. Certainly not all of you, but some of you. Especially the newbies.

I am here to discuss your web presence and why it is important.

You may not know that I have been reading about a book a day for most of my life. I have long championed books and reading, and I was one of the first book bloggers out there. I started writing about books in the early 1980’s on CompuServe (if you’re old enough to remember that!) then discussed books in various chat rooms on AOL (waving at “Men with Minds”) then started my own website in 1994 using (the long defunct) GeoCities. I found it a great way to remember books I’d read and books I wanted to read.

A year or so later, a publicist (I think it was Miriam Parker from Time Warner, and I really, really wish I could remember the title of the first book I gave away!) reached out to me, asking me if I wanted to give away some of their books. I loved getting free books and figured other people would too so I jumped all over that. Oh, I was getting my free books from work, I was a bookseller for Borders. Another defunct company. We received galleys and one of the benefits of working there was getting a book allowance each month to purchase books. Plus a deep, dirty secret was that we were allowed to borrow books! Hardcover only, one at a time, and the book jacket was kept in the store to keep it pristine and help keep track of the books that were borrowed. But I digress.

In 1998, my husband bought me my own domain name  and I started a book review site. It’s ridiculously easy and pretty cheap to buy a domain name; I use GoDaddy.Here we are, more than twenty years later, and I am proud to say that in addition to posting to thousands of reviews, I’ve also given away thousands of books. Yes, thousands. Sadly, I never really kept track of the books I gave away, an opportunity lost. But I do remember the very first book I reviewed for a professional, authoritative journal – Must Love Dogs by Claire Cook, for Library Journal.

Anyway, that’s enough background on how I ended up here. Now here is my two cents.

If you are a published author, if you have a book for sale anywhere, then you need a website. There is just no avoiding it. I am constantly amazed at how many authors don’t feel the need for one. Every month I give away a bunch of signed books in partnership with the International Thriller Writers organization (free membership for authors!) When I publicize those books, I like to include ways for readers to connect with the authors. It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but especially today, here in 2019, there is just no excuse for not having a website and yet several times a year I can’t find a website for an author.

I don’t care if your day job is doctor, lawyer, or CIA chief, if you are selling books, you need a website. You don’t have to build it yourself! Here, contact xuni.com, they have been doing author websites since 1998! They are super easy to work with, really creative and professional and not only will they build you a website, they will take care of it for you. At, from what I understand, a very reasonable cost. Don’t like them? There are lots of others. Go to a few of your favorite authors websites and scroll down to the bottom. There you will usually find information on whoever built the site. If you can’t find it, ask me. I’m a librarian, I do research for a living and I’d be happy to help, gratis.

By the way, your website needs to look professional. You don’t have to spend a ton to make it look good but if you’re going to do this, do it right. I have seen some author websites that are truly awful. Even some NYT bestselling authors! I have even gently suggested that they might want to freshen up their web look. Not everyone takes my advice. So sad. Let’s face it, I am opinionated – hence the book reviews! Anyway…

Meet Loki. Yes, he is smiling. And reading on my iPad.

You also need a social media presence. At minimum, Twitter and the big, bad, evil empire itself, Facebook. You don’t have to link your personal FB page, you can build a Fan Page, it’s easy peasy. Here are directions courtesy of WikiHow. Once you have a fan page and Twitter feed, you don’t have to do a lot but you have to be there and check in once in a while. Instagram would be good, too. Post pictures of your book covers, author events, and your dog. Depending on the type of book you write, Pinterest. Have you been interviewed on TV? Then build yourself a YouTube channel. Have something to say? Say it on your blog or reddit or tumblr! This is not difficult or time consuming. I’ve even provided you with links! Just click and do it. Oh, and if you’ve published a book, you’re already on Goodreads so you might as well link to your page on your website.

If you’re not sure what authors should do or not do. go look. Here are a few that have great web presence: Lisa Scottoline; Chris Bohjalian; and just in case you think you have to be a NY Times bestselling author to have a strong web presence, check out Nancy J. Cohen, she has an amazing web presence. She could teach classes on it. In fact, she has! Which reminds me, if you belong to a writing organization like Mystery Writers of America, ITW or Romance Writers of America, etc. they often have great information on how to do all this stuff on their websites and at their conferences.

Which brings me to my next point.

If you do have a social media presence, or are in the process of creating one, please, please make sure you include links to your feeds on your website. Why do I have to Google the shit out of you to find your Twitter feed? That defeats the purpose! And just a bit of advice here, you may not want to create a FB or Twitter page based on your character’s name or book title. What happens when you branch out into something else? Be forward thinking, use your real name or your pseudonym. If you have to add “writer” or “author” or “books” to it to get that name, do so. Maybe shorten it up a bit by using initials, like Robyn Carr, or as I think of her, @RCarrWriter does.

Okay, I think that’s it. This stuff has been weighing on me for years. Years! Frankly, it amazes me that publishers aren’t forcing their authors into this stuff. The smart ones do. Oh, and if you’re self published, that is no excuse! It’s even more important for you to be out there and accessible to your readers. Will you get cranky hate mail? You may. Feel free to delete. Will you get into Twitter wars? With any luck, yes! Just remember that old adage, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Librarian at work (you can tell by the glasses)

Please, if you have any questions about any of this and don’t have a teenager to ask, I am here for you and happy to help. Librarian, remember? I am really good at finding information and happy to help you in any way I can. No, I won’t build you a website but short of that, ask me.

Thanks for reading; now go sell some books!

with love,

your favorite BookBitch

PS: I cannot believe how many exclamation points I’ve used in this letter. Rant. Letter. Whatever. Just FYI, I loathe exclamation points. I feel that the words should be powerful enough on their own but apparently not here, not today. Moving on now…



What I’m Reading: Michael Beschloss

January 21, 2019

Michael Beschloss, author of many super interesting books including his latest, PRESIDENTS OF WAR,on what he’s reading. I’m curious!

Merry Christmas 2018!

December 25, 2018

Thank you to all my readers, those who comment, those who email, and those who just lurk. I know you’re there and I appreciate every one of you!

Last week I had another eye surgery and am slowly recovering. Hopefully, this will be the last, at least for a long, long time. I’m very hopeful that my vision will return soon. Fortunately, I am still able to read! This, working on a computer, is especially difficult right now. But this too shall pass.

I wish you all a joyous holiday season. I hope you get to share it with people you love and of course, good books to read!

George R. R. Martin’s Guide to New York City Pizza

December 20, 2018

Just for the fun of it!

Lee Child announces a (fake) Jack Reacher mashup series

December 3, 2018

Author Lee Child announces a new mashup book series for his butt-kicking character Jack Reacher… it’s Reacher in classic literature, as you’ve never seen him before!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2018

This year I have much to be thankful for. Not just at Thanksgiving, but every single day of the year.

First and foremost, I am so grateful to my husband and kids for all your love and support. I love and appreciate my friends for putting up with me, laughing and crying with me, and always being there for me. My life is infinitely richer for having you all in it.

I’m always grateful for all the wonderful books I get to read. I’m grateful to the authors who work so hard to tell me a great story and help me escape from this often fraught reality. As Hemingway put it, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Thank you.

I appreciate all the publicists and marketing folks who let me know about the books that make them love their jobs.

I am grateful to the International Thriller Writers for supporting me and my website and helping me give away well over a thousand books – and still giving away more.

In this often troubled world, I hope all my friends, my readers, and your families can find something to be truly grateful for.

Enjoy your holiday.

A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANEY | Last Minute Book Report

September 8, 2018

Anna Drezen & Todd Dakotah Briscoe present A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANEY | Last Minute Book Report

After reading A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANEY in 10 minutes, Anna Drezen & Todd Dakotah Briscoe (co-authors of HOW MAY WE HATE YOU?) stumble their way through a book report on John Irving’s classic.


All I can say is they need to read the book in its entirety as it is one of my favorite books ever. EVERYONE needs to read this book!

Also, do not ever watch the movie. It was so bad Irving made them change the name of the main character from Owen Meany. The movie is called Simon Birch, and has a 44% on the Tomatometer. The audience score is higher but obviously those people never read the book. Rant over.

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

Click book cover to purchase

I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy’s mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn’t believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.

The Wedding from Hell Part 3: Exclusive Excerpt of Consumed

September 4, 2018

Welcome to The Wedding from Hell Part 3: Exclusive Excerpt of Consumed!

A free downloadable e-book! If you haven’t read J.R. Ward yet, now is your chance.

Available: August 28, 2018
Gallery Books | E-book Original
ISBN: 9781982105389 | Free

The Wedding from Hell, Part 3: Exclusive Excerpt of Consumed is the final part of J.R. Ward’s The Wedding From Hell ebook serialization. Don’t miss this exclusive teaser to her upcoming standalone romantic suspense, CONSUMED (available in October 2, 2018). See why “Consumed takes it to a whole new level” (Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

About the Book:
From the creator of the #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm.

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed…

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse blaze changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn’t believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again—until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the commonwealth, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

About the Author:
J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

Purchase Link: http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Wedding-from-Hell-Part-3-Exclusive-Excerpt-of-Consumed/J-R-Ward/9781982105389

Video from J.R. Ward:
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id4UVEROtqI


Harbor Street and Eighteenth Avenue
Old Downtown, New Brunswick, Massachusetts

Box alarm. One-niner-four-seven. Two engines and a ladder from the 499, responding.
Or, put another way, Anne Ashburn’s Friday night date had showed up on time and was taking her to a show. Granted, “on time” was the precise moment she had sat down for a meal at the stationhouse with her crew, and the “show” was a warehouse fire they were going to have to chorus-line for. But if you judged the health of a relationship on its constancy and whether it brought purpose and meaning to your life?

Then this firefighting gig was the best damn partner a woman could ask for.

As Engine Co. 17 turned the corner onto Harbor with siren and lights going, Anne glanced around the shallow seating area of the apparatus. There were four jump seats behind the cab, two forward- facing, two rear-, the pairs separated by an aisle of gear. Emilio “Amy” Chavez and Patrick “Duff” Duffy were on one side. She and Daniel “Dannyboy” Maguire were on the other. Up in front, Deshaun “Doc” Lewis, the engineer, was behind the wheel, and Captain Christopher “Chip” Baker, the incident commander, was shotgun.

Her nickname was “Sister.” Which was what happened when you were the sibling of the great Fire Chief Thomas Ashburn Jr., and the daughter of the revered—falsely as it turned out— Thomas Ashburn, Sr.
Not everybody called her that, though.

She focused on Danny. He was staring out the open window, the cold November wind blowing his black hair back, his exhausted blue eyes focused on nothing. In their bulky turnouts, their knees brushed every time the engine bumped over sewer access panels, potholes, manholes, intersections.
Okay, okay, she wanted to say to fate. I know he’s there. You don’t have to keep reminding me.
The hardheaded bastard was a lot of things, most of which carried terms you couldn’t use around your grandmother, but he knew she hated the “Sister” thing, so to him, she was Ashburn.
He’d also called her Anne—once. Late at night about three weeks ago.

Yes, they had been naked at the time. Oh, God . . . had they finally done that?

“I’m gonna beat you at pong,” he said without looking at her. “Soon as we get back.”

“No chance.” She hated that he knew she’d been staring at him. “All talk, Dannyboy.”

“Fine.” He turned to face her. “I’ll let you win, how about that?”

His smile was slow, knowing, evil. And her temper answered the phone on the first ring.

“The hell you will.” Anne leaned forward. “I won’t play with you if you cheat.”

“Even if it benefits you?”

“That’s not winning.”

“Huh. Well, you’ll have to explain to me the ins and outs of it when we’re back at the house. While I’m beating you.”

Anne shook her head and glared out the open window.

The first tap on her leg she ascribed to a bump in the road.

The second, third, and fourth were obviously—

She looked back at Danny. “Stop it.”


“Are you twelve?”

As he started to smile, she knew exactly where his mind had gone. “Not inches. Age.”

“I’m pretty sure I peak more like at sixteen.” He lowered his voice. “What do you think?”

Between the sirens and the open windows, no one else could hear them—and Danny never pulled the double entendre if there was a risk of that. But yes, Anne now knew intimately all of his heavily muscled and tattooed anatomy. Granted, it had been only that once.

Then again, unforgettable only had to happen one time.

“I think you’re out of your mind,” she muttered.

And then they were at the scene. The old 1900s-era warehouse was a shell of its former useful self, sixty-five thousand square feet of broken glass panes, rotting beams, and blown-off roof panels. The outer walls were brick, but based on the age, the floors and any room dividers inside were going to be wood. The blaze was in the northeast corner on the second floor, billowing smoke wafting up into the forty-degree night air before being carried away by a southerly wind.

As Anne’s boots hit the ground, she pulled the top half of her turnouts closed. Her ponytail was up high on the back of her head, and she stripped out the band, reorganized the shoulder length, and cranked things tight at her nape. The brown was still streaked with blond from the summer, but she needed to get it trimmed—so all that lightness was on the chopping block.

Of course, if she were a woman “who took care of herself,” she’d get it highlighted through the winter months. Or so her mother liked to tell her. But who the hell had time for that?
“Sister, you sweep the place with Amy for addicts,” Captain Baker commanded. “Stay away from that corner. Danny and Duff, run those lines!”

As Captain Baker continued to bark orders out, she turned away. She had her assignment. Until she completed it, or there was an insurmountable obstacle or change of order, she was required to execute that directive and no other.

“Be safe in there, Ashburn.”

The words were soft and low, meant for her ears alone. And as she glanced over her shoulder, Danny’s Irish eyes were not smiling.

A ripple of premonition made her rub the back of her neck. “Yeah, you, too, Maguire.”

“Piece’a cake. We’ll be back at pong before ten.”

They walked away from each other at the same time, Danny going around to the stacks of hoses in the back, her linking up with Chavez…

The Wedding from Hell Part 2: The Reception

August 7, 2018

Welcome to The Wedding from Hell Part 2: The Reception!

A free downloadable e-book! If you haven’t read J.R. Ward yet, now is your chance.

Available: August 7, 2018

Gallery Books | E-book Original

ISBN: 9781982105372 | Free

The Wedding from Hell, Part 2: The Rehearsal Dinner is the exciting second adventure in J.R. Ward’s three-part ebook serialization: The Wedding From Hell. This exclusive prequel to her upcoming standalone suspense, Consumed (available in Fall 2018) takes us back to the night steamy arson investigator Anne Ashburn and ‘bad boy’ firefighter Danny Maguire will never forget.

About the Book:

The Wedding From Hell, Part 2: The Reception: As the wedding from hell continues, Anne and Danny find themselves walking the delicate balance between professional distance and explosive attraction. Will the desire they feel last through the night and change their lives? Or are they doomed to part after one night of passion?

About the Author:

J.R. Ward is the author of more than thirty novels, including those in her #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series. There are more than fifteen million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and they have been published in twenty-six different countries around the world. She lives in the South with her family.

Purchase Link: http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Wedding-from-Hell-Part-2-The-Reception/J-R-Ward/9781982105372


Video from J.R. Ward:




Saturday, October 31

T minus 2 hours ’til blastoff

St. Mary’s Cathedral, New Brunswick, Massachusetts


Anne Ashburn had never had veil envy, as they called it. As a young girl, she had never pictured herself walking down an aisle in a white dress, ready to be rescued by a knight-in-shining-armor groom who was going to take charge and take care of her for the rest of her life.

Nope. Anne had wanted to fight fires like her father and then her brother. Even though she no longer respected the former, and had a strained relationship with the latter, she’d wanted to pull on turnouts and strap an air tank to her back and breathe canned air as she ran into open flames dragging hundreds of pounds of charged line with her. She’d wanted to rescue grandmothers, and children, and people who had succumbed to smoke inhalation. She’d been ready to cut open crumpled cars and drag broken bodies out of wreckage at the sides of highways. She’d been determined that the extremes of cold winter nights, hot summer days, physical exhaustion, and mental fatigue would never keep her from doing her job.

So, yup, the old fashioned Mrs. degree had never held any fascination for her. There was no way in hell she was going to be like her mother, living a derivative, nineteen-fifties version of life, nothing but a pretty blow-up doll that was expected to cook, clean, and cut the yapping.

On that note, as she pulled into St. Mary’s parking lot and looked up at the great cathedral’s stained glass windows and lofty spires, she decided it made sense that not only was she not the bride, she wasn’t even a bridesmaid.

Like the rest of the crew down at the 499 firehouse, she was a groomsmen in the impending nuptials of Robert “Moose” Miller and Deandra—what the hell was her last name anyway? Cox. That was it.

Anne was thinking groomsmen was a role she might as well get used to. Not that Duff, Emilio, Deshaun, or any of the other men she worked with were settling down anytime soon.

Especially not Dannyboy Maguire.

Right on cue, a Ford truck entered the parking lot, the late afternoon sun flashing across its windshield.

As Anne’s heart kicked in her chest, she was tempted to hustle in the side door of the church—but she had never been one to run from a challenge.

Danny was more than just a challenge, though.

And okay, fine. So maybe she had already run out of his way at least once: Last night, at the rehearsal dinner, she’d positively bolted after he’d made that speech of his.

I never believed in love . . . I thought it was just a word, a title folks gave to daydreams and misconceptions about destiny, a lie folks told to themselves to make them feel solid in this imperfect, unreliable, and mean-ass world.

Now I know it can happen between two people. And it doesn’t have to make sense because it’s not about logic. And it doesn’t have to have good timing because forever is like infinity, without beginning or end. And it doesn’t have to be defined because truth is like faith—it just is.

So, let’s toast to love.

He’d looked at her while he’d spoken. He had been talking . . . to her . . . in that slow, deep voice.

Everybody else had toasted Moose and Deandra. But Anne had known it hadn’t been about them. Danny, ever the ladies man, king of the one-night stand, he who shalt never be tied down . . . seemed to be suggesting not just that he’d had a change of heart.

But that he might have given his own to Anne.

Unless she was misreading everything? Then again, they had kissed the night before that. In her living room. While riding an adrenaline high after they’d saved a life in an alleyway.

And lips-to-lips had been better than good, the rare circumstance when reality had improved on a fantasy. After two years of attraction and sizzle and unacknowledged heat, that which had been pushed under the rug was exposed now. And there was no going back.

Especially as she felt the same way.

So hell yeah she had bolted out of that restaurant. The second she had been able to get up from her chair, she had hit the exit and left Danny without a ride home.

He’d called two hours later. He’d been in a bar, probably

Timeout where the crew always went, the noise in the background loud and raucous.

She had not answered. He had left a short message, but not called again.

Anne just wasn’t sure what to do. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. There were plenty of things she wanted to do to him, with him, on him—all of which were naked and erotic and not necessarily only horizontal.

Refocusing, she watched Danny’s truck pass by. From behind the wheel, he looked over at her.

She waited for him to find a space and get out, and as he walked across to her, she tried—tried—not to go sixteen-year-old girl at the sight of him in a tuxedo.


He was very tall, over six feet five, and he was built hard and muscular, his shoulders so wide, his chest so broad, his waist the point of the inverted triangle of his torso. His jet-black hair was still damp, and what sunlight there was in the mostly cloudy sky flashed blue in its depths. He was freshly shaven—his cologne reaching her nose even before he stopped in front of her—and his eyes were that brilliant blue that had always arrested her. Irish eyes.

But they were not smiling.

For a man who was rarely serious, he looked positively grim, and she frowned.

“You okay?” Stupid question. “I mean—”

“Yeah, no. I’m fine.”

Standard answer for firefighters when they were in pain. And she wondered if it had to do with that speech of his, and what she could have sworn he had been telling her.

His eyes shifted off to the side and then his mouth got thinner.

“And here’s the blushing bride.”

A stretch limo entered the parking area and made a fat turn toward the back door of the cathedral. When it stopped, its driver got out and went to the rear door.

Seven all-in-pink, spray-tanned, body-glittered, and blond-streaked women got out one by one, a clown car of bridesmaids who were such carbon copies of each other, it was like they had been ordered out of a catalogue.

And then the white dress emerged.

Deandra, Moose’s intended, had her blond-streaked hair—natch—piled up on her head in an organized, sculpted waterfall of curls. Her veil was a gossamer fall over her tiny waist and her big skirt, and the shimmer of crystals across the bodice and down the front and sides of the gown made her look like a princess.

Provided you didn’t catch her expression.

She was sour as an old woman with gout and shingles. In spite of the fact that she was supposedly marrying her true love, she looked downright nasty as she snapped at the driver, glared at her maid of honor, and yanked her skirting up to march into the back of the church.

“Wow,” Anne muttered. “That’s a happy bride.”

“Whatever. They’re on their own with this dumbass idea.”

“Did you happen to talk to Moose last night?” she blurted.

“As in out of this? Or would that be considered tacky given it was less than twenty-four hours before the priest hit the altar with them.”

Danny rolled his eyes. “He’s bound and determined to ball-and-chain himself. Personally, I’d be running in the opposite direction.”

And then there was silence between them. Tension coiled up quick, and as Anne’s temples started to pound, she decided it was going to be a long night, just not for the reasons she’d assumed at the beginning of the weekend.