Win the August 2020 bookshelf of signed thrillers!

August 1, 2020

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Hello, my lovely readers! 

I am so happy to be back with another contest! August brings some great reads, and twice the thrills from one of my favorite authors, Allison Brennan! Is there anything better to help you escape the nightmare we are living in than spending some time in someone else’s nightmare? It will make your life seem positively idyllic!

Please check back, you never know when more titles might show up…

TOO FAR GONE by Allison Brennan: Lucy Kincaid Novels, Book 14. Lucy Kincaid is assigned to investigate the death of a mentally unstable man during a hostage situation who used to be an upstanding citizen, and whose story proves more complicated and dangerous than she initially imagines.

ABANDONED by Allison Brennan: Max Revere Novels, Book 5. Max Revere investigates the disappearance of her own mother several years earlier, tracing her activities in a small Chesapeake Bay community where witnesses are keeping dark secrets.

CREDIBLE THREAT by J.A. Jance: Ali Reynolds Series, Book 15. Ali Reynolds and her team at High Noon Enterprises must race against the clock to save an archbishop who faces mysterious death threats in yet another &;incredible&; (Suspense Magazine) installment of J.A. Jance&;s New York Times bestselling series.

RIVIERA GOLD by Laurie R. King: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, Book 16. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes turn the Riviera upside down to crack their most captivating case yet in the New York Times bestselling series that Lee Child called “the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today.”

ONE LAST LIE by Paul Doiron: Mike Bowditch Mysteries, Book 11. When his beloved mentor disappears amid the discovery of an antique badge, Mike Bowditch investigates the presumed death of an undercover warden before the cold case is upended by dangerous secrets and a daughter’s return.

THE GIRL FROM WIDOW HILLS by Megan Miranda: From the New York Times bestselling author of “The Last House Guest”-a Reese’s Book Club pick-comes a riveting new novel of psychological suspense about a young woman plagued by night terrors after a childhood trauma who wakes one evening to find a corpse at her feet.

HOME BEFORE DARK by Riley Sager: Twenty-five years after her father published a wildly popular nonfiction book based on her family’s rushed exit from a haunted Victorian estate, naysayer Maggie inherits the house and begins renovations, only to make a number of disturbing discoveries.

You can win autographed copies of these books! If you are new to the site, each month I run a contest in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. We put together a list of books from debut authors to bestsellers, so you can win some of your favorites and find some new favorites.

What makes this contest really special is that all of the books (except eBooks) are signed by the author! Books with multiple authors will be signed by at least one of the authors.

Penguin Random House books for giveaway were provided by the publisher. #PRHpartner

Game the system – just a bit. All subscribers to the newsletter get an extra entry into every contest. All followers of this blog get an extra entry into every contest. Why not do both and get TWO extra entries into every contest!

Check out the Win Books page for more information on all these books and authors, and how you can enter this month’s contest.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

MR. MALCOLM’S LIST by Suzanne Allain

July 31, 2020

7/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MR. MALCOLM’S LIST by Suzanne Allain. Berkley (July 28, 2020). (July 21, 2020). ISBN 978-0593197400. 256p.




July 30, 2020

7/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MUSICAL CHAIRS by Amy Poeppel. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (July 21, 2020). ISBN 978-1501176418. 416p.




July 29, 2020

7/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP by Susan Wiggs. William Morrow (July 7, 2020). ISBN 978-0062914095. 368p.



A STAR IS BORED by Byron Lane

July 28, 2020

7/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A STAR IS BORED by Byron Lane. Henry Holt and Co. (July 28, 2020). ISBN 978-1250266491. 352p.



Cover Reveal! Lauren Willig’s BAND OF SISTERS

July 27, 2020

Click the cover to pre-order from Amazon

A group of young women from Smith College risk their lives in France at the height of World War I in this sweeping novel based on a true story—a skillful blend of Call the Midwife and The Alice Network—from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig.

A scholarship girl from Brooklyn, Kate Moran thought she found a place among Smith’s Mayflower descendants, only to have her illusions dashed the summer after graduation. When charismatic alumna Betsy Rutherford delivers a rousing speech at the Smith College Club in April of 1917, looking for volunteers to help French civilians decimated by the German war machine, Kate is too busy earning her living to even think of taking up the call. But when her former best friend Emmeline Van Alden reaches out and begs her to take the place of a girl who had to drop out, Kate reluctantly agrees to join the new Smith College Relief Unit.

Four months later, Kate and seventeen other Smithies, including two trailblazing female doctors, set sail for France. The volunteers are armed with money, supplies, and good intentions—all of which immediately go astray. The chateau that was to be their headquarters is a half-burnt ruin. The villagers they meet are in desperate straits: women and children huddling in damp cellars, their crops destroyed and their wells poisoned.

Despite constant shelling from the Germans, French bureaucracy, and the threat of being ousted by the British army, the Smith volunteers bring welcome aid—and hope—to the region. But can they survive their own differences? As they cope with the hardships and terrors of the war, Kate and her colleagues find themselves navigating old rivalries and new betrayals which threaten the very existence of the Unit.

With the Germans threatening to break through the lines, can the Smith Unit pull together and be truly a band of sisters?


THE PATIENT by Jasper DeWitt

July 21, 2020


From the publisher:

The Silent Patient by way of Stephen King: Parker, a young, overconfident psychiatrist new to his job at a mental asylum, miscalculates catastrophically when he undertakes curing a mysterious and profoundly dangerous patient.

In a series of online posts, Parker H., a young psychiatrist, chronicles the harrowing account of his time working at a dreary mental hospital in New England. Through this internet message board, Parker hopes to communicate with the world his effort to cure one bewildering patient.

We learn, as Parker did on his first day at the hospital, of the facility’s most difficult, profoundly dangerous case—a forty-year-old man who was originally admitted to the hospital at age six. This patient has no known diagnosis. His symptoms seem to evolve over time. Every person who has attempted to treat him has been driven to madness or suicide.

Desperate and fearful, the hospital’s directors keep him strictly confined and allow minimal contact with staff for their own safety, convinced that releasing him would unleash catastrophe on the outside world. Parker, brilliant and overconfident, takes it upon himself to discover what ails this mystery patient and finally cure him. But from his first encounter with the mystery patient, things spiral out of control, and, facing a possibility beyond his wildest imaginings, Parker is forced to question everything he thought he knew.

Fans of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes and Paul Tremblay’s The Cabin at the End of the World will be riveted by Jasper DeWitt’s astonishing debut.

A well-done horror story written in a low-key style guaranteed to build up the terror using the first-person narrative by the principal character. A newly graduated psychiatrist, Parker takes his first job at a mental institution in the state of Connecticut. He is determined to help the patients assigned to him to the best of his ability. On the first day at his new job, Parker becomes aware of Joe, a 40-year-old patient, that has been there since he was six years of age. There is no working diagnosis for the man and several previous doctors have come to grief in vain efforts to cure him.

Parker sees a challenge in effecting a treatment for Joe and manages to work himself into the position of handling his treatment. During his first session with the patient, Parker comes to the conclusion that Joe is apparently normal and suspects that he is being held at the hospital because his parents continue to pay for his care. Acting on his own conclusion Parker confronts the medical staff at the institution questioning the years of poor diagnosis. He also visits Joe’s parents and with the help of the mother, completes an inspection of the house, and particularly the boy’s bedroom.

Parker’s findings provide an answer to the reason Joe has been diagnosed as mentally ill. DeWitt’s description of the cause introduces a unique answer that certainly delves deeply into a nightmare world and makes the ending as gripping as can be. A short book but certainly one that presents the author as a literary force to be reckoned with causing the reader to certainly look for succeeding novels by him.

7/2020 Paul Lane

THE PATIENT by Jasper DeWitt. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (July 7, 2020). ISBN: 978-0358181767. 224 pages.




July 19, 2020


The Magdalene Chronicles, Book 1

From the publisher:

For two thousand years, believers have relied on Christ’s Resurrection as the bedrock of Christian faith. But what if the Vatican had been blackmailed into suppressing a first-century manuscript revealing the Resurrection to be a myth—and that long-hidden document suddenly reappears?

Michael Dominic, a young Jesuit priest expert in the study of ancient writings, is assigned to the Vatican as an archivist in the Church’s legendary Secret Archives. Hana Sinclair, a reporter for a Paris newspaper whose privileged family owns a prominent Swiss bank, is chasing a story about Jewish gold stolen by the Nazis during World War II—millions of dollars in bullion that ended up in the vaults of the Vatican Bank.

When Dominic discovers a long-hidden papyrus written by Mary Magdalene—one that threatens the very foundations of Christianity—he and Hana try to prevent sinister forces from obtaining the manuscript, among them the feared Ustasha underground fascist movement, Interpol, and shadowy figures in the highest levels of the Vatican itself.

Based on illuminating historical facts—including the intriguing true story of Bérenger Saunière, the mysterious abbé of Rennes-le-Château, and the Cathars, fabled keepers of the Holy Grail—“The Magdalene Deception” will take readers on a gripping journey through one of the world’s most secretive institutions and the sensitive, often explosive manuscripts found in its vaults.

Michael Dominic, an American Jesuit priest is a well-prepared expert on ancient writings who has been assigned to work at the Vatican in Rome. His expertise to be used in the categorization of documents stored which have not been classified as of yet. His assignment would have him assigned to the special Vatican secret archives section. At the same time Hana Sinclair, a reporter for a Paris newspaper and whose family owns a prominent Swiss bank is working on a story about Jewish gold stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Millions of this gold look as if it was stored in the vaults of the Vatican bank.

Michael’s searches lead him to the discovery of a document that may have been written by Mary Magdalene. In his investigations to translate and carbon date the document as well as authenticating its source, he is thrown together with Hana through her cousin, who is a Swiss Guard. The Swiss guard are specially assigned to guard the Pope and protect the Vatican. Hana’s story causes both her and Michael to also solicit and obtain the expertise of a Jewish writer who has special permission to use the Vatican library for his own investigations.

McAvoy, in addition to writing a mesmerizing novel, provides descriptions of the inside of Vatican City. His explanations of Michael’s expertise in investigating ancient writings and the work of the Church hierarchy are well delineated and indicate a good deal of research into the subject matter. The selection and training of the dedicated Swiss Guard is treated and is the first time that I have read anything about this unique group. Michael and Hana develop feelings for each other in the course of their investigations and McAvoy does not shy away from discussing Michael’s ambivalent approach to this subject.

The ending of the book solves the immediate problems of investigating the document written by Mary Magdalene and handling the transfer of millions in gold bullion to groups that are seeking to identify and reimburse families that have legitimate claims to it. It also sets up problems that will require the attention of the protagonists introduced in this novel and have them work together again.

7/2020 Paul Lane

THE MAGDALENE DECEPTION by Gary McAvoy. Literati Editions (May 26, 2020). ISBN: 978-0990837657. 368 pages.


THE ENGLISHMAN by David Gilman

July 17, 2020


From the publisher:

A clandestine war on the desert border of Mali and Algeria. Murder and kidnap on the suburban streets of West London. A Moscow CID police inspector investigating the assassination of four of her fellow officers by the Russian Mafia. A young MI6 officer facing the possibility that a long-running operation has been fatally compromised.

Connecting them all is the Englishman: Dan Raglan, outsider, exile, one-time member of the French Foreign Legion, fully trained killer.

Raglan’s quest for answers will become a quest for vengeance. It will lead him to the winter-ravaged wasteland of the Sverdlovskaya Oblast and Penal Colony #74, a place that holds Russia’s most brutal murderers. A place of death and retribution.

How will he get in? More importantly, how will he get out?

David Gilman has given his readers many books filled with action and war. The current novel is no different; on the contrary, there is no rest from the action throughout the book. The story opens six years prior to the main part of the novel when Dan Raglan was with the French Foreign Legion in action at the border of Algeria and Mali. Due to the actions of black ops teams, Raglan’s unit was compromised and all except him were killed.

Six years later a former comrade of his driving in London with his son is kidnapped. He has the time to tell his son a few things and then has him escape. Dan is called in by a member of England’s MI6 who was with both men in the Legion. He is asked to look for and rescue the man kidnapped. MI6 cannot do all the work as they are tied up with the killing of four Russian CID officers in London and have little personnel to spare to do the searching for the kidnapped man.

A Soviet female police officer has been sent to work with MI6 and is searching for the man that killed the CID officers. When it turns out that the same individual murdering the Russian officers has masterminded the kidnapping she starts working with Raglan. Between them they find out who did both the murders and the kidnapping, locate him and stage a raid at the house where he is hiding. Although all of his confederates are caught or killed the main man gets away but not before killing a young woman assigned as Raglan’s driver.

Raglan is of course determined to find the killer and assassinate him. Information is obtained that the killer has fled to Russia and is hiding at one of that country’s toughest Penal colonies and living well while doing so. The problem is simply put: how does Dan get to him and if successful in killing him how does he get out and back home. Hint on getting in – he and the Russian police officer have hit it off.

The action is fast and furious and keeps the reader glued to the pages. There is some character development involved and while nothing major it is sufficient to allow the reader to picture the individuals involved and understand their place in the proceedings.

7/2020 Paul Lane

THE ENGLISHMAN by David Gilman. Head of Zeus (July 9, 2020). ISBN: 978-1838931391.



July 15, 2020

Tax Day Edition!

I was so happy to have this extension as we owed Uncle Sam quite a bit this year. I am very lucky that one of the benefits of my job at Lynn University is free tuition, not just for me but for my family. My daughter has her Associates’s degree, but now she is moving towards her Bachelor’s degree. But slipped into the trump tax bill that benefited all his rich friends was that “free” tuition is now counted as income. So while she’s taking classes, my income jumps by thousands of dollars, which is then deducted to pay for tuition. But I get the tax bill. And it’s large, people. It might even be cheaper to send her to a state school. But she is so happy at Lynn, and wanted to go back to school because she feels so welcome and safe there. Best of all, she knows the professors and really all the staff are there to help her succeed. That is worth any bill.

So to cheer myself up as my bank account empties, I look at pictures of Loki. He is 11 years old now and still the sweetest boy ever. He has adjusted to everyone being home all the time. He still needs his 18 hours of sleep, but now he wanders in to see what’s going on now and then before going back to bed. My bed! Here are some pictures of how Loki spends his days.


He was the cutest kitten! With the bluest eyes – they still are amazing.














Loki is unbelievably smart; he is like Jack Reacher in that he always knows what the time is. If I’m not out of bed and on my way to feed him breakfast by 7:15, he sits in the hallway to my bedroom and meows, repeatedly, until I get up. We call him the Kitty Alarm Clock!


After he has breakfast, which he may or may not eat, it’s time for bed. He does prefer it when the bed is made.














But if he has to, he will sleep in an unmade bed.













Some days he wanders in for lunch.











Sometimes he likes to hang out when there is a Zoom meeting. #colleagues













After all that excitement, it’s time to nap again. He has other favorite spots for napping.













In case I forget, he yells to remind me that it is dinner time!










Guess what happens after dinner? Naptime! But with us. He’s not much of a lap cat, but he cuddles in his own way.











Sometimes, we nap, too.












He also likes watching TV with us. Rachel Maddow is his favorite.
















He never forgets a birthday.











Loki celebrates holidays















And of course, he likes books.















Loki does tricks! Well, one trick. Still, he is the first cat we’ve ever had that could learn a trick.


I hope you found at least a tiny bit of happiness looking at cute cat pics. As always, thanks for reading and stay safe!