May 2, 2015
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Avery expected a smooth flight from California to Boston, but then she awakens to find her fellow passengers screaming and the plane losing altitude. Six of them would make it off the plane when it crashed somewhere in the Rockies and for five harrowing days they would try their best to survive through winter storms and near starvation.

When Avery awakens again, it is December 10th and she is recuperating in a Colorado hospital. Everyone says she’s one of the lucky ones. Avery does everything she can to get on with her life and goes out of her way to avoid discussing what happened during those awful days in the mountains, but for this once driven college swimmer nothing can ever be the same.

Girl Underwater is a majorly fabulous debut. Kells pretty immediately lets the reader know that Avery survives the crash, switching the narrative back and forth between the crash and the aftermath. What we don’t know is exactly what happened while she and the other survivors were stranded awaiting rescue.

Avery is a great character and one conveniently skilled at survival, but Kells does a quite convincing job of making this aspect of Avery’s life believable. What Avery is less prepared for is making it through what comes later. She finds herself plagued by fears, particularly when it comes to returning to school and the swim team. She’s also plagued by guilt. Hers is a story not only of survival but of love and friendship and of the courage it takes to make it against the odds as well as the courage it takes to rely on others.

5/15 Becky Lejeune

GIRL UNDERWATER by Claire Kells. Dutton (March 31, 2015). ISBN 978-0525954934. 304p.


April 27, 2015
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Based on the ad, the room at 82 Edgehill Road sounded just too good to be true. And it was.

The landlord is skeevy and the shared bathroom and kitchen are so dirty that it’s all Stephanie can do to get in and out as quickly as possible. But the room seems nice, until the lights go out and the noises start. It begins with a rustling under the bed – mice, Stephanie thinks – then voices in the fireplace, which could always be the sounds of another tenant’s TV. But when shuffling footsteps cross her room and something Stephanie can’t see sits on her bed, she’s all out of explanations.

Stephanie vows to get out, even going so far as to consider abandoning her deposit, but with no work and no money there’s nowhere for her to go. And soon Stephanie realizes that the noises aren’t even the worst of it.

Adam Nevill’s latest is a fresh and frightening haunted house tale. Nevill paints his heroine into a corner, taking away all of her options, and then turns her story upside down. It’s dark – as dark as dark can get, actually. And it’s creepy as all get out. But if you happen to like your horror dark and creepy, then No One Gets Out Alive is absolutely perfect.

No One Gets Out Alive is the kind of horror read I crave: one that keeps me up at night, freaks me the heck out, and keeps me on my toes. Not only that, but the twist and big reveal were totally unexpected even for a seasoned haunted house fan such as myself. Top marks all around for Nevill’s latest.

4/15 Becky Lejeune

NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE by Adam Nevill. St. Martin’s Press (April 28, 2015). ISBN 978-1250041289. 640p.

HUSH, HUSH by Laura Lippman

April 20, 2015
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Tess Monaghan Novel (Book 12)

When Tess’s friend and old boss Tyner Gray hires her as a security consultant for his client, Tess can’t refuse. Not even when said client is Melisandre Dawes, the woman who left her two-month-old baby to die in a hot car while she sat and waited nearby.

It’s been more than ten years since the trial. More than ten years since Melisandre was judged not guilty by reason of insanity. But even her verdict and the time that’s passed have not erased the emotional response Baltimoreans had to her case. And though Melisandre left Baltimore in the wake of that tragic event, her return – supposedly to reconcile with her other two daughters, on film no less – has garnered a heated response from the locals.

That’s where Tess and her new partner, Sandy, come in. Initially they’re meant only to ensure that Melisandre’s new condo is safe as it can be. Then Melisandre finds herself the prime suspect in yet another murder investigation and the PI duo are tasked with proving the woman’s innocence. That’s easier said than done, especially when Tess is convinced Melisandre Dawes can’t be trusted.

This is the twelfth book in Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series. Tess is a favorite amongst mystery/thriller fans, but she’s been on break since the 2008 serial “The Girl in the Green Raincoat” (released in print in 2011), so her return comes with great anticipation. Fans can relax, though, as Lippman and Monaghan are in top form.

One thing has changed for the PI, though, and that’s the new role of mother in addition to her long list of accomplishments. Tess’s toddler daughter, Carla Scout, is a charming addition to the series and Tess’s own fears and concerns associated with being a parent make her even more relatable than before.

4/15 Becky Lejeune

HUSH, HUSH by Laura Lippman. William Morrow (February 24, 2015). ISBN 978-0062083425. 320p.

BLISS HOUSE by Laura Benedict

August 2, 2014

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Almost everyone in Old Gate can agree that there’s something very wrong with Bliss House. It has a history that’s marred by tragedy, but Rainey Adams doesn’t set any stock in such matters. It’s just a house. The recent incident didn’t even occur in the house itself, but outside on the grounds. And it’s exactly that incident that put Bliss House in Rainey’s budget.

The move to Old Gate is a much-needed fresh start for Rainey and her teenage daughter and Bliss House is the kind of project any interior designer can lose themselves in. It’s exactly what Rainey needs to distract herself from the tragic loss of her husband. But it’s Ariel Rainey hopes will really benefit from the move. The accident that claimed her father’s life also left the girl physically scarred and disfigured. As a result she’s become more sullen with each passing day, even going so far as to refuse to leave the house.

At first, Ariel has mixed feelings about the move: sure it’s an escape from her past but she resents her mother’s efforts. It doesn’t take long for Ariel to warm to their new home, though. She feels a connection to the house and is certain that since moving in her scars have begun to fade and her limbs have begun to strengthen. But Bliss House is changing Ariel in other ways as well. As the house begins to reveal its secrets to the teen, Rainey realizes that Bliss House may not be the salvation she’d once hoped it would be.

Laura Benedict’s latest is just the first of what I hope will be many Bliss House stories to come.

Bliss House features a bit of a dual storyline. Benedict kicks it off with Allison, a young girl newly involved with a young man named Michael. Their budding relationship is anything but rosy, though, and Allison soon finds herself Michael’s prisoner. Decades later Rainey – a Bliss by blood – arrives to once again lay claim to the historic family home. It comes as no surprise then when Benedict quickly reveals to the reader that Rainey had a cousin named Michael who’s been missing for quite some time.

As the story unravels Benedict spins a web of sex and seduction, madness and murder, and love and loss. It’s a haunted house story with many layers, all of which come together to make Bliss House a chilling and atmospheric read.

8/14 Becky Lejeune

BLISS HOUSE by Laura Benedict. Pegasus (June 15, 2014). ISBN 978-1605985725. 400p.

SILVER BAY by Jojo Moyes

July 25, 2014

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For Mike Dormer a trip to Silver Bay, Australia begins as just another work assignment. His firm has set its sites on the area as a location for a new, high-end family resort. The town has little to offer currently, with one exception – whale and dolphin watching – and the locals have almost everything resting on this industry. Even more so, they care about the animals that make their way past the bay every season.

Not only would the new development threaten Silver Bay’s main source of tourism, but it would also threaten the animals themselves. The more time Mike spends in Silver Bay, the more convinced he becomes that his company is making a mistake. Further complicating matters is the fact that his time in Silver Bay has also left Mike more than a little emotionally attached to the locals.

This is one of Moyes’s older titles, recently re-released by Penguin in e format. There are quite a few commonalities between this one and Moyes’s latest, One Plus One. Mike is quite reminiscent of Ed, for example, and the book shares the same multi-viewpoint format.

I did love Silver Bay as a setting and the added element of the whale and dolphin watching industry. These make the book stand out as unique, particularly considering I read both Silver Bay and One Plus One fairly close together.

Liza’s story was another great stand out. It’s clear from the start that she and her family are hiding things, but it’s not until close to the end that the gravity of her story really becomes clear.

The romance element is nice, and – again like One Plus One – evolves in a quite natural way. No love at first sight, insta-romance here. Instead, Mike and Liza warm up to each other gradually in spite of everything that stands in their way.

Silver Bay
is out now as an eBook and will be available in paperback in August.

7/14 Becky Lejeune

SILVER BAY by Jojo Moyes. Penguin Books (August 26, 2014). ISBN 978-0143126485. 384p.
Kindle: Penguin Books (April 29, 2014). ASIN: B00GSB2F5S.

THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR edited by Ellen Datlow

July 19, 2014

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Volume 6

From nightmarish visions to vengeance of the worst kind, editor Ellen Datlow’s latest anthology features new horror of every possible imagining.

In “The Fox” by Conrad Williams, a family vacation takes a dark and treacherous turn. Priya Sharma’s “The Anatomist’s Mnemonic” features a character whose fetish becomes an obsession he can no longer ignore. Neil Gaiman’s “Down to a Sunless Sea,” which first appeared in The Guardian and later in the Fearie Tales collection edited by Stephen Jones, is a chilling tale of death at sea. Hitchcock himself makes an appearance of sorts in Kim Newman’s “The Only Ending We Have.” And Brian Hodge takes readers back to Lovecraft’s Innsmouth in “The Same Deep Waters as You.”

Each of the twenty-four tales appearing in the anthology were new in print in 2013 and interestingly eleven of the authors included are completely new to this anthology series. Some of the stories are horrifying while others are more eerie and quiet and some are downright bizarre. Whatever your particular horror taste may be, though, this latest Best Horror of the Year is sure to have something perfect for you and may even turn you on to a few new authors as well.

Table of Contents:
“Apports” by Stephen Bacon
“Mr. Splitfoot” by Dale Bailey
“The Good Husband” by Nathan Ballingrud
“The Tiger” by Nina Allan
“The House on Cobb Street” by Lynda E. Rucker
“The Soul in the Bell Jar” by KJ Kabza
“Call Out” by Steve Toase
“The Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love” by Robert Shearman
“Bones of Crow” by Ray Cluley
“Introduction to the Body in Fairy Tales” by Jeannine Hall Gailey
“The Fox” by Conrad Williams
“The Tin House” by Simon Clark
“Stemming the Tide” by Simon Stranzas
“The Anatomist’s Mnemonic” by Priya Sharma
“The Monster Makers” by Steve Rasnic Tem
“The Only Ending We Have” by Kim Newman
“The Dog’s Paw” by Derek Künsken
“Fine in the Fire” by Lee Thomas
“Majorlena” by Jane Jakeman
“The Withering” by Tim Casson
“Down to a Sunless Sea” by Neil Gaiman
“Jaws of Saturn” by Laird Barron
“Halfway Home” by Linda Nagata
“The Same Deep Waters as You” by Brian Hodge

7/14 Becky Lejeune

THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR edited by Ellen Datlow. Night Shade Books (June 3, 2014). ISBN 978-1597805032. 448p.

ONE HUNDRED NAMES by Cecelia Ahern

July 17, 2014

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Kitty Logan is one misstep away from unemployment. A disastrous feature story has landed her in court for libel and now no one in journalism will touch her. No one except her longtime friend Constance.

Constance gave Kitty her first job and has been her friend and mentor ever since. Even in the wake of the current disaster, Constance hasn’t given up on her. But Constance is sick and doesn’t have much time left. On her one and only visit, Kitty asks her if there was ever a story she wished she’d written but never had the chance – the one that got away. Constance tells her there is and instructs Kitty to retrieve a file titled “names” from her home, promising to tell her all about it on their next visit. Sadly, Constance passes away never having explained the story.

Now, Constance’s magazine wants to put together a special edition to honor their founder and Kitty is given the opportunity to write Constance’s last story. Unfortunately for Kitty, all she has to work with is a list of one hundred names. With time running out, she knows this story is her chance to redeem herself while also paying tribute to the one person who never lost faith in her. But first, she’ll have to figure out what the story is really meant to be.

Each new book by Cecelia Ahern is a gem, and while I’m sure to love every new release, I know I can expect something completely different with each new book.

In One Hundred Names, Kitty not only has a lot to learn about herself but also has a ways to go to earn back the respect of her friends and colleagues. Her infamous story cost a man his reputation and could have been avoided if she’d not lost sight of the essential wisdom Constance imparted on her at the start of her career. It is relearning her passion and how to appreciate the things around her that become important in teasing out Constance’s story.

One Hundred Names is a charming tale, one that will stay with you long after you finish.

7/14 Becky Lejeune

ONE HUNDRED NAMES by Cecelia Ahern. William Morrow Paperbacks (May 6, 2014). ISBN978-0062248633. 496p.

ALIAS HOOK by Lisa Jensen

July 16, 2014

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For two centuries, James Benjamin Hookbridge has been trapped in Neverland. Forced into battle after battle with the eternal boy Pan, Hook has long since tired of the life. Unfortunately for Hook, there seems to be no way out of the curse that has left him here. Until now.

Lisa Jensen’s Peter Pan retelling is so much fun. Not only is it for adults but it’s told completely from Hook’s perspective. Jensen’s version of the tale paints the nefarious villain in a truly new light giving him new depth via a backstory and history.

I liked, too, that Jensen kind of turns the story on its head without really going too far. Here Pan is actually a dark character, the Lost Boys age out, and there are many Wendys. In spite of all of that, Jensen does manage to stick closely to the essence of the original while deftly and convincingly adding her own spin on the story.

7/14 Becky Lejeune

ALIAS HOOK by Lisa Jensen. Thomas Dunne Books (July 8, 2014). ISBN 978-1250042156. 368p.

FACEOFF edited by David Baldacci

June 5, 2014

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This is a one of a kind collection of short stories written by the top thriller writers in the world today. Simply put, this was a brilliant idea, teaming up series characters together. Leave it to the International Thriller Writers to come up with this terrific book! I even loved David Baldacci’s introduction.

This is a smart book, too. Each story has an introduction to the characters, in case you’re not familiar with them. And if you are, it’s always fun walking down memory lane with an old friend. The book ends with bios of all the participating authors; most are very well known, but if you haven’t read one or two, what a gift to find them here!

Starting off with Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch working with Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie had me hooked from page one. John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport meets up with Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme in the cleverly titled story, “Rhymes with Prey.”

I wasn’t surprised to see good friends James Rollins and Steve Berry have some fun with Cotton Malone and Gray Pierce. Lawyers go mano a mano with Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani and Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper. There are eleven stories altogether, all terrific pairings and great fun.

The book ends with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher meeting up with Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller, who Finder freely admits was inspired by Reacher. This is some beautiful choreography, a short story that clearly demonstrates why we love these characters.

If you’d like to win a copy of FACEOFF, read through to the end…

Q&A with Linwood Barclay

What was it like collaborating with Raymond Khoury on Pit Stop?

 Collaborating on a story was a new experience for me. Generally speaking, it’s akin to a high-wire or trapeze act, except if it it goes wrong, you won’t plunge to your death, which is a bonus. You write a chapter, and email it away, like sending off that horizontal bar to a partner on the other side of the stage, sixty feet in the air. They may catch it, but when they send it back, will you be able to grab it? The suspense comes in the waiting, wondering what your co-writer will do, where he will send the story.

Why is Glen Garber a good pairing for Sean Reilly?

My Glen Garber character, and Raymond’s Sean Reilly were a good pairing. They’re actually very much alike. Strong-willed, tough, pragmatic, but not immune to emotion. But Reilly, as an FBI agent, is the pro, and Garber, a guy who builds houses, is the amateur. Plus, he’s got something very personal at stake in the story — his daughter — that Reilly does not. So they’re going to clash at that level.  I think it’s possible, after the end of this story, that they could have become friends. At the very least, they’d go for a beer.

Can you tell us about the single line you emailed to Raymond that ignited the idea for this tale?

 The line is: “Glen Garber had been given his coffee, but was still waiting for an order of chicken nuggets for his daughter, Kelly, when a woman raced into the restaurant screaming that some guy was on fire in the parking lot.” Where did it come from? Who knows. But I knew the story was going to involve Glen and his daughter, a couple of very ordinary people. And I knew they were going to get caught up in an extraordinary situation. I wanted a sentence that would combine those elements. The mundane (waiting in line for fast food)  bumping up against the horrific (a man set ablaze). The line just happened. I wrote a few more hundred words, then sent it off to Raymond, who ramped up the mayhem in the next instalment. And then we were off.



For the first time ever

the world’s greatest thriller characters meet head-to-head

in 11 electrifying stories

 Where else will you be able to read about Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme meets John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport? Fans of Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone and James Rollins’ Gray Pierce have waited for years to see those characters together.  Then there’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher meeting up with Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller in a bar in Boston. Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani becoming entangled with Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper. Plus, you can’t forget the ever-odd Aloysius Pendergast coming face to face with the scary world of R.L. Stine.

In an unprecedented collaboration, twenty-three of the world’s bestselling and critically acclaimed thriller writers have paired their series characters in an eleven-story anthology curated by the International Thriller Writers (ITW). Edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci, FACEOFF (Simon & Schuster; June 3, 2014; $26.99) is a who’s who of not only the most beloved contemporary thriller writers, but also their iconic characters—putting them head-to-head with their most worthy opponents.

As worlds collide, the characters you think you know best are thrown into unpredictable situations and partnered with, pitted against, and, in some cases, romantically entangled with, characters you’d never suspect—and some that you would. With introductions to the stories that describes the writers, their characters, and a bit about the story’s creation, FACEOFF is truly a treasure trove for thriller fans.

About ITW:

The International Thriller Writers is an honorary society of authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who write books broadly classified as “thrillers.” This would include (but isn’t limited to) such subjects as murder mystery, detective, suspense, horror, supernatural, action, espionage, true crime, war, adventure, and myriad similar subject areas. One of the main purposes of the organization is to provide a way for successful, bestselling authors to help debut and midlist authors advance their careers. In addition, ITW promotes literacy, gives money to worthy organizations, supports libraries, and advances the genre. For more information, visit:

 If you’d like to win a copy of FaceOff –

Send an email to with “FACEOFF” as the subject. You must include your snail mail address in your email.

All entries must be received by June 15, 2014. 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. 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.