CURIOUS MINDS by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton

August 17, 2016
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Knight and Moon Series, Book 1

In the first entry of the Knight and Moon series, Evanovich and Sutton have teamed up again (Wicked Charms) to introduce the eponymous Emerson Knight and Riley Moon. Moon is a Harvard MBA with her first job as an analyst for Blane-Grunwald, a large, privately held bank, and Knight is their largest depositor; young, good looking and a bit of an eccentric.

When Knight demands to see his gold deposits, Moon is dispatched to placate him at his home, Mysterioso Manor, which boasts wild animals roaming freely and a classic car collection. The two of them fall into an adventure looking for the missing Grunwald partner that gets significantly more dangerous as they stumble onto an evil plot to steal the world’s gold.

The humor occasionally borders on silly, but the one liners fly as fast and furious as the pages do in this auspicious start to the new series. Evanovich fans will find this series closer in style to the Stephanie Plum series rather than the slightly more sophisticated Fox & O’Hare series.

Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

8/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

CURIOUS MINDS by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton. Bantam (August 16, 2016).  ISBN 978-0553392685. 336p.



THE ART OF MURDER by Elaine Viets

June 4, 2016
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Dead-End Job Mystery (Book 14)

The Bonnet House is a lovely old house that has been turned into a museum and gardens. This Fort Lauderdale landmark  is where Viets has set her latest Dead End Job mystery.

I was aware of the hot Miami art scene, but did not know that Fort Lauderdale also has its share of artists and galleries. In this book, a young woman is taking an art class at the Bonnet House, and collapses in the parking lot surrounded by witnesses. She is dead by nicotine poison – Viets is nothing if not cutting edge here – vape liquid is the murder weapon. There are plenty of suspects and a friend of the victim hires Helen Hawthorne to find the killer. Well, she really wants Helen to prove that the victim’s ex-husband is the murderer, but Helen is keeping an open mind, especially after she finds out the current husband has taken out a large life insurance policy on his wife.

Meanwhile, a small enclave of expensive condos known as “Little New York” is having a raft of burglaries of gold coins. When an elderly man is killed during a robbery, the security team steps up and hires Coronado Investigations to find the robber.

There are lots of red herrings and a lot of fun along the way to Helen and her hot hubby solving these mysteries. Another terrific read from one of my favorite authors.

6/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE ART OF MURDER by Elaine Viets. NAL Hardcover (May 6, 2014). ISBN 978-0451476135. 304p.

THE BOB’S BURGERS BURGER BOOK by Loren Bouchard & Cole Bowden

May 28, 2016
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I imagine most of the folks watching Bob’s Burgers (like myself) imagine what Bob’s punny burger of the day creations would taste like in real life. But Cole Bowden took it one step further. He chronicled his burger experiments with the extremely fun Bob’s Burger Experiment blog, eventually catching the eye of the folks behind the show, leading to the creation and release of The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book.

As the title states, these are “real recipes for joke burgers.” And they are freaking tasty burgers.

Burgers run the gamut of toppings and combinations. There’s the “Texas Chainsaw Massa-curd Burger” (my own first try), which features a habanero-studded patty topped with cheese curds and a wickedly tasty homemade ginger ketchup. Young Bob’s “Baby You Can Chive My Car Burger” may have been criticized by his dad, but only before he tasted it. That spectacular creation is stuffed with feta cheese, topped with chives and a sour cream mustard mixture, and served up with spicy fried pickles. Even Bob’s guaranteed-to-win-awards creation, “Bet it All on Black Garlic Burger” is included.

Each recipe comes with mention of the episode and season where it originally appeared, an intro to the recipe, clear and concise prep/cooking instructions, and building instructions as well. Most also

New Baconings Burger

include illustrations too. So yeah, you probably should be a little bit of a Bob’s Burgers fan to REALLY enjoy the book. With grilling season truly upon us, though, I think EVERY burger fan should buy this one. Includes 75 recipes.


5/16 Becky LeJeune

THE BOB’S BURGERS BURGER BOOK by Loren Bouchard & Cole Bowden. Rizzoli (March 22, 2016).  ISBN: 9780789331144. 128p.



August 6, 2015
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Rose Gardner has been the dutiful daughter for twenty-four years despite her abusive momma. Rose is a charming character, incredibly naïve and sweet, but she finally snaps; she tells off her momma and creates a list of 28 wishes on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt that includes things like wear high heels, kiss a man, and get cable TV.

While working at the DMV, she has a vision about herself being murdered; turns out her momma is the one who gets murdered and Rose is the prime suspect. Her mysterious new neighbor, Joe, is incredibly helpful and adds a bit of romance.

There is a lot of humor in this book that borders on but never quite crosses over to silly, and the mystery here almost takes a backseat to Rose and her declaration of independence.

This is the first book in a new series, with the next two following in September and October, respectively. It is light, fluffy Southern fun and should appeal to Mary Kay Andrews and Charlaine Harris fans.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

8/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TWENTY-EIGHT AND A HALF WISHES by Denise Grover Swank.  Crooked Lane Books (August 11, 2015).  ISBN 978-1629532196. 288p.

YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler

July 30, 2015
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Narrated mostly by Amy Poehler (with help from Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Kathleen Turner, Mike Schur, Patrick Stewart et al)

Amy Poehler is funny and nice, and apparently a lot of really funny people like hanging out with her. This is one of the best audiobook memoirs because of all the readers – they really add something to the reading experience.

I was not a “Parks & Recreation” fan. We watched the first season, thought “eh” and stopped watching. Apparently (according to friends and family members who LOVE it) it got a lot better after that initial season. So after listening to this book and my friends and family, it is in my Netflix queue.

Amy talks about her life, her friends and her work. She talks about growing up outside Boston, motherhood, SNL, Parks & Rec and more. She also talks about her family, but sadly, she is divorcing (already divorced?) so that was in the back of my mind as she spoke lovingly about her husband.

I couldn’t help compare it to Bossypants (best of the comedic memoirs) and the Mindy Kaling book and frankly, it didn’t quite measure up. Nonetheless, it was definitely an enjoyable read, probably more so as an audiobook.

7/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler. HarperAudio; Unabridged edition (October 28, 2014).  ISBN 978-0062350886. Listening Length: 7 hours and 31 minutes




July 27, 2015
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Narrated by Mindy Kaling

There is something that is just so likeable about Mindy Kaling, and after listening to this book, that feeling has just been reinforced. She is, or at least appears to be, nice. Not an airhead for sure. Not a Hollywood egomaniac either – or if she is, she hides it well. And I don’t mean that she isn’t self confident because she is, and she definitely is self aware and smart, qualities that I greatly admire. And she’s funny as hell. This book is laugh out loud funny and also really smart, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mindy put together a collection of essays from her childhood, when she first started out writing for television, lots of inside info from The Office, and lots more. I loved the stories about her first writing job in Queens, her People magazine photo shoot, her family, Hollywood gift bags and well, pretty much all of it.

This is a fun read, especially to listen to as she reads it herself. Her next book, Why Not Me?, comes out Sept. 15. I am looking forward to it!

7/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? by Mindy Kaling. Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (November 1, 2011).  ISBN 978-0307939807. Listening Length: 4 hours and 37 minutes



THE PORTLANDIA COOKBOOK by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein & Jonathan Krisel

February 20, 2015

portlanCook Like a Local

This is the companion cookbook to the popular TV show that has just been renewed for 2 more seasons (that’s 6 & 7 in case you aren’t caught up!) It includes 50 recipes from a variety of sources.

If you haven’t seen Portlandia, it is a comedy sketch show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. They play several different regular characters and the stories are all set in Portland. I hesitate to say they make fun of the local culture, but they do, with great affection.

The book is half comedy, half cooking with actual recipes, and they all tie in to an episode of the show. Fans will get the references, newcomers may be bewildered. For example, there is a recipe called “Butterflied Chicken Roasted Over Bread” that is a direct reference to the series premiere episode. That episode featured this nice young couple who are dining out and ask about the spatchcocked chicken on the menu. They are told it’s locally raised, and then the waitress brings them a dossier on the chicken whose name is Colin. They decide to visit the farm where he was raised to make sure he had a good life before they eat him, and it just gets crazier from there.portlan Colin

While I might actually try to make the Butterflied Chicken recipe, most recipes didn’t really inspire me to try them. The borscht had carrots in it, and I don’t remember my grandmother doing that (although the beets episode of the TV show is one of my favorites.) I did make one of the first recipes in the book, the “Brussels Sprouts with Bacon” which was great. It also had hazelnuts which added a nice crunch, but let’s face it, how can you go wrong adding bacon to a veggie dish!

As a cookbook, I wouldn’t really recommend it but any fan of the show will definitely want it.

portlan contributors

portlan intro

2/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE PORTLANDIA COOKBOOK: Cook Like a Local by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein & Jonathan Krisel. Clarkson Potter; 1St Edition edition (October 28, 2014). ISBN 978-0804186100. 176p.

FEAR THE DARKNESS by Becky Masterman

February 11, 2015
fear the darkness

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This is the second book I’ve read this year in which the main character starts acting all crazy and appears to have been drugged or poisoned. I loved Jane Green’s version, Saving Grace, but this plot line irritated me here.

That said, I think Masterman has created one of the most unique protagonists in a long time, and I adore her. Brigid Quinn is a 59 year-old retired F.B.I. agent who can kick ass, and as I approach that age I really appreciate reading about a character that strong at that age. Her first book, Rage Against the Dying, was terrific if a bit of a stretch (a former F.B.I. agent kills a man in self defense and doesn’t report it? Really?)

This time out Brigid’s sister passes away, and her niece, Gemma-Kate, comes to live with her and her ex-priest husband, neither of whom has any experience with children. Gemma-Kate is a piece of work, but needs to stay with her aunt to establish residency for college. When one of Brigid’s beloved pugs gets poisoned by a toad, Gemma-Kate may be responsible, and things go down hill from there.

Brigid’s best friend Mallory, (the first time in her life that she’s had a best girlfriend,) isn’t exactly like her. While Brigid loves to go hiking, Mallory loves to go shopping but they both like the lunches served with lots of wine. Mallory’s husband suffers from locked-in syndrome; he was in a car that was hit by a train and the only movement he can make is to blink his eyes. Mallory has turned their home into a virtual hospital, and her time with Brigid is often the highlight of her day.

Brigid is working part time as a private investigator. When a local teenage boy dies under suspicious circumstances, the mother asks her to look into it. There are other storylines going on and eventually they all intersect, but Masterman excels at misdirection and the ending is quite a shocker.

2/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

FEAR THE DARKNESS by Becky Masterman. Minotaur Books (January 20, 2015). ISBN 978-0312622954. 336p.

THE GIRL ON A TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

February 9, 2015

girl on a train

The latest buzz book is Hawkins’ debut thriller and frankly, that’s why I read it. To be honest, I felt like it was my professional responsibility to read it since my library patrons are all asking about it, other wise I never would have finished it.

In a word, it’s weird.

The unreliable narrator surged in popularity with Gone Girl – and just a caveat here, I tried to read the Flynn book on three separate occasions and just could not get past the first 40 pages. So I am not the one to do any comparisons there but rather I’m just repeating the oft told comparison in every other review.

That said, Train has a cast of several unreliable characters and the story switches viewpoints among most of them. Rachel is the girl on the train and she is a drunk with blackout issues. She rides the train to London back and forth each day imagining the lives of a couple she names “Jess and Jason.”

Anna is married to Rachel’s ex and understandably no love is lost between them. When Anna’s neighbor Megan goes missing and later is found dead, more details start emerging, and Megan is yet another voice we hear from. Megan turns out to be “Jess” and of course her controlling husband is the first suspect. She lived a few houses down from Rachel’s ex and his new wife, Anna, and there are lots of confrontations between Anna and Rachel.

I had a hard time relating to any of these characters and didn’t really care what happened to any of them. I started to like the book more than three quarters of the way through. That said, I really liked the ending.

2/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE GIRL ON A TRAIN by Paula Hawkins. Riverhead Hardcover (January 13, 2015). ISBN 978-1594633669. 336p.

A DOG GONE MURDER by Elaine Viets

February 4, 2015

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Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper (Book 10)

Josie has come a long way in this series, from struggling single mom renting her mother’s downstairs apartment to happily married to veterinarian Ted, living in their own home, a mid-century modern cottage. But she’s still mystery shopping, which I always find fascinating, maybe because I’ve been on the other side of the counter. When I worked for Borders Books & Music we were mystery shopped on a monthly basis, and people lost their jobs over those reports – or were rewarded!

Josie’s weaselly boss asks her to check out three local doggie day care centers that are seeking accreditation. This behind the scenes look at these establishments will hopefully give dog owners the gumption to look around themselves before dropping off their pets.

But it wouldn’t be a mystery without a murder, and sure enough Josie finds the popular Uncle Bob’s Doggy Day Camp local television spokesperson/celebrity, Uncle Bob himself, dying in his office. Is it natural causes brought on by a high meat diet or did someone poison Uncle Bob? There are lots of suspects, all his employees have issues with the man and he and his wife are separated.

Josie continues her mystery shopping assignment but when her mom’s new renter and possible love interest is arrested for the murder, Josie has to help out and find the real killer.

I love this series and this latest mystery is a good one –  I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. Viets creates believable characters, both good and bad, and I find myself thinking about them long after I turn the last page. Another winner from one of my favorite authors.

2/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A DOG GONE MURDER by Elaine Viets. Signet (November 4, 2014). ISBN 978-0451465986. 304p.