WIRED by Julie Garwood

July 11, 2017

Click to purchase

Buchanan/FBI Series, Book 13

This series is new to me and I’m not sure who Buchanan is, but the FBI is front and center. I guess it doesn’t matter because I don’t feel like I missed a thing.

Allison Trent is a most unlikely computer hacker. A really good hacker, who only hacks for good. Like the time some bad hackers stole the life savings of all the residents of a nursing home. She stole it back, gave the money to the FBI along with a detailed, step by step accounting of who did it and how. All anonymously. She is a sort of Robinhood of hackers. Oh, and she models on the side to make extra money because she’s still has a few months left to go before college graduation and she’s gorgeous.

Allison and her older sister were orphaned as young children, and an aunt and uncle took them in and raised them. Her sister has moved away, and Allison is still earning money for her aunt and uncle, who do not treat her kindly, to say the least. They basically look at her as a means of support and harass her repeatedly.

One day her best friend Jordan invites her on a tour of a new FBI computer center. While there, Allison is questioned by two of the agents. The next thing she knows, she is put in an office by herself and asked to hack into the FBI computers to find a leak. Which she does. They hire her and one of the agents, Liam, takes charge of her.

Liam is a hottie who is constantly traveling for work so doesn’t form any lasting relationships. To him, sex is recreational, a way to kill time between assignments. But something happens with Allison – he is really drawn to her and can’t get her out of his mind. And she finds herself falling for him but afraid that he is just using her.

This is a very fast read. Liam and Allison are interesting, well drawn characters but the rest of the cast we barely get to know. The biggest hole in the plot, well, more like a major annoyance to me, is that Allison, this brilliant coder, doesn’t know something so simple, so basic as thow to block a phone number to keep her relatives from harassing her. By the end of the book it was really annoying me, but that’s just me. Other than that, I enjoyed the book and read it very quickly as it really held my interest. I loved the idea of a woman who could code

I loved the idea of a woman who could code circles around men, but the fact that she also models was a bit much –  she couldn’t get part time work coding? Really?

Other than that, I enjoyed the book and read it very quickly as it really held my interest. If you can suspend your disbelief, it is an enjoyable read.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WIRED by Julie Garwood.  Berkley (July 4, 2017). ISBN 978-0525954460. 320p.

Kindle


COME SUNDOWN by Nora Roberts

June 11, 2017

Click to purchase

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who was who in this book about four generations of women living and working together on a ranch/resort in Montana. I finally got it but not until most of the way through the book but that’s on me. And really, it wasn’t all that important in the scheme of things.

Bodine runs the resort side of the family business and she’s really good at it. As a child she had a crush on her older brother’s best friend, Cal, but he left to do horse work in Hollywood before she grew up. Now he’s back and the chemistry between them is definitely there. He’s been hired on the ranch side of the business but when some employees retire, she hires him for the resort and things start heating up.

The day after Bodine’s mother got married, her sister Alice ran away from home. She never came back and Bodine and her brother never knew her. The story moves back and forth occasionally between Alice’s life and the rest of the family and the difference is stark, to say the least.

Bodine and Cal are out riding one morning when they find a woman’s body on the side of the road. It is one of the resort’s bartenders and she’s been murdered. Then a short time later another body turns up, and the small town sheriff has his hands full with the murders as well as his deputy who has some bad blood with Cal from when they were kids.

You can see the ending coming from a mile away and frankly, I wasn’t even looking so that was a bit of a disappointment. I’ve only read one other Nora Roberts book (I know, I know, she’s written well over 150 books!) and I loved that one (The Obsession) but this was one was just okay.

6/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

COME SUNDOWN by Nora Roberts. St. Martin’s Press (May 30, 2017).  ISBN 978-1250123077. 480p.

Kindle


TROUBLEMAKER by Linda Howard

January 14, 2017
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

I read a Linda Howard book many years ago and didn’t love it, and haven’t picked up another one until now. I’ve never been a fan of romantic suspense but apparently I’m turning into one. First Nora Roberts, and now Linda Howard – this was a really good read.

Morgan Yancy works for a secret government agency and travels the world. Then he gets shot in his own backyard, and almost dies. His boss, Axel, decides he needs a safe place to recover so he sends him to his stepsister’s home in the tiny hamlet of Hamrickville, West Virginia. Isabeau “Bo” Maran is the police chief and lives alone in a house well off the beaten path with her beloved golden retriever, Tricks. Bo wants nothing to do with her idiot stepbrother Axel but when he offers her enough money to get out of debt, she agrees to help out.

Morgan is intrigued with the fiercely independent Bo and her insanely smart dog. Eventually they both drop their defenses and work to help one another. As Morgan heals, he is more and more determined to catch whoever shot him and sets himself up as bait to do so.

I loved watching their relationship develop, especially Morgan and Tricks. There is enough action to keep things moving and enough romance to make it all interesting. I will definitely be reading more Linda Howard.

1/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TROUBLEMAKER by Linda Howard. Avon; Reprint edition (December 27, 2016). ISBN 978-0062418999. 496p.


DISCOVERING YOU by Brenda Novak

September 9, 2016
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Whiskey Creek, Book 10

The publisher, Mira, sent me this book a while back and it’s been in my mass market  to-be-read pile for a few months, but I’m happy to say I’ve worked my way down and have only one or two more books to go in that pile….at least until the Fedex man shows up later today. This was my first Brenda Novak book.

Novak writes romantic suspense, which is not my favorite genre and I don’t understand why exactly. I love suspense, I love romance, but I don’t always love them mixed together. That said, this was a quick read and I did enjoy it.

This may be the tenth book in this series, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I can guess at a few of the romances that came before, and the one that’s coming next, but it definitely works as a first read in the series, at least for me. I know there are readers who only read series in order but while there are some series that definitely require that, most romances don’t. And apparently romantic suspense, at least the ones that I’ve read.

India recently moved to Whiskey Creek, right next door to the Amos family. Middle son Rod takes notice; well, actually all the men do, India is beautiful. But she’s moved to start her life over after her husband was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, right in front of her. Her in-laws are keeping her young daughter for a month to allow her time to get settled, and all them time to spend with their granddaughter but the relationship between India and her in-laws is strained at best.

India meets Rod when she picks him up from the side of the road. Someone has ran him down on his motorcycle, and Rod went after the guy, beating him unconscious. They find themselves confiding in one another rather quickly, and the relationship blooms, which makes India somewhat uncomfortable.

Her ex was released from jail after his trial ended in a hung jury, and he is still obsessed with India. And that is at the heart of the suspense here.

If you haven’t tried Novak, this seems like a good place as any to start. Her reviews are generally quite good and I can certainly understand why. If you like romantic suspense, I highly recommend this book.

9/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

DISCOVERING YOU by Brenda Novak. MIRA (May 24, 2016).  ISBN 978-0778318804.  400p.

Kindle


WILDE LAKE by Laura Lippman

May 9, 2016
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

 

Laura Lippman, why do you make us wait so long for new books? I know you have a toddler, and I know I’m being totally selfish, but I read this new one in one night and could just cry thinking about how long it will be before you give us another. If I thought I could get away with it, I’d go back and reread your entire series, but there are just too many new books to read.

Anyway, Wilde Lake is another stunning novel from one of my favorite authors. Lippman has left Tess Monaghan for another book (I hope?) and this standalone is set in a small town called, Wilde Lake. A town much like the one Lippman lived in through her own high school years.

Lu Brant has just beaten out her incumbent boss for the state attorney’s job in Howard County, Maryland. She is settling in when a murder case falls into her lap. There are very few murders in this suburb, but Brant is determined to win this one. A homeless man is accused of beating a woman to death in her own home, and while they cannot find a motive, his diminished mental capacity may be cause enough, while not being severe enough to plea out on insanity.

The book is written in alternate chapters of the present day case and Lu’s coming of age in the 1980’s. She lost her mother a week after her birth, and was raised by her state attorney father and much older brother, AJ. This is a very close family so when secrets start to come out, we realize even the closest of families may have skeletons in the closet. Lu’s view of events as she was growing up take a decided turn as an adult with a much different perspective.

Somewhat reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, (and I don’t say that lightly,) this is a deeply compelling story with themes of family, secrets, murder, mental illness, truth and justice. And one of the best books I’ve read this year.

5/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WILDE LAKE by Laura Lippman. William Morrow (May 3, 2016).  ISBN 978-0062083456.  368p.

Kindle

Audible

Book on CD


THAT DARKNESS by Lisa Black

April 27, 2016
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

This is the first book of a new series featuring Cleveland forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner and homicide detective Jack Renner, but this is not your typical detective story.

Gardiner is a complete forensic nerd with no real personal life outside of her job. She has become obsessed with the victims of several murders, all of whom were shot point blank in the back of the head, yet are seemingly unrelated. By using tapings – pieces of tape pressed against victim’s clothing that pick up threads, dust and fibers – she has literally picked up enough clues to find the place where all the murders took place.

And just in case you think that sounds far fetched, Black has worked as a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, where she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she is a latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida, working mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes. In other words, she knows her stuff.

Renner is a vigilante cop turned serial killer, but he only kills people who need killing, somewhat reminiscent of the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay. But Renner is no sadist; he kills quickly and cleanly in his quest for the justice often denied by the legal system.

While Gardiner is not a cop, she works hand in hand with the police as she narrows in on the killer. The surprising ending is sure to keep readers coming back for more.

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

4/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THAT DARKNESS by Lisa Black. Kensington (April 26, 2016).  ISBN 978-1496701886.  336p.

Kindle


POISONOUS by Allison Brennan

April 20, 2016
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Max Revere Novels (Book 3)

Max Revere is an investigative reporter who specializes in cold cases. She is tenacious, speaks her mind without a filter, is a trust fund kid, and always seeks the truth. I could be friends with her.

Max has a lot of baggage from her childhood with a mother who abandoned her and no father, but luckily she was raised by her wealthy grandparents. Her relationships are difficult at best. Her boyfriend Nick, and her best friend/bodyguard David are both in similar situations with child custody issues, and Max just doesn’t get it.

When Max receives a letter from Tommy, a young man who is a bit slow, she wants to help. He tells her that his sister was killed and no one was arrested, and his stepmother thinks he did it and has banished him from the family. Max can relate and decides to take the case.

The local cops haven’t been able to ascertain whether or not Ivy was killed, committed suicide or just fell off the cliff where her body was found. Ivy was a cyber bully who had tormented a classmate into suicide, so not a very sympathetic victim even though she was a teen. Yet somehow Max does empathize, and with her resources, is determined to ferret out the truth.

This is a good look at the whole teen online social networking nightmare that every parent has to deal with nowadays, only this time with devastating results. A really good story, well developed characters and enough twists to keep me up half the night makes this another excellent entry into this terrific series.

04/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

POISONOUS by Allison Brennan. Minotaur Books (April 12, 2016).  ISBN 978-1250066848.  368p.

Kindle


THE OBSESSION by Nora Roberts

April 15, 2016
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

I am happy to be along for the ride on Nora Roberts’ blog tour for The Obsession. It is my first Nora Roberts book!

I met Nora at least sixteen years ago when I was a bookseller at Borders – in those days, she was still doing book tours. She was incredibly nice and friendly to everyone. I recommended her books regularly, she was (and is) enormously popular.

My favorite Nora Roberts story happened when she started writing under the J.D. Robb name. We had an employee at Borders, a young man who flat out refused to read anything written by a woman. I knew that Robb was Roberts, but he didn’t. He read Naked in Death and loved it. Did my heart good. <smirk>

So the other night I started reading The Obsession, and within the first hundred pages I knew why Nora Roberts has so many diehard fans. I became obsessed with it – stayed up well into the night to finish it. The book has everything I like all rolled up into one terrific story; a serial killer, a coming of age story, a great dog, a terrific romance and even an old house renovation and antiquing.

Naomi Bowes is twelve years old when the book opens. That child accidentally stumbles on her father’s secret and saves the life of a young woman. That finding unleashes a nightmare for the family – her father goes to jail and her life is never the same. Her uncles raise Naomi and her brother, and they change their name to Carson. Naomi becomes a professional photographer, always travelling and never settling down. Her brother becomes an FBI profiler. Then Naomi finds this big old house on the other side of the country and moves in.

Shortly after moving in she finds a stray dog who just wiggles his way into her heart. Then she meets a mechanic who also worms his way into her heart. Her contractor and his wife become good friends and life is good. Until a young girl goes missing and turns up dead a few days later. Murdered in the same way Naomi’s father’s victims were. And then there’s another missing girl. But it soon becomes apparent that Naomi is his intended target.

This was a real page turner and I loved it.

4/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE OBSESSION by Nora Roberts. Berkley (April 12, 2016).  ISBN 978-0399175169.  464p.

Kindle


TRICKY TWENTY-TWO by Janet Evanovich

December 14, 2015

TRICKY TWENTY-TWOA Stephanie Plum Novel

Anyone who peruses my reviews knows that I am a long time Evanovich fan. I have received review copies of her books since about book five; her publisher would just send them. She changed publishers a few years ago, and I had to ask for her books but still, no problem. Until this book.

There are a handful of authors who don’t make their books available for review prior to publication. This is usually a big deal, involving leaks, accidental sales (Walmart was notorious for selling Harry Potter books prior to publication) and really, it usually isn’t the author, it’s the publicist, trying to drum up even more anticipation.

There are occasionally books that aren’t released for review because they are so bad, they want to avoid the inevitable for as long as possible. And there are books by New York Times bestselling authors that aren’t released for review because too many reviewers enjoy taking pot shots at them, denigrating their writing, their stories, their characters because frankly, some reviewers enjoy the power that brings. Must I add I am not one of them? I hate writing negative reviews, and I’m rarely snarky. When I do feel compelled to write a negative review, I try and keep it as appropriate to the subject as possible, specifics about writing style or characters or whatever I’m not liking. I never attack an author and I never write anything disparaging without careful consideration and criticism.

So when I was told there would be no review copies for this book, and none of the review journals published a review prior to publication, I got nervous. Let’s face it, Janet has been taking a lot of pot shots for the last 10, 12 books – which hasn’t diminished their popularity one iota. This newish publisher not wanting early reviews made me think that maybe this book was going to be the last one I’d want to read.

I am thrilled to say I was wrong, I was nervous for nothing. I loved Twenty-Two, and think it’s her best book in years. I haven’t loved the last ten or so, but I enjoyed them. I knew what I was getting and she always made me laugh. In a way I felt like I was putting up with the inevitable car explosions, the back and forth between Joe and Ranger, and all the other crazy, quirky characters because I loved these people so much. Takedown Twenty almost did me in – that giraffe was so over the top (sorry, couldn’t help it) that I really thought Janet had finally pushed me away. But habits, especially reading habits, are hard to break so I read Top Secret Twenty-One and enjoyed it again.

Which brings me, finally, to Tricky Twenty-Two. It’s short. Publisher claims 304 pages, but that includes a preview of Scam, the new book in the Fox & O’Hare series co-written with Lee Goldberg. I love that series, by the way. So in actuality, the new Plum book clocks in at a fast 280 pages, easily read in one sitting. And that includes a lot of laughing, too.

Lula is here in all her glittery, spandex glory as is Grandma Mazur, who is still packing heat, and Stephanie’s mom, who is still ironing and drinking whenever Stephanie gets into trouble. And Stephanie gets into plenty of trouble. Ranger and Joe are both heating things up and yes, a car or two are blown up. This is a Stephanie Plum book after all, and the plot is the usual bounty hunting goes awry.

All you really have to know is that it is tightly written, moves along at a nice clip, has lots of laughs and lots of romance. All the characters are true to themselves and have earned their longevity. If you’ve given up on the Plum books, it’s time to come back to the fold. If you haven’t read them, or worse yet saw that God-awful movie and were afraid of the books, read this one then go back and start with One for the Money.

I am delighted to say I loved it!

 

12/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

TRICKY TWENTY-TWO by Janet Evanovich. Bantam; 1St Edition edition (November 17, 2015). ISBN 978-0345542960. 304p.

Kindle

Audiobook

 


A LOT LIKE LOVE by Julie James

July 8, 2015
Click to purchase

Click to purchase

I am really enjoying Julie James’ FBI/US Attorney series. I’ve read the first one, Something About You,  book 3, About that Night, book 4, Love Irresistibly, and book 5, It Happened One Wedding. I finally got hold of book 2; thank you library! Need I say I did not read these in order? Probably not, since I’m finally reviewing the second book in the series.

This is a terrific series, and one of the things I like best is that they don’t need to be read in order. But if you are one of those people that feel the need to do that, there are delicious little nods to the previous books, so go for it and enjoy.

The series centers around the Chicago U.S. attorneys’ office and the FBI agents that they work with so closely. A Lot Like Love is about FBI agent Nick McCall and the billionaire heiress Jordan Rhodes. Rhodes made an appearance in About that Night as her brother, Kyle, AKA the “Twitter terrorist” is at the center of that book. But that’s the next book in the series, so never mind…

Nick McCall has been working undercover for years, precluding any sort of relationship. His newest assignment is to help out a rookie, but when the rookie gets sick, Nick has to go undercover again. This time he’s Nick Stanton, wealthy businessman who is Jordan’s date at the swankiest charity gala of the year.

In reality, he is there to infiltrate the owner’s office and plant a few bugs that will hopefully tie up a big money laundering sting. Nick and Jordan take an instant dislike to each other; he has no use for high society, and she finds him sarcastic and thug-like. But when Nick finds out he’s being followed, he knows he needs to play the boyfriend full time.

Chicago is the setting once again, with a side trip to beautiful Napa valley. Believable characters and a suspenseful storyline make for a great read – the hot sex is just the icing on the cake. Hope there’s another book or two left in this series, I am seriously hooked.

7/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

A LOT LIKE LOVE by Julie James. Berkley (March 1, 2011). ISBN 978-0425240168. 304p.