Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Harvest Man - Alex Grecian

My review of Alex Grecian's The Harvest Man first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy!

First line: "Mother and Father were sharing a bed."

Hobbling along with the aide of a cane as a result of his previous encounter with Jack the Ripper, Inspector Walter Day, Alex Grecian's Scotland Yard Murder Squad hero, returns in book four of the mystery series. Day is working a desk as he recovers from his injuries, but the emergence of a gruesome serial killer has the medical examiner clamoring for Day's skill and expertise.

A deranged individual, nicknamed the Harvest Man, hides in attics until he can strike the homes' inhabitants, tying them up and mercilessly slicing off their faces. No one can identify the murderer until two boys escape while he's slaughtering their parents. Day is determined to protect the young witnesses and bring the Harvest Man to justice. But he has more than a knife-wielding psychopath to contend with. Jack the Ripper is back with more of his cat-and-mouse game in store for Inspector Day.

Due to the continuing arc of Grecian's series, The Harvest Man will be most completely appreciated by those who have read the previous books. However, this won't stop new readers from devouring the story and becoming hooked, heading back to the beginning to fill in their blanks. Grecian's vivid characters draw on universal attributes, so while his historical setting is essential to Jack's presence, the audience is still likely to connect with the cast on personal and emotional levels.

Packed with plenty of thrills and chills, Alex Grecian continues to give his readers a suspensefully fascinating read. They just may need to double-check their attics before bed.

The Harvest Man is available in hardcover from Putnam (9780399166440) and as an unabridged audio download (9780698402133), narrated by John Curless, from Penguin Audio.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Quote of the Week

'I've always recognized the human circus and all the wonderful creeps you meet on the way to Oz.'
    –Ace Atkins in The Redeemers 

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Word About the New Look

Wait, wait, wait! You're in the right place. I know everything looks different, but don't worry, it's still Jen's Book Thoughts. After quite a few years with my femme fatale, I have decided to make a change. Several reasons played a role in my final decision to work on a change. The first being I like to play with the blog's layout. Luckily, it's a bit laborious or I might be doing it all the time.

Another reason, a tad more important than my desire to try different looks, is the fact that my reading has branched out within the last year or so. I still adore crime fiction and you can plan to see plenty of it here--I'm not jumping ship--but I'm also reading more non-fiction on topics that interest me as well as other types of fiction that spark my curiosity. I hope I can pique some of your interests with those books as well.

But the biggest reason I made the decision to change the look of the blog is my growing concern about the gun culture in the United States. I'm an advocate for stronger gun laws, and I've never been shy about admitting that. Rationally, I've always separated the reality of firearms and the fiction of their portrayal in the books I read. However, I do not want to glorify guns in any way, even the smallest way. I want to glorify reading. That's always been the point of this blog.

I remember the realization I had about the damage a racial slur said in ignorance can make. Phrases in our language are full of them and we continue to propagate (often hateful) stereotypes by using them, even when we don't realize we're doing it. We learn the language from others around us and use it blindly. I began to feel that way about my femme. The art is wonderful and it got attention, but I want to be clear about my own message and that's a great dislike for what guns have come to represent in this country.

So, I hope that you'll enjoy my new header--I made it myself. I'll probably still be doing some minor tweaks here and there to get the whole blog in sync with the new header, but for the most part it's set.

Thanks for continuing to share a love of reading with me. It means the world.

Happy reading!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five on Friday - Shannon Kirk

Happy Friday all! I hope your week has been great and you're anticipating some good reading for the weekend. I'm thoroughly enjoying Ace Atkins' new Quinn Colson novel, so that's where you'll find me this weekend.

If you'd like to try your luck at winning some books, you could:

  • head over to Criminal Element where they have their Top Cop sweepstakes still going on (until Tuesday) for a load of good crime loot.
  • mosey over to Friday Reads where they are giving away Luckiest Girl Alive and In a Dark, Dark Wood.
  • fly over to Beth Fish Reads where she's holding a contest for the 10th anniversary of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson (I actually put my name in the hat for this one in hopes I can win it for my nephew!)
  • wander into Lisa's Book Critiques where she'll have her weekly's a mystery right now because I'm writing this before she posts it. ;-)

Good luck if you enter any of the contests.

Now on to our fun Friday content! I'm excited to welcome Shannon Kirk to the blog for the first time. Last month, Shannon released her debut novel, Method 15/33. The novel actually started off as a novella and was a 2013 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition finalist. She expanded the novella and has a debut that is getting great buzz!

But writing is just one small facet of Shannon Kirk. Shannon is also a practicing attorney and an adjunct college professor. She likes to create sea-glass sculptures and paint. (I really want to see one of her sculptures!)  And she found time to participate in Five on Friday today. Please help me welcome her to the blog!

When I was a kid, my favorite thing to get in my trick-or-treat bag was: Hands down, candy corn. And today, I pilfer my son’s trick-or-treat bag for the little bags of candy corn, even though it would be far more efficient for me to go down to the store and buy a whole giant bag. But my favorite candy otherwise when I was a kid were Pepto pink wintergreen mints, those round ones you get at the drug store, that my Nana Hanson kept hidden in a hutch.

My five favorite movies of all time are:
1. The English Patient
2. Silence of the Lambs
3. The Notebook
4. The One I Love
5. Sixth Sense
Love and horror, that’s what I’m all about.

The one food I absolutely will not eat is Mushrooms. Mushrooms have been scientifically proven to be a demonic fungus that fell off the devil’s back when he was in the Garden of Eden—and they’ve proliferated since then. All mushrooms, every single variety, are so vile, they should be banned not only from consumption, but from the entire planet. All space missions should have one purpose: transport mushrooms to discard into deep space. Disgusting.

The most beautiful place I’ve ever visited is Butchart Gardens in British Columbia. This is a botanical garden that is absolutely mind-blowing in beautiful color. There is one part where you come upon a valley, you’re standing high on a walking bridge, of sorts. When I looked into the valley and saw the array of primary colors, deep reds, true blues, all shades of green, lemon yellows, tears really did come to my eyes. I felt I was getting a glimpse of Heaven. I’ve never seen anything like it. And no description of mine would ever do it justice, you just have to experience the view. Incidentally, I have another book coming out in 2017 called Heavens—it’s literary fiction, not a thriller. You may notice, if you read it, that the main character equates botanical gardens with Heaven—or rather, her personal peace.

The #1 item on my bucket list right now is: This has been my #1 bucket list item for some years now. It’s pretty specific and totally impossible, so please know I know it’s demented, but truth is, this is my #1 bucket list wish….Someday, I’d like to attend La Boheme at Milan’s La Scala, wearing a blood-red Valentino gown—as in, total full-on, floor-length, red-carpet-worthy GOWN. My escort could be either Jakob Dylan or Ray LaMontagne, I can be flexible on this detail. I prefer the latter, but the former is quite fine too. After the opera, we will share a plate of fried zucchini flowers and two bottles of a perfect Chianti (a version you can only get in Italy) in a tiny restaurant hidden somewhere amongst the tangle of cobblestone alleys of Milan’s fashion district. Perhaps sometime after midnight, my song-writing date will whip out his guitar and sing me something acoustic. That’s the #1 bucket list item, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have to wait for the delusions that come upon dying for me to experience it.

Is it any wonder Shannon is having success with her writing? This is quite possibly the greatest bucket list response to date in my opinion. Too fun! Plus, I am SO in agreement on mushrooms! You can ask my niece who use to taunt me with the plastic mushrooms from her kitchen play set when she was little. ;-)

Thanks so much to Shannon for hanging out with us today. You can learn more about Shannon and her writing at her website. And you can connect with her through Facebook and Twitter.

And thanks to all of you for stopping by to share in the fun. Have a great weekend and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Quote of the Week

Do you have your copy of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, yet? If you don't, go forth and find one. It will be the best decision you make this summer, if not this whole year. One more little taste of the wonderfulness that is this book:

The Monster looks at her as if she just asked him to get naked, roll in saliva and then run through a postage stamp factory with the lights off.
     --Fredrik Backman in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

If you missed any of my other mentions of this book, here is the first Quote of the Week, the second, and my review. And here's my Shelf Awareness review from last year of Backman's debut, A Man Called Ove. I can not recommend these books highly enough. I sincerely love them.

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