Friday, February 12, 2016

Where Jen's Book Thoughts Readers Are Reading

I was absolutely delighted with last week's response to the beginning of Where Jen's Book Thoughts Readers Are Reading. I'm so happy you enjoyed it and I hope you all will continue to send your pictures in for the feature. But let's get on to today's reader. I was so thrilled that Rochelle submitted this picture because I HAVE been following her hikes on Facebook. So fun. Hope you enjoy!

While writing the Mind for Murder novels set in Los Angeles, I fell in love with L.A. history. To research my next series, also set in L.A., I take weekly hikes through neighborhoods with historical significance. A few weeks ago, my hiking partner and I planned a hike in the hills of the Pacific Palisades overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where history layered on history. One of the first landmarks was the building pictured behind me that housed actress Thelma Todd's Sidewalk Cafe in 1934, the last place she was seen alive the night of her mysterious death (unsolved) in 1935. Some say her ghost still haunts the halls. That fact was interesting enough, but when I found out that Raymond Chandler reimagined Todd's café into the fictional sidewalk café in FAREWELL MY LOVELY, I had to read the novel before taking the hike! (Who could resist a reason to reread ANYTHING by Chandler? His writing is a treat.) Quoting Marlowe from chapter 8, paragraph three: "...I drove past and gave the sidewalk cafe my business to the extent of using its parking lot." The day of the hike we followed Marlowe's path from the café to the 280 step staircase he climbed to the home of a client in fictional Montemar Vista. So much fun.

 Rochelle Staab, pictured holding her copy of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY on the pedestrian bridge crossing Pacific Coast Highway to the roadhouse, is the author of the bestselling Mind for Murder series. Follow her weekly hikes through Los Angeles on Facebook. More info at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quote of the Week

That put her a good six steps up the crazy stairs from standard divorce behavior.
    –Joshilyn Jackson  in The Opposite of Everything

Friday, February 5, 2016

Where Jen's Book Thoughts Readers are Reading

Today kicks off the Where Jen's Book Thoughts Readers are Reading and I'm so excited. People have been so creative with this and I'm excited to share all the fun pictures that are coming in from super wonderful readers. Keep the pictures coming in and I'll keep running the feature. I'm going to put together a slide show of the images and I started a map to pin our locations. So let's get this party started shall we?

Appropriately enough, the first reader is also the first person I saw--and who welcomed me with warm smiles--at my first Bouchercon. Kaye Barley is a wonderful friend and prominent member of this crazy book community. You can check out her blog, Meanderings and Muses, for more about this lovely lady. And I will tell you that Kaye is seen here with the statue of Doc Watson--and a Charlaine Harris mystery--that sits on a corner in downtown Boone, where Kaye and her husband, Don, and their dog Harley call home.

Thanks for kicking off this celebration of the blog's readers, Kaye! And I wish you all a very happy Friday and of course, happy reading!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

After the Crash - Michel Bussi

My review of After the Crash first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy...I sure did!

First line: "The Airbus 5403, flying from Istanbul to Paris, suddenly plummeted."

Suspense runs high in Michel Bussi's U.S. debut, After the Crash. When a plane goes down in the Swiss Alps on December 23, 1980, one passenger survives, a three-month-old girl. But there were two female infants aboard the plane, and extenuating circumstances leave no reliable witness to identify whether the child is Lyse-Rose of the wealthy de Carville couple or Emilie of the struggling middle class Vitral family.

As the defenseless child waits helplessly in a hospital unit, the two families battle for custody of the baby. The court is charged with determining her identity, and despite all the money the de Carville family pours into experts decrying the girl is theirs, the judge decides she is Emilie Vitral. Unsatisfied with the results, the de Carville family hires Crédule Grand-Duc, a mercenary-turned-private investigator, to find the incontrovertible truth. He has 18 years to do so--until Lyse-Rose's eighteenth birthday. On the eve of that fateful day Grand-Duc is posed to commit suicide. He has failed. And then, gun in hand, he discovers the clue that will confirm the girl's identity beyond any doubt.

Fast-paced and action-packed, this thriller is adrenaline pumping. Bussi offers a smart, complex mystery with plenty of plausible twists and surprises. His choice of timing allows him to employ DNA with a creatively climatic flare. And his characters embody rich, distinct personalities. All of these elements combined with a strong translation from Sam Taylor make for an engrossing story that's almost impossible to put down.

After the Crash is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780316309677) from Hachette and as an unabridged audiobook (ISBN: 9781478910473), narrated by Daniel Philpott from Hachette Audio.

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Book Depository Downpour iTunes Kobo

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo) - C. Joseph Greaves

Happy February! My review of C. Joseph Greaves' Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo) first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy.

First line: "'Six is the point.'"

Following-up his first historical novel, Hard Twisted, C. Joseph Greaves gives readers a front row seat to one of the greatest courtroom dramas in U.S. history: the battle between gangster Charles "Lucky" Luciano and the special prosecutor determined to bring him down, Thomas Dewey.

Greaves has meticulously blurred the lines between fact and fiction in this novel that reads with the momentum of a legal thriller and throws back the curtain on political shenanigans. Braiding the plot together with the perspectives of Tom and Lucky as well as the talented defense attorney George Levy and the prosecution's star witness, Cokey Flo Brown, Greaves delves into the compulsory prostitution trial of the notorious mob boss. While building the background of each character takes time, the result is a robust view of a highly dysfunctional case.

In an especially effective approach, Greaves opts to tell only Cokey Flo's story from the first person perspective, lending the drug-addled con woman credibility and empathy while casting greater suspicion on both defendant and prosecutor. Still, Greaves doesn't let the reader forget Flo's motivations or her checkered history. There are no white hats in this New York courtroom.

The trial transcript and character dialogue work to create the unsavory atmosphere of New York's mob network as well as the Depression-era scarcity. And the fastidious research enables Greaves to seamlessly meld the four lives into one engrossing story.

Whether readers have an interest in the time period, gangster fiction or historical novels, they will find plenty to captivate them in Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo).

Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo) is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781620407851) from Bloomsbury. You can find a copy at your favorite independent bookstore or the following retailers:

Alibris Amazon Barnes & Noble
Book Depository iTunes Kobo

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