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.

Alibris Amazon Audible
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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Things that make you go....hmmmm.

Most of us have pet peeves when we read, right? I realized a few of mine recently while reading a book I enjoyed for the most part.

I've heard a lot of horror stories about people who freak out over any detail that is incorrect in a fire arm or some other weapon. I wouldn't know a Glock from a Flintlock so I don't care about those details. As a matter of fact, recently I realized that I grow bored if someone details out all the features of some extravagant weapon. First, I think that's glorifying the thing and that's not acceptable to me. But the other point is, I don't care. Does it shoot, stab, explode, poison, conk you on the head? That's about the extent of what I care to know. Otherwise, my eyes are glazing over.

The other recent discovery about my reading habits I made is dealing with fight scenes...and car chases are similar. If it's too long and detailed, I'm daydreaming off somewhere else...totally losing interest in what the action on the page is. And three pages of a hand-to-hand brou-ha-ha is waaaaay too long for me. I don't need it and I don't care. I might be more engaged with three pages of cops doing paperwork. Please give me the abridged version of that fight because all that detail about who hit whom where and using what fancy-schmancy martial arts move isn't progressing the plot, it's just spewing testosterone all over the place. Of course this is also probably why I can't watch a wrestling match or a boxing bout.

Now don't get me wrong. I think the action needs to happen, just not in so much detail. You don't want a book that takes place all in the character's head either. Too much of anything on the page will bog a book down. But this is probably what disappoints me the most in a traditional thriller. There's so much focus on the physical action that the mental, emotional, and psychological...not to mention realism...are usually neglected, sometimes to the point that it's insulting to the reader. The crime novels that really rate highly with me are ones that challenge me to think about motivation, strategy, conflict.

O.k. that being said, another book I read continually referred to a murder victim's husband as the client of the attorney prosecuting the murder case. And that set my teeth on edge. I'm not a courtroom fanatic, but the fact that author, editor and any other early readers let that through baffled me. The book as a whole was so spectacular. I couldn't help wishing the author had just made a mistake with a gun detail...then I wouldn't have known the difference!

So what are your pet peeves? What makes your eyes glaze over or even worse, makes you put a book down altogether?

Also remember, I'm waiting for your pictures of where you're reading. I'm excited about the ones that have come in so far and I want to include YOURS! So be sure to email it to me this weekend, or if you need some more time shoot me a note and let me know so I can plan you into my schedule.

Have a great weekend and I hope your reading is full of pet peeve-less wonderfulness!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quote of the Week

The fact is, there's enough money on earth to make everyone whole, if we could just learn to do what any toddler knows--share.
   --Noah Hawley in Before the Fall

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