Listen to your librarian!

A couple of reviews today, one of which–A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller–was a “Staff Pick” at my local library. As I discuss in my review, I was pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for reading!

A Killing in the Hills  (Bell Elkins, #1)A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up because of a librarian recommendation, and it was a good read. Interesting characters, good descriptions and a story that kept me turning the pages. This is apparently the first of a series and since I’m not a big fan of mysteries and this one wrapped up nicely for me at the end, I’ll probably stop with this one. However, since it’s better than most, I’d recommend it for fans of the genre.

Book Description (from Goodreads):

In A Killing in the Hills, a powerful, intricate debut from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Keller, a mother and a daughter try to do right by a town and each other before it’s too late.

What’s happening in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia? Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter.  Was it random? Was it connected to the spate of drug violence plaguing poor areas of the country just like Acker’s Gap? Or were Dean Streeter, Shorty McClurg, and Lee Rader targeted somehow? One of the witnesses to the brutal incident was Carla Elkins, teenaged daughter of Bell Elkins, the prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, WV. Carla was shocked and horrified by what she saw, but after a few days, she begins to recover enough to believe that she might be uniquely placed to help her mother do her job.

After all, what better way to repair their fragile, damaged relationship? But could Carla also end up doing more harm than good—in fact, putting her own life in danger?


The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had little trouble getting into the POV of this story but once I did the pages flew by. Great story with great characters, vivid descriptions and exceptional writing. For me, poor endings are kind of a pet peeve but the ending to The Book Thief was amazing. It flowed organically from the story and struck the right emotional chords. It was also refreshing to read about WW2 from the perspective of ordinary German citizens. Highly recommended.

Book Description (from Goodreads):

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.

So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

Some books I like. And one…not so much.

Mostly doing some housekeeping here. Since most of my book reviews are on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. I thought it was a little redundant to have them on a dedicated page here as well. So today I’m posting my old reviews (along with a new one) here in the blog and will do the same with all new reviews from here on out.

Thanks for reading!

And now for a review never before seen on this site…

Reviver (Reviver Trilogy, #1)Reviver by Seth Patrick

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Loved the premise for this story, which was why I started reading. People known as “Revivers” are able to bring back the dead–temporarily at least–to offer loved ones the chance to say goodbye or to give homicide detectives crucial first-hand testimony. I was expecting much more from this book than a cookie cutter thriller and unfortunately, that’s what this is. Sure, there was the other-worldly paranormal stuff thrown in as well, but for me there was nothing new or exciting here. The characters in the story–mostly flat and lifeless–mirror my opinions of “Reviver.” But I’m sure that in the proper hands, this trilogy will be a wildly successful movie franchise.

And from the archives…

Cold MountainCold Mountain by Charles Frazier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A testament to the power of great writing.

Anyone who’s read Cold Mountain can tell you that, for the bulk of the story, there’s not a whole heck of a lot happening. Sure, at its heart there’s Inman’s epic journey and Ada’s struggles on the farm (and the occasional scrape with assorted ne’er-do-wells and low lifes) but for the most part, it’s a slow build to the end. But I, for one, could not put this book down.
Frazier’s talent for description and characterization carry the story brilliantly through what–in the hands of a lesser writer–would be a tough slog. Although it’s been some time since I’ve read this book (I’ll most likely be reading it again) there’s one scene in particular that has stuck with me–Inman’s interaction with the blind vendor outside the hospital. Again, not much going on there, but the authenticity of their relationship and the dialogue was extraordinary.

A great read–one that will stay with you, I promise.


Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good, engaging read.
Dynamic writing, interesting characters and alternating chapter cliffhangers kept me turning the pages. Although I found myself rooting for a certain ending, the one Ms. Flynn wrote was even better. In the end, very satisfying and well worth the time spent reading.


Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American HistoryEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A real eye-opener.

This book was a very well written account of a (in my opinion) neglected chapter in this country’s history. My education of this time period centered around the Civil War, but in the western plains an equally dramatic struggle was playing out. Without sugar-coating the actions on either side, Gwynne tells it like it was, letting the reader form his or her own opinion of events. And although there’s never a question of which side eventually comes out on top, there is much to learn here. Not only about the vast and powerful Comanche empire, but the tenacious settlers and Rangers who mounted the final challenge to their reign.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well written with good description and character development, but in the end, not my cup of tea. I’m not sure if Martin writes in other genres, but if so, I would definitely give him another look.


JoylandJoyland by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Combining elements of a good crime novel (the cast of characters, usual suspects and the trail of evidence) with King’s wonderful characterization and descriptions, this was a quick and very satisfying read.