Review: Blood Hollow by William Kent Kreuger

Blood Hollow by William Kent Kreuger

Blood Hollow by William Kent Kreuger

Series: Cork O’Connor #4

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Northern Minnesota

Source: Audiobook, Library (11 hours, 15 hours)

Narrator: David Chandler

Publishing Date: 2004

512 pages

Synopsis: When the corpse of a beautiful high school student is discovered on a hillside four months after her disappearance on New Year’s Eve, all evidence points to her boyfriend, local bad boy Solemn Winter Moon. Despite Solemn’s self-incriminating decision to go into hiding, Cork O’Connor, Aurora, Minnesota’s former sheriff, isn’t about to hang the crime on a kid he’s convinced is innocent. In an uphill battle to clear Solemn’s name, Cork encounters no shortage of adversity. Some — like bigotry and bureaucracy — he knows all too well. What Cork isn’t prepared for is the emergence of a long-held resentment from his own childhood. And when Solemn reappears, claiming to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ in Blood Hollow, the mystery becomes thornier than Cork could ever have anticipated. And that’s when the miracles start happening….

My thoughts

I read the first three of this series in 2017 and really liked them. I’ve meant to get back to the series and finally did. I listened to the audiobook and though it was 11 hours long it only took about three days to finish it! The narrator is great and the mystery is very good. It kept me guessing! Just like Cork I had many suspects throughout the course of the book!

The setting in the series is also one I really like. The books take place in northern Minnesota among lakes and forests. The main character is the former sheriff of his county and is part Irish and part Ojibwe Indian. The Ojibwe people and culture play a big part in these books and I love that. Cork O’Connor is very human, makes mistakes, but has strong ethical beliefs. He was raised Catholic, but no longer goes to church. Things happened in earlier books that caused him to doubt the existence of God. This book really explores different beliefs as well as miracles and spirituality. What is real when it comes to God? And how do we really know? How do we interpret “signs” from God? Are they real or not? Is God real? I like how this book talks about these things during the course of this mystery without preaching and without taking anything away from the mystery.

I also like that these books have lots about the relationships of the characters–especially Cork’s family. They have their ups-and-downs in and they’re not perfect, but they love each other. Cork has Ojibwe friends as well as white friends. There are tensions between the two groups of people in this book (as in earlier books), but Cork tries to have good relations with both groups.

I recommend this series if you like mysteries set in interesting places along with compelling characters and ideas.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Awards

Anthony Award for Best Novel (2005)

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — A book I borrowed (from the library)

Review: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Series: Unknown

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Iowa

Source: Audiobook, Library

Narrator: Julia Whelan

Publishing Date: 2017

296 pages

Synopsis: When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters–her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

My thoughts

This is the first time I’ve read any books by Heather Gudenkauf, but I want to read more. I really enjoyed this story about a woman who lost her hearing in an accident. Her life fell apart after that–she lost her nursing job, she started drinking, her marriage fell apart, she no longer can see her step-daughter as often as she’d like to and she’s estranged from most of her friends. I like that this book feels authentic. The author doesn’t pull any punches.

Background

Two years after her accident Amelia is finally getting her life back together, but it hasn’t been easy. She’s living alone except for her hearing dog, Stitch. She’s applied for a job, but not as a nurse. She loves nursing, but she can’t go back to that yet. She’s joined AA and struggles daily to remain sober. However, she is staying sober.

She does get the job though she missed the first interview when she found a murder victim. The murder victim turns out to be a nurse that Amelia was good friends with before her accident. After the accident she shut out most people. Gwen, the murdered woman, had reached out to Amelia on several occasions–the last time a month or so before–but Amelia ignored her. Since Amelia knew Gwen she’s more drawn to try to find out why Gwen was murdered. There are lots of clues and it’s hard to know why Gwen was murdered. Some strange and scary things happen to Amelia, too–though maybe they’re just her imagination.

Narrator

The mystery is really good. There are a number of parts I thought were scary, but it didn’t stop me from continuing to listen feverishly. I liked the narrator of this audiobook–Julia Whelan. She’s easy to understand though maybe a little too matter-of-fact sometimes. However, I would listen to another book she narrates.

The characters

The fact that Amelia can’t hear really ramps up the suspense in the story. I like that Amelia is determined to be self-sufficient and manage her own life. Stitch is fun to read about. For the most part, he’s a great companion and pretty good hearing dog. He isn’t as obedient as I would have expected though he does come through when he needs to. I was a little surprised he was a hearing dog since he doesn’t always listen too well to Amelia. (That is acknowledged in the book.)

Jake is Amelia’s best friend and the one who has helped her the most to come to terms with her life. He’s a police officer and solidly behind her. Jake was her brother’s best friend and Amelia tagged along behind them–much to their chagrin. She had a crush on him when she was young. Amelia’s husband, David, is still in Amelia’s life. They’re separated, but not divorced. David allows Amelia to have supervised visits with her stepdaughter, but is not very helpful or understanding of what Amelia has gone through.

I’d love to read another book with these characters. However, it doesn’t look like Ms. Gudenkauf writes sequels. I recommend this book–especially if you like mysteries, dogs, people overcoming handicaps and good stories.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — A book by a local author (Iowa)

Review: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition by Martha WellsArtificial Condition by Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #2

Genre: Science Fiction Novella

Source: Hardback, Library

Publishing Date: 2018

158 pages

Synopsis: It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

My thoughts

I love Murderbot! These books by Martha Wells are such fun to read. Murderbot is so self-aware. I keep thinking of her as female though she’s actually neither male nor female and doesn’t want to be either. It’s hard for me to think of her as “it” as that seems to make her less than she is. However, the author makes a point of calling Murderbot an it so I guess I have to follow that lead. The fact that Murderbot has organic parts as well as inorganic parts makes it hard to think of it as property and with no feelings. Murderbot hacked its “governor” (which made it do whatever humans told it to do) which makes Murderbot’s desire to just watch video serials understandable. Even though Murderbot was treated as an object owned by a company and had to obey orders it has strong ethical beliefs.

This is a short book, but lots is packed in to the story. Murderbot is on its own in this book though it makes some friends along the way. It has decided to investigate what happened in its past–why it calls itself “Murderbot.” After that incident Murderbot’s memory was mostly wiped so it has only vague memories of what happened

Since Murderbot is traveling alone it is posing as an augmented human since security units are either owned by a company or have a human guardian. It hitches a ride on a research transport vehicle that it names ART. ART initially scares Murderbot, but they come to an understanding and help each other. I love the interactions between Murderbot and ART. There’s a lot of snark as well as genuine feeling between them.

The book has mystery, humor, adventure and danger. I already have the third book in the series!

My Rating: A-

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — The next book in a series you’ve started

Review: Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman

Note: I’m going out-of-town for a couple of weeks and I don’t know that I will have internet very much. I have a few posts I’ve scheduled, but I probably won’t get to check my blog very often. I was just starting to finally answer some of the comments people have posted and visit a few blogs, but that may not happen again very soon.

Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman

Series: Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito #21

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Setting: Arizona and New Mexico and the Grand Canyon

Source: Audiobook, Library

Narrator: Christina Delaine

Publishing Date: 2017

293 pages; 10 hours, 12 minutes

Synopsis: A deadly bombing takes Navajo Tribal cops Bernadette Manuelito, Jim Chee, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, back into the past to find a vengeful killer in this riveting Southwestern mystery from the bestselling author of Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock with Wings

When a car bomb kills a young man in the Shiprock High School parking lot, Officer Bernadette Manuelito discovers that the intended victim was a mediator for a multi-million-dollar development planned at the Grand Canyon. 

My thoughts

I’ve read the Leaphorn & Chee books written by the late Tony Hillerman for years, but this book is written by his daughter, Anne Hillerman, and it’s the first book I’ve read by her. I was a little worried when I saw she was continuing the series, but I loved this book. I feel it’s a great continuation of the series and I’m very happy she has written more books in this series.

There are earlier books I haven’t read (by both Hillermans) so I’m going back and reading some of those. Some things have obviously happened in these books that I haven’t read about yet!

The Grand Canyon

This is a really good mystery involving environmental issues and development in the Grand Canyon area. Lots of different groups want to weigh in on the issue of building a hotel near the Grand Canyon. Different Indian tribes may have different views as well as the many different views of the non-Indians. When the mediator’s car is bombed and someone dies the questions abound. Was the bomber killed? Is this ecoterrorism? Is the mediator in danger?

This is a part of the United States I love so I always enjoy books that take place in the Southwest. I think the book does a good job showing the beauty of that part of the country.

Bernie Manuelito

It was so fun to read about Manuelito as well as Leaphorn and Chee. I like that the narrator for Anne Hillerman’s books are narrated by a woman. That makes me feel Manuelito is getting equal billing with Leaphorn and Chee . (The cover of this book says “A Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito Novel” even though Goodreads doesn’t show that with their listing.) I like the way the three of them work together deciphering clues and depending on each other. It’s a really good mystery and I can’t wait to read more. And I like the part the lion plays in the story!

Audiobook

I listened to the audiobook and enjoyed the narrator–Christina Delaine. She did a great job with the different voices. A lot of the voices were male and I always thought they were male. Now I want to read and/or listen to more books in this series very soon!

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — A book with an animal in the title

Mini-Reviews: Shards of a Broken Sword trilogy by W.R. Gingell

I read the Shards of a Broken Sword trilogy in February and March and am doing mini reviews for each book. I’m also excited because this is the first time I’ve read a book by an author from Tasmania (as far as I know). I’ve always thought Tasmania sounds like such an intriguing place to visit.

twelve days of faery by w.r. gingellTwelve Days of Faery by W.R. Gingell

Series: Shards of a Broken Sword #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

150 pages

My thoughts

This is the first book I’ve read by W.R. Gingell, but it isn’t the last book by Ms. Gingell I will read. So far this year I’ve read six of her books! I really enjoy her writing.

I liked that this book turned some of the fairy tale tropes on their head. For example, a prince is cursed instead of a princess. A woman comes to save him, but maybe after the curse is gone she’s not interested in the prince, but in his father the king. This is a short book (a novella), but it’s lots of fun and filled with intrigue, magic, some romance and trips into Faery. A good start for a trilogy.

My Rating: B+

fire-in-the-blood-by-w-r-gingellFire in the Blood by W.R. Gingell

Series: Shards of a Broken Sword #2

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

123 pages

My thoughts

This is the second novella in this fantasy trilogy called Shards of a Broken Sword. The first two books are about different characters. They are set in the same world and both about shards from a broken sword that hold a great deal of magic. The books are short (from about 120 to 220 pages), but the stories are satisfying and complete.

This story about a prince, a dragon, a maid and a sleeping princess in a tower is humorous and exciting as the prince along with his dragon try to complete challenges in seven circles to find the princess. And there is even some romance!

My Rating: B

the first chill of autumn by w.r. gingellThe First Chill of Autumn by W.R. Gingell

Series: Shards of a Broken Sword #3

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

220 pages

My thoughts

I like how this ties up the loose ends in the trilogy. Each book is about different characters, but in this book all the characters are brought together by the end. I like that. There is magic galore in the book as well as dragons, royalty, enchanters and enchantresses, romances, lots of Fae! And we finally find out what the shards of the broken sword are for.

I recommend this trilogy to anyone who likes fairy tale retellings, a little romance in their stories (that doesn’t take over the story), magic, dragons, fantasy.

My Rating: B+

Trilogy Rating: B+

About the Author

W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She loves to rewrite fairy tales with a twist or two–and a murder or three–and original fantasy where dragons, enchantresses, and other magical creatures abound. Occasionally she will also dip her toes into the waters of SciFi.

W.R. spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.

Reading Challenges

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — A book with a weather element in the title (The First Chill of Autumn)

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a sequel (Fire in the Blood)

April & May Wrap-Up

I’ve decided to do a monthly wrap-up post each month to see how I’m doing on my blog and what’s going on in my personal life. I plan to link-up to a couple of blogs that host wrap-ups and reviews of their months. The Month in Review is hosted at The Book Date, and the Monthly Wrap-up Round-up is hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

Personal life

The first part of May we  got a call that my father-in-law had had a massive stroke. My husband and I quickly got ready and left to drive the 3+ hours to the hospital. My FIL didn’t want extreme measures taken to keep him alive and the doctors said he wouldn’t regain consciousness due to bleeding in his brain. He died the next day. It’s hard when a loved one dies, but he was nearly 90 and had lived a good life. We tried to celebrate his life and remember the good times we had with him. He loved his family including his extended family and many were able to come to his funeral. He was a veteran and we had a military ceremony at the graveside. It was all very moving and right for him. My husband is the executor of his estate so we stayed longer to sort out the papers he needs and so he could visit local people and businesses. We’ve made more trips as things move along. It’s a big job, but many people are helping.

My daughter who lives in the same city as I do interviewed for another job in her company. She got the job and moves to Indianapolis at the end of June. I will miss her so much, but it’s a great job and a promotion so I’m also very happy for her. She got the job offer at the end of May so she’s very busy getting her house ready to sell and getting ready to move. That means we’re busy, too, helping her when we can.

TV & Movies

We saw a couple of movies in the theater–Ready Player One and Solo–and enjoyed them both. We’re happy Elementary is back with another season and we’ve watched some of that. We watched the short season of Dancing With the Stars, but I was disappointed the season was so short. I hope they don’t have another four-week season. I feel like I didn’t get to know the people at all.

Yard & Garden

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After a very cold spring–we even had a little snow in April–we have gone straight to summer. In May we had a number of 90+ degree days. We’ve planted new plants this spring and the bulbs I planted last fall came up. Yay!  The daffodils bloomed and now Allium is blooming and my lilies will bloom later in the summer. We also planted a few new plants during May.

I love our yard and the crabapple trees are especially beautiful when they bloom in spring. Daffodils are my favorite spring bulb since deer, squirrels and bunnies leave them alone. Plus they are such cheerful plants.

Blog life

I read quite a few books in April and May and am ahead of my Goodreads goal which makes me happy. However, I didn’t get many books reviewed or other posts done and during May about the only things done were posts that I’d scheduled. I had the April wrap-up mostly written when we received the call about my father-in-law.

Thanks to all the people who comment on blog posts. I owe many people comments and hope to visit many blogs during June to see what you all are doing and then leave comments.

I still have to finish a privacy policy for my blog, but it may take a few more days since my husband and I are taking care of more estate business at the end of this week.

Books read in April

The Green Man’s Heir by Juliet E. McKenna (ebook)

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves (audiobook)

Hive Mind: Perilous by Janet Edwards (ebook)

This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong (library ebook)

Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves (library audiobook)

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (library ebook) — (new author)

Catseye by Andre Norton (ebook)

Hive Mind: Defender by Janet Edwards (ebook)

Dry Bones by Peter May (audiobook) — (new author)

Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell (ebook)

The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein (library audiobook)

Books read in May

Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren (ebook) — (new author)

The Darkest Thread by Jen Blood (ebook) — (new author)

Dog With a Bone by Hailey Edwards (ebook)

Inside the Echo by Jen Blood (ebook)

Spindle by W.R. Gingell (ebook)

Song of the Lion by Anne Hillerman (library audiobook) — (new author)

The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh (ebook) — (new author)

Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes (library ebook) — (new author)

Books reviewed

Review

White Nights by Ann Cleeves (ebook) — B+

Mini Reviews

Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff (ebook) — B-

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch — (ebook) B+

Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch & Andrew Cartmel (graphic novel/library) — B

A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch (audiobook) — B-

My Challenges update

Goodreads Challenge

Goal–90 books read

By the end of May I’ve read 46 books toward my goal. I am 10 books ahead of schedule! Yay!

Cloak & Dagger Reading Challenge

Goal–read 26-35 mysteries 

I’ve read 22 mysteries so far, but have only reviewed six of those mysteries so far.

Discussion Challenge

Goal — 1 -10 discussion posts

I haven’t written any discussion posts yet. I have a couple started so I hope to get one done in June.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Goal — 40 prompts to the challenge

I’ve read seven books which match prompts

Swords & Stars Reading Challenge

Goal — 20 prompts for the challenge

I’ve read and reviewed three books which match this challenge

What were April and May like for you?

2018 Reading Challenges

Goodreads Reading Challenge

I’m participating in the Goodreads challenge again this year. Last year my goal was to read 100 books and I read exactly that! This year I decreased my goal to 90 books. I feel like I have lots more going on in 2018 and I want to read books because I love reading not to meet a challenge. (However, if I read more than 90 books I will be very happy!)

Other challenges

I’ve decided to participate in a few other challenges this year. Last year I didn’t take part in any reading challenges so I’m ready this year to jump in. It’s always fun and I usually read books I might not read otherwise. Some of these challenges need me to not only read the book, but also post a review. Thus, I’ve decided to do at least a mini review of the books I read. Hopefully this will get me to write a little about the books I’m reading.

Cloak and Dagger Challenge

Hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

I can read any type of mystery for this challenge. I like that about the challenge. I had a lot of fun when I did this challenge a couple of years ago.

Goal: Inspector Level–26-35 books

Monthly Link-up for mysteries read each month.

Discussion Challenge

Hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!

Discuss books and book blogging. Talk about whatever you want as long as it’s relevant to book blogging. Discussions can be book related or book blogging related (or generally blogging related).

Goal: Discussion Dabbler–1-10 discussions

Monthly Link-up for discussion posts each month for giveaways and see what discussions other people post.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Hosted on the POPSUGAR website.

I participated in this challenge two or three years ago and it was lots of fun. I did read types of books I don’t often read by doing this challenge last time so I hope to do the same this year. There’s also a Goodreads group that I can join. (I’ll think about that for now.)

Goal: to broaden my reading horizons by trying to read all 40 of the book prompts plus there are 10 extra book prompts in a more advanced listing. I hope I can complete at least 80% of the list.

Swords & Stars Reading Challenge

Hosted by MsNoseinaBook

This is a new challenge and it sounds fun. There’s a list of twenty science fiction & fantasy prompts. I’m looking forward to how many books I will find to fit the different prompts.

Goal: I would like to read a book for each challenge on this list, but would be happy with finishing 80% of the list.

…………………………

I plan to create a page on my blog for each of these challenges so that I can keep track of my progress.

Are you participating in any reading challenges this year? Do you like reading challenges? What are your favorite challenges?