Category Archives: Spotlights

Reading the Detectives

I don’t really like putting labels on books, and one of the genres that I find the most difficult to pin down is that of ‘detective’ fiction. I mean, does it have to have an actual detective, or can it include a sleuth of another persuasion–a Miss Marple, if you will? Does  a book in which an ordinary citizen solves a crime count as a detective story? Not to mention all the related genres, from crime fiction to thrillers to mysteries; are the distinctions between them really significant or are these just labels we slap on to sell more books?

Anyway. I’ve been reading two new series this past week that to me both qualify as detective stories, in that they feature a crime and a central character who tries to solve it. Although they are each different in style and setting, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first books in each series and wanted to share them for anyone looking for a good read.

killing-in-the-hillsA Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller

Bell Elkins is a county prosecutor living in the small West Virginia town of Acker’s Gap. The divorced mother of a sullen teenage daughter, Bell has her hands full both at home and at work, where she joins forces with the local sheriff as they try to keep the expanding local drug trade from destroying everything they love about their hometown.

I like the character of Bell, who is both brilliant and headstrong, but it’s the strong sense of place that really drew me in and made me want to read more of this series. I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachians in an rural area with a lot of poverty, and so Raythune County and its problems seemed very real and relatable to me.

cuckoos-callingThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Yes, this is the book that J. K. Rowling published under a pen name, causing a bit of an outrage in certain circles. I personally don’t care that she didn’t reveal her identity right away, although it seems a bit unfair to those who reviewed the book without knowing it was hers (reading excerpts from those reviews made me feel like she was having a bit of a laugh at the reviewers’ expense, however inadvertently). Nevertheless, it’s a good book, and the more classic example of a detective story between the two books mentioned here. Cormoran Strike, the main character, is an ex-Army man turned P.I. who struggles to pay his bills despite having a very famous father. I managed to guess the identify of the killer and their motivation before Strike reveals them, but otherwise the book kept me well entertained and wanting to get to know the characters better.

And now, because it will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day so I might as well indulge myself:

Hope you’re all enjoying this post-Fourth of July Sunday!

Spotlight & Giveaway: Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy Mossanen

Scent of ButterfliesLength: 282 pages

Publication: January 7th, 2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Source: TLC Book Tours

What it’s about:

Such audacity she has, Soraya, a woman who dares to break free of the diamond-studded leash of her culture. A woman who refuses to accept the devastating betrayal her husband has perpetrated. A woman who refuses to forgive her best friend.

Soraya turns her back on Iran, fleeing to America to plot her intricate revenge. The Shah has fallen, her country is in turmoil, her marriage has crumbled, and she is unraveling. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Los Angeles.

Yet the secret Soraya discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of unexpected events that will leave the reader breathless.


I’m giving away one copy of Scent of Butterflies to a lucky reader (U.S. or Canada only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment with your name and email address. Good luck!

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to be part of this tour.

tlc book tours


Spotlight: The Red Road by Jenni Wiltz

The Red RoadPublication Date: January 26, 2015 by Decanter Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 357
Genre: Literary Fiction/Women’s Fiction

#TheRedRoad #TheRedRoadBlogTour

What it’s about:

Honor student Emma knows more about galvanic cell diagrams than guns. College is the only way out of her gang-ridden hometown, but her parents can’t afford it.

When her unemployed dad lands a job as a census taker, things start looking up. But he’s sent deep into East Malo Verde, where gang members rule the streets and fear anyone with a badge who knocks on doors. One night, a gang member mistakes him for a cop and beats him savagely, leaving him for dead.

Her best friends, her chem lab partner, her mom, and the detective assigned to the case all try to convince her to focus on school. But school won’t prepare her for a world that ignores a crime against a good man. Emma must decide what’s more important: doing what’s expected, or doing what she feels is right . . . even if it leads her down a dark and dangerous path of revenge.

The Red Road is about a girl in turmoil, coming of age as she discovers the depths – and the limits – of friendship, first love, and the bond between parents and their children.

*Contains strong language, mild violence, but no sexual situations.

About the author:

Jenni WiltzJenni Wiltz writes fiction and creative nonfiction. She’s won national writing awards for creative nonfiction and romantic suspense, including a 2011 Romance Writers of America Kiss of Death Chapter’s Daphne du Maurier Award for her novel, The Cherbourg Jewels. She also writes thrillers, historical fiction, and paranormal romance, and you may have seen her short stories in The Portland Review, Gargoyle, and the Sacramento News & Review. After earning bachelor’s degrees in English and history and a Master’s degree in English, she worked as a web editor, a copywriter, and a USAID grant program coordinator, which gave her the opportunity to travel to Kenya. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, sewing, running, and genealogical research. She lives in Pilot Hill, California and has not yet struck gold in her backyard.

For more information on Jenni Wiltz or to subscribe to her newsletter, please visit her website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads.