Time isn’t on my side this month. With all the networking mixers, marathon training and dog babysitting, my calendar leaves very little time for blogging. It would be a travesty to let these standout books go unnoticed, so here are some short five-star reviews!
Orphan Train by Kristina Baker Kline
I can tell you right now, this is going in my Best Books Read in 2014 list! This is one of those stories that sucks you in and keeps you glued to the pages until the very end. The tragic characters were so real, it felt like I was right there on that train as it trudged its way to the Midwest, hungry, belittled and afraid of the unknown. Even when I wasn’t reading, I found my mind drifting to little orphan Niahm, wondering how she was going to survive her current horrifying foster-home situation. I would also think of Molly’s unlikely friendship with a 91-year-old widow, wondering how they would eventually help each other overcome their hardships and find closure in the end. The author did a fantastic job unfolding both Molly’s and Niahm’s narratives as the chapters jumped from present day to the Great Depression. It was almost impossible setting down the book because I was dying to see their stories converge.
Favorite quote: “So is it just human nature to believe that things happen for a reason – to find some shred of meaning even in the worst experiences?”
Ghoul Interrupted by Victoria Laurie
After reading Orphan Train, I was ready to switch gears and dive into something fun and fluffy. This book was just the ticket! There’s romance, adventure, monsters and zany shenanigans. I really dig this mystery series because it’s somewhat of a Scooby Doo/Ghost Hunters mashup. In each book, MJ and her gang travel to far and distant lands to investigate supernatural happenings for their ghost-hunting TV show. I really love this concept, mainly because I love travel adventures and—of course—ghost hunting shows! This time, they’re hunting down a murderous demon that is stalking and killing Heath’s (MJ’s boyfriend and fellow ghost hunter) family in New Mexico. They uncover all sorts of family secrets and find that there might be some truth to a spooky bedtime story steeped in Native American folklore.
Favorite scene: When MJ and her uber-flamboyant best bud, Gilley, get thrown into a holding cell for trespassing on a Native American reservation. Things go from bad to worse when a fiendish monster with ginormous claws finds them trapped behind bars!
A Fistful of Collars by Spencer Quinn
I so adore these Chet and Bernie mysteries! The stories are told through the eyes of a Chet, a big lug of a dog with distinctive black-and-white markings. He’s Bernie’s co-private investigator and all around best friend. There’s something very beautiful—even eye opening—about the way Chet views the world and his owner. He observes everything that’s going on around him, yet he doesn’t overanalyze or internalize the things he doesn’t understand. When his mind starts wandering into dangerous territory—like why humans can be so cruel to each other—his attention gets diverted by something fun and flighty. He knows who he is and that he absolutely, positively adores Bernie. Oh how I wish that I could have a Chet of my very own! This might sound a little strange, but I mainly read these books because of the dog perspective. The mysteries are just the icing on the cake. This one involves a mixed-up Hollywood actor with lots of skeletons in his closet. When he returns to his hometown in the Nevada desert to shoot a Western movie, Bernie is appointed by the Mayor to watch over him. Trouble inevitably follows, and the dynamic duo is thrust into a tangled web of murder yet again!
Favorite quote: “Anything’s possible with perps, believe me. We’ve taken down lots, me and my partner, Bernie. That’s what we do at the Little Detective Agency. He’s Bernie Little. I’m Chet, plain and simple.”