Orphan Train

Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another winner. Perhaps a bit too good to be true, happy-ever-after, but who cares? We all need a good Hallmark movie of a book now and then. My great-grandmother was sent to Canada at age 6 as one of the “Home Children” so this is a topic that interests me.

Book Description: Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both. Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

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Iron Lake

Iron Lake (Cork O'Connor, #1)Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe a 3.5. I like the literate writing, the setting, the characters, and the Native American take on things. Not a cozy, and not a police procedural. Cork is the ex-sheriff with a huge chip on his shoulder and a talent for getting into harm’s way. But he is likeable and people talk to him. He can bridge both sides of the white vs. Native American distrust. Despite his faults he does seem to have a strong moral center. A strong start to a popular series. I did think the plot was a bit convoluted and contrived. The red herrings didn’t fool me, but there were too many bodies, too many crimes and killers even though they were all connected in a way. The ending was kind of disappointing and clichéd. I enjoy learning things, but the occasional back story, history, and Native American exposition seemed dropped into the story in large chunks which was a little distracting. I was also very disappointed that he killed off a very promising character and one of my favorites. One presumes that Cork will get back together with his estranged wife in future stories, but in this one she is cold and rather unlikeable. So I don’t really care if he does or not. I am not invested enough to want to continue the series. I’ll go back and read more David Housewright first.

Book description: Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota. Embittered by his “former” status, and the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, Cork gets by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption, and scandal.

As a lakeside blizzard buries Aurora, Cork must dig out the truth among town officials who seem dead-set on stopping his investigation in its tracks. But even Cork freezes up when faced with the harshest enemy of all: a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.

Black Hills

Black HillsBlack Hills by Nora Roberts

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A pretty good suspense story, but just an okay love story. Lil comes across as sort of an immature brat. She has built up a huge grudge because she thinks Coop abandoned her years ago. Well, he’s back now, but she keeps pushing him away, and comes across as pretty unreasonable. So there’s tension between them, but that doesn’t add up to romantic chemistry. I liked Lil’s parents and Coop’s grandparents and actually thought those relationships were the best part of the book. I also liked the little love story between Tansy and Farley, although it wasn’t quite believable. All in all, I enjoyed it as a diversion, but I’m not completely sold on Nora Roberts or the romantic suspense genre. Listened to on CD, and the narrator did a very good job with the various voices.

A summer at his grandparents’ South Dakota ranch is not eleven-year-old Cooper Sullivan’s idea of a good time. But things are a bit more bearable now that he’s discovered the neighbor girl, Lil Chance, and her homemade batting cage. Each year, with Coop’s annual summer visit, their friendship deepens from innocent games to stolen kisses, but there is one shared experience that will forever haunt them: the terrifying discovery of a hiker’s body.

Twelve years after they last walked together hand in hand, fate has brought them back to the Black Hills when the people and things they hold most dear need them most. An investigator in New York, Coop recently left his fastpaced life to care for his aging grandparents and the ranch he has come to call home. Though the memory of his touch still haunts her, Lil has let nothing stop her dream of opening the Chance Wildlife Refuge, but something . . . or someone . . . has been keeping a close watch. When small pranks and acts of destruction escalate into the heartless killing of Lil’s beloved cougar, recollections of an unsolved murder in these very hills have Coop springing to action to keep Lil safe. Lil and Coop both know the natural dangers that lurk in the wild landscape of the Black Hills. But now they must work together to unearth a killer of twisted and unnatural instincts who has singled them out as prey.

Comanche Heart

Comanche HeartComanche Heart by Catherine Anderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not bad for a romance. I enjoyed this one more than the first in the series. Don’t think I’ll get 3 and 4 though. It was nice to revisit the characters from Comanche Moon, to see where Hunter and Loretta had settled, to meet their children, and to follow Amy as she works through the healing process from her kidnapping and rape at the hands of the Commancheros, and abuse at the hands of her stepfather. Swift Antelope is also trying to escape a painful past, but of course it catches up with him and threatens to ruin their newfound happiness.

Years have passed since Amy Masters escaped the brutal Texas plains to become a schoolteacher in Oregon. Her painful past makes it almost impossible for her to put her faith in any man, but Swift Antelope – the Comanche warrior she left behind – has long haunted her dreams. Now that he’s stormed back into her life, she’ll have to explore her heart for the courage to trust again.

Comanche Moon

Comanche MoonComanche Moon by Catherine Anderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This probably rates about a 2.8 for me, but I REALLY don’t like romances. The guy is too good to be true. The woman is, at times, infuriatingly stupid. Brave, but stupid. Most of the time I am rolling my eyes, alternating between laughing and wanting to throw the book at the wall. HOWEVER – I wanted something “fluffy” after reading Her Fearful Symmetry and the four Jackson Brodie mysteries. I’ll give the author credit for her sensitive treatment of the Comanche people. It engaged me enough to send for the sequel, Comanche Heart. We’ll see.

A harrowing tale of two cultures colliding on the 19th-century American frontier. Orphaned after her parents were killed by Comanches, Loretta Simpson still lives in terror that the warriors will return, her fear so powerful, she is no longer able to speak a word. Comanche Hunter of the Wolf sees her as the embodiment of an ancient prophesy and claims her for marriage. After she is abducted by Hunter, Loretta must confront her fears — and her passions. Despite the hatred between their peoples, Loretta and Hunter gradually find their enmity changing to respect and care. In the midst of such conflict, it will take all the force of their love to find a safe haven.

Audio version narrated by Ruth Ann Phimister.