Review

Sold on a Monday by Kristina Morris

Published: Sourcebooks
Date:  28th August 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Rating 4.5 stars
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The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs, and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.

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Sold on a Monday by Kristina Morris is the story of reporter Ellis, secretary to the Chief of a newspaper Lily, and the mother and children that Ellis takes a photo of and places in the newspaper for a story, not exactly on purpose. The title says “2 Children for Sale”. He didn’t intend it to happen like that but it has.

As a result two children are sold, a mother disappears and Ellis and Lily are left wondering.  Lily has a secret of her own, and a desire to be a writer if only she can break through the male barrier to that. And she is the persevering kind.

Ellis does make good from the story that goes with the photo, but… he is a man of conscience and so begins a journey that he and Lily undertake to ensure that the sold children are safe and thriving. What they find out disturbs them enough to have them undertake a sometimes quite dangerous mission to recover the children.

The story is one that kept me engaged the whole way through. It was both sad and heartwarming and I really liked both the setting and the characters. Very satisfying.Bitmoji
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Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. Kristina McMorris

Published:Kensington Books
Date: 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages:437
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source:Library
Rating:
5 stars          Add to Goodreads

Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern’s life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother’s best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.

When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.

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Bridge of Scarlet Leaves – my first book of the year – what a powerful read.  I had read a picture book a number of years ago that told the story of how the Japanese immigrants – many of them citizens of America, were herded into camps in the U.S.A once the war broke out. So I was prepared but… Kristina McMorris’ thoroughly researched, extremely well written novel opened my eyes to this time in history.  I know we are meant to learn from history and not repeat its mistakes. However  I suspect those who need to, don’t read these kind of books. For I know the kind of indiscriminate decisions made then could be repeated now, in most or all countries of the world. However let us read and have our hearts and minds opened.
I loved the story of Maddie – in love with Lane a son of a Japanese immigrant and a U.S. citizen. They kept their love hidden for quite awhile because of the opposition they knew they would meet. Lane was also the best friend of T.J. Maddie’s brother. T.J. took it on himself to be responsible for Maddie after their mother died and their father sunk into deep depression. T.J. would not look kindly on any relationship between Maddie and Lane.
When the war against Japan starts all their lives are changed forever. Lane’s family are sent away, T.J joins up and Maddie is determined not to be separated from Lane and sets out to find him and be with him. I really don’t want to give any more away, only to say it is a deeply emotional and at times very hard story to read. War atrocities and the camp at Manzanar (where Lane’s family ended upt) were terrible. 
Yet there is powerful hope and a sense of the importance of life and living.   I loved the exploration of the Japanese culture and the emphasis on how important it is to reach out to each other in forgiveness, peace and hope. I loved the way Maddie integrated with Lane’s family and the blossoming of Lane’s mother and their ultimate decisions. I also loved how the latest addition to the family reaches out and awakens someone who has long been sunken in grief. 
I highly recommend this book to everyone.  You can also read a  review and interview with Kristina McMorris over at The Reading Frenzy if you would like to know more.
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Review

My Top Books of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created and is  hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  
It is rather difficult to chose the top books of 2016 for me. So many good reads, although not necessarily outstanding reads. Some haven’t made the list but could easily have. I haven’t included audiobooks although some were fabulous. Thank you to all the authors who entertained me in 2016. I apologise that your book is not here, mainly because the post would just be far too long!
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This was my first book of the year and it turns out to be one of my top reads for 2016. It was fantasy and a real saga.  I was reluctant to leave these people. I held my breath, I wondered, I wept, I smiled. I’ll be reading Foxmask in 2017, the follow up of this book. First time reading author Judith Marillier – New Zealand born and educated now living in Australia.

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I was impressed by this one and it was my first book by USA author Kristina McMorris. Historical fiction. The climax was tense and I wanted to close my eyes and jump a few pages! Perhaps it ended a little too tidily some might say, however I  found it very satisfying, and loved how the story circled around itself and even with one element having a bittersweet mirror image.

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Rachael Johns – Australian author produced two books in 2016 I loved, this was one of them.  Outback Sisters –  all that I love in a good romance novel. Add to that a good dose of rural Australia. There were plenty of little twists and turns, much drama and heartache, and of course love. If that wasn’t enough, I was also reminded of good times, when Rachael Johns mentioned The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) which took me off in a little indulgent reminiscence. And she also has two characters who love reading and love to discuss the books they read.

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Another Australian author I enjoyed. Historical fiction and debut novel. Set in the USA in the 1920’s. I loved the whole historical background and what it was like for women in those days. It was rather horrifying to read of some of the childbirth practices and attitudes prevalent in that time. A woman’s touch was certainly needed. penned an absorbing, clever book, with characters that came alive off the page. I enjoyed the drama, the humour, the sadness, the romance and the time period. Fantastic read. And totally adore the cover.

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I have come to love the romance books of UK author Sarah Morgan. Loved the #3 in the Puffin Island series. To my mind Sarah Morgan is tops at writing today’s romance stories. This one was charming and enchanting. Set in the winter wonderland of snow and Christmas – a wonderful backdrop. At first I was disappointed it wasn’t all on Puffin Island, but the English countryside was magical too. Loved the tension between the two main characters, the humour and the growing love. There was plenty of wisdom in the story and loved that too. Love her writing and the similes were often spot on. Perfection.

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Allegiance of Honour is #15 in this wonderful urban fantasy/paranormal series. I have loved every book in the series and this was another winner for me. As Nalini Singh (NZ author)  says it has an ensemble cast. Many of the characters from previous books are given updates on how life is going for them. As I love each and every one of these characters that was a delight for me. I took my time reading it. No skipping lines, I just wanted to savour it. Delicious!

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USA author J. R. Ward does it again. This soap drama series has intrigued me and the second one – this one – just left me wanting more of this dysfunctional family. I couldn’t wait to find out all the scandal that has gone on since last year’s book The Bourbon Kings. Of course I had to wait! A whole year, but it has passed and I eagerly began this book. I might even have peeked at the end – although it didn’t tell me that much. This is a book that you have to read every line because you just might miss something of one of the characters evolving story.

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I always love a new book from USA author Cathy Lamb. Toni is the narrator, one of three sisters who have a very special bond. They began their lives in Russia in the 80’s where it was dangerous for them. They were under the eye of the KGB and their large extended family were quietly escaping to the USA. While the story begins in America, every so often we go back to that time in Russia until every little horrific detail of that time is revealed. One of the mysteries that Toni holds a little part – how did their brother arrive to them one bloody night?

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Archangel’s Heartis #9 in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. In this book the focus is back on Elena and Raphael and their ever maturing relationship. This time they are off to Morocco where the Luminata have called all the Cadre (the group of archangels who rule the world), because one of the Cadre – Lijuan ruler of China is missing. Is she dead? Hiding out? Or gone into a deep Sleep that lasts for centuries?
This book made me want to reread and reacquaint myself again with the whole series. It was an absorbing and emotional read. Every detail needs to be read, you can’t afford to skip a line, everything counts. Fabulous writing, satisfying reading, the very best!

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This was my first introduction to USA author Karen Rose and her romantic suspense. Every Dark Corner introduces Kate Coppola – an agent I just loved. Despite stress and a personal history that might have levelled another, Kate dedicates herself to helping others, working to save those caught in the nets of depravity.  I highly recommend you get to know her.  She sits within a 5 star read.
I have since gone on to read the first one in the series and have the next one as well. Then I will be all caught up and waiting for the next one in the Cinncinnati series.

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Ah…USA author Mary Alice Monroe. Another in her Lowcountry series. It was everything I love in a story and it was just so good to go back in Taylor’s life to when he first was discharged from the Marines, after experiencing a terrible explosion that left him shattered and suffering from PTSD. He can’t cope with returning to his family for Christmas, finds crowds threatening, and his family are bewildered and find it difficult to understand.
This is a beautifully written story, it sucked me in right from the beginning and I loved every word and minute of it. It is a perfect Christmas story and is linked with little quotes and references to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Review

The Edge of Lost. Kristina McMorris

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The Edge of Lost
Kristina McMorris
Published: Kensington
Date: November 24th 2015
Format: Kindle
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Own book
Rating:
4.5 stars                           Add to Goodreads

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

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The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris gripped my attention right from the beginning and never at any point did it slip. I fell in love with Shanley and many of the people that he connects with. The story begins on Alcatraz in 1937 where a child is lost and a prisoner is preparing to escape and then moves back a couple of decades into 1919, Dublin, Ireland. We first meet Shanley as an almost penniless urchin in the care of his uncle. His mother is dead and his father unknown. 
Shan was a character I really liked. He knew tough times, and was often standing on the edge of darkness and loss. His heart was kind and this shone through time after time. Sometimes he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and his luck turned. But then again there were times when there were others there to lend him a hand and set him going forwards.
When he is left stranded on the wharf in New York the Capello family are there for him, and become family for him. He had befriended Nick their son on board and it turned out to be very fortuitous. This friendship would see many ups and downs, loyalty and trust tested, and interesting dynamics in the relationship. I loved how Shan related to Mr and Mrs Capello and Lina the daughter.
Many of the characters carry secrets, there are many twists and turns in the plot, and I don’t want to discuss too much because that would take away the pleasure from the reading for someone just taking up the book. It is a story of second chances, love, forgiveness and redemption. It is also about generosity and compassion. And for sure the seedier side of life shows through.
There were a few surprises along the way, at some point in the story I knew who the prisoner was that we first met, but how that person got there was a mystery to wait upon to be revealed. The climax was tense and I wanted to close my eyes and jump a few pages! Perhaps it ended a little too tidily some might say, however I  found it very satisfying, and loved how the story circled around itself and even with one element having a bittersweet mirror image.
Loved this story.
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This is one of the She Reads selected books of winter 2016.
Visit the She Reads’ Page to read more about the
other books for this winter. 
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