Archive for Literary Fiction
BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES
By: Kristina McMorris
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Pub. Date: February 2012
Formats: Paperback and Electronic
Genre: Adult Historical
Age Group: 18+
Source: Rare Bird Lit
Review: I’d first like to thank Rare Bird Lit for having me be a part of the blog tour and sending me the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES by Kristina McMorris is tender, sweet, and filled with heartache. It’s a story not often told in WWII literature. From its riveting beginning to its teary-eyed ending, BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES is a book for historical fiction fans to cherish.
The story is told from three different viewpoints – Maddie Kern, a budding violinist with dreams of attending Julliard; TJ, her older brother, who longs for a baseball career; and Lane Moritomo, his best friend, who aspires to work for the US government in the form a job with a local congressman. The setting is prior to WWII and during the war, itself.
At the beginning, everything is idealistic for all the characters, especially Maddie who has fallen in love with Lane. But she doesn’t know how their relationship will play out or where it will take them because Lane is Asian-American. Maddie loves him more than anything. But she’s also preoccupied with visiting her father who is in a nursing home after their mother is killed in a car accident several years ago. She goes to play for him daily, but he gives no response to her music or who she is. TJ feels it’s a lost cause. Maddie also worries how TJ will react to the news of her dating his best friend. She’s kept it a secret. On the other hand, Lane worries how his strict Japanese parents will react because they want to set him up with an arranged marriage. Against everyone’s wishes, Maddie and Lane elope. But the day after their wedding, all hell breaks loose with the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Lane no longer is seen as friend and neighbor, but an enemy. He’s soon shipped off to an internment camp with his family. TJ decides to join the Army. By taking a giant leap of faith, as well as risks, Maddie abandons her dreams to follow her beloved husband to the camp.
I loved Maddie and Lane’s strength and determination to be with each other, no matter the odds. Their relationship feels real and not forced. I rooted for them the entire way, although, I had to warm up to TJ, especially when he turns his back on his childhood friend and “brother”, Lane. However, I quickly learned to like him because he wants to protect his sister from being hurt by the often cruel and prejudiced world. I also got a kick out of Maddie’s good friend, Jo, who adds a humorous element to the novel. Lane’s family members are also very interesting characters — his mother particularly whose relationship with Maddie is quite strained, but progresses as the novel moves towards its powerful ending.
The setting and historical background is marvelous. Usually, we see WWII fiction set in Europe and often from the eyes of Holocaust victims and survivors. It’s a welcome change to see something different. BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES is emotional and fascinating take on Japanese-Americans who were wrongfully interned during the those troubling times in our nation’s history. BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES weaves together the power of hate, friendship, and love into a sweeping drama which focuses on the importance of race and loving your neighbor as you love yourself.
I’m giving BRIDGE OF SCARLET LEAVES 5 “Relaxing with a Good Book” retro pictures for being unforgettable!
THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE
By: Adriana Trigiani
Pub. Date: April 3, 2012
Formats: Hardback, Audio and Electronic
Age Group: Older Teens and Adults
Review: I’d like to first thank HarperCollins for sending me the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I just finished this amazing book called THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE by Adriana Trigiani. When TLC Book Tours sent a request to read the book, I jumped at the chance. They wanted someone who had never read a Trigiani book before I said sure! I mean, why not? Look at that fabulously gorgeous cover! If I saw THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE in the bookstore, I’d say: “you’re coming home with me, baby!” And for all of you, readers, out there…you need to say the same thing.
If you love romances, this book is for you. If you love fiction inspired by true stories, this book is for you. If you love sweeping tales of epic proportions, this book is for you. But, hey, you may be thinking: “chick lit, no thanks!” Just so you know, I have an Italian godfather — yes, I real Italian godfather — who loves Adriana’s books. Her books aren’t just for the female set.
THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE is a vivid tale about two lives that intertwine and cannot let go due to the power of love, faith and forgiveness. Inspired by Trigiani’s grandparents’ star-crossed romance, her latest novel will blow you away. It did for me and I can’t wait to read her other novels, especially her YA series. THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE is lovely, sweet, tender, heartwarming, sad, and funny. The beautiful narrative flows like the haunting melody of an aria.
The story is told from two different perspectives — Ciro Lazzari and Enza Ravanelli. Aren’t those great Italian names? I pictured them growing up, just miles from each other, in the Italian Alps where the story takes place at the beginning of the novel. Ciro lives with his brother, Eduardo, at a convent in Vilminore di Scalve and Enza lives with her large, but tight-knit family up the mountain in Schilpario. The two of them lead very different lives. Ciro is charming, handsome and witty. He loves the ladies, and is quite the ladies man when he becomes a teenager and an adult. He meets quiet, but strong Enza, and the two fall in love. And do the sparks fly throughout this novel! Yet various circumstances force Ciro and Enza apart. Both of them end up going to America at separate times, but still end up finding each other. Enza tells Ciro it’s a coincidence how they keep meeting, but Ciro insists it’s actually, fate. And I wholeheartedly agree!
The story is not only about love, but family and about making one’s way as an immigrant in America at the turn of the 20th century. Both yearn for home and their family, but learn to survive in New York. Ciro finds work as a shoemaker’s apprentice with a kind Italian couple in Little Italy and Enza finds work as a seamstress in Hoboken, NJ. She ends up living with a family who treats her as a servant and an awful supervisor at a factory. But not to worry…it ends up okay because she soon gets a job as a seamstress with opera star, Enrico Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera.
Of course, Ciro and Enza run into each other, time and time again. THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE is actually a story that almost wasn’t. But I’m glad it was and I’m sure Adriana’s family is too! Various events in the story are, obviously fictionalized, but it’s romantic and tugs at your heart strings. One thing that I really enjoyed about the novel is that it comes full circle. I especially like the scenes at Ellis Island. While reading, I thought of my great-grandfather who went through Ellis Island with his family as a young boy from Sweden.
THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE is filled with colorful characters — from the hard-nosed but gentle nuns at the convent to the friends Ciro and Enza make in New York to their own family members. Enza’s parents are strong-willed and loving and Ciro’s brother is understanding and patient. His own career choice is perfect for him. What’s his chosen field? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out! I was glad that I knew what was happening with their families and they didn’t just drop out of sight. In New York, Ciro and Enza meet strangers who want to take advantage of them and those who are sincere in their intentions. I loved Ciro’s cheeky humor and Enza’s brutal honesty. They are perfect match! These two characters stole each others hearts and they stole mine as well.
I’m giving THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE 5 “Diaries” for being favoloso!
HER SISTER’S SHADOW
By: Katharine Britton
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Pub. Date: June 2011
Formats: Paperback and Electronic
Genre: Literary Fiction
Age Group: Adults
Follow Katharine Britton on: Twitter | Website | goodreads
Purchase HER SISTER’S SHADOW on: Amazon | B&N | TBD | IB
PLOT: I would first like to thank TLC Book Tours for having me be apart of this book tour and Berkley Trade for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
HER SISTER’S SHADOW is everything I enjoy about escaping into a good book. The story takes place in both contemporary times (around 2009) and the 1960s. It’s about a two sisters, Lilli and Bea. Both are now older and have not seen each other in 40 years. Lilli grew up in the fictional New England town of White Head, Massachusetts and now lives in England. Bea has remained living in the same small town. However, Lilli left home after a fight and a betrayal between her and her sister. For those of you interested in reading the book, I’m going to keep the betrayal and everything that led up to it a secret. Britton does a fantastic job making the reader wonder and question what happened between the sisters throughout the novel, so it’s not said right away. We get to learn about the sisters and their relationship bit-by-bit. I thoroughly enjoyed the flashback scenes. It gave me a good sense of the complicated family dynamics.
When Bea contacts Lilli to tell her that her husband Randall has died, Lilli is forced to face her past and return to her hometown. Will it be a happy reunion or will Lilli once again flee her troubles?
CHARACTERS & SETTING: Lilli is a strong-willed character and I liked her from the start. She’s also afraid of being hurt once again by her sister. She’s always lived in her shadow or at least she feels as if she has. Bea is feisty and bossy and gets whatever she wants. She’s a good adversary to Lilli. In her old age, she’s crotchety and even bossier than she was as a young woman. The other characters in the book from Randall and the girls other siblings to their kooky, but loving mother all add dimension to the story. All of the characters are extremely well-developed.
What I loved most about HER SISTER’S SHADOW was the world-building and the setting. I could easily picture the area and breathed in the salt air of the sea while I was reading. The setting is so beautiful, quaint and magical that I want to live inside the pages of this novel. I can’t say enough about this aspect of the book!
FINAL THOUGHTS: HER SISTER’S SHADOW is tugs at the heart strings and makes you feel as if you’d like to take a trip to Massachusetts to visit the coast and ride on a sailboat in the gleaming sunshine. I highly recommend the book for those of you who love books about family relationships. I’m eagerly waiting for what’s next from Katharine Britton. HER SISTER’S SHADOW is easily a book I could re-read.
I’m giving HER SISTER’S SHADOW 5 “Mini Books” for being wrought with fantastic tension and what it means to forgive!