Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

tlc tour hostSource: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 368 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig is a collection of short stories set during World War I, the Great War. Love is at the crux of each story, whether its a lost love or the love of a child lost to war, and these men and women are tested by the ravages of combat.  These writers have a firm grasp of the subject and readers will never question their knowledge of WWI or the human condition.  From a childless widow of German heritage living in France in “Hour of the Bells” by Heather Webb to a young wife left in Paris alone and estranged from her husband’s family in “After You’ve Gone” by Evangeline Holland, people are torn apart by war in many ways and those who are left behind to pick up the pieces are weary and forlorn.  They must pick up their skirts or what remains of their lives and move on, despite the pull of the past, the future that will never be, or the emptiness of their homes.

“But the trick was not to care too much.  To care just enough.” (from “An American Airman in Paris” by Beatriz Williams, pg. 244 ARC)

“Sixty years gone like a song, like a record on a gramophone, with the needle left to bump against the edge, around and around, the music gone.” (from “The Record Set Straight” by Lauren Willig, pg. 44 ARC)

These characters care, they care a lot, and even after the war is long over, the past still haunts them, at least until they are able to make amends or at least set the record straight.  How do you get past the loss of loved ones, do you wallow? do you seek revenge? how do you hold on to hope? Sometimes the war doesn’t leave a physical reminder, but a mental and emotional one — scars that are harder to trace and heal.  These stories are packed full of emotion and characters who will leave readers weeping and praising the hope they find.

Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig takes readers on a journey through and over the trenches and to the many sides in a war — crossing both national and familial borders.

Rating: Cinquain

Connect with the Authors:







I’m counting this as my Fiction Book Set During WWI.


Mailbox Monday #353

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe from the author for review.

When Jane Austen’s doctor discovers the secret to immortal life in 1817, she thinks her wishes have come true. But when she wakes up from the dead, a penniless Miss Austen finds herself in 1925, having to become a governess to five girls of an eccentric and bohemian family at the crumbling Manberley Castle by the sea. Jane soon finds she’s caught up in the dramas of every family member, but she loves nothing more than a challenge, and resolves on putting them in order. If only she can stop herself from falling in love, she can change the lives of them all!  Inspired by Jane Austen’s wonderful novels and written in the tradition of classic books like Cold Comfort Farm, I Capture the Castle, and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Jane Austen Lives Again is an amusing fairy story for grown-ups.

Fudge Brownies & Murder by Janel Gradowski from the author for review.

Culinary whiz and reluctant amateur sleuth, Amy Ridley, has a lot on her plate. Her very pregnant best friend, Carla, can barely move from her couch per doctor’s orders. So Amy is tasked with preparing meals for the expanding family along with baking endless pans of brownies to quench Carla’s pregnancy cravings. Not only is she playing chef, but she’s also trying to convince the mommy-to-be that she needs to have a baby shower. But when a restaurant owner is murdered at a blogging conference, Amy finds herself in a race to catch the killer before the baby is born.

As Carla’s baby bump gets bigger, so does the list of suspects. While Amy pares down the potential murderers and staves off disgruntled cooking competition rivals, the clock ticks down, the baby’s arrival draws closer, and the danger grows stronger! If Amy doesn’t watch her back, she may be the next member of the competition going down.

The Diary of Emily Dickinson by Jamie Fuller, illustrated by Marlene McLoughlin, which I picked up at the library sale shelf for 50 cents.

The discovery of Emily Dickinson’s poetry after her death unleashed a series of mysteries and revelations that astonished those who knew her and continue to intrigue readers today. Who was the reclusive woman who wrote these wise and beautiful verses? Slowly answers came and, with them, more questions. Why did Emily continue to seek the advice of Thomas Wentworth Higginson when he never recognized her genius? To whom were the mysterious “master” letters, written at the height of her poetic creativity, addressed? Why did she keep most of her writing secret from her family? Did she hope for eventual fame? Answers to such questions could have been suggested in 1916, when, during reconstruction of the Dickinson house in Amherst, Massachusetts, a worker discovered Emily’s secret diary hidden in a crevice of the wall of the conservatory. Unfortunately, he kept the discovery to himself for many years. Only now has this remarkable document, edited and annotated by Jamie Fuller, become available to Dickinson admirers. Such is the premise of this unique fictional work. The diary begins in March 1867 and ends in April 1868. During this span Dickinson recounts the revelations and trials of her day-to-day life, from burnt puddings to professions of undying love.

With discriminating insight, Fuller helps extract from Dickinson’s cryptic style her views on God, family, nature, death, love, poetry, fame, and her role as a woman in a patriarchal society. Most of all, The Diary of Emily Dickinson is an exquisite account of what it means to live the writing life, to live for poetry. Author Jamie Fuller has given us a fictional diary based on close readings of Dickinson’s writings and contemporaneousmaterials, that is so sensitive and sympathetic, so delicately and smoothly written, in a style so closely resembling Emily’s own, that one could well believe it contains the private musings of the enigmatic poet. In it, Emily Dickinson comes alive.

Levitation for Agnostics by Arne Weingart for review from Book Savvy Public Relations.

Arne Weingart’s debut poetry collection. Winner of the 2014 New American Poetry prize.

Arne Weingart is the 2015 laureate of the New American Press Poetry Prize, awarded for his debut poetry collection, Levitation for Agnostics (New American Press, January 2016). A Pushcart Prize nominee, Arne also won the 2013 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Poetry Contest and has had poems featured by such esteemed publications as RHINO, The Georgetown Review, Oberon, Arts & Letters and The Spoon River Poetry Review.  He has been granted a writing residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and is alumnus of Columbia University’s MFA program in writing. Arne and his family live in Chicago, where he is the principal of a graphic design firm specializing in identity and wayfinding.

Fall of Poppies by Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, and Marci Jefferson for review from Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

What did you receive?

Interview with Kate Kerrigan

Kate Kerrigan is the author of Ellis Island, City of Hope, and Land of Dreams — a series of books I loved! She has two new books coming out The Miracle of Grace and Recipes for a Perfect Marriage.  Please give her a warm welcome today.

KerriganMiracleAbout The Miracle of Grace:

Grace’s mother Eileen is a great list maker, so when Grace walks into Eileen’s kitchen to drop off a postal package and sees her garish ‘To Do’ pad on the counter, she thinks nothing of it, until she sneaks a look. There, at No 8, ranked in importance well below bread, telephone bill and bins is ‘Tell G I have ovarian cancer, probably terminal’. Grace goes into shock, primarily at the thought that her mother is dying, but also at the fact that her mother simply couldn’t tell her to her face. Is their relationship really so bad?

Eileen has been brought up in rural Ireland in the 1950s, in thrall to the rules of her community – church first, then husband, then children. So she’s had little time for herself and even now finds it impossible to put her own problems and desires to the fore. It is only when Grace confronts her, that she is able to go back over her past, to her own childhood, her early marriage, and the birth of her cherished only daughter to find memories of happiness and unbearable tragedy that have coloured her life forever.

kerriganRecipesAbout Recipes for a Perfect Marriage:

Successful New York food writer Tressa Nolan has a great life — wonderful friends, a gorgeous apartment, and of course fabulous food — but the idea of turning forty alone scares her, so she marries the next man who asks: Dan, her building’s super. He’s handsome and he adores her, but soon after the wedding Tressa regrets her decision. Everything from Dan’s unsophisticated interests to his enormous (and intrusive) Irish-American family sets her teeth on edge. Why couldn’t she have the perfect marriage her grandparents had? What Tressa doesn’t know — what she only discovers when she reads her Grandma Bernadine’s journal-cum- recipe book — is that she’s following in Bernadine’s footsteps, and like all the best recipes, a perfect marriage calls for a long, slow simmer.

How do you come up with your ideas? Are they character or concept driven?

A bit of both. The concept comes first – but then once the characters present themselves and start to develop depth as they do in those early chapters, the story becomes theirs and they drive the narrative absolutely.

You often have dual timelines. Why is that? What is it about historical fiction that interests you so much?

I am fascinated by how the differences in our historical circumstances shape who we are and how we behave — especially in the way it affects our emotional landscapes. Stoicism, for instance, has gone way out of fashion as a way of being — yet it was a way of life for so many women, for so long — forced into unhappy marriages by religion for or utterly financially dependent on men they did not love. Yet — so much of what was good about value systems in the past: loyalty, a strong sense of identity, and place — still hold true today. I love drawing comparisons between how things were and how they are now and showing how while history may alter our circumstances, in the most real, important sense human beings never fundamentally change.

For all the freedom and money history has given us women in the western world — are we any happier now than our grandmothers were?

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Starting and finishing: one week at either end. Finishing is best. Honestly? The rest is pretty much just hard work: I write out of a compulsion to tell the story not because I enjoy the act of writing itself. The longer I do it – the less I feel I know about writing and the harder it gets! I get very close to my characters and I cry a lot. It’s an emotional rollercoaster — and I am always a bit sad to get off at the end — but relieved too.

Describe a typical day as a writer.

On a good day, I go into my accountants office, work from 9-5 and get 1,500 words written — this is what I intend every working day to be. However most days, I go into my accountants office, work from 9-5 and get 500 words written and know it’s not enough. On a bad day I get distracted by life. I chase around shopping, collecting kids, doing hideous admin., having lunch with my mother – I get nothing written and get whipped up into a state of blind panic at not having written anything. I have a lot of bad days.

Which authors inspire you?

People who write from the heart: Marian Keyes, Patrick McCabe – a lesser known but brilliant Irish writer called Frank Ronan. Probably the biggest influences over my lifetime as a reader and writer have been Agatha Christie for plot and PG Wodehouse for his vocabulary and use of language.  I never read historical fiction — I don’t have the confidence! However — for pleasure and relaxation I rarely read anything other than contemporary thrillers — David Balducci is my current thrill!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Just write, write, write – don’t be discouraged and keep going. Writing is 1% talent and 99% hard work and tenacity. I found writing groups and courses fantastic in my pre-published days. It’s not always easy to motivate yourself and a good writing group can really give you the encouragement and support you need.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

Identification with the characters and at least one lesson they can relate to their own lives.

Thanks so much, Kate, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on dual narratives, your favorite authors, and writing.

Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan

tlc tour host

Source: William Morrow and TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 336 pages
On Amazon and on Kobo

Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan, the third book in the Ellis Island trilogy (Ellis Island and City of Hope), could be read alone as Kerrigan provides enough background on Ellie Hogan that new readers could pick this one up without a problem, but readers may find a richer reading experience when they read all three.

(If you haven’t read the other 2 books, this review could contain spoilers for those books)

Ellie Hogan has come into her own as a wife, mother, and artist, only to have her life disrupted when her oldest adopted son Leo runs away from his upstate New York boarding school.  Ellie is a first generation Irish immigrant who has lost a lot to the Irish war against the English, but she’s also gained a sense of purpose in America, learning to make her own way.  Her artist’s life is very isolated on Fire Island, and with her son, Tom, she has a quiet existence among the people who have become like family.  But when her son, Leo, runs away to Hollywood, she has to make a choice — send the police or go after him herself.  Making her away across the United States, Ellie tries to keep her fears at bay while being thankful that her youngest son is in the care of good friends while she makes the journey.  Along the way, she meets Stan, a composer who escaped from Poland before the Nazis took over.

“Yet surely the desire for fame was not so different from the desire to be loved, and everyone in the world wants to be loved.  The desire for fame and love is born from a deep human need to be seen, and I felt as if I could really see this young woman now, beyond the mules and the dye and her ridiculous ideas and affectations.  So I started to draw her.”  (pg. 122)

Ellie may have been a quintessential landscape painter with her own signature for delivering paintings to her clients, but in Los Angeles, she’s a mother in search of a star-struck son.  She must decide whether at 16 he should pursue his dream or return to New York and school, and it is a tough decision for any mother with a son who has finally found something to be passionate about.  Ellie’s experiences in a restrictive Catholic home in Ireland inform her ultimate decisions, as she decides that she would rather be more open-minded than her parents had been with her.  Kerrigan easily tackles the ideas of nature versus nurture in Ellie’s parenting, touches upon the seedier side of Hollywood — though not as much as some readers would expect — and incorporates significant details about World War II and the internment of Japanese-Americans.

Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan is a satisfying conclusion to this trilogy about seeking out a home and family, but also stability.  But it is also about the realization of dreams across generations and having the gumption to take the leap.  While everything is not as it appears in Hollywood, the facades of the city also mirror those of Ellie’s own adopted country — a land of freedom and opportunity that still oppresses certain minorities and immigrants seeking a better life.

About the Author:

Kate Kerrigan is the author of three previous novels. She lives in Ireland with her husband and their two sons.  Visit Kate’s website at www.katekerrigan.ie and follow her on Twitter: @katekerrigan.



35th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.





29th book (WWII) for the 2014 War Challenge With a Twist.




4th Book for the Ireland Reading Challenge 2014.

Mailbox Monday #292

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan for review for TLC Book Tours.

Irish immigrant Ellie Hogan has finally achieved the American Dream. But her comfortable bohemian life on Fire Island, New York, is shattered when her eldest adopted son, Leo, runs away, lured by the promise of fortune and fame in Hollywood. Determined to keep her family intact, Ellie follows him west, uprooting her youngest son and long-time friend Bridie.

In Los Angeles, Ellie creates a fashionable new home among the city’s celebrities, artists, and movie moguls. She is also drawn into intense new friendships, including talented film composer Stan, a man far different from any she has ever met, and Suri, a beautiful Japanese woman and kindred spirit, who opens Ellie’s eyes to the injustices of her country.

2.  The Lollipop Monster’s Christmas by Eric T. Krackow and Heather M. Krackow for review.

Larry’s favorite time of the year has arrived. He races around his home trying to make everything perfect before his friends arrive for Christmas morning. During the celebration, he discovers a lonely monster named Walter, who is very sad. Larry asks him why he is sad and Walter explains that Christmas is a difficult time of the year because he is always alone and has no family. Larry invites him to spend the holiday with him and his friends. Walter shyly accepts the invitation and follows Larry back to his home. Walter is welcomed by Larry’s friends and ends up having the most merry Christmas ever!

3.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Kathy Mitchell from the library sale.

What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle’s estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won’t enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty–unaware that she is changing too. But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.

4.  Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie from the library sale.

Immediately forget any preconceptions you may have about Salman Rushdie and the controversy that has swirled around his million-dollar head. You should instead know that he is one of the best contemporary writers of fables and parables, from any culture. Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a delightful tale about a storyteller who loses his skill and a struggle against mysterious forces attempting to block the seas of inspiration from which all stories are derived.

5.  Ocean of Words by Ha Jin from the library sale.

The place is the chilly border between Russia and China. The time is the early 1970s when the two giants were poised on the brink of war. And the characters in this thrilling collection of stories are Chinese soldiers who must constantly scrutinize the enemy even as they themselves are watched for signs of the fatal disease of bourgeois liberalism.

In Ocean of Words, the Chinese writer Ha Jin explores the predicament of these simple, barely literate men with breathtaking concision and humanity. From amorous telegraphers to a pugnacious militiaman, from an inscrutable Russian prisoner to an effeminate but enthusiastic recruit, Ha Jin’s characters possess a depth and liveliness that suggest Isaac Babel’s Cossacks and Tim O’Brien’s GIs.

6.  Hanna’s Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson, translated by Joan Tate from the library sale.

Anna has returned from visiting her mother. Restless and unable to sleep, she wanders through her parents’ house, revisiting the scenes of her childhood. In a cupboard drawer, folded and pushed away from sight, she finds a sepia photograph of her grandmother, Hanna, whom she remembers as old and forbidding, a silent stranger enveloped in a huge pleated black dress. Now, looking at the features Anna recognises as her own, she realises she is looking at a different woman from the one of her memory. Set against the majestic isolation of the Scandinavian lakes and mountains, this is more than a story of three Swedish women. It is a moving testament of a time forgotten and an epic romance in every sense of the word.

7.  Zorro by Isabel Allende from the library sale.

A child of two worlds—the son of an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner and a Shoshone warrior woman—young Diego de la Vega cannot silently bear the brutal injustices visited upon the helpless in late-eighteenth-century California. And so a great hero is born—skilled in athleticism and dazzling swordplay, his persona formed between the Old World and the New—the legend known as Zorro.


8.  Those Who Saved Us by Jenna Blum from the library sale.

For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy’s sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.

Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother’s life.

Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.

9.  W.B. Yeats Selected Poems from the library sale.

“All things can tempt me from this craft of verse: ”
“One time it was a woman’s face, or worse-”
“The seeming needs of my fool-driven land;”
“Now nothing but comes readier to the hand”
“Than this accustomed toil.”
“–“From” All Things Can Tempt Me”
Nobel Prize winner W.B. Yeats laid the foundations for an Irish literary revival, drawing inspiration from his country’s folklore, the occult, and Celtic philosophy. A writer of both poems and plays, he helped found Dublin’s famed Abbey Theatre. The poems here provide an example of his life’s work and artistry, beginning with verses such as “The Stolen Child” from his debut collection “Crossways “(written when he was 24) through “Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad?” from “On the Boiler,” published a year prior to his death.

10.  Hello, Baby! (Amazing Baby) by Beth Harwood, illustrated by Mike Jolley and Emma Dodd from the library sale.

Slide the slider, and say hello, baby! Littleones will love the peek-a-boo slider as youshare the story of some baby friends and their mothers who say hello. Captivating patterns like checkers and stripes, and fascinating animals like bright yellow ducks and big woolly sheep are guaranteed to keep little ones entertained. Share the fun of discovery with your amazing baby!

11.  Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet from the library sale.

In Matthew Van Fleet’s incredible new multiconcept book, over 100 creatures and plants from A to Z hilariously demonstrate action words, synonyms, opposites, and more. Young explorers are challenged to spot four plants or animals that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Twenty-three textures plus foils, flaps, pull tabs, and even a scratch-and-sniff scent add to the interactive surprises on every page.

12. Play Me Another Song Piano Book by Jimmy Tanka and Jimmy Tanaka from the library sale.

A 24-page board book (10 1/4″ 10 1/8″)- an electronic keyboard with replaceable batteries and color-coded numbered keys- easy-to-follow musical notation- 12 songs: Row, Row, Row Your Boat; Yankee Doodle; Happy Birthday to You; It’s Raining, It’s Pouring; Hot Cross Buns; Humpty Dumpty; Rock-a-bye Baby; Hey, Diddle Diddle; Mary Had a Little Lamb; Pat-a-Cake; Little Miss Muffet; Old MacDonald- ideal for traveling.

What did you receive?

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan

Source: William Morrow, Harper
Paperback, 400 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan is the second novel in the life of Ellie Hogan (if you haven’t read Ellis Island, this review could contain spoilers), a young Irish woman who has traveled to New York City to help save her first love’s mobility and returned home to find her family torn by tragedy.  Beginning in the 1930s, Ellie has settled back into her Irish life without electricity and indoor plumbing, embarking on unconventional business ventures for a woman.  While her family may stand back and allow her to continue with her ambitions, the resentment and angst these businesses bring into their lives simmers beneath the surface.  Ellie is far from the conventional house wife and mother of Ireland, and she knows that she’s the star of her own small town’s gossip, but as long as her life is calm at home, that is all that matters to her.

“However, this morning his blue eyes shone wild with delight.  He looked the same as he had done when I had first fallen in love with him at sixteen.  Fresh and full of the heart of life, like the outdoors — a man made of earth and air.” (page 11 ARC)

While she’s bustling about with her businesses and her life outside the home, the trials of miscarriages and failed births weigh heavily on her and her husband.  Despite the passions she may feel for her husband, they are tainted by his failure to take joy in what she seeks to accomplish and her inability to mourn the losses of her children with her husband at her side.  The wall between them causes fissures in their marriage as they bitingly argue about the little things and the signs of things to come are ignored.  Her three years in New York changed her from the small town girl who wanted merely a husband and family into a woman who wanted the finer things and a better life.

With the lost children spurring her to make the dreams she had in New York a reality in Ireland, Ellie is able to better the lives of the town’s own daughters and wives, prompting these women to rethink their own roles.  Kerrigan takes the time to build up the changes seen in Ellie’s town of Kilmoy, and how those changes are tied to Ellie’s experiences in New York and her own personal devastation at home.  Tragedy strikes her home again, altering Ellie’s course once again and pushing her to run away to America.  In her grief, she reaches out and lifts those around her up, showing them the way to improve themselves, work for their own betterment, and to help others around them.  In many ways, this second book is about redemption and recovery.

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan is a solid second book in a series, but without having read the first book, readers may find it hard to relate to Ellie’s past and her current situation, particularly her burning desire to run away from Ireland.  However, there are enough hints about the past to guide readers who have picked up the second book.  Ellie is a strong woman who can inspire others to rise above their own poverty and misfortune, but who continues to struggle internally with who she is and wants to be.  Kerrigan’s poise and pacing help readers come to know Ellie as a troubled friend who is still finding her way, even as tragedy strikes and good opportunities present themselves.  There is hope that her journey is nearing a conclusion, and readers will hope that comes with the third book.

About the Author:

Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are Recipes for a Perfect Marriage which was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year in 2008 and been translated into 20 languages, The Miracle of Grace, which has been adapted as a film script with funding from the Irish Film Board and Ellis Island, the first of a trilogy which was selected as a TV Book Club Summer Read in Britain and launched in the U.S. with Harper Collins in July 2011. Its sequel City of Hope is published by Pan Macmillan in Britain and scheduled for publication in America by Harper Collins in 2013

This is my 2nd book for the Ireland Reading Challenge 2013.

Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan

Source: Harper
Paperback, 351 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan is a historical fiction novel set in the 1920s when Ireland is fighting for Home Rule, and Ellie Hogan makes a bold choice to accept a job in New York City to raise the money her husband needs for an operation.  Ellie is not like the other members of her school group; she dreams of fine things and a life outside her little village of Kilmoy.  Her childhood friend, John, and his family become like a surrogate family for her, showing her the kindness she lacks from her own parents who are so insulated that they forget to hug their daughter and encourage her.  Her friendship soon blossoms into love, a childhood love that becomes a motivation for her to impress, to move beyond the bounds of her family.

“I hated insects, but I wanted to feed the blue tit, and I wanted to impress him.  So I kicked back the rock, picked up a wood louse between my thumb and forefinger and carefully placed it into the bird’s open, hungry beak.  As it swallowed it back, I touched the top of its little head with my finger and felt how small and soft and precious it was.  I looked at John and my heart flooded through.  It was the first time I remember sharing love with somebody.”  (page 8)

Young love can be passionate and sometimes it can be ever-lasting.  Because Ellie has finally shared love with someone, she’s able to lock it away inside herself, stoking its growth even when hundreds of miles separate them.  She makes that hard but necessary choice to leave her Irish home to earn the money John needs after he’s injured while part of the Irish Republican Army.  It is this love she turns to when she worries about what lies ahead in a strange country, and it is what she holds onto when she makes frightening decisions that lead her out of servitude into the life of a career woman.  What had been a year commitment soon turns into something much more, but Ellie is ill-prepared for the challenges and temptations before her.

Kerrigan has done her homework, and it shines in the small town feel of Ellie’s Irish home where everyone knows everyone and their business, and where judgments of families’ past actions still haunt the newest generations.  The harsh realities of fighting for independence from British rule are present as John fights for what he believes.  Her trip to NYC and her experiences with Ellis Island and the immigration process feel real, and readers will be just as awestruck by the city as Ellie is.  More than anything, Kerrigan’s novel is about the search for something just over the horizon, obtaining it, and bringing it back to the family and friends who need it most.

“Ireland was in my heart, but under my feet was America.” (page 128)

Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan is an immigrant story that requires the deepest of sacrifices and commitments but the growth Ellie experiences make her a better woman, capable of selfless generosity even when she has so little.  She’s grown into a woman her father and mother can be proud of, even though she didn’t go about the way that they would have preferred.

About the Author:

Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are Recipes for a Perfect Marriage which was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year in 2008 and been translated into 20 languages, The Miracle of Grace, which has been adapted as a film script with funding from the Irish Film Board and Ellis Island, the first of a trilogy which was selected as a TV Book Club Summer Read in Britain and launched in the U.S. with Harper Collins in July 2011. Its sequel City of Hope is published by Pan Macmillan in Britain and scheduled for publication in America by Harper Collins in 2013.


This is my 1st book for the Ireland Reading Challenge 2013.




This is my 51st book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #226

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  June’s host is Dolce Bellezza.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Waiting to Be Heard by Amanda Knox from my mother.

Amanda Knox spent four years in a foreign prison for a crime she did not commit.

In the fall of 2007, the 20-year-old college coed left Seattle to study abroad in Italy, but her life was shattered when her roommate was murdered in their apartment.

After a controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011, an appeals court overturned the decision and vacated the murder charge. Free at last, she returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now.

Filled with details first recorded in the journals Knox kept while in Italy, Waiting to Be Heard is a remarkable story of innocence, resilience, and courage, and of one young woman’s hard-fought battle to overcome injustice and win the freedom she deserved.

With intelligence, grace, and candor, Amanda Knox tells the full story of her harrowing ordeal in Italy—a labyrinthine nightmare of crime and punishment, innocence and vindication—and of the unwavering support of family and friends who tirelessly worked to help her win her freedom.

2.  Gracianna by Trini Amador for review with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in August.

Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador’s great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.

Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna’s past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother’s story.

Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s–on her way to America, she hopes–but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it–even if it means using lethal force.

3.  Loteria by Mario Alberto Zambrano for review with TLC Book Tours in July.

With her older sister Estrella in the ICU and her father in jail, eleven-year-old Luz Castillo has been taken into the custody of the state. Alone in her room, she retreats behind a wall of silence, writing in her journal and shuffling through a deck of lotería cards. Each of the cards’ colorful images—mermaids, bottles, spiders, death, and stars—sparks a random memory.

Pieced together, these snapshots bring into focus the joy and pain of the young girl’s life, and the events that led to her present situation. But just as the story becomes clear, a breathtaking twist changes everything.

4.  City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan for review from the publisher.

The heartrending and inspiring sequel to Ellis Island, Kate Kerrigan’s City of Hope is an uplifting story of a woman truly ahead of her time

When her beloved husband suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York, where she worked in the 1920s. She hopes that the city will distract her from her anguish. But the Great Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable. Gone are the magic and ambiance that once captured Ellie’s imagination.

Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours her passion and energy into running a refuge for the homeless. Her calling provides the love, support, and friendship she needs in order to overcome her grief—until, one day, someone Ellie never thought she’d see again steps through her door. It seems that even the vast Atlantic Ocean isn’t enough to keep the tragedies of the past from catching up with her.

5.  Milk and Other Stories by Simon Fruelund, translated by K.E. Semmel for review from the translator.

The 14 stories in this collection display the often quiet, inconspicuous way in which terrible truths and experiences are intimated: the death of a sailboarder makes a widower see deeper into love and loss; a young poet visits his former teacher only to discover he is literally not the person he used to be; a middle-aged man glimpses the terrible humdrum of his third marriage as his son embarks on a new chapter in his life. Conveyed without grandeur or pathos, the revelations in these minimalist stories demonstrate clearly and effectively Fruelund’s gift of subtlety and nuance; like scenes from life, characters’ dramas are played out in brief but brilliant flashes. Ranging across the wide arc of human experience, from the comic to the tragic, each piece explores the complex emotions of the human heart.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #137

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is Life in the Thumb.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

From Borders, which is the only local book store in my town and had the best employees who had great recommendations every time I went in; it also was the only store with a good three-to-four shelves of poetry near me and outside the immediate D.C. city:

1.  The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund, which I bought for my mom’s birthday (good thing she doesn’t read the blog).

2.  Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Stephenie Meyer and adapted by Young Kim

3.  Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan, which I bought to complete the Ireland Reading Challenge and because I just missed out on the TLC Book Tour.

4.  Ideal Cities by Erika Meitner; yes, this is just one of the books I snagged from the poetry section.

5.  The Broken Word by Adam Foulds

6.  Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

7.  Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea by Nikki Giovanni, which I picked up because I loved her selection of poems in (Hip Hop Speaks to Children (my review)

8.  Ballistics by Billy Collins

9. Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

10. Don't Bump the Glump! by Shel Silverstein

11. Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein

12. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

13. Peter Rabbit's Tale by Beatrix Potter

14. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss; our version says its made with recycled paper.

15. Dr. Seuss's Circus McGurkus 1,2,3! (plush)

From Anna for Wiggles:

16. Winnie the Pooh and Piglet's Book of Opposites

17. Winnie the Pooh All Year Long

18. Adventures of Rusty & Ginger Fox by Tim Ostermeyer

And books that came in the mail for review:

19. The Tree It Was by Sandra Fuhringer

What did you receive this week?