Books and Adventures: The Cherry Harvest


I received an email from HarperCollins Publishers this summer announcing the publication of The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna. More often than not these email press releases speak right to my literary heart, as was the case with this novel.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know World War II is one of my favorite subjects to read of the historical fiction genre. My friends are no longer surprised (or interested I’m starting to think) when they ask me what I’m reading and I respond with “A book set during World War II…”

Usually these books take place overseas, but Sanna tells a war-era story from a different perspective.

The Cherry Harvest tells a story from the home front in a Wisconsin farm community where German POWs are put to work to assist with the harvest while all the local boys are off to fight.

The Christensen family welcomes the assistance of the POWs to help them with their cherry harvest with their son fighting in Europe, but it comes with a price. Secrets develop amid a forbidden romance…

My adventure:

Living on a cherry farm would definitely have its perks. More than once a fresh baked cherry pie was written into this story. I set out on a search for a locally-made cherry pie but I live in rhubarb pie country. Instead I did the next best thing: I baked!

I have never made a pie from scratch and I still haven’t, but thanks to this simple recipe I found on Pinterest, I made mini cherry pies. Unfortunately I chose to do this baking quest late on a weeknight and forgot to take a photo of the finished product. You’ll have to trust me they were delicious (a la mode of course).


Books and Adventures: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

The tastiest book adventure to date: ice cream party!

My sweet friend Tami and I have similar literary tastes. She recently recommended The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman, because of its historical-fiction genre and also because it would make for a tasty adventure.

But first, about the book:

Spanning 70+ years, The Ice Cream Queen is the life story of a young Russian immigrant girl, Malka Treynovsky, who arrives in New York with her family in 1913. A Goodreads review stated this novel suffers from “Chick Lit Cover Syndrome.” And I have to agree. This 501-pager is most certainly not chick lit.

Malka’s life and rise to ice cream tycoon is linked to historical events: Ellis Island, child labor laws, prohibition, World War II, the polio epidemic, to name a few…

Malka eventually becomes Lillian Dunkle, and as she discovers her successful business model, eventually the ice cream queen. At times, it is difficult to love her because of her brash personality, but as you learn more of her story you start to sympathize.

Now, for the adventure:

Ice Cream Social in Tacoma serves handcrafted ice cream made from natural and local ingredients.

Tami discovered Ice Cream Social, located on Tacoma’s eclectic 6th Ave. Sharing a block with a tattoo parlor and a hot dog joint/bar, Ice Cream Social had a steady stream of people in and out during our visit for their handcrafted ice cream made from natural and locally-sourced ingredients.

On the menu were unique flavors like peanut butter + jelly, lavender, ginger and pancake porter. With Tami’s family and me and my husband, we were able to sample a wide-range of the menu.

On our way to Ice Cream Social we drove through Tacoma’s Orchard Street, which was the ice cream on the cake for this adventure (see what I did there?).

Thank you Tami for sharing this adventure with me!

Blog Tour: Through Waters Deep

Book one in the Waves of Freedom Series.

Sarah Sundin released her latest series this summer, and instead of following the B-17 pilots and flight nurses of World War II, Sundin takes to the seas in Through Waters Deep.

Set in early 1941, readers can expect a little Nancy Drew and a lot of Boston scenery.

Naval officer Jim Avery is reunited with former classmate Mary Stirling on shore. When evidence of sabotage on the USS Atwood is found, Jim and Mary form a special bond as they work together to help crack the case.

As always, Sundin writes in rich historical detail, putting you on a destroyer facing German U-boats and torpedoes, or on shore along cobblestone streets in Boston.

Photo evidence of Boston 2009.
Photo evidence of Boston 2009.

The scenery took me back to my first Boston trip in 2009, when I took an impromptu trip to the East Coast with my friend Gwen. We ate lobster chowder (chow-dah), took in a Celtics game, toured Fenway and soaked up all the history surrounding us.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for sending me a copy of this book!

Save the date! Book two, Anchor in the Storm, will release next summer!

What I’m Reading June 2015


I felt ambitious at the library last month and took home five books (still working on the final two). With a holiday weekend and staycation in July, I figured I would have some free time. And I think that free time has been spent very wisely, making sure I avoid library fines.

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

I know very little about Niagara Falls. In fact, when I think of the Falls, I think of Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty and Pam and Jim in The Office.

This novel broadened my narrow horizon on the dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls starting in 1915. The author was born and raised in Niagara Falls and weaves the lore of William “Red” Hill, Niagara’s most famous riverman, in this work of historical fiction.

My task: Niagara Falls is quite a distance from me, so to experience the water, I plan to visit a local waterfall. Photo evidence to come soon, or it didn’t happen.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

My sister-in-law’s sister-in-law picked this book for their book club and let me in on their secret (thanks, Emily!). I was a fan of Sullivan’s The Engagements, and was interested to see her other work.

All families have their drama, but nothing compares to the Kelleher family. The story is told through three generations, and more can be understood of their present day attitudes after learning of their past, but there’s so much dysfunction it’s hard to sympathize with anyone. It’s a fun beach read, or more like a vacation read because it’s a little on the long side. After wading through all the heartache and drama, I do have to say I was very pleased with its ending.

My task: To experience the New England food, I’m on the hunt for a lobster roll, Pacific Northwest style.

A Girl Like You by Maureen Lindley

I was looking for something a little light to read around some heavy historical fiction, and my eyes were attracted to this cover.

Of World War II, one of the topics I could never tire of learning more about are the Japanese internment camps set up under Executive Order 9066. It’s crazy to think my family would have been interned had we been here during that time. My grandmother lived through the war in Japan.

I was hoping for light read, but this was anything but. The story is centered around a half-Japanese teen, who suffers more loss before the age of 20 than most anyone suffers in a lifetime.

About 350 pages in, hope is finally introduced! And it certainly ends well.

My task: I’m planning to attend the Asian American Journalist Association’s national convention in San Francisco next month with my dad!

What I’m Reading Wednesday


Hello fellow book lovers! Did you miss me?

This past month marked my first go at blogging monthly, rather than trying to (unsuccessfully) blog what I’m reading weekly. The month of May was spent in the 1930s-1940s, in the Pacific during WWII, in Paris at the climax of the Nazi occupation, in the Scottish Highlands hunting the Loch Ness monster, and in New Jersey at Palisades Amusement Park.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The story of Louis Zamperini is almost unbelievable. An Olympian athlete is shot down during WWII, manages to survive 47 days at sea and endures unimaginable treatment as a Japanese POW. But as the title states, Zamperini’s spirt was unbroken. He survived it all and when Billy Graham’s crusade crossed his path, he was saved from it all.

I wanted to read this before watching the movie, and I’m so glad I did. While Hollywood paid a great deal of attention to Louis’ story, of course there were gaps. My husband would ask me throughout, Did that really happen? And sadly, every time the answer was yes.

The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley

Last Christmas my sister-in-law (hi Tifani!) gave me this book. We have a similar literary tastes, and she had enjoyed this one and thought I would, too. It follows the formula that I most enjoy about historical fiction: present day with flashbacks.

This story is a work of fiction set against a historical background. I enjoy WWII stories, and especially of the bright women who bravely served doing more than rolling Red Cross bandages. There’s the Resistance, the Nazis and a family mystery nearly 50 years later.

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

I was excited to see the author of Water for Elephants release her latest work! During the height of the second world war, a trio of high society friends travel the globe in search of the Loch Ness monster. Far away from home and close to war, they learn things aren’t always as they seem. Discoveries are made as the trio find themselves in their own personal war.

Palisades Park by Alan Brennert

There is one book that sits on my bookshelf that I’m quick to recommend when asked for a book recommendation. Have you read Moloka’i? It’s good. I promise.

I was returning a book at the library when a vintage cover of a 1930’s high diver caught my eye. I picked it up and saw it’s from the same author of Moloka’i and without even thinking I took it home with me.

This story spans decades and generations, all centered around Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. The story takes many angles, but stays close to the nucleus of one family; a family full of dreamers.

I’ve already jumped into Book 1 for June. But tell me, what should I be reading this summer?

What I’m Reading Wednesday

imgresEveryone has a story. And being the curious one that I am, I’m always asking people about theirs.

With that being said, The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, is the perfect book for me. It’s someone simply telling their story, from beginning to nearly the end.

Addie Baum is the Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents. But the story starts in 1985 when Addie’s grand-daughter asks her “How did you get to be the woman you are today?”

Readers learn the building blocks of Addie’s life of growing up in Boston, holding onto every bit of education while trying to avoid child labor. She goes through more than one tragedy, happy experiences and major accomplishments, my favorite of which is her experience working for a newspaper as a twenty-something.

Each experience, each person she meets along the way create Addie’s tale, and the story helps readers gain the appreciation that every story is worth being told.

A thank you goes out to my step-mom, who picked up this book for me!

What would you say if someone asked you,”how did you get to be the person you are today?”

A Book for the Holidays


Christmas music plays and my Holiday Mornings candle burns as I sit down to write this. Litfuse Publicity sent me Where Treetops Glisten back in September, but I wanted to wait closer to Christmas to share this novel of courage and Christmas romance set during World War II.

I have blogged about author Sarah Sundin ever since I came across her Wings of Nightingale series. Sundin teamed up with authors Tricia Goyer and Cara Putman for a special Christmas story centered around three siblings that spans the war.

There’s Abigail, a college student who lost her love in the attack on Pearl Harbor. There’s Pete, a fighter pilot, back home in Indiana after a European Theatre tour. And there’s Merry, a combat nurse on the front lines who is betrayed by the person who matters most.

The Turner family has dealt with its share of heartaches, but at the center is grandmother Louise. Strong in faith and wisdom, Louise encourages, mends and guides her three grandchildren as best she can while spreading the joy and hope of Christmas.

This novella is the perfect book to curl up in front of the fire place on these cold days. And, bonus, cookie recipes are included!

Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas from my puppies, La Di and Bailey!


What I’m Reading Wednesday


I’m boycotting the Hallmark Channel and avoiding Christmas shopping to sit down and finally catch up on my weekly posts. It’s been about a month since I last shared with you what I’m reading, and it’s about time we reconnected!

Since Nov. 1 (or was it Halloween?) Christmas movies have occupied most of my free time and the blog has suffered. Last week I received an SOS text from my literary soul mate, who was at the library and in need of something to read. So guys, I’m back and I’m ready to talk books!

My sister-in-law introduced me to Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs‘ mystery series, which is right up my alley with time (1910-30) and setting (England). Many weeks ago I read Mr. Churchill’s Secretary: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia MacNeal, which very much reminds me of Maisie: independent, witty, intelligent and also a lady.

It’s May 1940 in London and Nazi invasion is imminent. Maggie Hope is a young American in London, who becomes secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Sidenote: I always read ‘secretary’ with a British accent. I can’t help it.

Hope finds herself entrenched in a world of spies, secret agents and betrayal of those close to her. But Hope’s intelligence proves she’s more valuable for England’s security than her secretary job title gives her credit for.

If you watched The Bletchley Circle mini drama series on PBS, this is the same story in book form. Readers’s follow Hope as she works to solve plots by breaking codes, while also watching out for her own life.

This Maggie Hope novel has introduced me to a whole new series I’ve added to my ever-growing to-read list.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

Book_Cover_19Dear Beatriz Williams,

I cannot thank you enough for writing such a page turner, with so many twists and diversions, and yet ends with all loose ends beautifully tied up. Seriously. I was enthralled with the stories of Violet and Vivian in The Secret Life of Violet Grant with the agents, double agents, Europe on the brink of the WWI and two strong (and often times sassy) female leads.

Your novel of historical sorts introduces many a character, fictitious and historical (hello young Albert Einstein!). I thought, no way will this novel end without me having unanswered questions about how so-and-so ends up, or what happened to you know who? None of that! You strung me along for 432 pages and in the end I had a perfect picture of how everyone turned out in the end.


I’m also grateful for the historical note at the end, because I admit, I wanted to ask how in the heck does someone’s imagination craft such a tale? A female atomic physicist in the early 1910s, an aspiring New York magazine writer in the 1960s, and a mystery that links the two generations together.

If anything, as a writer myself, I would have enjoyed seeing how Vivian’s article for Metropolitan turned out in the end. Was she promoted from her fact checker position with other duties as assigned, including pouring coffee? What became of that story? I mean, I don’t want to spoil it for others, but we know it wasn’t the real story. But it must have been front page news, right?

Alas, I guess I will have to rely on the ‘ol imagination.

Ms. Williams, thank you for sharing a glimpse of that fantastic imagination of yours. For weaving some of your own family’s history into a novel that introduced characters we would want to be friends with.


What I’m Reading Wednesday

More than a century after Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage, her story lives on.

Hazel Gaynor’s The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of The Titanic, is a story of historical fiction inspired by true events and passengers.

Gaynor’s novel begins in Ireland in 1912, where a group of 14 from a small village prepare to set sail for America with the hope of a better life. One of the passengers is 17-year-old Maggie, who reluctantly boards with her aunt, the only surviving family member she has, while her love stays behind.

Gaynor’s story also takes its readers to Chicago in 1982, where Grace Butler learns of her great-grandmother Maggie’s stories of Titanic. Hearing her story Grace starts on her own path of healing after losing her father.

The Girl Who Came Home is inspired by the true events of a group of Irish emigrants from County Mayo, Ireland who travel on Titanic to awaiting relatives in America. Eleven of the group of 14 were lost. The main character Maggie, is based on two of the youngest girls in the group (Annie Kate Kelly and Annie McGowan).

Gaynor includes some passengers based on fact and actual Marconigram messages transmitted from Titanic and Carpathia within its pages also pulls you into the tragic tale of that fateful night in April.

Hollywood has tried and so have authors, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine the terror that was the night the Titanic sank to her resting place. But thanks to creative minds like Gaynor, the memories of those saved and lost are remembered more than 100 years later.