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LATE AUGUST, 1901
SOMETIMES THE SMALLEST THINGS ignited memories Annie Gallagher would sooner forget. This time all it took was a glimpse of a half-finished tapestry Mrs. Hawkins had left on her parlor chair: Home Sweet Home. Annie pressed her palm against her heart, trying to shut out the realization that she was far from home—and not just because she now lived in America.
In a few days it would be her birthday, but she wanted to forget. Birthdays held no significance when your parents had gone to heaven.
For most of her life Annie had traveled with her father, a seanchaí, a storyteller from the old Irish tradition. She had learned the age-old stories of the great warrior Cuchulain and the tragic tale of a cruel stepmother in "The Children of Lir." She learned of kings and monks and lords and wild beasts. But when night came and he tucked her into whatever straw cot they had borrowed for the night, he told her tales that were just for her—Annie's stories, he called them. Now that her father was gone, those stories were all she had, her only connection to a place, intangible as it might have been, that she called home.
She held on to them, brought them out from time to time to remind her she'd once lived in someone's heart. Without that, she feared she might plunge again into darkness.
Annie approached the breakfront cabinet gracing the wall opposite a substantial parlor window that looked out to the street. She opened the door, revealing her special lap desk. Suddenly her father's voice lived again in her mind.
"Look here, Annie lass," her da called one day from his mat by Uncle Neil's hearth. Neil O'Shannon was her mother's brother, and he hadn't wanted Annie and her father in his home, but her father—who was just as dismayed to be there but had found no other open hearth in that sparsely populated countryside—had been too ill to move on.
Annie had just come inside from gathering seaweed on the shore. She set her reed basket on the table and came closer. Da held a box of some sort.
"See here. 'Tis a writing desk—pens and even paper inside." He opened the box and showed her how the top folded into a writing surface.
"I've never seen anything like it." Annie rubbed her hand across the inlaid design on the edges. Swirls, flowers—so beautiful.
"I should write down your tales for you."
"Which ones, Da?" She examined the ink pot. Full.
"Why, Annie's stories, darlin'. Those that are yours. I won't be here forever to tell them to you."
She shook her head. "Don't talk like that, Da. And don't you know, I won't be forgetting them."
"Don't suppose you will. But I'll write them just the same. I'll add some drawings. You'd like that, so."
She had not thought he'd done it, not until after he'd passed on and Father Weldon helped her find those pages, those precious hand-scribed stories, the day he'd rescued her from that evil Magdalene Laundry, a prison-like place for young girls who had committed no crime except being homeless and unwanted.
She sat down on the piano stool in Mrs. Hawkins's parlor as the memories flooded her mind like a swarm of midsummer gnats. She heard Father Weldon's voice. "Hold on to the good memories. The Magdalene Laundry you were in does not speak for the church, child. There are those who are compassionate, even within its walls, but they allow fear to overshadow what's right. I implore you to focus on the good now, the good you have seen among my parishioners. And know that God will provide," he had said.
Perhaps Father Weldon had been right about the laundry. The church wasn't evil. Sister Catherine and a couple of the other nuns seemed to care. But Annie was sure God had not been in that laundry. God couldn't be bothered, she'd realized.
"Don't give Neil O'Shannon a second thought, child," Father Weldon had told her, his eyes soft. "Your father was a remarkable man. You have your memories now, don't you?"
Painful memories she could not forget. Not so far.
Her sorrow had begun on a day in January in the year nineteen hundred, the day they'd buried her father.
"A wanderer is only at home in the hearts of those who love him."
Annie had heard her father say this, and now that he was gone, Annie had no place in the world. She had been born of a great love between two people separated by hatred, as tragic a tale as Romeo and Juliet.
She had heard the story from her father many times. Annie's parents had fallen in love, but the O'Shannons did not want their daughter to marry a Protestant, especially a seanchaí. But they'd done it anyway, run off to Dublin, where an Anglican minister married them. A month later, while her father and mother traveled on the road to Limerick, Annie's mother's family tracked her down, locked Annie's father in a cowshed, and then stole her mother away. After some time, her father found her mother, but tragically she died in childbirth, and from then on, it had only been Annie and her father.
Now, just Annie.
"Marty Gallagher was a magnificent storyteller," the priest had said to those gathered in the churchyard. "Not only could he recite entire Shakespearean plays by memory, but he told his own tales as well. Many of you gathered here were privileged to be entertained by him."
A man she didn't know—but was told was Mr. Barrows from Dublin—had approached her after prayers were said. "My deepest sympathies, Miss Gallagher."
She thanked him, but his condolences seemed to slide right by. There was nothing anyone could have said to make that better.
"The entire world will mourn his passing." He extended his black umbrella over his dipped head and backed away.
People say all kinds of odd things when someone dies. Paying respects at a funeral was fine and good for that man, whoever he had been. He'd gone back to Dublin and carried on. But Annie? She was only twenty years of age, and her life spread out before her now like a long, lonely highway spilling into distant hills beyond where the eye can see.
It was what had happened after the funeral that had led to her imprisonment in that unspeakable place.
She rose now, shut the door to the breakfront, and wiped it down, though she'd noted no dust. Glancing out the front window at the pedestrians populating Lower Manhattan's sidewalks, she observed men carrying large black satchels. Businessmen. Not a seanchaí in the lot, she supposed. If she ever married, it would be to someone who appreciated the power of a story.
Sighing, Annie brushed her feather duster along the windowsill and the glass globes of the oil lamps. How she'd come to be the housekeeper at Hawkins House was by chance, a stroke of incredible luck, to be sure. Father Weldon had sent her there.
"I will arrange for a woman named Agnes Hawkins to take you in. She and her charity supporters are opening a home for girls in New York, and she needs a housekeeper to help her get started."
"Why would you do this for me, Father?"
This man, a British priest in the west of Ireland, was such an oddity. Even Da in his storytelling could not have created such an unlikely rescuer.
"I had great admiration for your father, Annie. He was a fine man, God rest his soul. Being a storyteller, he wandered, going from place to place to do his work. In a small way I'm like he was. I am in a foreign land. My sister, the woman who will take you in, is as well. But God directs our paths. We don't always end up in the places we'd imagined. I'm to see you get away from here safely and begin life anew with hope."
Annie knew as well as winter follows autumn that God had not directed her. If he had, he never would have allowed her to end up in that horrible laundry. Without her father, without God, Annie was adrift on a dark, choppy sea. She'd hoped living in America at Hawkins House would lead her out of the nefarious hole she'd been plunged into since her father died, and it had been a fortuitous beginning. Mrs. Hawkins was nice, and Annie truly was grateful to her. But her father had said home is where the people who love you are, the people who truly want you. He had not said home was where people were just nice to you.
Annie had been fortunate to come here, indeed. However, everyone knew luck ran out. There were many chapters of Annie's life yet to be written. No one in Ireland had believed Annie capable of directing her own destiny. But now? Now she needed to make her own way without Da ... and without even God's help.
Excerpted from Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson, Erin E. Smith. Copyright © 2014 Cindy Thomson. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted November 14, 2014
~Received For An Honest Review~
Think I'm really starting to like some of these books that take you back in time. This is one of the ones that have open me up to reading in a wider variety of range! Cindy Thomson, a remarkable author gives you a story of life in New York City back during 1901. This read will keep your attention and keep you turning the pages! Well written and easy to follow!
Posted September 29, 2014
Annie’s Stories by Cindy Thomson is a story about Annie, an Irish Immigrant, and also a story about those she lives with and deals with on an everyday occurrence. At first glance, the cover of this story makes you think you are in for a very whimsical tale. But just like the book that Annie is reading, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this book has its dark and sinister parts and Annie needs to find the courage and heart to see her circumstances through. This book is full of secrets of all kinds, deals with some dark subject matter, and really opens up to what life might have been like for Immigrants such as Annie and her friends trying to start anew in America. I saw the early Post Office in a new light and sometimes wanted to shake Annie’s love interest due to his naivety and poor decisions. I always enjoy a book that can teach me something new about history that I did not know before and it was very neat to read about folks who enjoyed reading as much as I do. It was also interesting to see the sensation that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had on the public during its time. I received this book from The Book Club Network, Inc. (TBCN) and the opinions are my own.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 14, 2014
Annie’s Stories is a charming tale of Annie, a recent arrival from Ireland. Her beloved father was a traveling storyteller who took his daughter with him on his travels across Ireland. They found a bed wherever they could and now he is dead. She has no one turn to and ends up in difficult circumstances until a kindly priest finds her and sends her to live in his sister’s boarding house in New York City. All Annie has left of her father is his writing desk and some of his stories. But did her father have a part of his life that had been hidden from Annie?
Stephen, the postman, is drawn to Annie. He longs for a family and to be the husband and father that he did not have. He and Annie share a love for books, so he hopes that something will develop for their future. In an effort to help Annie, Stephen loses her trust and possibly her heart. With things heating up among some of the residents of the boarding house, the situation becomes troubled. Can Stephen make up for his innocent mistake? Will Annie ever be able to establish her library for the poor?
This is a lovely story, taking place at the beginning of the 20th century when many immigrants were arriving in New York City. They were often taken advantage of and frequently worked in difficult situations. This series is called “an Ellis Island novel” since the author is bringing to light some of their stories. Although this is the second book in this series, it can certainly be read as a stand alone book.
Posted September 6, 2014
Reviewed by Patsy Glans for Readers' Favorite
In Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson, Annie Gallagher only has the stories her father told her when they were together. Now he is gone and she is at the mercy of her uncle. She does not like the way he looks at her, it gives her the shivers. When her cousin spouts a lie about Annie, she finds herself in a laundry house, a place for women and children who have no money, no family. It is an awful place, with no warmth from either the building or those in charge. Annie finds herself befriended by a kind doctor, and somehow he gets her out of Ireland. Now she is living at a boarding house with very kind people in New York. Annie is determined to create a library honoring her father and all his unpublished stories, but she does not know who to trust. Everyone seems to think these stories have a grand secret which will make whoever publishes them very rich. Some will try to take advantage of Annie and what she has; some will help her with her endeavor without asking for anything in return. Will Annie's dream of honoring her father become reality so that everyone will enjoy the stories he wrote or will Annie keep them close to her heart for her eyes only?
Annie's Stories, an Ellis Island novel by Cindy Thomson, is a tale of finding your path on your terms, and learning to trust and forgive. Because Annie had been betrayed by family in Ireland, she was determined to make decisions on her own. The mailman character started out looking out for himself, he needed money to pay off his debt. However, he did redeem himself to me with his change of heart when he started helping Annie with her quest. The story takes place in New York in 1901, when the book The Wizard of Oz came out. This made the publishing industry go wild and everyone wanted a piece of the pie. They would do anything to make themselves rich and famous, regardless of who they had to step over to achieve it. At this time, many thousand of immigrants came here through Ellis Island. The treatment they received while waiting to be processed was harsh, and they were detained for weeks, sometimes months. If they were lucky enough to have someone who could vouch for them, their time on Ellis Island was brief. I loved the realistic characters and the historical details. For me, the main theme of this excellently researched and well written book is: everyone hopes their dreams will come true somewhere over the rainbow.
Posted September 1, 2014
Annie’s Stories was a delightful tale full of mysteries, hope, friendship, and books! I had not realized until further into the story that it was the second book in the Ellis Island series. Yet because this book was such an easy read, I do plan on reading the first.
The story centers around an Irish immigrant named Annie Gallagher in 1901. Like many immigrants, Annie has a story. Her mother passed away at her birth and her father was a travelling storyteller. He soon dies and Annie is left with her uncle. A misunderstanding leaves her in an awful place until she is rescued by a reverend. She is sent to live with his sister, Mrs. Hawkins, in the United States. There she becomes Mrs. Hawkins’ housemaid. She didn’t inherit much from her father, but when she finds herself sad, she reads some of the stories he left for her. They are precious to her and her only inheritance.
Stephen Adams is the local postman with his own story. He lives in the building of Davis Publishing and is an avid reader. It’s not long before Annie Gallagher catches his eye. He tries to find ways to connect to her, and one works: books. A very popular story has arisen by the name of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Everyone is talking about it, even the publisher Stephen lives above. Mr. Davis desperately wants to publish a story similar to Oz, and he gives Stephen the job of finding an author.
It’s not long before Stephen learns of Annie’s stories, and discovers a HUGE secret. But will she want to share them? This is not the only trouble surrounding Annie. Authorities are soon inquiring and making accusations about a new boarder in Hawkins house.
I found this story intriguing and pretty genuine. Annie struggles with something that I’m sure many do. She questions where God was and if He really cares about her. Stephen also has his own God moments. He seeks guidance and soon finds that he’s been holding on to things he needs to let go off.
Even though Annie’s Stories was fiction, I felt that the message was very true. I loved the way Ms. Cindy Thomson wrote the book. The characters felt real and complex. Each one, as the reader comes to find, has his/her own secrets, and each plays into the plot.
This was a wonderful story and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, a lighthearted tale, or just wants a good book to read! I received this book from the Book Club Network and Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion.
Posted August 29, 2014
Posted August 27, 2014
Annie was an orphaned Irish immigrant who was rescued from the Magdalene laundry and sent to America to become a housekeeper for Mrs. Hawkins. Annie's love of books led to common ground with Stephen the postman, who was afraid to talk to her as much as he wanted to. Stephen is working hard to fix the difficult financial situation his family thrust him into but everything extra he tries doesn't seem to be working out. Annie also would like some extra money to start a library in the city but the only thing she has of any value are her father's stories. The book was a little slow at times but it was interesting and exciting to see all the pieces fall into place.
Posted August 26, 2014
Annie's Stories is a tale of young lives struggling to overcome tragic pasts in a young Manhattan neighborhood. For Annie, who emigrated from Ireland four years ago, literally rescued by a warm-hearted British priest from cruel incarceration in what is historically known as the Magdalene Laundries, a reformatory type system that took in unwanted scraps of human life, forcing them into labor all in the name of charity, there was trauma and loss to overcome. Right after her father's funeral, her heartless uncle spurred on by the false accusations of wrongdoing by her young cousin Aileen, sent her away to endless labor at one of those infamous laundries. Fortunately, she was now safely ensconced in the priest's sister's loving care in New York. Annie's one great joy in life was being in possession of a writing desk fill with pages of stories written down for her by her beloved "da"--stories he made up especially for her. He called them Annie's stories.
For Stephen, his difficult past included his father's abandonment of his wife and sons when life got too difficult. In a fit of despair, the man had hung himself, leaving family members to fend for themselves. Stephen's mother died of cancer and his brother passed away after a tragic construction accident. Stephen was left with the bills to pay for all those funerals and now the undertaker was threatening him. While he had a great job as a walking route mailman, the rent took most of his paychecks. But he fought against despair because he didn't want to become like his father. He had his faith in God's love and care, and he prayed when things became overwhelming.
The author intertwines some fascinating history from the world of the early 1900's into the fabric of this story. Not only are Annie's flashbacks of her time in the Magdalene Laundry based on true stories told by survivors of the institutions, she included the event of President McKinley's assassination, tidbits of intrigue about the early postal system and its investigations into mail fraud, early financial scams perpetrated on innocent citizens, especially upon immigrants who had come to America expecting to amass wealth for themselves, and the role of the Pinkerton detective agency in tracking down criminals of all kinds. In those early days, some agents abused their authority to get information through intimidation.
Another element I liked in this book was the use of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum as a metaphor. The book had just been published in the time frame of this story and had taken the world by storm. Everyone was talking about the story of Dorothy Gale. Dorothy's search for a way home seems parallel to Annie's journey in life for meaning and love. Annie was trying to gain her footing in her new country, seeking purpose, to belong.
Annie and Stephen's personal struggles fleshed out the characters and drew me to them effectively. However, I had difficulty with Stephen's character. His bumbling was adorable and his intentions were honorable, and he did catch himself when he stepped over the line and tried to make decisions for Annie before she was ready for him to do that, but for some reason he didn't resonate with me. I wanted to be in his corner rooting for him to make the relationship with Annie work, but I couldn't get enthused over their future. I think I would have liked to have seen the two together more often, working out the dynamics together. Instead, the book focused on their separate issues, and only brought them together at the very end.
It is still a lovely story; the history and intrigue were great additions to the plot. I would recommend this to someone who enjoys historical fiction with a light touch of romance.
I am reading and reviewing this book for the Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. summer reading program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Posted August 19, 2014
An irish immigrant, a sad story, a father who loved her and then died, And the stories, her dream of a better place
She had to learn to look to God first, and then miraculous things happen.
A fun book to read, A great example of how the United States was to knew immigrants
I received this book from TBCN and the publisher for my honest review
Posted August 19, 2014
Annie’s Stories is a delightful tale of a girl who didn’t believe God cared for her and whose father traveled from town to town, telling stories about kings and noblemen, wild beasts and cruel stepmothers. But when her father tucked her into whatever bed she was sleeping in that night, he’d tell her special stories just for her, Annie’s Stories. And then one day he died. He didn’t tell her of any money stashed someplace and she knew his inheritance had just run dry. However, she did have his stories. Eventually Annie was rescued by a priest who sent her to the United States to live with his sister at Hawkins House where she met Stephen, the mailman for that area. Her cousin Aileen who lost both her husband and her child came to join her in America. However, the mailman who actually fell in love with her ‘’borrowed” her stories and showed them to his friend Adams, a publisher, who recognized their value immediately. What would happen to Annie's stories? What two things was God trying to teach Stephen? Will Annie be able to forgive him?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 15, 2014
What a wonderful story! This book is proceeded by Grace’s Pictures but stands alone as well. It has mystery, romance and history all in one book. Annie is a new immigrant to the United States and has been hired as housekeeper at a boarding house. Mrs. Hawkins, the owner, treats her as a daughter. But will the Pinkerton detectives shut the house down for the supposed illicit activities of one of the boarders? And what secret is Mrs. Hawkins keeping? Annie’s stories are the stories her dead dad has left her and pose quite a problem for Annie – should she seek to get them published or keep them for herself? After all, with the publishing of The Wizard of Oz , which everyone seems to be reading, there is a demand for children’s stories. But Annie is not the only one with a dilemma – Andrew, the mailman, does not seem to ever be able to pay his debts. But both learn to listen to God’s still voice and learn from their mistakes. It was also very enlightening to learn about times that morality seemed so very high, yet so many abuses occurred by people who ought to be trusted, with the truth then kept very quiet. Very good book and I really enjoyed it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 3, 2014
The reader once again returns to Hawkins House and the immigrent ladies living there. Grace's Pictures was the first story centered around Hawkins House. In Annie's Story, Annie the housekeeper feels she's completely alone. After the death of her father, she feels even God has abandoned her. She has been rescued out of the Magdalene Laundry physically, but she still is imprisoned in her mind. She keeps walls around her heart in an effort to protect herself. . A large underlying current to the story line is The Wizard of Oz. The book is all anyone can talk about as it's a runaway success. The bumbling postman, Stephen wants to win Annie's heart. Unfortunately he makes poor choices that do anything but endear himself to her. Stephen and Annie begin to talk about it the book, and learn many things from the characters. Mystery surrounds Kirsten another house guest and causes Annie to do even more soul searching. The book can stand alone, but reading it after Grace's Pictures gives the reader another journey of self inspection and growth, along with Mrs. Hawkins and her girls.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 27, 2014
Excellent History, Clean Fiction. This is a charming historical fiction about a young woman with a dream. Her past affects her decisions, but she is determined to overcome the mistreatment she endured. Her journey keeps the reader’s interest and the people with whom she interacts are quite convincing as well as entertaining. The descriptions are vivid and the history feels solid. I like the way the city of 1901 seems so real, and I enjoy the Irish mannerisms. The characters are well depicted. Tying in the books written in those times was excellent. There was a little trouble with repetition, and waiting for certain outcomes that seemed obvious, but I found the conclusion very gratifying.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 5, 2014
This is the second book in the Ellis Island Series, taking place at the Hawkin’s House, the same boarding house as Grace’s Pictures (first book in the series.)
Annie Gallagher is an Irish immigrant coming to the states with something she treasures—the children’s stories her father wrote for her. They represent her feelings of love, contentment, and most of all, home. Though she is reluctant to share them with others, they could provide all she is searching for.
The main characters, Annie and Stephen, are so vivid, flawed, and well developed. I also loved the ‘feel’ for the times this story provided. It’s interesting to learn of the immigrants’ struggles, and even the little nuances of the publishing world in the early 1900s that only these types of stories provide for those who didn’t experience them.
With a fabulous setting, memorable characters, and references to the book, The Wizard of Oz, what’s not to love? I recommend reading Grace’s Pictures first, but, even though some of the same characters from the first book are also in this one, this can be read as a stand-alone.
Cover: Love it
Title: Love it
Publisher: Tyndale Publishers, Inc.
First Lines: Sometimes the smallest things ignited memories Annie Gallagher would sooner forget. This time all it took was a glimpse of a half-finished tapestry Mrs. Hawkins had left on her parlor chair: Home Sweet Home. Annie pressed her palm against her heart, trying to shut out the realization that she was far from home—and not just because she now lived in America.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a Review Copy from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
Posted July 1, 2014
Cindy Thomson's Ellis Island series began with Grace's Pictures, about a young Irish immigrant who comes to New York City at the turn of the 20th century. She finds work as a nanny for a family and a room at a boarding house run by a kind Christian woman, and becomes enthralled by photography.
The second book in the series is Annie's Stories, about another young Irish immigrant who lives in the same boarding house. Annie is the housekeeper at Mrs. Hawkins' boarding house. She was raised by her father, a storyteller called a seanchaithe, in Ireland. When her father died and Annie went to live with her an uncle, who treated her poorly.
Her uncle shipped her off to the Magdalene Laundries, a horrible place for girls who are abandoned by their families. Many of the girls were pregnant and gave birth to babies there. (The Magdalene Laundries have been in the news over the last year, and the Oscar-nominated movie Philomena dealt with this issue as well.)
Eventually Annie was sent to New York to live. Annie's father left her with a small writing desk, filled with children's stories he created for Annie. She treasured these stories, and reading them gave her great comfort.
The local postman, Stephen, has a crush on Annie, but he hasn't worked up the courage to tell her. They both enjoy reading, and Stephen suggests that they read the hottest book in publishing, The Wizard of Oz, so that they could discuss it together.
As someone who loves to read, I really enjoyed the role that books and the publishing industry played in the story. Stephen lives above a publisher's offices, and we get to glimpse how publishing worked in the early 1900s.
Thomson does a great deal of research for her books, and because of that, the reader feels dropped right into the middle of this fascinating era in New York City. There is a subplot that involves the Pinkerton Detectives and another boarder, and the steely resolve that Mrs. Hawkins shows in dealing with an unpleasant situation is impressive.
Annie's faith is a very important part of her life, and it informs everything she does. Mrs. Hawkins is a deeply religious woman as well, and their strength of faith is inspirational to readers.
I so enjoyed catching up with Grace as they all prepare for her wedding to Sgt. McNulty, a policeman. Perhaps we might see another wedding in a future Ellis Island book?
Anyone who wants to add to their reading list will have some new suggestions too, from Jules Verne's Facing the Flag to H.G. Wells First Man on the Moon and of course, Frank L. Baum's The Wizard of Oz, which plays such a big role.
If you enjoy historical fiction and Christian fiction, Annie's Stories is a must-read for you. I felt like I was catching up with old friends, and made some new ones that I hope to meet up with again the near future.
Posted June 28, 2014
Annie's Stories picks up where Grace's Pictures left off. Both are charming reads that take place on Ellis Island during the early 1900s. It's interesting to suddenly be pulled into the world of immigrants in New York over 100 years ago and, while admittedly it took me a few chapters to really get into the story, I had to know what was going to happen. Annie is an Irish lass who is a sweet girl. She has recently lost her father, a wonderful man who had the heart of a storyteller. and who left her only his wonderful stories--written down, unpublished, and hidden away in the secret compartment of a desk. A bit mysterious, yes?
During the time Annie's Stories takes place, the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has just been published and is taking New York City by storm. I love the way the author weaves what's going on in Annie's life into the Oz story. Like me, the books she reads (even the fiction ones) influence Annie's life and she relates them to things going on around her in the real world. There is a bit of mystery here, too, as Annie's father actually hid the stories he wrote before his death--hid them away even as he didn't hide away the little money he had saved. Annie's adorable love interest thinks the stories hold a grand secret... but do they really?
If you're looking for an easy, cozy read this summer, I think you'll enjoy this one.
Posted June 28, 2014
Last year I read my first novel by Cindy Thomson, titled "Grace's Pictures", set near the turn of the century and focusing on the lives of young immigrants making a way in America. Even though I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, I did enjoy the book.
Cindy has a new release in her "Ellis Island" series, and this book focuses on changes in literature. More specifically, children's literature. Annie's father wrote stories just for her, involving woodland creatures and a hint of magic. These stories are all she has of her father and her past as she makes her way across the ocean to America.
The horrors of Magdalene Laundry will send shivers through you as you read what Annie endured after her father's death and her family's betrayal. Her life at Hawkins House as the housekeeper is a dream compared to that nightmare, but Annie still longs for more.
Her hope is to one day build a library in honor of her father's memory, and her copy of "The Wizard of Oz" is just a small start. Can the overly engaging postman help in her endeavors, or is he only out for himself? And what her of housing companions? Who wants Annie's Stories for their own gain?
"Annie's Stories" is filled with authentic historical detail and rich characterization. The suspense element got a bit tangled for me, but in the end it all made sense. My thanks to my friends at Tyndale Publishing for my advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you enjoy historical fiction, then you'll find a gem of a story in "Annie's Stories". I'd rate this one more of a 3.5 for me.
Posted June 27, 2014
A good historical novel will take you back through the years and let you remember a time you never experienced.
Cindy Thomson's Ellis Island series is doing just that.
A great historical novel won't stop there, though, it will also give you characters to befriend while you're in its pages.
Cindy Thomson's books do that as well.
In 2013, I met Grace McCaffrey, Irish immigrant and boarder at Hawkin's House. Grace's story was one of self-discovery and mystery- including a run-in with one of New York's gangs.
Now, in 2014, I got to go back to Hawkin's House and have tea again with the matron whose keen-eyed compassion earned her the name Hawk. This time she introduced me to another boarder, Annie Gallagher.
Where Grace fell in love with photography, Annie's passion is stories. Especially because the stories are the last physical gift from her departed father. Smooth, faded pages, carefully treasured manuscripts bearing delightful children's tales. That is her one inheritance. Annie keeps them in her desk, and lets them inspire her heart. They wouldn't mean much to anyone else, but they remind her where she came from.
Annie is a dreamer, and she strives to live with confidence in herself and her abilities. She has experienced terribly adverse circumstances and she isn't giving in to despair. Instead, she is channeling her energy: Annie wants to build a library and dedicate it to the education and improvement of young girls like herself.
In the meanwhile though, there are myriad challenges to overcome before that dream can be made of brick and mortar.
A strange man is investigating Hawkin's House, a new boarder is in grave danger, and a postal worker seems quite smitten with our Annie.
What's a girl to do?
Stephen Adams, the postal employee, is a lovable and rather lovestruck character. He's a mailman back when a mailman might deliver three times in one day, and he's proud of his profession. He's also a bibliophile, and it's the shared love of stories that draws them together.
And he's got a few troubles: unpaid bills, a slightly slick opportunist of a landlord, and a terrible case of Tongue-Tie around a certain Miss Gallagher.
Watching Stephen fumble his way around Annie adds some gentle comedy to this novel.
Watching Annie stand up for herself and discover her own capability, that makes Annie's Stories an excellent choice for girls to read. We need as many heroines as possible. Annie Gallagher and Grace McCaffrey are fine ones.
Thank you to Cindy Thomson for the opportunity to be a first reviewer of her new book. I hope it finds an enthusiastic readership!
Posted June 23, 2014
I didn’t realize when I first started reading this book that it was the next book in the series that started with Grace’s Pictures. As I started reading and Annie came to live with Mrs. Hawkins and Grace, it all came together. I love the feeling of revisiting old friends, such as Grace, Owen, and Mrs. Hawkins, in a different book. So if you read and enjoyed Grace’s Pictures, this book is a must read.
I enjoyed this book, especially as it took me back to the setting of Grace’s Pictures, but it was a little predictable. There were parts of it that were a bit too obvious, but there were a couple of surprising twists. I have mixed feelings about the plot of the book.
However, what redeems this book for me is the characters. Thomson does a great job crafting characters that reflect feelings, fears, hopes, and dreams that readers can identify with and are sympathetic too. Annie, alone in the world, angry about things in the past, and doubting whether God can truly love her in spite of her flaws, provides the means for Thomson to reassure readers that everyone is loved by God.
If you enjoy historical fiction, particularly those set in the time of the height of Ellis Island immigration, you will enjoy this book. It is a nice look into what life might have been like for young women of that time.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Posted June 22, 2014
Prepare to be delighted with a step back in time...
A Ellis Island Novel
By Cindy Thomson
Annie Gallagher has a problem with trust, but after her father's death her trust in others severely damaged at the hands
of those she should have been able to put it in. Fortunately she was rescued from the situation in which she found herself,
and Ireland is far away from New York. But home is also far away, but not just because of distance.
Can Annie ever find "home" ever again? After all family means home and Annie's parents are gone.
Stephen Adams works for the the Post Office, making deliveries to Hawkins House. Stephen Adams is delighted that he
and Annie share a fondness for books and the new book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a delightful book that they both love.
Before her father died, he wrote out the stories that he created for Annie. This last act of love means the world to Annie.
These stories represent the happiness of home, family, and Ireland to Annie. When Stephen gets a glimpse of the stories
he is delighted with them and he thinks Annie should publish them. But Annie doesn't want to share her stories, her father
with the world. But these stories could prove to be the answer to Annie's dreams.
But trouble is lurking just around the corner and Hawkins House could be shut down when accusations against the newest
boarder are threatened to be exposed and Annie's prayers seem to have no affect at all. And everyone seems to be keeping
secrets, secrets that are of importance to Annie.
Annie's Stories brings to life the plight of those coming to America seeking a better life. The characters that we were introduced
to in Grace's Pictures are back in this latest offering from the pen of Cindy Thomson. As the characters work to create the lives
they dream of we are drawn to America of 1901. We often refer to "simpler times" but the struggles of living were and are the
same we face today.
Prepare to be delighted as you step into Annie's world and discover with Annie the importance of trusting in others.
I was provided a copy of this book by the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review.