"Gripped me from the first page and didn't let go." Alyson Richman, bestselling author of The Lost Wife
In this richly emotional novel, Kristina McMorris evokes the depth of a mother's bond with her child, and the power of personal histories to echo through generations. . .
Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes's grief over her husband's untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flyingbut it's just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.
As Jack's fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack's dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to World War II, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to woundand perhaps, at last, to heal.
Intricate and beautifully written, The Pieces We Keep illuminates those moments when life asks us to reach beyond what we know and embrace what was once unthinkable. Deftly weaving together past and present, herein lies a story that is at once poignant and thought-provoking, and as unpredictable as the human heart.
Advance Praise For The Pieces We Keep
"The past collides with the present in this sensitive and multilayered story where the discovery of long-held family secrets leads to healing. The contemporary twist will be a treat for fans of World War II historical fiction." Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Me and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Praise For Bridge Of Scarlet Leaves
"Impeccably researched and beautifully written." Karen White, New York Times bestselling author
"Readers of World War II fiction will devour Kristina McMorris's Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, a poignant, authentic story of Japanese and American lovers crossed not only by the stars but by the vagaries of war and their own country's prejudices." Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
Praise For Letters From Home
"An absolutely lovely debut novel filled with endearing characters and lively descriptions. Fans of World War II romantic fiction will definitely enjoy this fast-paced story." Kristin Hannah
"A tender and heartfelt glimpse of a time long past. While wholly original, it's filled with characters as beloved as your own grandparents. Propelled by the epic sweep of world war, yet warmed by intimate human moments, this story will linger in the reader's memory long after the last page is turned." Susan Wiggs
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Saskia Maarleveld is an experienced audiobook narrator and voice-over actress based in New York City. Raised in New Zealand and France, she is highly skilled with accents and dialects, and many of her books have been narrated entirely in accents other than her own.
Read an Excerpt
The Pieces We Keep
By Kristina McMorris
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Kristina McMorris
All rights reserved.
Mid-May 2012 Portland, OR
The sound of her name, in that deep familiar timbre, swept through Audra like a winter gale. Her lungs pulled a sharp breath. Her forearms prickled. In line at the airport gate, she clutched the shoulder strap of her carry-on, a makeshift lifeline, and turned toward the voice.
"Babe, you want anything else?" the man in a floral-print shirt hollered from the coffee stand. "Andrea?"
Andrea. Not Audra.
And the man wasn't Devon.
"Just the vanilla latte," a woman replied from a nearby table, then resumed chatting on her phone.
For an eternal moment Audra Hughes remained frozen. She braced against the aftershock of hope, like the rush of a near car collision, when blood rages in your ears and every pore yawns open. Even now, two years after her husband's death, she hadn't conquered the reflex, nor the guilt. But in time she would, and today's trip would serve as a major step, regardless of others' opinions.
"Ma'am?" The male attendant stood at the door of the Jetway. "Are the two of you boarding?"
Audra and her son were suddenly the only passengers at the gate. She would usually make a quip, about the plane not coming to them, but her senses were still recovering. "Sorry," she said, striding forward. "Not enough coffee."
Truthfully, she didn't drink the stuff; too hard on the teeth and heart. But the excuse flowed out, plausible for any Northwest native, the caffeine kings of the world. A person couldn't walk the length of five gates at Portland Airport without hearing the turbo blast of an espresso machine.
The man scanned her boarding passes. Beep. Beep.
"Enjoy the flight."
Audra was about to continue through the doorway when she noticed Jack hadn't followed. The seven-year-old stood several yards away, the rolled cuffs of his jeans hanging uneven from dressing himself. Beneath his Captain America backpack and favorite gray hoodie, his hunched shoulders downplayed his sturdy form. His attention remained on a window dotted by Thursday-morning rain. The sight of their idle plane widened his slate-blue eyes, same shade and shape as Devon's. Their hair, too, had been a perfect match, the color of sweet molasses.
If it weren't for that rounded nose and chin, Devon's father used to jest, you'd never know who his mom was. It was actually a fitting claim in more ways than one. And every day Jack looked more and more like Devon. Or less and less like Audra, depending on the choice of view.
"Buddy, time to scoot," she told him.
Still entranced, he stroked his little toy plane, its silver paint worn thin from the habit. He'd been awed by aircrafts since the age of three, when Devon gave him a 747, stuffed and plush with cockpit eyes and a propeller nose.
He snapped his head toward her.
"Let's get onboard."
She expected dazed excitement to fill his eyes; what she caught was a flash of dread. Not the common kind among kids at the dentist's or on the day of a quiz, but the type she'd witnessed a hundred times over, from animals being led into surgery or about to be put down. A look saying they knew what was coming.
Could it be Jack sensed something wrong with the flight?
"Mom," he said in a hush. It was the way he often spoke these days. But this time, the plea in the word leapt out and cinched Audra's chest.
"Ma'am," the attendant repeated, "we have to close the doors."
If Audra missed this flight, there would be no final job interview. She was currently the top pick according to her contact, who encouraged her to bring Jack along. A smart idea. The transition would be easier if he was involved in the process. Together they'd scout out houses with plenty of acreage and top-rated schools near the brand-new animal hospital. At the facility just outside Philadelphia, everything would be shiny and flawless and unused. An empty slate.
She assessed the plane, a strong and trusted transport. Flying ranked safer than driving according to statistics.
This had become her method of reasoning: the tangible, the provable; X-rays and blood tests. Any faith in the spiritual realm—airplane premonitions included—had been buried along with Devon.
"Jack, let's go," she told him. "Now."
The command prodded him forward, though only increased the pursing of his lips. She clasped his hand to hurry him onto the jet bridge. The gate door sealed, dimming the snaking tunnel. Jack tightened his hold, so snug she could feel waves of apprehension pulsing through his body.
Instinct implored her to pick him up, yet her own lecture slammed back. Let them walk on their own. It was the instruction she gave any clients whose coddling, albeit well intentioned, stunted the confidence of their Chihuahuas, Yorkies, any number of small breeds. Treat them like big dogs and they'll believe they are.
Whenever applied, the lesson proved reliable, swelling Audra with pride. A stark contrast to this moment.
If Devon were here, what would he say? What magical phrase would rid the stiffness from Jack's steps? There was a huge difference between nurturing animals and children. It was her husband who excelled at the latter.
Audra rubbed the crown of Jack's head, the airplane now in sight. His hair smelled of green apple, from a shampoo that claimed to prevent tears. "Nothing to worry about, buddy. I told you, this is going to be fun."
"Good morning," a uniformed woman said from the plane's entryway. An ash-blond updo topped her petite form.
Audra was about to return the greeting when something yanked her arm. Jack had concreted himself a few inches from the door. His eyes went wide, not blinking.
The flight attendant leaned down to his level. "Is this your first plane ride, cutie?"
Jack didn't answer.
Audra explained, "He flew a few times when he was a baby. But this is the first time he'd be old enough to remember."
"Well, in that case," she told Jack, "I'll have to make this flight extra special. How about you take your seat, and I'll see if I can scrounge up some pilot wings. What do you say?"
Jack perked ever so slightly. After a moment, he gave a nod and inched onto the plane. The red lights on his sneakers flashed like a warning.
Thank you, Audra mouthed.
She followed Jack's shuffling into First Class, through wafts of a Bloody Mary and champagne from mimosas. Business travelers flanked them in suits and polished shoes and perfect layers of makeup. Audra, with her cushioned sandals and faded khakis, winced from the heat of her neon sign: Coach Class Passenger.
She tucked away stragglers of her bound black hair, a looped ponytail parading as a bun. For a moment she had the urge to overhaul her trademark look. But as she continued down the aisle, a smattering of baseball caps and windbreakers reinforced her practical nature.
Their assigned row waited empty near the rear. It was the usual quarantined section for those with children, of which today there were few. She encouraged Jack to take the window, a coveted seat for any kid.
He craned his neck to peer under the half-raised shade. Seeing where they were going would alleviate his worry.
But Jack shook his head.
The blond flight attendant announced over the intercom, "We'll need all passengers to take their seats at this time." By all passengers, she meant Audra and Jack. Pressure mounted around them from people anxious for departure.
"All right, you take the middle," Audra sighed. She slid into the row, stowed their carry-ons, and buckled their seat belts. Surely, before their layover in Chicago, Jack's nerves would morph into a thrill over their adventure. And maybe, just maybe, the excitement would resuscitate even half the innocence he'd lost.
Soon they were pulling away from the gate. Lights dinged, engines groaned, overhead compartments were clicked closed. A dark-haired flight attendant demonstrated the use of life vests and oxygen masks, the audience more interested in their conversations and magazines. Not long ago Audra, too, would have paid little mind. Now, solely responsible for the human beside her, she hung on every word, fending off doubts about a thin, aged seat cushion as a reliable floatation device.
When the emergency charades ended, she realized she wasn't the only one absorbing the worst-case scenarios. Jack had latched onto the armrests. His knuckles were white, the toy plane glued to his palm.
"Everything's going to be fine," she said, trying simultaneously to convince herself.
His face had gone pale.
"Jack, really, it's okay." She layered her hand on his. And then it hit her.
This was how Devon had held Audra's hand the day they met. They were strangers seated on a flight together, bound for various conferences, when a winter storm lashed out at their plane. Once back on the ground, passengers burst into prayers and applause, not a single complaint of connections being canceled. Supplied with vouchers for a meal and hotel, Audra and Devon shared a booth at a local diner, chatting nonstop until closing. She'd never been one to trust easily, but there was a kindness in his eyes, sincerity in his smile. Somehow everything about him made her feel safe. She had realized this in the hotel hallway as they lingered in a handshake before going their separate ways. Then a week later Devon tracked her down, and by the end of their date they joined in a kiss that ultimately led to an aisle lined with pews and candles and promises.
This had been their story. A suburbanite fairy tale. Eight years ago, during a toast beside their wedding cake, Devon had regaled their guests with the turbulence, the fates, that had brought them together. Later he would repeat this to their son, soothing him at bedtime with a happily ever after—not foreseeing how quickly Jack would learn such an ending didn't exist.
No wonder the kid was frightened. The guarantee of safe flights would be lumped into a pile of Easter bunnies and Christmas elves. Deceptions, like kindling, worthy of a match.
She squeezed his small hand, scouring her mind for a solution. A distraction. "Do you want me to get a notepad out? We could play Tic-Tac-Toe."
He shook his head stiffly.
"It's kinda fun, missing school today, isn't it? I bet all your friends are jealous." The words, once out, cracked and withered. He rarely socialized with classmates anymore.
A second strike.
"Hey, how about some food? Are you hungry?"
She reached into her bag. Amid her just-in-case travel supplies—Tylenol, Tums, and Pepto, all for Jack—she found a granola bar. She offered the snack, to no response, so put it away as the plane launched down the tarmac.
The wheels bumped and rumbled as they picked up speed. Jack's breaths shortened to choppy bursts, reflected in the pumping of his chest. Crinkles deepened on his brow. Tension condensed in their arched confinement.
At the sensation of going airborne, a smooth release from the weathered runway, Audra glanced out the window. In the sky, on the ground, tragedies happened every minute of every day with no rhyme or reason. The thought closed in around her.
She used both hands to lift the stubborn shade that ultimately yielded. They were at treetop level and climbing. Before long, the cars and buildings would all shrink to a size fit for an ant. This was something she could point out, to calm Jack down. Everything seemed safer, less real, when viewed from a distance.
"Jack, look. It's like they're all toys down there." She gestured to the window and turned for his reaction.
Aside from his little gray plane, the seat was empty.
"Jack?" A blade of panic whisked through her.
Across the aisle, a plump woman gawked toward the front, where a din of yells erupted.
"Let me outta here!" a voice screamed. "We're gonna crash! We're gonna crash!"
Audra fumbled to release her buckle. She dashed down the aisle that stretched out for miles and struggled to comprehend the scene. The flight attendants were both on their feet, attempting to restrain Jack. He flung his arms fiercely, a wild beast battling captors.
"We're all gonna die!" He lunged for the handle of the cabin door. "We have to get out!"
Almost there, Audra tripped on the strap of a purse. Her knees hammered the ground and her forehead rammed an armrest. Dazed, she grabbed the back of a chair to rise, just as three passengers sprang to help the crew. Their bodies created obstacles denying her passage.
"I'm his mother. Let me through!" In spite of her trim build, she was no longer the athlete she once was, and she suddenly regretted this.
"Nooo," Jack shrieked in a muffled tone. A husky man had wrapped Jack's mouth and chest from behind and wrenched him away from the door.
"Stop it," Audra roared. "You're hurting him." Logic told her they were doing the right thing for all aboard, including Jack, but primal instinct dictated she claw at this person who could be strangling her child.
By the time she'd wrestled her way to the front, two male passengers had secured Jack to the floor, facedown, by his wrists and ankles.
She folded onto her throbbing knees. Through the tangle of limbs, she placed a shaking hand on his back. "It's okay, Jack. Everything's okay."
His gaze met hers, and his squirming body went limp. Confusion swirled in his features. "Mama?"
The endearing address, for the keeper of wisdom, the provider of all answers, delivered a punch to her gut. She replied with the single truth in her grasp. "I'm here now, baby. I'm right here."
The captain made an announcement that Audra barely registered.
When they guided Jack to stand, he flew into her arms. He clung to her shirt, convulsing with sobs. She swooped him up, her adrenaline rendering him weightless.
They were led down the aisle like prisoners to a cell. The silence was deafening, the stares nearly blinding. She wished her arms were wide as sails to fully blanket her son.
The plane tilted and lowered in a U-turn for the airport.
At the very last row Jack was directed to the window seat. This time he didn't resist. Audra assumed the middle, the cushion warm from a shuffled passenger. She cradled Jack's head to her chest, his trembling lessening with their steady descent.
A flight attendant took up post nearby. Spectators stole glances through gaps between seats. What a story they would tell. The online posts, the e-mails and texts.
Once parked at the gate, Audra waited for officials to help gather her and Jack's belongings and escort them off.
"Look outside," she told Jack. "See that? We're safe now. We're safe." She offered the assurance twice, hoping through repetition to believe her own lie.
Early August 1939 London, England
Light flickered over his face, a mask of shadows in the darkened room. Vivian James edged closer in the velvety seat beside him. Once more she exaggerated a sigh.
Alas, Isaak's gaze remained glued to the screen. In black-and-white glory, a squadron of Spitfires roared off the runway. British military had become a standard of these newsreels, a flexing of royal muscle, a pep talk for patriots. From Isaak's rapt interest few would guess he was actually an American, the same as Vivian. Before each picture show the RAF propellers would appear, and on cue his spine would straighten, eyes wider than a full moon over the Thames.
So easily she could see him as a child, even without the projector's softening beam. Youthful curls defied hair tonic in his thick golden hair, and a light dimple marked his chin. His entire face had a striking boyishness, save for his gray-blue eyes that reminded Vivian of the locked file cabinet in her father's den: prohibitive and full of mystery. A good reason, in fact, to have kept her distance from the start. After only three months of their clandestine courtship, her yearning to be with him, her fear of losing him, had grown to a point she despised.
Was Isaak aware of the power he held? She wondered this now, studying the profile of his handsome lips. His unbuttoned collar pulled her focus to his medium-framed chest and down the series of buttons. She forbade her gaze from wandering on.
Determined to balance the scales, she brushed aside finger waves of her long brown hair. The motion freed a waft of the perfume he had given her, Evening in Paris. Raising her chin, she exposed her neck, the slender, bare area he had declared irresistible.
A claim now proven false.
She recalled Jean Harlow, the elegance of her feline moves. Brazenly, Vivian arched her back as if stretching for comfort. Against constraints of a girdle, she showcased the curves of her trim, belted dress. She parted her full lips, painted deep cherry red, to complete the sensuous pose.
Excerpted from The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris. Copyright © 2013 Kristina McMorris. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
With the first paragraph I was hooked. This book touches on so many subjects, especially family dynamics, reincarnation, and trust. It is set in both present day and pre-WW II with the chapters alternating between the present and the past. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, especially that involving WW II. I have enjoyed all of Kristina McMorris' novels. If you haven't read any, I highly recommend all of them. I especially loved The Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, closely followed by The Pieces We Keep.
Such a Beautiful Story!! This is a story that is riveting, as it will keep you engaged the whole time and you will not want to put the book down, until you turn the last page. Even then, you will wonder about the characters in the book. It’s a story that easily could have turned a bit paranormal, a bit scary, even a bit too predicatable. However, Kristina McMorris takes you to the very edge of the cliff, only to bring you back in for more. It’s told through the alternating voices and time periods. One is a widowed mother of a young son, the other is a the grieving, heartsick young lover of a solider. Both of their stories will intersect at one point in the story, but not until you’ve truly become immersed in their stories. While both stories have a sense of urgency, the story doesn’t feel rushed, or drawn out. Rather, it has a very beautiful balance of expectation and being in the present. I loved this story and appreciated the way a story in history was recreated in a way that shows the vulnerability and endurance that true love has: one for a man, the other for a son.-BooksintheBurbs
I loved this book. It is lovely, poignant, and masterfully crafted. Past and present are intricately woven into a beautiful whole. It flows nicely and her writing is phenomenal. I didn’t want it to end. It has been days since I finished and the story and characters are still in my thoughts. To my thinking, that alone is worth 5 stars. The characters and their stories are compelling and memorable. I didn’t connect with Audra immediately but as she changed and opened up, I grew very fond of her. It was Vivian’s story that truly captivated me. I found myself anxious to get back to this part of the story often but it did not take away from my enjoyment of the story as a whole. I am partial to historical fiction, after all. The link between the two stories was evident but I was surprised by the ending and that impresses me. This is a must read book. I am so glad that I had the chance to read it. This is the first Kristina McMorris book I have read but I am now a fan. I plan to read everything this lady writes. I think it will be worth my time.
The Pieces We Keep is McMorris’ third novel and, I believe, her best so far. It has the elements I loved about her previous books – WWII setting, unconventional love story, gorgeous prose, and a bittersweet conclusion. It would have been simple to stick with a formula that has proven to work in the past. Instead, McMorris challenged herself (and her readers) by taking two seemingly unrelated storylines, one present day and one from WWII, and presenting them in alternating chapters. A careful reader will soon have theories about who is haunting Jack and why, but the puzzle is so cleverly unraveled that I doubt anyone will have all the pieces in place before the end. I imagine a lot readers will reach the end much faster than they anticipate. There is simply no good place to set the book down. Each chapter ending left me feeling as though my toes hung over a virtual cliff and that I’d be forced to look down until I found out what happened. Of course, because the chapters alternated time periods, this meant I must read through another whole chapter before I could find out. Skipping ahead was not an option. History buffs will enjoy reading about little-known WWII tidbits such as German saboteurs in America. The romance and mystery elements should have wide appeal. Books clubs will have several controversial issues to discuss and debate. The Pieces We Keep is sure to touch an especially deep nerve for parents of “old soul” children. Jack’s fear of flying reminded me of my own daughter’s fear of bridges and storms. She’s been terrified of both since toddlerhood and it’s to such a marked degree that I’ve wondered if she’s having some sort of premonition. I had not considered the possibility of it being a memory before, but find that theory much more comforting. There’s something for everyone in this book. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite Those who read Kristina McMorris will immediately understand that The Pieces We Keep is probably her best work to date. It features seven decades of mystery, beginning with a couple in love at the outbreak of World War II. Vivian and Isaak fall in love at an inopportune time and when Vivian becomes pregnant with their child, she hastily marries another man who has captured her heart. Their secrets span four generations until we meet Audra Hughes, a widowed woman with a young son named Jack. Jack has recurring nightmares which both unnerve and mystify his mother. He seems to have long-held glimpses of a secret life which a child his age would never be able to recall. This leads to the suspicion of a past life, an idea which is antithetical to everything Audra Hughes believes. It will take giant leaps of faith before the mysteries are solved and people are joined in time. It doesn't matter if you believe or disbelieve in reincarnation. It doesn't matter if you believe in heaven or hell or anything in between. This book is so well written and developed that you will be captivated by the possibilities of the unknown and thrilled to turn the next page to see what literary surprises await. The research about actual events in World War II makes the book so much more believable as a probability rather than a possibility. Most readers will identify with Audra's terror as she attempts to protect her vulnerable son from further tragedy. Most readers will beg Kristina McMorris to write a sequel so that they might revel in what is yet to come for Audra and her son. This is a brilliant interweaving of the pieces of our lives.
I enjoyed reading this book, although I did not like some of the characters at times. One of the main characters was well educated, but made some stupid statements especially in the beginning of the book. She seemed to grow up as the book continued, and that drew me into the story. I really enjoyed the part about WWII. Overall, it is worth your time and money. I loved her other books as well. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, don't miss William Jarvis's book The Partisan. It just won an Indie Medalian Award.
After her husband's death two years ago, Audra Hughes believes it's time to move to a new city. She needs space to start over with her seven-year-old son, Jack. Taking her son on a plane seemed easy enough, something he would enjoy, but instead something about the plane triggers anxiety in Jack. Once home Audra believes everything will go back to normal, but Jack begins having recurring violent nightmares and problems at school as he begins drawing terrifying plane accidents and an electric chair. She is desperate to find out what is happening to her once happy little boy. Audra's life is falling apart all around her, and yet like any good mother she pushes through for her son. She is willing to open any door to find the answers to bring him peace. Even looking into the possibility of Jack remembering a past life. In alternating chapters, Vivian James is a beautiful young woman excited to be in love with Isaak. Both citizens of the United States living aboard as World War II seems to be inevitable. They plan on returning to the states, but last minute Isaak realizes he must return to his family in Germany to make sure they are safe. Instead of living their perfect future, theirs is a mystery that needs to be solved. Once I read the premise of THE PIECES WE KEEP, I honestly believed I had the whole story line figured out. Most of the book I thought how clever I was. Ever so slowly, I began to realize things were no longer going the way I expected. The further I read, I couldn't put the novel down. All of a sudden I was no longer sure of any of it, I was completely confounded. I couldn't figure out how everything would come together--sheer brilliance! I found myself in shock, then I had to stay up all night just to finish. Kristina McMorris is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. Her stories are so beautifully written (it's like history come to life), they captivate her readers. When I begin her novels I start off just savoring her writing, until I can't take it anymore and I devour it. Her last novel I said I'd give it six stars if I could...and THE PIECES WE KEEP is even better! A must read!
Audra Hughes has been trying to hold on to her life after losing her husband. Their son, Jack has been having terrible nightmares and Audra is at her wits end trying to figure it why this is happening. THE PIECES WE KEEP brings the past smack right into the present with Jacks nightmares. One day, while getting ready to fly to a job interview in Philadelphia, Jack seems very upset about having to get on the plane. Once on the plane, Jack has a major meltdown and the pilots decide to turn back and get Jack and Audra off the plane. Jack's nightmares get worse after that and while trying to calm him down Audra picks up bit and pieces of a mystery that goes way back to World War II. THE PIECES WE KEEP alternates between the 30's and 40's and the present with each chapter. A stunning story that you can't help but getting wrapped up in. I can easily see this being made into a movie! I loved all the characters and while my heart was breaking for some of them, I was cheering them on at the same time. Kristina is one of my favorite authors and THE PIECES WE KEEP proves exactly why. I couldn't stop flipping the pages and couldn't wait until the mystery was solved. I had no idea it would end the way it did but I absolutely loved the ending. Five stars all the way! READ THIS BOOK!!!
I love World War II stories. This had a different twist on it, due to it being actually two stories. The story of Audra/Jack and Vivian/Isaak/Gene. Audra and Jack are present day. Vivian/Isaak/Gene are World War II. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how they all connected. I had ideas and am happy to say that I did figure it out and loved how it worked out. Every character in this book was true to life. I found myself connecting to many of them. I cannot choose a favorite. Audra, as a single mom, was amazing. The time and devotion she gave to Jack made her a star in my eyes. Vivian, from World War II, kept me reading. I had to know how she dealt with the rough times in her life and watch her enjoy the great times. Isaak confused me. I wasn’t sure what to think of him. He seemed to take a lot from Vivian, but didn’t seem to give her a lot back other than heart break. Gene was the man we all want. He promised Vivian he would take care of her and then took that seriously, even when he wasn’t sure he still loved her. This is a book for everyone. There is romance, history, and a mystery all mixed into a great story. I believe that book clubs would love this book, as would the regular reader.
Kristina McMorris has taken two very interesting storylines and combined them into a great book. She manages to intertwine the true-to-life story of Nazi spies on U.S. soil with the also real phenomenon of children who have unexplained memories and abilities. There are many tense situations in this book as McMorris masterfully creates plenty of suspense. The reader can no better detect Izaak’s true allegiances than can Vivian. Up to the last pages it’s not clear if Izaak is sincere or not, if Vivian’s love is misplaced and merely a means to his ends or whether he loves her too. The same is true of Jack and Audra’s story. What is going on with Jack? Can anyone figure it out? Can Audra accept the truth? Audra and Jack’s association with Sean Malloy is a welcome interlude in their life but is it all it appears to be? McMorris obviously spends a lot of time researching her books and ensuring they are historically accurate. Much like those of James Michener, McMorris’s story is rich with interesting fictional characters and situations so the book never becomes a dry tome of days gone by. The historical perspective also lends a heightened air of credibility. I loved the story while learning a lot. RATING: 4.5 HEAT RATING: Mild: Mild detailed scenes of intimacy, mild violence or profanity. REVIEWED BY: ReadWarrior Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
Audra Hughes life has been a waking nightmare for the two years since the tragic, untimely death of her husband Devon, a death that’s left her an unprepared and changed woman. Her job as a veterinarian and their young son Jack is her main reason for getting up in the morning and now Jack is suddenly being afflicted with real nightmares that are affecting his waking and sleeping hours. Physical effects of Jack’s dreamings are fracturing an already tenuous thread in Audra’s personal and professional life and causing a rift in an already fragile relationship with her in-laws. In her search for answers and help for Jack Audra is forced to face a reality that the dreams Jack is having are rooted more in mystery and myth than in facts because the more those dreams and the effects are analyzed the more it becomes apparent that they relate to real events that happened decades ago, events Jack couldn’t possibly know, that happened before, during and after WWII. Events that will introduce her to people who are descendants of those WWII characters, people who will change her life again, people who will make her open her eyes to possibilities she never dreamed existed. And make her reconsider a faith she thought she’d lost forever. Kristina McMorris’s hunger for history is apparent in every line in her latest novel The Pieces We Keep. Her premise is as always unique, intelligent and utterly believable. Her eloquent narrative breathtakingly and beautifully brings to life her story of love, loss and war and as she tells her fictional tale she includes a bit of truth to give it a dose of reality, while her dialogue heralds both past and present perfectly. Her war torn love-triangle of the past is especially passionate and paints a colorful and graphic epic war story of that era, and at the same time her poignant present tale is harrowing as well as hopeful. Her characters are all multifaceted, all authentically portrayed and all emotionally honest some tragic some blessed, some gentle some forceful. If you love historical fiction, WWII stories or just really great literary fiction this will be your next Must Read. Kristina, you have tantalized and mesmerized me before but I think you’ve outdone yourself with this novel and I can’t wait until the next adventure through your words.
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 3 1/2 REVIEW: This is a story of two very different worlds. One set in the present day and the WWII era. But we have two women struggling with love, live and the world around them. Yet some how they are connected. The Pieces We Keep tells the story of both of these women. Audra is a young widow who is struggling to raise her little boy. But Jack’s night terrors is making life very hard. But the journey that Audra goes on in order to help her son will soon open the doors to a past that and how everything is so connected. This was another great book by Kristina. I really loved how Kristina took a topic so close to her heart and found through research that the old saying of having an “old soul” is very true. I loved that she was able to take her love of history and mix it with a story that keeps you wanting to turn the page. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
Disclosure: Writer received copy of book from publisher as part of a contest. Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking: reviewer receives book free and feels compelled to five stars (actually my true feeling is that it's better than 4.5 but not a 5) as a way to say thank you. I’ll grant you your cynicism. It’s understandable. Please grant me a minute to say why this book deserves the stars. The Pieces We Keep is a story of two women. One is Audra Hughes, a widowed mother of a young child, living in present day Portland, Oregon. The other is Vivian, an American living in London at the outbreak of World War II. Audra is living with her son’s night terrors in adjusting to life without his father. Vivian is dealing with the discovery that the man she loves is a possible Nazi spy. You have competing story lines going each chapter. You know the stories will be tied together at the end. The question is whether you will care to find out enough to read to the end. Yes, you will. Here’s why. You are reading in two different worlds with two different casts. As a lover of historicals, I particularly enjoy being transported to different time periods. McMorris’s attention to detail, whether it be the style of dress or the style of speech, keeps you grounded in whichever time period you’re reading. That’s hard to do, especially given how often a reader moves back and forth between the two time periods. The pacing of the book is quick, with short chapters that always end with a question, making you want to turn the page. Part of you will want to skip forward and find out what happened to the characters you just read about. The reason you don’t, is that you still want to find out what happened from the prior chapter. As you begin to care about the characters, you begin to care about how they’re connected and how it will be resolved. Author releases tiny bits of the mystery, like little bits of chocolate or drops of water when you’re thirsty. You keep going. You have no choice. You will thoroughly enjoy the book. It’s definitely worth the read
This was boring and actally, i hate to say it...stupid. the author tried so hard to paint the mother in a certain light but it was so stupid Come on... you let police in to take pictures of your son.... it was lame. Save your $$. Buyanother book.
This could have been an excellent book if............ I very much enjoy WWII stories. This book has side by side stories which then came together to form a total picture. The characters were more or less well-defined - the WWII setting, the war privations, etc. were well-done. Everything in place for a super read. Immediately upon beginning this book, the simile's began. At least one to a page more or less. "clouds patched like quilts", "the fingers of her mind shuffled through Jack's drawings", "a look she would carry with her like a luck trinket in her pocket", "his hands were warm like mittens lined with silk" All this and MUCH more by page 113!! To say this was off-putting would be a mild comment. If I didn't have a personal rule to finish a book once begun, I would have put this one away well before page 113. I remember a 7th grade writing assignment where we had to incorporate similes - this book vividly recalled that assignment. It is a shame that someone didn't tell this author when enough was enough.
Please just give a review, not a whole book report!!! I havent read it yet but am looking forward to it