Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson Book Review

18988165// Annie's Stories //
Ellis Island // Book #2
By Cindy Thomson
{Review by Bethany}
Publisher: Tyndale House
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Genre: Christian Fiction
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 1414368453
Publication Date: July 1st, 2014
My Rating: Four out of five stars
// Book Synopsis //
{Taken from GoodReads}
"The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true."
// Book Review //
This was the second book that I read by Cindy Thomson, the first being Grace's Pictures, and I really enjoyed continuing the Ellis Island adventure! While I think that Grace's Pictures is my favorite of the two novels, I did enjoyed Annie's Stories and really enjoyed getting to meet Annie as well as see how Grace was doing after her story came to a temporary close in Grace's Pictures.
While there are many similarities between Grace's Pictures and Annie's Stories (book one and two in the Ellis Island series), they are both stand-alone novels that don't have to be read in order. While it's nice to know Grace's background from reading the first book, it's completely optional, and not necessary in order to enjoy Annie's Stories.
The Ellis Island novels focus on Irish immigrants who have recently traveled to Ellis Island in hopes of a better life, and Annie Gallagher is no exception. Following these young women's journey in this new land, it highlights their joys and trials experienced while living in a new place. In Annie's case, there is some "baggage" from her past in Ireland that she has to deal with and heal from, and seeing that journey unfold on the pages was very inspiring. As a woman who unjustly suffered abuse in her past, the healing process is very detailed and tedious, but when she meets a fellow boarder who is going through the same trials, she is able to offer an understanding hand brought up by experience, and is able to make a difference. While there is a bit of sensitive content in this portion of the book, I don't think it ever got inappropriate, and was handled well. However I did wish to mention it so readers are aware of this before diving into the story.
The Wizard of Oz, which was really becoming quite popular during this time that the story takes place, in the early 1900s, had a big role in this story as Annie read it and related with a lot of the themes. I always love books based on characters who also share a love for books, or those that have a thread of books themselves in the novel, and really felt like there was a lot of The Wizard of Oz in this novel, which I loved!
One of the things I love about this author is the writing style that often reminds me of Janette Oke in the simplicity of a slow romance that is very clean and doesn't clog up the story-line. The main story-line focuses on Annie's story in Ellis Island, so her budding romance with the mailman wasn't the main focus. That makes for a good book choice for those who don't like as much romance in their reading material, however on the flip side, it probably wouldn't be the first choice for those who like lots of romance and a suspenseful story. Unlike a lot of novels, this book focuses on Annie and her journey in a new land and her relationships with her friends, versus a romance. But the down side to this is the fact that often times I felt like this novel was slow, and while it never really bothered me all that much, it was still something I noticed. The story-line was very good and interesting but I felt like it was somewhat dragged out at times.
In all, I really enjoyed this heart-felt novel following one Irish immigrant's journey to healing. While sometimes a bit dragged out, it was still a very pleasant read, and is on my bookshelf of novels that I am definitely keeping despite space restrictions. Fans of Grace's Pictures should read this second installment in the Ellis Island novels!
D I S C L A I M E R :: I received a free copy of Annie's Stories through the publisher for the sole purpose of this review. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts expressed are my own, completely honest and unbiased.

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