“The edge of lost” Kristina McMorris

Rated 5 stars ***** 2015. Kensington. 340 pp. (Includes “Author’s Note,” “Q & A with Kristina McMorris,” and “A reading group guide.”)

TheEdgeOfLostThe year is 1919. Twelve-year-old orphan Shan Keagan from Dublin, Ireland is living a hard knock life with his Uncle Will, trying to earn money and meals as a singer, dancer and impressionist in local bars. When the two of them decide to immigrate to America his uncle dies onboard, leaving Shan to figure out how he will enter the country of his dreams and find his real father.

Befriended by an Italian-American family who had just lost their younger son, Shan began his new life in Brooklyn, New York as Tommy Capello. As Shan adjusts to his new life with the Capellos, he hopes for a chance to find his father and finally find happiness with a real family. Despite his best efforts, life doesn’t turn out as he’d hoped, and Shan finds himself on the short end of the stick of life once more.

McMorris’ keen attention to detail brings Prohibition, Vaudeville, and Alcatraz, among other happenings of the 1920’s and 30’s, to life. These historical events, along with Shan’s struggles to find happiness while still keeping his own heart pure, will keep readers wishing for more even when the last page has been turned.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

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“The one that got away” Simon Wood

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. Published March 1, 2015. Thomas & Mercer.

TheOneThatGotAwayWhen Zoe awoke that fateful night, she didn’t have any recollection as to what could have happened. In her last memory she and her friend Hollie were traveling through Vegas having fun, but she had no clue as to how they had now wound up captives in a strange place. Managing to free herself she saw Hollie being tortured, but chose to abandon her and run for her life.

In the 15 months since the attack, Zoe’s life has drastically changed. Unable to forgive herself for leaving Hollie behind, and choosing her own life over Hollie’s, she decided to punish herself. She dropped out of graduate school, separated herself from family and friends, and blamed herself everyday for Hollie’s disappearance. However her lonely existence is shattered when she learns of the murder of a young woman, which closely matches what happened to her and her friend Hollie.

Zoe decides to work with the police to find the killer, but she doesn’t know that the killer knows exactly where she lives and wants to finish the work he’d begun fifteen months earlier. Zoe is in his crosshairs as she’s the only one that ever got away from him, and he won’t make the same mistake twice.

As Wood leads readers on a desperate chase to discover the killer’s identity before he can find Zoe, the action-packed chapters had me completely engrossed. With each move on the killer’s part bringing him ever closer to Zoe, I couldn’t help but read faster to find out what would happen next to her. “The one that got away” will make readers take a closer look at their surroundings because we now know there are killers amongst us.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“‘Til Morning Light” Ann Moore

Rated 5 stars ***** 2005. Gracelin O’Malley #3. New American Library (Penguin). 394 pp. (Includes “Conversation Guide” and “Questions for Discussion.”)

'TilMorningLightAfter spending time in Kansas and Oregon, always seeking Sean among Mormon travelers, Grace decides to go to San Francisco and marry Captain Reinders. She still loves Morgan, despite knowing he is dead and can never return to her, but knows her children need a father and a home.

After a rough journey she arrives to find the Captain and Liam are at sea, and has no choice but to hire herself out as cook to Doctor Wakefield and his invalid sister. The Doctor is very kind to her, Jack and Mary Kate but she misses Morgan and Sean. Grace is sure she will find Sean and is determined to make a life for herself and her children in the busy city of San Francisco. What she doesn’t know is that Sean is battling his own demons, and may not want to be found. In true Gracelin style, she sets about changing not only her own life but also those of everyone she encounters, as diabolical plots and secrets are revealed which will forever change her life and those she loves.

This third book in the Gracelin O’Malley series leaves no stones unturned in tying up every loose end for its beloved characters and in teaching readers about life in 1851 San Francisco after the fire. At that time San Francisco was filled with immigrants and gold miners, and much is learned about the various cultures in place at the time especially that of the Chinese. In addition, slavery and its repercussions are more fully explored as Grace lived in a time heading towards Civil War.

As a fan of history, and well-written historical fiction, I especially enjoyed this series. My only regret is that the most evil character in “‘Til Morning Light,” similar to Mr. Potter in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” did not get her final due.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.

“Blazed” Jason Myers

Rated 3 stars *** ebook. ARC. To be published June 17, 2014. Simon Pulse. (Includes Blazed playlist).

BlazedJaime is 14 years old, and hooked on music, anger and Oxycontin. Years of keeping his drunken and drug-addicted mother out of fights and bars have hardened him to life. When his mother tries to commit suicide Jaime is sent to live with the father he never knew, but had been told to always hate.

Jaime is devoted to his mother, and expects to continue hating his father and life in San Francisco. He brings his hate, drugs and anger with him but doesn’t expect to find kids who love music as much as he does, and his first girlfriend. He finally has the opportunity to become his own person in San Francisco, but feels responsible for taking care of his mother. Jaime is faced with important decisions, which he will have to reach to decide his own future.

In “Blazed,” Myers has penned a gritty, no-holds-barred, realistic portrayal of life at its dirtiest. Jaime’s anger and drug abuse, his mother’s behavior, and the issues he faces with his dad are realities for many teens. Myers speaks their truth, in their words, with their reality, holding out music as a helping hand to get out of the painful corners into which they’ve been painted by life.

Recommended for teens aged 16 and older.