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Garden of Her Heart by Shanna Hatfield

I am normally not a romance reader. The synopsis for this novel sounded so sweet that I had to give it a try. I am so very glad I did.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

GardenTitle: Garden of Her Heart
Author: Shanna Hatfield
Series: Hearts of the War Book 01
Publish Date: December 7th, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Provided by the publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionCan forbidden love blossom amid the constraints of war? The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive. After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life. A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.


Luna_Lovebooks_100Luna Lovebooks says…

This a touching read full of strength and courage, fear and hate of one race, love and dreams. This is a beautiful clean read that mixes the injustices done to Japanese-American’s during World War II with the hope that love can be found.

Ms. Hatfield does an incredible job of describing what life was like for many Japanese-American’s during this time. She doesn’t sugar coat it. The research that was done on the era and the confinement of a race of people is evident. You get drawn into Miko’s plight from the very first chapter. The eloquent descriptions of people, places, and situations in the book will take you back in time and make you feel like you are in the time period. 

The characters are lifelike and make you feel for them. I loved Miko an American woman who knows where she came from and likes to keep her connections to her heritage – even if it must be hidden. Rock is aptly named as he is Miko’s pillar even as she tries to fight her growing feeling for him. Petey is an adorable neighbor boy who really makes you feel like you are part of the post-Pearl Harbor bombing with his slang and all around good ol’ American boy persona.  And the villain is the most despicable character badge4v5I have read thus far.

This truly is a beautiful story filled with hope even in the midst of so much sadness. Ms. Hatfield shows that she has done her research by creating a lifelike setting and creating characters that fit so well. I have to give this novel 4 stars because it was so good. If you love period pieces or romance you should pick this up.

Other recommendations…

Try out these other historical romance reads: A Loyal Heart by Jodi Hedlund, Ashes on the Moore by Sarah Eden, A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Title: Pachinko
Author: Min Jin Lee
Publish Date: February 7, 2017 by HachetteAudio
Genre: Historical fiction
Narrator: Allison Hiroto
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionPachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent Annie says…

“Life keeps pushing you around, but you never stop playing.”

I picked this book up because it got several good reviews and it covers a time period and geography that I’m not that familiar with.

This is a remarkable tale that covers several decades about Koreans and the plight those who immigrated to Japan faced during and after the wars. The narrator, Allison Hiroto, did a wonderful job with the pacing and the pronunciations of the names of the characters, the various forms of address, and the Korean vocabulary. I’m not sure I would have finished the book if she hadn’t been so good.

I also picked up the book because I was familiar with the game, pachinko. I didn’t realize it was associated with gangsters in Korea and Japan. I just played it in a friend’s basement as a little kid. It was a really fun game and a bit like an upright pinball machine.

I liked the beginning of the book quite a bit. I was introduced to one of the main characters, Sunja, and the Korean peninsula during the colonial era. The day-to-day life of a rural peasant was written in such a way that I had a vivid picture in my head, and I really wanted to continue to know more about Sunja’s life.

However, the book seemed to veer off of that intimate relationship I had with the character when the author chose to have many more first-person narratives. Each of them was a member of Sunja’s family or had some close connection to that family, but I felt less and less close to the characters as more points of view were introduced.

I give this book 4 stars.

Other recommendations…

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, The Persimmon Tree by Bryce Courtenay, or The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng.

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