Tag Archives: Sarah Jio

Review: Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter
By Sarah Jio
(Plume, Paperback, 9780452298385, September 2012, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Short, sweet story with a little bit of mystery thrown in.

The Rest of It:

Claire Aldridge has suffered a terrible loss and although a year has passed, she is struggling to accept what cannot be changed, and in the process, realizes that her marriage to Ethan might very well be over. As she delves into her work as a newspaper reporter, mostly to numb herself against the pain, she stumbles across a story from the 1930’s. A story about  a young mother by the name of Vera Ray, and her missing three-year-old son, Daniel who disappeared during a blackberry winter. Suspicious over why he was never found, Claire digs deeper, hoping for a story but also curious over what really happened to the little boy. While searching clues, she comes across some similarities to her own life that she finds impossible to ignore.

Out of the three Jio books I’ve read thus far, this was probably the most predictable story of the three. It was too sweet for me in places and the dialogue seemed a tad artificial, but after just a few chapters I was reeled in. Jio’s ability to take a reader back and forth through time is effortless. So much so, that you tend to overlook the fact that there are far too many coincidences in the story to be plausible.

As for the characters, Claire drove me batty. Her insecurities get the best of her and seeing her vacillate between devoted wife and “not so devoted wife” became tiring after a while. I wanted to know more about Ethan, her husband and the mysterious Vera Ray. Whenever a story is interwoven with a story from the past, I am almost always more interested in the story from the past. That was the case here.

Jio’s knack for creating stories that transcend time is what makes her so popular with her readers. However, with this being the third book following the same format, I’d like to see her go in a different direction for her next book. I keep coming back because no matter how “pat” an ending may seem or how many coincidences there may be, I still find myself getting swept up in the story, and you can’t say that with too many books these days.

Overall, a quick read to lose yourself in while the kids run amok around you.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: The Bungalow

The Bungalow

The Bungalow
By Sarah Jio
(Plume, Paperback, 9780452297678, December 27, 2011, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

An easy, effortless read matched with a lush, tropical setting.

The Rest Of It:

It is the summer of 1942. Anne Calloway, in her early twenties and newly engaged, makes a split decision to join the Army Nurse Corps. She loves her fiancé but questions if their relationship has the passion to make it work. That, and the deep need she feels to do something for her country sends her to Bora-Bora, where she meets Westry. At first, they are just friendly, but when they begin to share a very special place with each other, they find that they cannot ignore the attraction any longer.

What I love about Sarah Jio is that she takes what could be a very sappy romance and turns it into something else. Yes, there is romance and many are always shocked when I read a book like this one, but it takes more than romance to pull me in. For one, the setting. A gorgeous, lush, tropical beach locale and a cozy little bungalow overlooking the ocean…my dream getaway. Two, the fact that World War II looms over them, a constant reminder that their world could be shattered at any moment. Three, a mystery involving the murder of a local and quite possibly, Anne’s closest friend.

I picked this up thinking that I’d read a few chapters and ended up reading it in one sitting. It’s a page turner, for sure. I will say, that the details surrounding the mystery seem a little out there. Not sure that part was as realistic as it could have been, but overall, the story was well-paced and enjoyable to read.

If you enjoyed Sarah’s first book, The Violets of March, you’ll enjoy this one as well. It has the same, easy feel to it and once again includes a fantastic setting.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.