Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

From Goodreads:

“In 2011, Sarah Jio burst onto the fiction scene with two sensational novels–The Violets of March and The Bungalow. With Blackberry Winter–taking its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon–Jio continues her rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways…”

Such a wonderful story! Sarah Jio is a gifted storyteller. She injects so much emotion into the story that you really believe it to be true. (I was in tears more than once). I highly recommend this book!

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

WOW, what a book!  Jenny Wingfield’s debut novel has all the makings of an instant classic.

From the publisher:

“The story of the Moses clan that gathers, as it always has, on the first Sunday in June, for an annual reunion on the sprawling hundred-acre family farm in Arkansas in the 1950’s. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core and setting the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change. As we follow the family through their own difficulties, Swan will make it her mission to protect Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbor, unaware of the peril facing her and those she loves.”

I almost think the title is misleading, it’s not just about Samuel, it’s also about his wife, Willadee, their kids; Noble, Swan and Bienville. Also, Willadee’s mother, Calla; her brother, Toy and his wife, Bernice. Also, central to the story are the neighbors, the Ballenger’s.  So many rich characters that just bring life to the story. You will fall in love with them, cry for them and laugh with them. This book will stay with you for a long time after reading it. I highly recommend this book.

 

The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

This story is about moms, daughters, sisters and friends.

From GoodReads:

“Dear Anna,

What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I’m so sorry…

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle’s suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle, —her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family —described a woman who embraced life.

Yet there was so much they didn’t know.

With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle’s friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives— and the life of a desperate stranger —with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.”

I flew through this book. I thought it was well written and had revelation after revelation. It kept you wanting to read more, right up to the end. The characters became more complex as the story unfolded and just when you think you understand…bam…not what you thought.  I definitely recommend this.

 

 

 

Neverwhere

A wonderful fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. I really enjoyed it and I think you will too.

From the publisher:

“Richard Mayhew is an unassuming young businessman living in London, with a dull job and a pretty but demanding fiancee. Then one night he stumbles across a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her–and the life he knows vanishes like smoke.

Several hours later, the girl is gone too. And by the following morning Richard Mayhew has been erased from his world. His bank cards no longer work, taxi drivers won’t stop for him, his hundred rents his apartment out to strangers. He has become invisible, and inexplicably consigned to a London of shadows and darkness a city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere.

For this is the home of Door, the mysterious girl whom Richard rescued in the London Above. A personage of great power and nobility in this murky, candlelit realm, she is on a mission to discover the cause of her family’s slaughter, and in doing so preserve this strange underworld kingdom from the malevolence that means to destroy it. And with nowhere else to turn, Richard Mayhew must now join the Lady Door’s entourage in their determined–and possibly fatal–quest.

For the dread journey ever-downward–through bizarre anachronisms and dangerous incongruities, and into dusty corners of stalled time–is Richard’s final hope, his last road back to a “real” world that is growing disturbingly less real by the minute.

If Tim Burton reimagined The Phantom of the Opera, if Jack Finney let his dark side take over, if you rolled the best work of Clive Barker, Peter Straub and Caleb Carr into one, you still would have something that fell far short of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. It is a masterful debut novel of darkly hypnotic power, and one of the most absorbing reads to come along in years.”

This was my first Neil Gaiman book and I loved it.  I’m usually not into ‘fantasy’ stories, but the premise intrigued me and I decided to give it a try.  I’m glad I did! He takes you under the streets of London and introduces you to a cast of characters (rats included) that live in a world that you think could almost be real. It grabbed me from the beginning and I found myself rushing to the end.  I tried to slow myself down, but it was difficult.  I really wish he would write a sequel to this as he left it open for one, in my opinion.  I will keep my hope up that it will happen.

11/22/63

I think it’s very appropriate for my first blog post to be about a novel by Stephen King. He is one of my all time favorite authors.  I have loved all of his novels and this one is no exception.

From the publisher:

“ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, THREE SHOTS RANG OUT IN DALLAS, PRESIDENT KENNEDY DIED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED. WHAT IF YOU COULD CHANGE IT BACK?

In this brilliantly conceived tour de force, Stephen King—who has absorbed the social, political, and popular culture of his generation more imaginatively and thoroughly than any other writer—takes readers on an incredible journey into the past and the possibility of altering it.

It begins with Jake Epping, a thirty-five-year-old English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching GED classes. He asks his students to write about an event that changed their lives, and one essay blows him away—a gruesome, harrowing story about the night more than fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer. Reading the essay is a watershed moment for Jake, his life—like Harry’s, like America’s in 1963—turning on a dime. Not much later his friend Al, who owns the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to the past, a particular day in 1958. And Al enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination.

So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson, in a different world of Ike and JFK and Elvis, of big American cars and sock hops and cigarette smoke everywhere. From the dank little city of Derry, Maine (where there’s Dunning business to conduct), to the warmhearted small town of Jodie, Texas, where Jake falls dangerously in love, every turn is leading eventually, of course, to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and to Dallas, where the past becomes heart-stoppingly suspenseful, and where history might not be history anymore. Time-travel has never been so believable. Or so terrifying.”

Stephen King is mostly known for his horror stories, in my opinion. This story reminds me more of The Body or Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. He takes you back to days gone by and you feel like you’re really there too. It combines all the things I love; history, love, time-travel.  And, he makes it all seem real.  The book is long – 849 pages! But, the story is so good, you don’t want it to end. I didn’t!  I highly recommend 11/22/63.

I’m New Here

fairy tale pic

fairy tale pic (Photo credit: Kjirstin)

Hello!  I’m new at this, so bear with me. I love books, ever since I was a child. The first book I remember reading was Chicken Little, to my mom. I loved fables and fairy tales. It grew from there. From children’s books, to young adult, to romance, to history, to chick lit, to right now. My interests are wide and varied.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this blog yet, but I’m sure it/me will grow in time. So, welcome to my journey.