Apr 10, 2013

Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

BLACKBERRY WINTER, Sarah Jio's third novel is my first, but it will not be my last. This book actually tells two stories in one and takes place in a city that I, personally, have never visited, but has always intrigued me: Seattle.  The main story, taking place in present day drives the second story, which takes place in 1933 during a very tumultuous time.

In present day we meet Claire, a journalist at a large, local newspaper, owned by her husband's family. It becomes obvious early on that Claire and her husband  heve been through something traumatic in the last year and the strain of that trauma is beginning to put cracks in  their marriage. During a rare  late season snowstorm, Claire is assigned to write an article about the odd weather phenomenon.  At first, she is less than thrilled with her assignment but while researching the archives she stumbles across a most unusual story from 1933.  The fact that a similar snow-storm occurred on the exact same day in 1933 was to be the focal point of the story, however, what really caught Claire's attention was the disappearance of a three-year-old little boy in the middle of that storm and the subsequent murder of his mother, a worker in one of Seattle's poshest hotels at that time. A local townsman had been convicted of the crime but very little was done to locate the boy.

The mysterious disappearance of that child and the complete lack of information in the files is just what Claire needsedto get her spark back.  Against her supervisor's wishes, she turned this simple story about the weather into something much more. Soon she is consumed with finding out who the little boy is and if he was ever found. The trail she set out on took her places she never dreamed and  to people she couldn't have imagined.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit that I saw this book making it's way around the blogs after it's release and saw it mentioned on Twitter a lot but I just never picked it up. I don't know what I was waiting on. To be honest, I remember reading a few reviews that indicated it may be a little predictable and that is something I hate in books. But this was a good lesson for me to learn because I didn't find it predictable at all. Sure, I had my moments of 'I knew it!!' but overall, I was completely caught off guard by the final outcome. And I loved it.

Another aspect I appreciated was that Sarah Jio successfully wrote a book of mystery with some romance thrown in.  Typically, I'm not a big romance novel reader, but this had just the right amount that didn't overtake the story but added to it. I thought it was well done.

The characters are strong, in both storylines and though I enjoyed Claire's story, I was always anxious to get back to Vera Ray and her lost son in 1933. It was fascinating to me. The city, itself, became a character in this book and I really enjoyed that as well.  I felt the chapters alternating between the stories fit very well and moved it along and kept me wanting more from both. As I read on, the stories began to intertwine, which drew me in even more.. I honestly had a hard time putting this one down.

As I said earlier, having the backdrop of Seattle only added to the goodness of this novel. There is such a rich history in that city and I found it very endearing in the way Sarah Jio used it to her advantage. I've since learned that she lives in Seattle, which explains her obvious admiration for the city.

I'm very anxious for her fourth book, THE LAST CAMELLIA to be released on May 28th by Penguin (Plume). I've read that it's her 'darkest and most mysterious novel to date'. Hmm, dark and mysterious - I'm in! I also have made a promise to myself to go back and read her first two books as well. BLACKBERRY WINTER is one of my most enjoyable reads so far this year. If you've read it, I'd love to know your thoughts..

Author:  Sarah Jio
Publisher: Penguin (Plume)
Pubilshed: September 2012
Source: Purchased
Recommend? Absolutely!


  1. I enjoyed this book too even though I thought it relied heavily on coincidences.

  2. Jio really pumps these books out! I have no idea how she writes them so quickly! She just revealed the cover for her 5th book on FB. She's got three little boys too.

    What I love about Jio and have said numerous times is that she knows how to tell a good story. The formula works for her but I really want her to stop outside of the box with one of her books. They all seem to follow the past/present storyline. It's worked for her and I can understand why she sticks to it but I feel as if she could do more without it. JMO.

  3. I've been enjoying Sarah Jio's books. I just picked up The Bungalow.

  4. I loved them all but Violets is still my favorite. I do have to agree with Ti's thoughts though, and I hope that Sarah does step outside the box a bit with this next release!! So glad you loved this one!

  5. I like your thoughtful review! Blackberry Winter wasn't one of my favorite books, but you speak well for all those readers who loved it. Nicely done.

  6. I've read all of Jio's books and loved them all..Violets of March is my favorite. I'm glad that you liked this one too!


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I look forward to hearing from you again soon!