Publisher: Plume

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

May 28, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Read in 2013, Release Day Feature 1 Comment

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Release Day Feature + Giveaway! The Last Camellia by Sarah JioThe Last Camellia by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume on May 28th 2013
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Violets of March, The Bungalow, Blackberry Winter

three-stars

A romantic and suspenseful tale about two women whose destiny is bound across the years

On the eve of World War II, the last surviving specimen of a camellia plant known as the Middlebury Pink lies secreted away on an English country estate. Flora, an amateur American botanist, is contracted by an international ring of flower thieves to infiltrate the household and acquire the coveted bloom. Her search is at once brightened by new love and threatened by her discovery of a series of ghastly crimes.

More than half a century later, garden designer Addison takes up residence at the manor, now owned by the family of her husband, Rex. The couple’s shared passion for mysteries is fueled by the enchanting camellia orchard and an old gardener’s notebook. Yet its pages hint at dark acts ingeniously concealed. If the danger that Flora once faced remains very much alive, will Addison share her fate?

.

“She always said it would bloom when it sensed peace, and a rightness with the world.”

1940
Flora is approached about a job opportunity that would help save her family from ruin, unfortunately it requires her to set her morals aside in order to help a ring of flower thieves obtain a long lost camellia. It also requires her to travel to England in 1940 when World War II is underway.

2000
Addison and her husband travel to England to stay at the manor his parents have just purchased. Upon their arrival they find themselves immersed in a dark mystery from the 1940’s that involves the mysterious death of the lady of the manor and several girls who went missing. One in particular is a girl named Flora, a nanny who stayed at the manor, who disappeared one night and was never seen from again.

This is now the fourth Sarah Jio book I’ve read in which she’s stuck with her tried and true method of weaving stories of the past and stories of the present together to create something truly engaging. The dual narratives switched back and forth frequently between Flora and Addison but there was never any confusion between the two. I found myself far more interested in the past story than the present, but technically they were one in the same considering how they came together in the end.

I found that the major story was told (for both Flora and Addison) but the smaller stories and details weren’t fleshed out completely. One example is I really wish there had been more of a proper build-up in the relationship between Flora and Desmond. It seemed far too sudden when the confessions of love started happening, but those two managed to be charming nonetheless. Also, I was left with several questions that went unanswered by the end and I can only assume it was left like that for the reader to form on their own interpretation.

The Last Camellia is an intriguing dual-narrative mystery with a hint of romance about a rare camellia that drew two very different women together. It’s a tale of love, friendship and life… and always doing what you know is right.

Giveaway Details
Thanks to the generosity of Plume/Penguin Group (USA) I’m able to offer 5 Winners a copy of The Last Camellia.

Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only!

Giveaway ends June 18th, 2013

To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Remember to come back for more entry opportunities daily!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Early Review – Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

September 14, 2012 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Blackberry Winter by Sarah JioBlackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume on September 25th 2012
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Violets of March, The Bungalow, The Last Camellia

four-stars

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...

May 1, 1933…
Vera Ray works the nightshift as a maid at a hotel in Seattle. A snow storm has blown in during the night; strange with how late in the year it is. When she kisses her three year old son Daniel goodbye she doesn’t know that when she returns he won’t be there waiting for her.

‘Two snowstorms, sharing one calendar date, separated by nearly a century…’

May 2, 2010…
Claire wakes to find snow is falling in Seattle. Snow this late in the year is known as a Blackberry Winter and it rarely happens, but this happened once before many, many years ago.

Vera’s story was one of immense sorrow: the loss of her only child. The obvious pain she suffers as a result was vivid and heartbreaking. The story switches back and forth between past and present but I was most intrigued by this back story, the mystery surrounding it, and how we’re slowly given bits and pieces of the puzzle. The mystery itself may have been a bit coincidental at times but didn’t end up diminishing my overall (positive) opinion. Claire is also living her own heartbreak as her relationship with her husband is crumbling and she doesn’t have any idea where to start to fix it. It was hard accepting Claire’s reluctance to work at her relationship at first until you find out the bigger picture regarding why their relationship started to crumble in the first place.

A definite page-turner and one that I enjoyed immensely. Blackberry Winter is a heartwarming story that at first glance appears to be hidden under a mountain of sadness with no hope in sight. As the story continues, the two stories slowly start coming together, questions become answered, and realization dawns at the immensity of what occurred so many years ago.

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Early Review – The Bungalow: A Novel by Sarah Jio

November 4, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2011 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Bungalow: A Novel by Sarah JioThe Bungalow by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume on December 27th 2011
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Romance, WWII
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Violets of March, Blackberry Winter, The Last Camellia

five-stars

A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting.

In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

A timeless story of enduring passion from the author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March, The Bungalow chronicles Anne's determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.

 A sorrowful tale of war and the effect it has on each and every life involved.

The Storyline
It is 1942 and WWII is being fought. Anne Calloway is engaged to marry Gerard Godfrey and there are just a few weeks till their wedding; their marriage being planned from birth.

“Calloways would marry Godfreys. It was as natural as coffee and cream.”

Their relationship is one lacking in passion and Anne wishes to be marrying someone that she can be proud of; rather than someone whose father simply had the funds to see that his son is never drafted. Anne has a personal desire to join in the war effort and to do her part and toys with the idea of joining the Army Nurse Corps. At her engagement party, her best friend Kitty tells Anne of her decision to join the Army Nurses and that she’s being shipped to the South Pacific in one weeks’ time. Anne makes the immediate decision to go with Kitty as well, that she needed to do something rather than simply playing a part.

Anne arrives at Bora Bora not anticipating that she would be giving her heart away to soldier Westry Green. Their time together is blissful inside an abandoned beach bungalow that they call their own.

”For now, this little slice of heaven is mine.” He looked at me. “Well, ours. I’ll let you have half.”

The continuing war and a brutal crime that the two witnessed threatens to put a wedge between them and they are separated seemingly forever as Westry is sent to Europe and Anne is sent back home to Seattle. Years later, Anne has never been able to keep Westry from her mind and when a letter arrives from Tahiti she dares to hope that the two can be brought together once again.

Overall Thoughts
Before you decide to pick up this book I would suggest you have a free day to be able to completely dive in. Once I started this I simply could not stop; I was completely captivated. I found myself entirely enthralled in the romance of Anne and Westry but felt such sorrow at the impending separation between the two fearing the worst at what seemed inevitably to happen.

The brutal crime that Anne and Westry witnessed seemed at first like a disjointed piece of the puzzle that didn’t fit at first. As did the mysterious painting that they found in the Bungalow. I loved how it all came together in the end and how it was more integral to the entire story than one would originally think. All loose ends were tied up beautifully and I wasn’t left with a single lingering doubt that this was a fabulous novel that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. This will make you smile, it will make you sad, and it may even produce a few tears (speaking from personal experience). But I must say, it was well worth it.

This is my second novel by Sarah Jio and I must say I’m just as amazed as I was the first time at how much I enjoy her books. This woman has a talent for writing and I’ve become a devoted fan of hers. I can’t wait to read more from her in the future.

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Book Review – The Violets of March by Sarah Jio

July 16, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Book Review – The Violets of March by Sarah JioThe Violets of March by Sarah Jio
Published by Plume on April 26th 2011
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Bungalow, Blackberry Winter, The Last Camellia

five-stars

A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

I saw this book being offered as a giveaway months before its official release date and as soon as I read the summary I wanted to read it so bad. I did not win the giveaway unfortunately; however, once I got my hands on it I started it immediately.

The story’s main character Emily Wilson is trying to survive a broken heart as her husband has just left her for another woman. Trying to pick up the pieces of her life and feeling altogether lost, she decides to spend a month visiting her great-aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island in Washington State to try to get her life under control and to start researching her next book. While there, she discovers a red velvet diary dated 1943 written by an unknown individual. The story written in the diary has her intrigued and she doesn’t even realize that the story actually involves her and a decades old family mystery.

I couldn’t put this book down, it had me from the very beginning. The writing was flawless and the characters were described beautifully. After reading this I immediately went to try to find more of this author’s work-had no idea this was her debut novel! Highly recommended and will definitely be keeping an eye out for more by Sarah Jio.

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