Before I Blogged I Read: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things.

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 3.5 stars on Goodreads

1. It’s an adult book — general fiction, I guess you would say, but definitely leans towards a mystery. The main character receives a letter from a very famous author in England. She’s a secretive recluse who always tells tall tales to journalists who want to write about her and she’s asked the main character, who owns a book store and writes amateur biographies,  to write her biography. She agrees to, after being intrigued by one of her novels she has at her shop, and spends her days with the eccentric author and learns some very dark things of her past. Very twisty and turny!

2. I remember really enjoying it and, though it started slow, the suspense started to build and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and I had so many different ideas in my head for how it was going to end but TOTALLY not what I thought. I also recall it being rather dark!

3. It has a very Gothic feel to it and was very atmospheric in that way.  Definitely recommend for fans of Bronte and Austen!

4. Definitely one of those books about people who love books as the main character is a bibliophile.

I definitely am now in the mood to re-read it because I can’t remember specific details and it’s killing me! haha

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Can you recommend any other really great Gothic feeling literature that I might also like? Let me know if you like this new series or not!

Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Book Title/Author: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio
Publisher/Year
:  Plume 2012
Genre: Mystery/historical fiction – Adult Fiction
Series
: No
Other Books From Author: The Violets of March, The Bungalow

Amazon| Goodreads | Sarah Jio’s website |

I checked this out from my wonderful library. LIBRARIES ARE COOL, y’all!

 

 

 

Told in alternating perspectives, Blackberry Winter tells the story of two woman, decades apart, but whose stories become intertwined when a freak weather phenomenon in May, a blackberry winter, unearths an unsolved kidnapping from the 1930s. Vera Ray is a single mother who is struggling to pay rent with her low paying job as a maid at a ritzy hotel. With no way to pay for childcare, she tucks her three year old son in bed to work the night shift, only to return home to discover that there has been a freak snowstorm and Daniel has gone missing with only his favorite teddy bear left behind. Almost 80 years later, Claire, a reporter and wife in the midst of a failing marriage, wakes up to Seattle covered in snow and her boss wanting a great feature connecting the blackberry winter of today to the one in 1933. Claire finds the story of the missing child that went unsolved and sets out to find out what happened as Vera’s story becomes personal to her — even more so than she’d ever realized.

I really, really loved Blackberry Winter! It was a captivating story that and has made me a huge Sarah Jio fan with just one book. The way the two women’s stories were intertwined and told in alternating chapters really worked for me as I learned more about each women & their life in smaller pieces — which really piled on the suspense! I was so invested in both Vera & Claire’s stories that I’d finish one chapter and be all, “Oh man! I don’t want to switch perspectives” but then immediately be absorbed in the other woman’s story.I loved learning about Vera’s back story and how she became a single mother (umm rather swoony and then completely heartbreaking) while simultaneously learning more about what happened to her and Daniel through Claire’s investigation. That storyline REALLY got to me and Sarah Jio knows how to deliver bits of answers in a way that you can’t help but hastily read because you really care so much about what happened.

I was afraid I wasn’t going to really connect with Claire with the nature of the fact that so much of what she does in the book is help us learn more about Vera and Daniel but Sarah Jio really made her into a character I loved as she had so many of her own heartbreaking issues to deal with that really drew her to this story. While obviously her investigation about Vera was the shining storyline, I thought that Claire’s marital issues and the unfortunate accident that happened in their life was really interesting and I loved the healing that went on throughout the story in different ways. The only thing that I will say is that sometimes I thought things were a little bit too much of a coincidence but not in a way that really detracted from the story at all. But besides that, this book was fantastic & I’ll be reading all of her books!

 

Blackberry Winter was the perfect blend of mystery and historical fiction, laced with romance, and a serious page-turner. The  pieces of the mystery were revealed in that way that just makes on ravenous and the two intertwined stories were heartbreaking and beautiful. Truly a moving story that will leave you a bit misty-eyed while reading about Vera’s story — both through the back story & Claire’s investigation. Sarah Jio has just such smooth & exquisite writing — the unraveling of the mystery, the scenes that make your heart ache, the amazing characterization & more — it was just all so deftly and wonderfully written. Even if you typically don’t read adult fiction, I’d recommend still checking this one out!

 

You May Also Like: Kate MortonLucinda Riley, The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rassmussen (it has that some sort of amazingly revealed mystery without being an overly “mystery” book — great characters, stories that make a mark on your heart, etc). 

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you guess how they were tied together? Have you read either of Sarah Jio’s other novels?  Which one should I tackle next?

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster- March 2011
Genres: Adult Contemporary, Adult Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
Simon & Schuster – March 2011
Adult Fiction

A young girl disappears from a rural town in upstate New York and, when the body turns up five months later, new-in-town reporter Stacy Flynn thinks this story will be the break she’s been looking for and a much needed shift from the story about the environmental impact of the dairy farms that are the bread and butter of this town that she was previously working on. Stacy becomes even more of an outsider when she suspects that it could be someone that lives in the town rather than a drifter like everyone else seems to think. Affected by the death of a peer, Alice Piper, a very smart and unique girl whose family is seen as outsiders for being a bit eccentric, starts trying to come to her own conclusions about who Wendy’s murderer is. Alice must decide if she should get involved to make things right or should she just go about her business like everybody else?


On one hand, this was one of the most psychologically thrilling and suspenseful books I’ve read in a while. And on the other hand, I could not get through this novel. It just took me so long and I found myself not really dying to pick it up. I know this sounds weird but that was the way my experience was.



Firstly, the premise was interesting from the beginning to me. Immediately in the beginning of the story it points to something Alice did in the course of this novel and wanting to know what this big thing she did WAS really propelled me throughout this story. I also, from the get-go, obviously wanted to know who the killer was and what this town was hiding. Those things kept me going and the whole story that unraveled was honestly just a crazy suspenseful ride! The whole ending with Alice was insane and I just could not brace myself during the reading of the last part of the book!


But on the other hand, what kept me from truly getting into this novel was the fact of how confusing it all was. I don’t mind novels from multiple perspectives or that switch back and forth in time (The Time Traveler’s Wife) but this one seemed super disjointed and confusing to me especially in the beginning. It was all over the place…from this character to that character to a character from when she was 5 to now and back again. I seriously could have gotten some whiplash from all the changing perspectives and time periods. I kept getting confused of who characters were and where we were in the story and it was annoying because I felt like I kept having to go back and figure out things that I was reading. For whatever reason, this novel just slowed me down with the style…which is unfortunate because typically this does not happen with multiple narrators or switching back and forth. 


I thought the moral and social issues that arose in this book were fascinating and unsettling. The story truly felt like something that could have been taken from your nightly news which is probably why I found it so disturbing..albeit there was much more drama in this book. I found it to be of much more substance than other crime thrillers that I’ve read and much more “literary” but unfortunately the style really just put a damper on my overall enjoyment. I honestly pushed myself to read through it just so I could find out what the heck happened! Was it worth it? In some ways but I’m not sure I would feel bad if someone would have just told me the ending. Ultimately, it packed quite a punch that I wouldn’t have gotten from someone just telling me what happened.  

 

 



* This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Question: Has the style of a book ever ruined a perfectly good story for you?

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