A Valentine’s Read


Valentine approaches. It is a time of gift giving, to express our love with personal presents. Books are ALWAYS appropriate, especially this one. I have read all of Jio’s previous novels, recommended them to many people, and included one as a book club pick as I have never been disappointed. Her books are charming, gentle, thought provoking reads and often have great discussion points. They often provide you with an intense sense of time and place with fascinating indepth characterization and wonderfully descriptive layered stories. They are all great escapism reads too, to continue my 2017 theme. I opened this book with high expectations and great anticipation.Title: Always by Sarah Jio 

Publisher: Random House (Ballantine Books) February 2017 288 pp

Genre: women’s literature, fiction, romance, chick lit, contemporary romance 4.5 stars

Author

Sarah Jio is an international bestselling, award winning author of 8 books. She also is a contributing journalist to numerous publications including the New York Times, O, Glamour, and many others. She has also appeared as a commentator on NPRs Morning Edition. She lives in Seattle and knows the city well. I know little about the music scene in Seattle, but her research is generally impeccable, and she writes hauntingly beautiful prose. I was originally giving this 4 stars, but having read her recent columns for my background research, I was ready to give her five full stars for her continued faith in love. My cynicism is showing, but she has my admiration. I have no doubt she is raising the future Prince Charmings in her three sons.

Story line

I was immediately transported to Seattle, present and past (1996) as the story alternates between these two time frames. Kailey, a newspaper journalist with a promising career is newly engaged to a seemingly perfect businessman, Ryan, who adores her. However, she will always remember her first, true love, Cade. Then she unexpectedly meets him and has to uncover his story. This provides an interesting social awareness backstory of homelessness. There is a powerful mix of heartbreak and hope. It’s an emotional tangle with two good men and impossible choices. There is good pacing, with an element of suspense and good character development. Yes, you can predict the ending, and it’s a little too perfect, but sometimes suspending reality feels necessary. Love is rarely simple, but it’s always worth fighting for. The greater good, humanitarianism, has never been more important. It was a fast read (my kindle said two hours). I’m expecting Tom Hanks in the title role. 

Spoiler: With each new political appointee I wanted her to marry the rich guy and buy the right people, not move to France.

Read on

Especially her debut The Violets of March and The Last Camellia

Lisa Kleypas, Debbie Macomber, Georgette Heyer, Sophie Kinsella

Quotes

To old love and new, but, most of all, to the kind that lasts, always.

It’s true. I’ve long since stopped feeling the ache in my heart that I lived with for so long. I may not have had closure, but I have tasted wisdom.

I know that all I want, for the rest of my life, is this. All I want is this love. I want it every day. I want it morning and night. I want to breathe it in. I want to drown in it. And it strikes me how wonderful and tragic it is that in a sea of people just one can reach you so deeply.

Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley.

We’re Not Dead Yet!

I am reading a lot of escapism now in the wake of the new president. January devoured 40 books in mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, children’s and much non fiction. Mysteries are great fun, especially by known authors. I have many favourites and always look for their new releases. A fan of Thomas Perry, I have recommended his stories since his debut Edgar award winning novel The Butcher’s Boy (1982). Metzer’s Dog followed and then I loved the Jane Whitefield series. I own most, have read them all, given several away multiple times. I have recommended several of his later mysteries on this blog. I am just delighted to report that his latest novel is fantastic. I read this immensely satisfying tale straight through.
Title: The Old Man by Thomas Perry

Publisher: Mysterious Press January 2017, 352 pp

Genre: mystery, thriller, espionage, suspense. 5 stars *****

Author: Thomas Perry (b 1947) has a phd in English literature (and as they often do, lists employment as laborer, fisherman, maintenance, weapons mechanic, university administrator and teacher. But then it gets interesting with writer, television producer and writer, including Simon and Simon. 21 Jump Street and Star Trek, the Next Generation.) He is an award winning author, having written 24 suspense novels, notably The Butcher’s Boy (series), Metzer’s Dog and the Jane Whitefield series. Recently he has been writing stand alone mysteries/thrillers, although with this novel, I am sincerely hoping he will start a new series.

Story line: This is a dark tale of a former army special ops, who has lived quietly in Vermont for many years, raised a family, while always on alert. And they did come for him. Not just the Libyans, but our own government, in an all too possible scenario. He stays one step ahead of them using his planning, discipline, intelligence and competence. Dan Chase (aka Peter, Harry, Bill…don’t get used to the name) is a very young “old” man (60 retired widower). 60 is the new 30? Actually I am just fine with that this birthday year!

I particularly liked Julian Carson a conflicted field officer and a great pair of trained dogs, Dave and Carol. I wanted more from the ending, and a few things didn’t add up for me, especially the female character. But it was fast paced and clever with several unexpected twists. Given his hiding in plain sight, I expected to see Jane Whitefield too!

Perry has addictive writing, sharp, engaging, tight multi layered plot, with interesting characters. I thought this book was a return to his previous stellar works, although all are worth reading. I would love to see Dan/Bill become a series, would like to believe we have such individuals in the world. As well as have an older hero, whose maturity provides wisdom (and answers). This is great escape reading, perfect for your winter vacation; it also works to avoid winter cabin blues, with the rollercoaster ride providing adrenaline rushes.

Read on: if you like John LeCarre, Geoffrey Household, Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne 

John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series

Quotes: The predicament he had created for himself when he was young had made him aware that life was precious.

Curiosity is a sign of a lively mind. That’s the only kind worth having.

Julian kept walking. He had warned his superior officers. He had told them a couple of times that the old man wasn’t just an old man, like somebody’s uncle.

He was old in the way a seven-foot rattlesnake was old.

Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley, as well as purchased hardcover.