Tag Archives: Book Club

Book Review: Blackberry Winter

The February Peanut Butter Fingers Book Club selection was Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio. I literally tore through this book with astounding speed. I would pick up my Kindle to read before going to bed and read a quarter of the book. One of the issues with reading on Kindle is, I have no idea how big this book is in real life (according to Amazon its 320 pages… I’m shocked it felt so much shorter). I’m super excited to finally be getting a post up BEFORE the PBF deadline. Hopefully I can figure out how to link up with her before Tuesday… wish me luck!


First a brief synopsis: “Blackberry winter” is actually a meteorological term for a late season cold snap or storm – I’ve learned something new already! The book starts in Depression Era Seattle in May 1933. A single mother, Vera Ray, is forced to leave her son, Daniel, at home while she goes to work the night shift as a maid at a fancy hotel. A freak snow storm hits and when she returns home, her son has vanished. Jump ahead to Seattle in May 2011 and behold another freak snow storm hits on the exact same day. A reporter, Claire, is assigned to write a story about these two snow storms for her newspaper, when she discovers the unsolved abduction of Daniel Ray. Claire and her husband have recently suffered their own loss after an accident caused her to lose a baby. The two storys continue to unfold as you race to solve the mystery of Daniel Ray. I won’t give you any spoilers… but wow, it’s a pretty awesome ending.

My general reaction: I really enjoyed this book. It was a fast, easy read and I definitely felt myself emotionally connecting with the characters. It made me want to read more books set during the Depression. Not that I expect those to be exciting “light” reading, but I definitely don’t read much about that time period so I thought it might be time to expand my horizons. I was a little disappointed that it was another “mystery” type book, considering last month’s book, The Secret Keeper, was a similar idea of jumping between past and present to solve a mystery. Makes for a VERY entertaining read, but I’m hoping next month’s book has a little more variety.

How did this book make me feel? Hmm, well that is an interesting question. I guess it made me think a lot about love, relationships, and marriage (marriage is a pretty central theme in my life right now). Clearly Claire and Ethan are having major marital issues because they can’t seem to see the other person’s perspective. But it’s the Charles and Vera story line that intrigued me the most. I just felt like Vera was so hasty to run away, thinking she would ruin Charles’ life if she stayed. She gave him no credit, no chance to do the right thing, which is all he had ever done by her. I know she was supposedly doing the “selfless thing” but did she do the right thing by him?? It didn’t seem like it in the end. Did she really love him? That kind of suggested to me that, deep down, she didn’t actually trust him. She didn’t trust in their love and their ability to withstand obstacles.

It makes me think about my own relationship and my own impending marriage. I remember having a momentary doubt that perhaps we hadn’t been together long enough to know that we were right for marriage. But then I realized that I trusted Mike and our relationship so completely, that I had no doubt we could handle whatever life had to throw at us. Love isn’t always about knowing or being certain. Sometimes, it’s about having faith and jumping in with both feet.

On a slightly different note, I will start with a confession. The thought of having children terrifies me. I know that I want them, but I kind of want to have a panic attack when I think about actually having one. The Claire story line with her running while pregnant, getting hit by a car, and losing the baby hit WAY too close to home for me. I don’t have a lot of concrete feelings to articulate, but it just heightened my worry that if and when I ever am pregnant I will be so terrified I won’t be able to live my normal life. Any other lady runners out there have this same reaction??

So here are some questions for you:

– If you read Blackberry Winter, what did you think? How did this book make you feel?

– If you haven’t read Blackberry Winter, what are you reading right now?? I’m always interested in good book recs 🙂


Book Review: The Secret Keeper

Let me start by saying… HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY to all the lovers out there. Life is a funny thing. I had my first proper “valentine” when I was 17 and then not again until I was 24. Talk about a dry spell right? Before Mike, love was a cruel game of disappointment and heartbreak. I prided myself on never wearing black on Valentine’s day or spending the day hating love and couples. I, somehow, remained relatively optimistic. But then I met Mike and he changed my world. He gave me my first valentine’s day in seven years and this year he gave me my first engaged Valentine’s day 🙂 So I wanted to share a song that is really ringing true for me this year (It’s from the Nashville soundtrack which I have been shamelessly listening to on repeat all week):

So I once again missed the deadline to link up with the PB Fingers book club. But for the fourth month in a row, I actually did read the book in time! Whatever, I got engaged… I was busy! But I did want to still do a book review because this book REALLY made me think.

So January’s book club selection was “The Secret Keeper” by Sarah Morton. I actually listened to this book on audio through Audible.com. I totally loved it! I listening on my commute and when I was running. I wasn’t sure how I would like running to an audio book but it totally rocked! I got a new book this month called “Going Clear:  Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” which is really interesting (I have such a thing for non-fiction books). But I digress. The Secret Keeper is basically the story of a girl named who at 16 years old witnesses her mother, Dorothy, stab a man to death in the garden of their idyllic farmhouse in England. The family dismisses the incident as a matter of self-defense, but Laurel clearly knows there is more to the story. The rest of the book switches between present day where Laurel is desperately searching for answers about her mother’s mysterious past, and WWII London where Dorothy’s story is playing out. Let me just say that, despite a pretty slow start, this book keeps you on the edge of your seat. I was desperately trying to work out the mystery in my head. And the twists just kept on coming, right up to the final chapter. I literally gasped out loud when I realized the final twist (I was running on the Mt. Vernon Trail at the time so I’m sure I looked pretty ridiculous).


But for our purposes, this book made me think a lot about my own life. I found myself wondering, what secrets have I buried in my past? I really do believe in leaving the past in the past. I don’t regret any part of it, because that is a worthless emotion. It has made me who I am now, so for that I am grateful. I am equally as grateful to have moved on from it. On most days, I really don’t think about it. But while reading this book, I found my thoughts occasionally wandering back.

More importantly though, this book really demonstrated to me how critical it is to be satisfied with the good things in your life. I’m not different than most 25 year olds out there. I spend way too much energy asking questions like, “Am I where I should be at 25?” “Where is my career going?” “What if I never get all the things I thought I should get?” “Am I a failure?” Sometimes I find myself forgetting to count my blessings, forgetting to be grateful for the health, stability, happy family, loving relationship, and super cool cat I do have. I felt like Dorothy’s downfall was a direct result of her thinking she was “meant for something better.” She had this amazing man who loved her and she sabotaged it with delusions of grandeur.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and trying to practice gratitude daily. How do you practice gratitude?