2017 Book #37: ALWAYS by Sarah Jio

Always by Sarah Jio 
ISBN: 9781101885024 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101885031 (ebook)
ASIN: B01FC02OS8 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 7, 2016

From the New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March comes a gripping, poignant novel about the kind of love that never lets go, and the heart’s capacity to remember. 

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle’s chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can’t believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. 

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt “right.” But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants. 

Alternating between the past and the present, Always is a beautifully unfolding exploration of a woman faced with an impossible choice, a woman who discovers what she’s willing to save and what she will sacrifice for true love.

Kailey Crane is a thirty-something-year-old journalist engaged to a good man, Ryan Winston. They are in the midst of arranging for the upcoming wedding and life is good. Well, as good as can be expected when you’re engaged to someone involved in real estate and you’re writing an investigate piece about how developers are in the process of destroying a necessary social services institution, namely a homeless shelter. Kailey and Ryan have their differences, but they do love one another and are looking forward to building a life together. Ryan knows that Kailey has a past and that her past has involved a lover or two, but he’s willing to let the past stay in the past as long as they can build a future together. Everything is going well until the man from Kailey’s past returns and his disappearance and return are surrounded by a mystery. Can Kailey ignore the old love of her life in order to build a new life? Can she help the old love of her life without destroying her new love life? And more importantly than either of these questions, is that old love truly dead?

I’ve just got to say that I loved Always. I ripped through this story without interruption in one sitting on Sunday evening. This story touched me in so many ways, but primarily because I have a good friend from high school that suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a severe beating and his recovery has been long and hard. Ms. Jio has taken several sensitive subject matters, traumatic brain injury or TBI and homelessness and incorporated them into a story about loss and love. I enjoyed the twin storylines, as they provide the reader with a glimpse of Kailey’s early relationship with Cade and its development, as well as her current relationship with Ryan and the impact finding Cade has on it. I enjoyed all of the characters, the action, and the settings. Seriously, I loved this book and can foresee me rereading it over and over again. (Yes, it was just that good in my not-so-humble opinion.) Always is more than just a love story it is a story that pulls at the emotions as it asks what will and won’t we do for the sake of love. If you’ve read any of Ms. Jio’s writings then I encourage you to go out and grab a copy of Always to read. If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Jio then Always may be the perfect starter book. I will say this, set aside enough time to read uninterrupted and for those of you that get a little misty when reading emotionally laden books, grab some tissues. 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book 178: Review of GOODNIGHT JUNE

Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
ISBN: 9780142180211 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781101620038 (ebook)
ASIN: B00FX7ULEK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Plume (Penguin Group)

Goodnight Moon is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the “great green room” might have come to be.

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature.

Imagine you are a successful thirty-something woman living in New York with a great, but time-consuming, career. You’ve just been informed that your beloved great-aunt has died and left you her bookstore and that bookstore is in Seattle, Washington. While you’re trying to settle your aunt’s affairs, you uncover letters that indicate your aunt corresponded with the beloved children’s book author, Margaret Wise Brown. Not only do you discover their correspondence, but you also find that your aunt provided information that may have been the inspiration for one of the most loved children’s books of all time. What do you do? This is exactly the dilemma that June Anderson faces in Goodnight June.

Sarah Jio has crafted a heartwarming and touching story that imagines a relationship between author Margaret Wise Brown (also known as Brownie) and children’s bookstore owner Ruby Crain. This relationship is revealed in hidden letters scattered throughout Bluebird Books. June grew up in this bookstore and loved it as much as she loved her aunt Ruby, but her life is in New York. She arrives in Seattle with the goal of settling her aunt’s affairs and selling the bookstore. But the longer she stays in Seattle and the more she uncovers about her aunt’s friendship with Brownie, the more confused she becomes about her goals. Can she quit her high-profile job in New York, sell her apartment, and become a successful bookseller? Just when she thinks her decision might be easy, she uncovers another secret . . . her aunt had a child and gave it up for adoption. June now feels compelled to locate this lost child and share her aunt’s legacy.

Goodnight June is much more than a homage to Goodnight Moon. It is a story of self-discovery, family, forgiveness, and second chances. Ruby and Brownie’s letters reveal the hardships both women suffer when dealing with their families and family expectations. Both women have sisters that are more like strangers than family and strive to overcome this estrangement. Ruby has an illicit relationship with a married man that ends with her having a child that she gives away. June is having issues with her sister and mother and sees the parallels between her aunt’s issues and her own, but can she overcome her anger and fears to allow amends to be made? I enjoyed reading about the fictionalized relationship between Ruby and Brownie and it made the author seem more personable. I found all of the characters to be believable primarily because of their flaws. I thought it rather ironic that June spent much of her adult life working in a bank that foreclosed on business after business with little consideration to individual needs or business history, only to find herself in the exact same situation with Bluebird Books and her former employer. The budding romantic relationship between June and her neighboring business owner added the right amount of romance to the story. Goodnight June offers romance, illicit affairs, a missing child, family trouble, financial trouble, and more. If you have read any of Ms. Jio’s books then you’ll definitely want to add Goodnight June to your TBR list. If you haven’t read any of her books, then Goodnight June is the perfect place to start.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the a variety of sources including LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Program and Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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