Blackberry Winter

  • by Sarah Jio
  • Narrated by Tara Sands
  • 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Seattle, 1933: Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, good night and reluctantly leaves for work. She hates the night shift, but it’s the only way she can earn enough to keep destitution at bay. In the morning - even though it’s the second of May - a heavy snow is falling. Vera rushes to wake Daniel, but his bed is empty. His teddy bear lies outside in the snow.
Seattle, present day: On the second of May, Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge awakens to another late-season snowstorm. Assigned to cover this "blackberry winter" and its predecessor decades earlier, Claire learns of Daniel’s unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth - only to discover that she and Vera are linked in unexpected ways.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Pretty good story buried under turgid narration

The story has a creative and interesting plot surrounding a modern-day love story and a long-ago mystery and the way they become woven together by two freak spring snow storms. It's not great literature, but it would be a good read. I use "read" deliberately because listening to this story is a terrific disappointment.

I realize, as I am nearing the end, that I am so distracted by the narrator, that I find myself wondering, "How would that sound in my head if I were just reading it - would I give that phrase that emphasis? Would I feel differently about this character, this decision, this coincidence if I didn't have that voice in my head making every character sound as if they have a huge stick up their... er ... you know." When the focus of your listening experience becomes the narrator and not the story, something isn't working well.

I'm not sure what Ms. Sands was trying to do with this story, but her slow, deliberate, pronounce-every-syllable pacing becomes very distracting. Her tone is usually "emphatic" sounding and everyone (all her characters) speak with the same level of intensity about everything. Vera is exactly as intense about the hole in her shoe as she is about her missing child - like that.

I listened to samples from some of her other works, and she clearly doesn't narrate like this in all of them, and that leads me to wonder if this might have been the result of bad direction.
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- Anne

Overacted Narration, Cheesy Writing, Predictable

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Perhaps people who like a highly emotionally-charged book, but don't care for literary-style writing. Perhaps someone with children. But, honestly, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone I know.


What was most disappointing about Sarah Jio’s story?

It was bothersome how everything just seemed to be such a coincidence, but each "twist" and "turn" was really predictable. The characters the protagonist meets are too convenient to helping her in her story. So much so that it became annoying.

When she tried to create a scene that was light-hearted, or funny, (which the protaganist's best friend was supposed to do) it came off as cheesy, clunky, and unnatural.

The cliche critique of the wealthy and entire theme of the book being poor vs. rich also got old. There are plenty of well-written books about the plight of the poor that don't spell it out so obviously and simply, citing each time a person with any money does something terrible, or would do something terrible, and contrasting it with a person with little means doing something wonderful or having a good heart. It's as if the author believes the reader is too stupid to pick up on what she is trying to say.


What didn’t you like about Tara Sands’s performance?

Her voice quavered the entire time, whether the characters were upset or scared, or happy (which, admittedly, was rare). She over-acted, which got pretty irritating. She definitely varied her voices & some might say she did it well, I just didn't care for her voices & theatrics.


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- Annie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-25-2012
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio