Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: The Last Camellia

By Melissa Amster

**Giveaway is now closed**

I used to love the show Cold Case, and lately have been wondering if it would have lasted longer if Sarah Jio were one of the writers. This is because she writes about murder mysteries from the past and ties them into the present. I could just see the flashback scenes from her stories being set to music as they're being acted out. Her latest novel, The Last Camellia, would make for a fantastic episode of Cold Case.

Right before World War II, Flora takes on a job as a nanny to a rich family in England so that she can go undercover to help flower thieves steal the camellia that is residing on their estate, hidden for its own protection. It's a rare flower and is worth a lot of money. Before she knows it, Flora has gotten in over her head and her job has become more dangerous than she expected.

Closer to the present day, Addison is looking to escape from a terrible secret that is haunting her in the form of a creepy guy from her past. She and her husband move to England for the summer, in the same home where the famed camellia once resided. There, she discovers some secrets that are more sinister than her own.

As with Sarah Jio's other novels, The Last Camellia was so hard to put down! I wanted to keep reading to try and solve the mystery and also make sure that the heroines would survive whatever fate was coming their way. I like how one of the characters from the past was still around, carrying some secrets of her own. It added to the intensity of the story. The dialogue was genuine throughout the story and the scenery was easy to visualize thanks to all of Sarah's descriptions. To be honest, flowers don't interest or excite me much, so I was initially dragging my heels in regards to reading this novel. However, I'm glad I picked it up, as it was a terrific page turner. The strength in the story does not revolve around the flower itself, but more around the characters and other stories that become intertwined from past to present. I genuinely cared about Flora and Addison and worried for them at the end of each of their chapters. I can't say it really changed my interest in flowers, but I will admit that I've been trying to take better care of some orchids I received over a month ago and normally I'd just forget and let them die. That's a start, right?

Par for the course with Sarah's novels is a story that ties up too neatly. I'd like to see her let go of this need to make things perfect and instead leave some loose ends and questions in one of her future novels. Sure, we all love a happy ending, but I think she could keep the mystery going after the last page is read. I'm just not a fan of huge coincidences that seem forced. Having said that, it was still a compelling story and I had an enjoyable time reading it.

If you're looking for an entertaining summer read, definitely check out The Last Camellia. Sarah Jio is a great writer and I have a feeling she'll be sticking around for a long time to come!

Thanks to Plume for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have FIVE copies to share with some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!

How to win:
Please tell us about a topic that didn't interest you before it was featured in a novel and how that novel changed your perspective on it.

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends June 12th at midnight EST.

More by Sarah Jio:


Book Mama said...

I never quite understood why people would bake a ton of cookies for Christmas cookie exchanges. Then I read the book The Christmas Cookie Club and thought it sounded fun. Needless to say, I hosted my own cookie exchange this past Christmas.

cmgren said...

I read about teenage girls cutting themselves and didn't realize how wide spread this had become.

JROSEN60 said...

the thoughts of a school shoooter - nineteen minutes

Unknown said...

never really thought too much about other peoples point of views when i thought I was right but after reading The Host I found myself empathizing with the "bad" guys. Have you ever read it? It's like my favorite book ever and now I am really interested in POVs within books and I try and think about where the other person is coming from when things get heated, you know?

Thanks for the giveaway and post!

My email: mrsjtucker2012[at]gmail[dot]com

holdenj said...

That's a thoughtful question. Oftentimes, it's seeing the other side of an issue, like in historical novels. Sometimes it creates empathy for people who just don't know any better. Thanks for the giveaway, I have enjoyed Jio's other books.

The Book Chick said...

"The Summer Before the Storm" by Gabriele Wills is all about World War 2. I had no interest in that subject until I read those books. I have the third in the series on my shelf and I can't wait!!


Na said...

I was never really interested in knitting until I came across it in several books. It sounded really calming and interesting. I did try to learn it a few times and though I'm nowhere near a good knitter I don't think of it as boring anymore.

I love Sarah Jio's books. Thank you for the chance to read her latest.

GFC - Na

Unknown said...

Never really understood why people/families kept journals of life events. After reading so many wonderful and beautiful stories of families and the "long lost stories" all told in journals--I see and value the importance of writing for the generations to come!

Nova said...

I guess dinner/supper clubs would be something i didn't understand until i started reading "Table for Seven" and finished "The Girl's Guide to Love & Supper Clubs. It showed me how much work is involved and how it connects people.

Jessica said...

Honestly the topic of pregnancy never really interested me before but I love to read about it. Reading novels about it changed my perspective on it. =]

-Jessica M

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I was not interested in the life of Frank Lloyd Wright until I read the historical fiction book, Loving Frank! Now, I am fascinated by his life!

missamberljohnson at gmail dot com

faithspage said...

Dinosaurs! I had to read Jurassic Park for a class and enjoyed the book a lot. I have not seen the movie yet.

kyfaithw at aol com

Unknown said...

I would say the amish. I never had an interest until I read an Amish mystery and now I can't get enough. I find it to fascinating.

bn100 said...

wasn't really interested in reading about vampires, but the BDB series by JR Ward had well-written vampire characters that changed my mind

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Margie said...

Since my kids are grown, I hadn't really been interested in bullying. But after reading a couple of books on the topic, it has come to the forefront. Thanks for the giveaway.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Jennifer L. said...

I became quite interested in the civil rights issues of the Southern U.S. in the 60's after reading "The Help".
jentam777 at gmail dot com

Lindsay said...

I've been trying to think of a book that I've read that's gotten me interested in something I hadn't previously been - but I'm having a hard time coming up with one. Still looking for the book that will spark an unknown interest.

I'm a huge Sarah Jio fan, would love to read her latest. Thanks for the opportunity.

TinaB said...

I was never interested in scrapbooking until I read "The Scrapbooking Club". Now, I think I might give it a try!

Hailey Fish said...

For the longest time, I was always into crime fiction. I still am but ever since I saw how much fun chick lit books are, the amazing giveaways some of my friends on FB have and it just makes me smile. I can't get enough of chick lit books. :)

Jilleen said...

Still Alice and early onset alzheimer's. Still Alice made me realize things from persons point of view. Love Anthony did the same thing for with autism (another Lisa Genova.

Thanks for the great giveaway.
Jill at Seaside Book Nook

seasidebooknook at yahoo dot com

Unknown said...

I never really thought about Olympic cycling until I read th novel Gold. It was very good, and made me realize how hard these athletes train year round, not just around the time of the Olympics.

rubynreba said...

I was never interested in antiques until I picked a book showing how to restore them. Now I like looking for special finds at auctions and love to display them in my home.

Tiffany Drew said...

I wasn't interested at all in WWII (I know, I know) until I read The Book Thief and heard from the point of view of germans who actually did not want the war to take place. I also recently read I'll Be Seeing You and experienced the war from the view of the wives of soldiers and I couldn't get enough. Now I find myself drawn to this history and these novels like never before.


Anonymous said...

Several years ago I started reading the Pretty Little Liars YA book series because I had started watching the TV show. (It's my guilty pleasure!) Now I'm not only hooked on those books, but also other YA books. They are actually quite good!


Unknown said...

I always thought knitting/crocheting was boring and tedious. Different novels (especially Debbie Macomber's "Blossom Street" novels, and the "A Good Yarn" characters), showed me knitting and crocheting is very relaxing. I have even gotten into crocheting myself!

Unknown said...

After reading The Fued (not chic lit, but I needed to know) I now get why the Hatfields and McCoys were so violent with each other...very interesting book.

Read Baby Read said...

I really, really want to read this new one by Sarah Jio, so here goes...
I became fascinated with the Amish after reading Jodi Picoult's Plain Truth (such a great book). Now I watch all of those crazy Amish shows on TV. Isn't it strange how that culture has been catapulted into the limelight, when they've been inconspicuous for ages?
I'm trying really hard to conquer my book bucket list, so I'd love to win this one!
Thank you!

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I nver thought I would get into post-apocalyptic novels, then I read White Horse by Alex Adams and I cannot wait for the second book to come out!

Anonymous said...

Would love to win a copy of this book. Thanks for the give-away.

Ann Ellison

Melissa said...

Thanks to everyone for participating and telling us what books got you more interested in.

Thanks to Plume for the opportunity to review this novel and for sharing it with our winners. chose FIVE winners from all entries with contact info. (One entry per person.)

Congrats to:
9-Amber @ A Little Pink...
19-Bridget O'Neill
25-Read Baby Read
27-Ann Ellison

Don't miss out on our other giveaways, as well as giveaways from other blogs.