What I’m Reading Wednesday


I was surprised with an early Christmas gift (thanks Dad!) in Sarah Jio’s latest release, “Morning Glory.”

After I read Jio’s first novel “The Violets in March,” the Seattle author quickly became one of my favorites. Her latest novel is book No. 5 for her, and in true Jio style, you really have to have a free day once you start reading, because you’re not going to want to put the book down.

Jio rented out a houseboat on Lake Union for four months to research and write “Morning Glory.” As soon as I finished the book I Googled availability and prices of houseboat rentals for a weekend getaway this summer.

Jio continues her familiar formula of a love story told in two time eras with a side of mystery. In “Morning Glory” the story flips between 1959 and more present day on the same floating home. Ada is running away from tragedy and finds a new beginning and solace in the houseboat rental, but when she learns of the disappearance of Penny, a woman who lived in the houseboat nearly 50 years prior, she sets out to find out what happened.

Along the way, Ada finds personal healing and spiritual growth with a neighbor on the floating community.

I always enjoy reading about local sites, and what makes this book unique is that those sites are pre-Seattle World’s Fair in 1962.

I always recommend Jio’s novels for book clubs and readers looking for something new to discover, and “Morning Glory” is no exception.

Jio already has her sixth novel under works — “Goodnight June” — inspired by the author of the classic children’s book “Goodnight Moon,” Margaret Wise Brown. Release date is June 2014.


What I’m Reading Wednesday

16099189When I’m highly anticipating the release of a novel, I put a hold on the book at the public library before it’s even on the shelf. Unfortunately, when I’m highly anticipating a book, a lot of other people are as well.

As was the case for “The Light in the Ruins” by Chris Bohjalian. I was behind more than 40 other WWII-era, historical fiction-loving readers. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I walked into a library on the military base I work at and it was on the “New Arrivals” shelf! I snatched it right up and enjoyed every page of the whodunnit mystery with a side of romance set in Italy.

The story bounces back and forth between 1943, as war rages across Europe, and 1955, as Serefina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department tries to catch a serial killer. In between each time period, the unknown serial killer tells his/her story in the first person, to give the reader a chilling glimpse into their mind and motives.

“The Light in the Ruins” is rich with art history, war-time forbidden romance, family ties and tragedy. You will want to speed read to solve the mystery, but savor the details and the scenery in between.

The day I became a journalist

As a kid I was pretty consistent (and specific) about what I wanted to be when I grew up. If I couldn’t be a professional beach volleyball player I was going to have a golden retriever and together we were going to drive around in a green van and I would be a travel writer. I told you I was specific.

When I was a senior in high school I got a little more serious about my future. While writing was still a vision, I first saw a career in broadcast journalism. That year I was involved in a video productions class where we filmed, edited and produced the school’s daily announcements. Because of my name I was a shoe-in for the weather girl.

Holly signed my yearbook with a picture of us my senior year.

My friend Holly and I wanted to pursue the same dream and together we went to Washington State University. I was a declared broadcast journalism major.

But one day, one person’s words steered me on another course that led me to a career in print journalism.

Before a student can certify into the communication program, Com 295 is the ticket in. The media writing course is the first real world experience of deadline writing. The computers in the classroom didn’t have spell check and if a name was misspelled or an address written incorrectly, it was an automatic F on the assignment.

My class was taught by Emily, a graduate assistant who was just a few years older than myself. I tried to ignore the horror stories about the course passed down from classes past and found that I thrived under the pressure and stress of quadruple-checking my work.

I was waiting in the hallway outside a professor’s office when I ran into Emily. It was the first time I had talked with her outside the classroom and she asked me what I was pursuing at WSU. I told her broadcast journalism.

Emily didn’t discourage me, but she asked me if I had thought about print journalism.  She had seen my work during the semester and gave me confidence that I kind of knew what I was doing. She also said I could always write for news broadcasts.

High on compliments I hopped on the bus to head home to my off-campus apartment and called my dad. Always my mentor, and a journalist himself, I told him I was changing my major to print journalism.

“Don’t do it,” he said.

*buzz kill*

My dad encouraged me to double major so I could become a teacher if I needed a backup plan, like if I was laid off two years after college…

As I neared my senior year and saw how close I was to finishing one degree, I ditched the double major idea and counted down to graduation! I had a sports internship lined up at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane where I covered minor league baseball, Seattle Seahawks training camps and other fun things!

I moved on to another daily where I won two awards for sports feature writing a year removed from college. But a year later I was a layoff casualty and suffered a midlife crisis at the ripe age of 24. As I contemplated going back to school to get my teaching certificate I got a call from a daily in Bellingham with a job offer and moved for the fourth time in three years.

Fast forward to now and I’m extremely fortunate to say I’m still doing the journalism thing.

I’m so thankful for that run-in with Emily. She didn’t know it then, and I didn’t even know it then, but her words led me on a journey of writing and editing all across this state and back to my hometown, where I’m still quadruple-checking names.