The synopsis of Shadow Sister grabbed me. C’mon, Spanish, vineyards, vinters, and family? It’s like my Legacy of the Vines series but in Washington. I had to read it.
Women’s fiction? Awesome! It wouldn’t be steeped in heavy romance. Score!
I signed up to request a review copy within seconds of reading blurb and squealed with the book arrived—signed by the author, no less.
As much as I wanted to read it that day, I knew I had a couple of months before it was due, and I had books due before that time. The books still aren’t finished, but um, the review is due.
So today, I started reading.
Curled up in bed, with the turbine engine that masquerades as a fan blasting me, I put my hair in a net to save me from face tickles, grabbed my cheaters, and cracked open the book.
At last. Just me, Washington vineyards, a couple of sisters, and the Lord.
Note: Links in this post may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I requested a review copy of this book and this is what I thought of it.
Did I Love or Hate Shadow Sister and Why?
The simple answer is yes.
But that won’t suffice. There’s so much to this book that I have to start with what I loved.
Characters: Katherine Scott Jones managed to create some of the most realistic and beautifully flawed characters I’ve seen in a long time. Every person in the story had multiple layers. Just as you became certain you knew what this one or that said or thought, another petal peeled away to reveal a sweeter, fresher fragrance to that person—one you didn’t know could exist.
She showed the strengths and the weaknesses of both protagonists and antagonists, and she never once fell into the trap of creating villains where they weren’t necessary just because that person was an antagonist. Neither did she justify people’s wrongs into poor, misunderstood fellows.
I loved that.
Settings: I don’t know if Ms. Jones has ever been to Bolivia or even to Washington state. I have no clue. What I do know is that she made me believe she had—that they were places deeply etched into her soul. This she did with careful, and where appropriate, lavish, description but never once with excess.
Story: We all know that for me it’s all about story. This one is a doozy. It jumps time, past and present, it shifts points of view, and it does it all without leaving the reader confused. Rather, she takes her time to anchor you into every moment before allowing it all to unfold, and she does this without dragging or weighing down the story.
You can understand why I said that I loved it, right? Who wouldn’t?
But I did say “yes” to whether I loved or hated it. There’s a reason for that. You see, despite the rich description, heart-rending story, and wonderful characterization, a shadow falls across the page that made every chapter work for me to read through.
Normally, I’d blame myself for that. You see, that shadow is that the entire book is written in present tense—both first and third person. I frankly despise present tense writing.
But recently, I was introduced to a book where it was done so skillfully that I didn’t even realize it was until three-quarters through the book. And that taught me something. Present tense can be done amazingly well. That one element of this book just wasn’t—not for me.
I thought I’d knock a star off for it.
Because it was hard work to slog through the writing style. But as I sit here thinking about the story, about the characters, about everything that I loved in this book, I realize that I do love it despite its glaring flaw. Like one of the characters in this book, it has what I consider to be a “birth defect.” A gaping slash that mars its initial beauty.
But the true beauty of the story comes from a deeper place than the method of telling it. And because of that, I’m giving it five stars after all.
Recommended for people who love novels of family, broken and restored relationships, and mild romance. For those like me who find present tense difficult to read, I’d recommend doing the “see inside” portion before purchasing.
Shadow Sister is on tour with Celebrate Lit
Book Title: Shadow Sister
Author: Katherine Scott Jones
Genre: Woman’s Fiction
Release date: August 28, 2018
Working on her father’s vineyard allows Sarah Lanning to bury memories of a lost love and a career that might have been. But then her fractured family receives word that her estranged sister, Jenna, is dead, leaving behind an unexpected request: that Sarah travel to Bolivia to scatter her ashes.
Accompanied by pilot Chase Maddox, Sarah embarks on an Andean journey that tests her devotion to home and exposes Jenna’s secret life. Each staggering discovery creates new mysteries—until the last, which leaves Sarah questioning everything she understood about family loyalty. At a crossroads, she must decide whether truth is worth the cost of forgiveness—and whether she can lay claim to a future of happiness without it.
Bittersweet and bold, Shadow Sister explores the mysteries of the human heart and the bond of unquenchable love.
About the Author
Katherine Scott Jones grew up in cities on every U.S. coast and overseas as her family moved with her father’s Navy career. Seattle became home when she married her husband twenty-eight years ago. After graduating Whitworth University with a degree in communications, she established herself as a freelance writer before turning her hand to fiction.
Guest Post from Katherine Scott Jones
Shadow Sister: Outtake Reel
by Katherine Scott Jones
Much as I love a good movie, my favorite part often comes at the end when the director includes outtakes—those false starts and bits from the making of the movie that wind up on the cutting room floor.
In a similar vein, I’m going to let you in on some of what went into the creation of my novel, Shadow Sister, but did not make the final cut.
Shadow Sister is a work of inspirational women’s fiction with a global accent—written for women with a heart for complex relational issues as well as a passion for biblical justice. It is the story of a vintner’s daughter who travels to Bolivia to scatter her estranged sister’s ashes. There, she unravels secrets that test her devotion to home and make her question whether truth is worth the cost of forgiveness. Shadow Sister explores the mysteries of the human heart and the bond of unquenchable love.
Now that you know a bit about what it is, come along as I pull back the curtain and share an exclusive peek at what Shadow Sister is not.
It took me a while to finally land on the right title. Early contenders:
– The Sweetness of Light
– Variations on Shadows and Light.
It also took a bit of experimenting before I found the right combination of people and places:
– Sarah, the main character, was originally a marine biologist. I first imagined the story set in Seattle before moving it to the fertile plains of Eastern Washington wine country.
– Sarah was originally engaged, and Chase and Rachael were involved.
– The gender of Matilde’s baby changed from what I first plotted. That simple switch got me unstuck from a perplexing snag of writer’s block.
o Nicole, Stasi, Rees, and Stephen were all main-character names I considered and rejected.
o Little sister Sarah and big sister Jenna began as litter sister Jenna and big sister Kate. Then Jenna became Somer and finally Sarah, while Kate became Jenna.
o Sassy Britches is named after an actual racehorse by the same name.
Of course, story exploration turned up far more tidbits of interesting info than I could possibly fit into the pages of a novel! Some of what I wished I could have used…
– Bolivian fun facts
- Bolivians tend to eat outdoors when it is not raining. Many men do not feel comfortable eating in front of strangers, so they will often face a wall or sit hunched over their food when they are eating in public.
- Cha’lla is a ritual blessing drawn from Catholic tradition, indigenous religious ceremony, or—typically—a combination of both. Performed by a yatiri (spiritual leader) or Catholic priest, a cha’lla ceremony is performed whenever a new building is finished to ensure future peace in that building.
- Many Bolivians believe in karisirus, or night phantoms. These harmful spirits catch people out after dark or when they’re sleeping. Legend says that they split their victim’s stomach and extract some of the fat.
o Drinks. While the traditional Bolivian beverages api and mate de coca are featured in Shadow Sister, several others are not:
- refresco (fruit juice with a dried peach at the bottom of the glass)
- tostada (a mixture of barley, honey, cloves in water)
- chicha (homemade corn beer)
- singani (made from grapes, a cross between wine and whiskey)
o Language. Spanish, Aymara, and Quechua are Bolivia’s three national languages, and they differ from each other greatly. For example, the number one in Spanish = uno, Aymara = ma, Quechua = hoq.
o On wine: “Wine is sunlight held together by water.” ~ Galileo
o On art: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton
I hope this glimpse into what didn’t make it onto the pages of Shadow Sister piques your interest for discovering what finally did!
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Carpe Diem, September 4
Reflections From My Bookshelves, September 5
The Power of Words, September 5
Among the Reads, September 5
Fiction Aficionado, September 6
The Becca Files, September 6
RebekahsQuill, September 7
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, September 7
Bigreadersite, September 7
Just the Write Escape, September 8
Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, September 8
Bibliophile Reviews, September 9
Living Life Free in Christ, September 9
Inspirationally Ever After, September 10
Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 10
Texas Book-aholic, September 11
Livin Lit, September 11
Janices book reviews, September 12
Remembrancy, September 12
All-of-a-kind Mom, September 13
Inklings and notions, September 13
The Midnight Bookaholic, September 14
Pause for Tales, September 14
The Mimosa Blossom, September 14
Kelly Harrel, September 15
Two Points of Interest, September 15
A Baker’s Perspective, September 16
proud to be an autism mom, September 16
Godly Book Reviews, September 17
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 17
To celebrate her tour, Katherine is giving away a grand prize that includes a personalized signed print copy of the book, a Shadow Sister bookmark, a Frame-able print, Book-lover’s tea, 6 Handcrafted note cards, and a set of vineyard-themed playing cards!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d25f/shadow-sister-celebration-tour-giveaway