Review – Blackberry Winter

Title:  Blackberry Winter       blackberry winter
Author:  Sarah Jio
Genre:  Adult Fiction
Pages: 290

(From Goodreads) In 2011, Sarah Jio burst onto the fiction scene with two sensational novels–The Violets of March and The Bungalow. With Blackberry Winter–taking its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon–Jio continues her rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.
Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s.
Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways…

What I thought:

This book alternates between two stories that take place some eighty years apart in Seattle, Washington.  Vera is a single mother, struggling to make ends meet in 1933;  Claire is a young married journalist living in modern day Seattle.  Claire wakes up on May 1st to a layer of snow covering the city a phenomenon known as a “Blackberry Winter.”  In fact, the last Blackberry Winter to come to Seattle had been on May 1, 1933, when Vera came home from her overnight job at a hotel to find her three year old son missing from their apartment.

Sarah Jio does a wonderful job of telling these women’s stories.   My heart was broken for Vera and her tragedy.  As a mother myself, I couldn’t even begin to imagine her pain.  Like Claire, I wanted to learn what had happened to little Daniel the night of the May Snow.  However Claire had struggles and heartaches of her own.

“Blackberry Winter” has a little bit of everything.  A little mystery.  A little historical fiction.  A little suspense.  A little romance.  I read this one in two sittings with a box of tissues close at hand.   I am looking forward to reading more by Sarah Jio.


Thunderstorms and Late Night Reading

Thunderstorms and a terrified Maltese shook me awake at 4:30 this morning.  Once he found that I was awake, he climbed up on my pillow, buried himself under my chin and trembled so hard I thought he might fall apart!  Clearly going back to sleep before the storm ended wasn’t going to happen.


So I did what I always do when I have an unfilled stretch of time…  I read.   Not wanting to get deeply engrossed in the book I’m currently reading and end up not going back to sleep the rest of the night, I downloaded a free selection onto the nook app on my phone.  “Waking Kate” by Sarah Addison Allen is a free download for both nook and kindle but I’m not even sure what to call it.  At only thirty eight pages it isn’t even a novella but was the perfect length to fill the short period of time until the thunder ended.   “Waking Kate” is a teaser for her newest book “Lost Lake.”  Which, after reading this short prequel during the wee hours of the morning,  I have added to my must read list!  Of course I would read pretty much anything by this author!

saving kate          lost lake

Review – The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

bonaventure arrow

Title: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
Author: Rita Leganski
Genre: Adult fiction, Magical realism
Pages: 400

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn’t make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows Bonaventure’s silence is filled with resonance – a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound. Growing up in the big house on Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as the Wanderer.

Bonaventure’s remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mere Letice, plagued by grief and long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed.

My thoughts:
For my first review, this fabulous story by Rita Leganski was an easy choice. It was by far my favorite read this year! It was one of those books that I was sad to see come to an end. The writing is beautiful, the characters are endearing and the story is wonderful.

Little Bonaventure arrives into the world after the tragic death of his father, William, that leaves his mother, Dancy so grief stricken that it deeply effects the yet to be born Bonaventure. I fell in love with this sweet boy who never uttered a sound yet could hear colors, the grass growing, a butterfly’s wings, the stories contained in the objects around him and the feelings of others. Through Bonaventure’s special gift and the help of the HooDoo woman, Trinidad, the family finds love, healing and forgiveness.

I highly recommend savoring this book with your favorite cup of tea and getting lost in Bonaventure’s New Orleans.

Jumping in with Both Feet

  I tend to be cautious about most things.  I can study a project for weeks or even months before I dive in.  I am a planner by nature.  Before I start anything I need to research and plan and outline and plan some more.  But this time I’ve decided to jump in with both feet and just do it.  So here I am, writing my first post in my new blog without a plan, outline, or design in mind.  This time I’m going to learn as I go and see where it takes me.  

  I guess it isn’t completely honest to say I don’t have a plan.  What I don’t have is a detailed plan.  This morning as I looked at the stacks of books on the floor that surround my nightstand, I decided I needed a place to record my thoughts as I made my way through these stacks of books.  I have kept reading journals for years to record the books I read and what I thought about each one.  But the composition books just stack up together with the books.  I decided a blog might be different.  A way to share my thoughts rather than just record them.