Mar 15, 2013

Review: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrrow by Rita Leganski

The March selection of the She Reads Book Club is a debut novel by Rita Leganski. THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW had such a unique description I could hardly wait to get started.

Typically, when writing a review, I compose my own synopsis, being ever so careful not to give anything away so as to not spoil the story for those who haven't yet read it. This book, however, has so many aspects to it, I didn't feel I could do it justice, therefore, I'm using the description from Harper Collins, which I find offers just the right amount of insight to this most intriguing novel.

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 Latice, 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 Creople 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:

This book intrigued me right away. I've recently begun reading books that dabble with the mystery of hoodoo, charms and spells. I have a very open mind and I'm fascinated by these things. To me, its a sort of magical realism, which I've always enjoyed. Therefore, the allure of this story about a mute boy with special gifts had me from the get-go. I also loved the setting of this book. New Orleans is a fascinating place full of mystery and I loved that about this book.

 Bonaventure instantly captured my heart. He's a sweet child who knows only love and his innocence is heightened by his muteness. I won't call it a disability, because its part of his muteness that allows his incredible hearing to be such a  gift. But even the people closest to him - his mother, and Grand-mere Latice, are unaware of his special gift. But his father knows.  I love his relationship with William and Bonaventure's willingness to accept his extraordinary ability to communicate with the father who died before he was even born.  I had a real feel for the characters in this book. Many were flawed and one was despicable, but they were all woven into this story with a purpose.

For me, the star of this novel was not Bonaventure, as I had expected, but Rita Leganski's beautiful prose. The lyrical way in which she writes is really what kept guiding me through this book. As I said earlier, the premise of the story did have me from the get-go, but as it went on, I suppose I was sidetracked by how much time was spent in the past, developing the characters of the two grandmothers and Dancy, and even Trinidad. I realize character development is necessary, but I felt they took the story over. I don't mean that as harshly as it sounds. I'm only saying that I was prepared for Bonaventure to be the guiding light but in the end, I found him to be an accessory to their stories.  For me, while the magical realism elements were present, I felt they took a back seat to the other stories being told.  An though the ending was not a surprise for me, I was satisfied with the story's outcome.

With all that being said, I did enjoy the book and I loved Rita Leganski's writing. The direction of the story was different than what I originally expected but the writing kept me going.  As a debut, I felt Laganski did a great job and I will definitely be open to reading more of her work in the future.

Author: Rita Leganski
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Published: February 26, 2013
Length: 400 pp
Source: She Reads Book Club and Publisher

Mar 5, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

Today I'm excited to share a teaser from Rita Leganski's novel THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW, which is the She Reads Book Club March selection. I'm not quite half way through this intriguing book but it is definitely interesting. The story that takes place in and around New Orleans in the 1950's.  Bonaventure Arrow was born shortly after his father, William, was murdered, yet he is able to have a connection with his father through sound. Bonaventure is not your normal child. He never developed his speech so he communicates through gestures. The doctors have no answers and what no one is aware of is Bonaventure's special ability when it comes to hearing. He hears everything: grass growing, flowers blooming, the earth moving.  There is also another force working its way toward Bonaventure in the form of a Creole woman with a special gift of her own, she calls The Knowing.  The two are on a an inevitable course that will eventually bring them together.

Here are my teasers . . .

In the cities of the dead, statues and etchings mark resting places and a populace of angels stands in constant pose directing the departed toward heaven.  Broken flowers and weeping willows pay reverent homage, while poppies bestow eternal sleep.  Doves bequeath peace, Christ's bleeding heart wears a crown of thorns, and lambs mark the graves of children.  Every statue and every design keeps vigil over the dead.  Some say they drive evil spirits away - a task well noted in New Orleans.  ~ Location 519 Kindle Edition

There is so much more to this story, but I don't want to spoil anything so I'll leave it at that! I hope you enjoyed my teasers and of your interested in more teasers, please visit Should Be Reading every Tuesday.

Mar 3, 2013

The Sunday Salon: Playing Catch Up

Why is it one week you can feel like you have everything on track, you've finished books and written reviews that you feel good about and then - BAM!! The next week you are completely behind in everything? That is exactly what this past week has been like for me. Book-wise, February was a great month for me and I got so much accomplished. Now here it is, March and I am scrambling to reach the deadlines I'd set for myself.  I know I didn't do as much reading as I needed to, but other things took priority. I also didn't post a review that I'd planned either. I suppose, it just doesn't take long to get behind because the days keep on rolling by.

This week, I'll be reading ALOT to try to get caught up and I won't be wasting anymore time trying to figure out why my computer is doing strange things. I know that I spent hours on my computer last week and didn't really figure much out. I also spent over an hour one day on the phone with Apple regarding my 9 year old iPod and why I can't sync new audiobooks from It's been awhile since I used my iPod for audios but now with the new Kindle Paperwhite, the audio feature is no longer available. (Big Mistake!) So we tried several things and finally they said it's a formatting issue and my iPod doesn't support the newer audiobook formats. Although it is a bummer, the upside is, I see a new iPod Touch in my near future! (I've been wanting one for awhile now!)

For some unknown reason, I got into a baking kick last week also, which took time away from my books. I've been making muffins. I like to have a muffin and a yogurt for breakfast, so that was my reasoning behind the muffin-making. Fortunately, all the muffins were great! Last week I shared a Honey-Oat Muffin recipe that you can find here and this morning I made Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins and they were outstanding!! Not as healthy as the Honey-Oat Muffins, but what can I say? You can find the Blueberry Buttermilk recipe here. I highly recommend them!

So for the rest of the day I'll be heading over to my friend, Brenda's house, for our weekly Sunday dinner and to hang out for awhile and maybe I can get her to watch some of the NASCAR race. She's not a big race fan but she's open to just about anything. It's turned pretty cold here this weekend, (I know, you think I live in Florida and it doesn't get cold here. But you would be wrong!! It's 46 degrees at Noon!) so Brenda is making one of my favorite things for dinner. Chicken Taco Soup! So that should warm us up! I'll be bringing my Kindle along so I can probably squeeze a chapter or two in as well.

Well, I'm off to get ready for dinner. Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you are having a great Sunday! I look forward to seeing ya'll on the blogs this week!

Mar 2, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Food & Wine's 20 Best Breakfast & Brunch Recipes (Kindle Edition)

Hello and welcome to Weekend Cooking! I don't know about you but breakfast and brunch are two of my favorite meals to cook. There are so many possibilities and there is no right or wrong combination. You can let your imagination go wild and you don't even have to have fancy ingredients. It's also a prefect way to use up leftover items in your refrigerator. That's why when I saw Food & Wine Magazine's 20 BEST BREAKFAST and BRUNCH RECIPES available for an amazing .99 at the Kindle Store, I jumped on it!

What's Inside...

Within this 61 page collection are favorite recipes from chefs and cooks, as well as Food and Wine's very own test kitchen. These recipes are not complicated - they are simple, elegant and smart ideas that I'm sure I'll be using often. The categories include: Egg dishes, such as omelets, frittatas, and sandwiches, to breakfast biscuits, pancakes, and muffins. It covers a wide range of dishes that would please even the pickiest palettes.  

Each recipe includes a beautiful photo of the finished product along with a brief introduction to the recipe by it's contributor. As a foodie, I always find it interesting to know the inspiration behind the development of a good dish. 

My Thoughts:

After purchasing a cookbook, I am always anxious to flip through the recipes and mark the ones that appeal to me. Many times, I am disappointed by either the 'special' ingredients I'd have to buy, or the difficult cooking method that makes me wary. But I am thrilled to say that when I scanned these recipes, I didn't have those feelings at all. There were many recipes that I immediately wanted to try and the ingredients were right there in my pantry. That made a huge impression on me right away. Another thing I like about this cookbook is the portion sizes. In some cookbooks, the recipe makes enough portions for a small dinner party and that is just way too much food for two or three people and I always have to cut the recipe in half and hope it turns out. That isn't necessary here. The photos that are included are very nice and even though the Kindle version doesn't do them justice, you still get a clear idea of what they're supposed to look like. I also enjoyed the introductions because, as a lover of foodie television, over the years, I have become familiar with certain chefs and its fun getting to know them a little better through their food. 

One of the recipes that I tried immediately was from Chef Spike Mendolsohn from Washington, D.C. Chef Spike was a contestant on Top Chef in the earlier seasons and though he didn't win the title of Top Chef, he has made quite a name for himself and has been very successful. His recipe for White House Honey-Oat Muffins jumped out at me right away. The dish was inspired by the honey bees that have made the White House their home. 



3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs

1.  Preheat the oven to 375. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix the oats with the whole-wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, coriander and salt.

2.  In another bowl, whisk the honey with the buttermilk, canola oil and eggs. Pour the honey mixture into the dry ingredients; mix just until combined.
3.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for about 18 minutes, until they're golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  

I like this recipe because these muffins are perfect for breakfast: They're not too sweet because there's no sugar, only natural honey and they're made with half whole-wheat flour and oats. They are so simple to make and they turned out beautifully the very first time. I have one of these muffins with a cup of yogurt and I've got a great breakfast without feeling like I've been bad. If you're lucky enough not to have to worry about fat intake, you could spread a little honey butter on your muffin and that would be divine!

So that's just one of the many recipes that caught my eye from this cookbook. There are many more that I intend to try and I'll share them here on another Weekend Cooking post. The decision to add this cookbook to your Kindle Library is a no-brainer, especially considering you can pick it up for .99 right now! I promise you won't regret it! 

For more Weekend Cooking posts, please stop by Beth Fish Reads each and every Saturday for more foodie ideas and recipes. 

Author: Food &Wine Magazine
Publisher: American Express Publishing Corporation
Published: December 20, 2012
Length: 61 pages
Source: Purchased