Month: March 2011

What I’m Reading Now: The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning

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Gunning’s blazing third historical (after Bound) takes readers into the heart of Revolutionary War–era Boston, where young Jane Clarke has been sent to care for her great-aunt Gill after refusing to marry the man her loyalist father has chosen for her. Not long after settling into her aunt’s house near the British Custom House, Jane is thrust into the milieu of violence and intrigue that eventually leads to a declaration of independence by the American colonists. She befriends the bookseller Henry Knox and meets John Adams, who employs her brother as a clerk. As tensions mount, Jane watches the men around her grow more aggressive in their aversion to British rule, and less concerned with truth. When she is caught up in the Boston Massacre, she must come to terms with the importance of honesty over personal and political passions. There’s a history textbook’s worth of well-done cameos, but it’s Gunning’s fluid writing and attention to the larger issues of human nature that really make this move. Good historical fiction offers new perspectives on old stories. This book succeeds handily at the task. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

My Thoughts on Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

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This was a nice, clean, good, easy-to-recommend book. Little CeeCee Honeycutt gets to live with her Great-Aunt Tootie following the death of her Mother, who was suffering from mental illness and ran in front of an ice cream truck.

Aunt Tootie lives in a very nice part of Savannah, Georgia, and CeeCee is quickly embraced by her aunt, her aunt’s cook, Oletta, and all of the neighbors.

Everyone in this book is female. The only male presence is Ceecee’s father, and he is a wimpy, gutless one at that.

This book is a little Steel Magnolias, a little The Secret Life of Bees, and a little Gone With The Wind. I kept waiting for Ceecee to Oletta “mammy”.

The only thing that I did not like was that Ceecee’s aunt was really slow to introduce her to any kids in the neighborhood. I kept thinking that if I had a niece move in I would be working the phone, looking for play groups. Kids need kids to be silly with and have fun with, and I thought that was a little weird that she spent months by herself with three much older women.

What I’m Reading Now: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

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Momma always told CeeCee (short for Cecelia Rose) that “being in the North isn’t living—it’s absolute hell.” Of course, having to live with Momma—Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, that is, Vidalia Onion Queen, 1951—doesn’t make it any more heavenly, especially when Momma starts standing in the front yard blowing kisses to passersby.

You know this is going to end badly, and so it does, when the erstwhile onion queen is run over by a speeding Happy Cow Ice Cream Truck.

Before you can say “sweet magnolia blossoms,” 12-year-old CeeCee is sent off to Savannah to live with her elderly great aunt, Tallulah Caldwell, and her wise African American housekeeper and cook, Oletta.

It being 1967, you know there will be one dark episode of racial hatred, but it’s quickly—and conveniently—resolved offstage, leaving all the characters free to continue being relentlessly eccentric, upbeat, sweet as molasses, and living, as CeeCee puts it with a straight face, “in a breezy, flower-scented fairy tale . . . a strange, perfumed world that . . . seemed to be run entirely by women.”

Light as air but thoroughly pleasant reading. –Michael Cart

My Thoughts on Good Grief

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I liked this book. It was a little heavy at the beginning as she was a new widow and trying to find her way in a job she never liked and a house that was now too big.

But, as many people do, she found herself when she forgot herself and though she does find a new love story she recovers most fully when she mentors a troubled teen.

The only parts I did not like was when the book got all “Bridget Jones” and things went horribly wrong. Especially the part where she hosts a grand opening for her bakery. Oh, I skimmed through that madness.

Overall, a good read.

What I’m Reading Now: Good Grief by Lolly Winston

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Some widows face their loss with denial. Sophie Stanton’s reaction is one of pure bafflement. “How can I be a widow?” Sophie asks at the opening of Lolly Winston’s sweet debut novel, Good Grief. “I’m only thirty-six. I just got used to the idea of being married.”

Sophie’s young widowhood forces her to do all kinds of crazy things–drive her car through her garage door, for instance.

That’s on one of the rare occasions when she bothers to get out of bed.

The Christmas season especially terrifies her: “I must write a memo to the Minister of Happier Days requesting that the holidays be cancelled this year.”

But widowhood also forces her to do something very sane. After the death of her computer programmer husband, she reexamines her life as a public relations agent in money-obsessed Silicon Valley. Sophie decides to ease her grief, or at least her loneliness, by moving in with her best friend Ruth in Ashland, Oregon.

But it’s her difficult relationship with psycho teen punker Crystal, to whom she becomes a Big Sister, that mysteriously brings her at least a few steps out of her grief.

Winston allows Sophie life after widowhood: The novel almost indiscernibly turns into a gentle romantic comedy and a quirky portrait of life in an artsy small town.

At all stops on her journey from widow to survivor, Sophie is a lively, crabby, delightfully imperfect character. –Claire Dederer —

My Thoughts On Life on the Refrigerator Door

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This was a really quick read. Each page just contained a little note, sometimes a little grocery list and sometimes something a little deeper.

I found this book a little unbelievable. I could not understand why two people who lived together did not ever see each other and had to resort to leaving notes. I might be more likely to believe text messages or emails — but not this.

And I was frustrated with the Mom. She was a doctor and single, but it seemed like she was never home (thus the notes). But she’d always ask her daughter how things were going and I just thought that if she really wanted to know she’d manage to be home!

I did cry at the end which is good because it means that I did feel something about this book.

What I’m Reading Now: Life on the Refrigerator Door– Notes Between A Mother And Daughter

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Kuipers’s haunting debut unfolds like a flip book of half-drawn images too swiftly ended, a compilation of tantalizing notes posted on a refrigerator by a single working mom and Claire-bear, her wistful teen daughter.

Bittersweet, funny and achingly real, the nameless mother (an overworked obstetrician) and bubbly Claire communicate through these notes instead of talking, e-mailing or text messaging.

Missives range from the daughter’s plainly impassioned (Hi MOM! (Who I never see anymore EVER!)) to her mother’s soothing, tough-upper-lip responses written during her breast cancer treatment.

Kuipers captures the anxiety surrounding tragedy and conveys the importance of fully experiencing life. Although the format has its limits (notably in character development and narrative momentum), Kuipers delivers a strong, emotional reminder about the importance of loved ones, even through times of unceasing complications and challenges. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

My Thoughts On The Cookbook Collector

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Somewhere out there is a person who loves this book. Who found it interesting and uplifting and cried at the end and recommends it to all of her friends.

I am not that person. First, this book violates a major rule of mine: make your main characters likeable. There were many characters in this book and I did not like a single one of them.

And the ending. . .did not see it coming but it was a little contrived and though sad I did not shed a tear. I thought of all the money she would save on a divorce attorney later.