Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

5 Star

With her father absent, CeeCee Honeycutt is left alone to deal with her mentally ill mother until tragedy strikes, taking her life. Swept off to Savannah to live with her Great Aunt Tootie, CeeCee struggles to come to terms with her mother’s death, her father’s neglect, while navigating her new world and the incredible women that inhabit it.  

Lydia - 5 Star

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt was such a heart-warming read. How I loved little CeeCee! She was so sweet, brave, confused and tried so hard.  She wasn’t the only character that grabbed me either - this chorus of eccentric and strong women had me smiling, laughing and constantly wondering what was coming next.

This novel moved me to tears – incredibly, within the first 50 pages!  I loved the relationship CeeCee had with her neighbour and how sweet they were together. In fact, I loved all the relationships she had with the other women in this charming tale. There were strong female roles in this novel, but never were they overbearing. Rather, it was subtle strength portrayed through their rich, warm characters.

Seeing the world through CeeCee’s eyes was so inspiring, and her naivety was charming and amusing. This novel had colourful imagery, great scenes and some brilliant dialogue where the women help CeeCee adjust to her new surroundings and offer her all sorts of advice, leading to some marvellous quotes that can be taken from this novel – don’t want to include spoilers so won’t list any of my favourites here!

Don’t miss this heart-felt, uplifting read.

Kathryn - 5 Star

Completely gobbled up this novel, couldn’t put it down and was sad when it ended- more please!  I was actually completely surprised by it and I am really happy when I pick something up that seems like I might be iffy on and find it fabulous!

Beth Hoffman’s story is written simply but with a lot of depth of emotion. She accomplished this I think by moving the story along using small, visually vibrant scenes which somehow makes the story lighter to read.  Given that the start of the novel is quite painful this was a great way to write it for the reader-so that we wouldn’t get too depressed. CeeCee Honeycutt comes from instability at home and as a very young child has to put up with a lot of grown up situations because her mother isn’t mentally present and her father isn’t physically present.  CeeCee though, is a delightful character and is charming for the reader and when she is sent to her great-aunt Tootie’s to live she is finally given a home.

My favourite part about Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is definitely the people.  They are all crystal clear and even if we’re not supposed to love them all they are all integral to CeeCee’s development so have purpose and add colour to the story.  Towards the end I noticed how quickly I was reading and like I said earlier I was very sad when it was over.

Thank you to Beth Hoffman for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Beth Hoffman:

The Birds and the Bees by Milly Johnson

4 Star

Stevie Honeywell is a romance writer whose husband leaves her for sexy Jo McLean only weeks before they were to walk down the aisle. Determined to win him back, she embarks on a self improvement regimen including dieting and exercise. Adam McLean is also just as eager to win back his wife Jo, and when he suggests an outrageous plan to Stevie where they pretend to be a couple to try and win them back, she hesitates. Who exactly will everyone end up with and will Stevie get her romantic ending? 

Lydia - 4 Star

The Birds and the Bees had the same Milly Johnson charm, wit and humour I have come to expect from her books. I did enjoy her other three novels slightly more than this one, but it was still a lovely read.

I giggled frequently as I tend to do with Milly Johnson’s novels and a few scenes have been firmly imprinted in my mind (no spoilers). I liked the characters, and fell in love with Stevie’s best friend. I find she portrays the supporting characters so well I want them to have more of a roll in her stories - maybe that’s why she has interconnecting characters in her novels?

There were times I wanted to shake the main characters though in aggravation. They couldn’t see past their own desire to get their husband/wife back and couldn’t move on which annoyed me at times.  Other than that and it being slightly predictable, this was a nice romantic read, full of insight on broken marriage and finding love.

Milly Johnson still remains one of my favourite new chick lit authors.  Seriously, go pick up some of her books today! Chick lit lovers will not be disappointed. And I’m thrilled for her new book deal – 2 books a year starting next year! And congratulations to Milly on her well deserved success!

Kathryn - 4 Star

The Birds and the Bees was another wonderful story by Milly Johnson and the she’s certainly now one of my favourites. 

I found this story a little different from her others as it was focused almost entirely on one character- like A Spring Affair I suppose- but it wasn’t a mesh of several female stories like her other two books.  It was nice to have the focus be on one person but that’s not to say that her supporting characters weren’t very much involved in the plot.  In this novel I particularly liked the main characters best friend- she was colourful and fresh and I loved her relationship with her husband and children so much I wanted to meet them! 

I don’t remember any of her other heroines having children of their own and I thought she did a really good job of including him without it being overpowering in an already highly charged subject matter.

As I’ve come to expect the novel was full of subtle insightful comments about marriage and relationships but I definitely had some giggles too!

Another great read!

Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK, for our review copy!

Follow Milly Johnson:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jessica Z by Shawn Klomparens

4.5 Star

Jessica Z’s world is altered when a terrorist attack hits her hometown. Her ambiguous relationship with her upstairs neighbour, Patrick, requires definition, but they’re both reluctant and when she meets sexy, seductive Josh at a party, her life twists yet again. Their relationship develops rapidly and Josh, who is a lithographer and artist, requests her to be his newest art project as the terrorism escalates. 

Lydia - 5 Star

I enjoyed this fast paced and thought provoking read. The voice was unique and clipped along at the same pace as the plot and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next.

Klomparens writing was fantastic with the build up of tension incredibly well written. It was so subtle, yet kept me flipping pages with anticipation. My heart was pounding in my chest often as I worried about Jessica and those she loved.  As an aspiring novelist, I was also fascinated by the writing style as most of the novel is dialogue. There was description and her internal thoughts, but they were not as frequent, yet I could understand her motives clearly as well as picture the scenes perfectly. 

These were not the only elements I enjoyed in this novel. I thought Klomparen’s captured a female voice so well that I frequently forgot this novel wasn’t written by a woman. The art description was fantastic. It was intriguing and not bogged down in description  – a perfect balance. 

I also appreciated the lack of explanation about the terrorist attacks. It didn’t hinder the novel in any way, and even made the random explosive acts more frightening. There wasn’t much preaching of politics or religion as the cause and the lack of explanation might be the strongest statement of this novel. It was definitely thought provoking.

Although I was a little slower getting into this novel than Two Years No Rain, which I read first, it didn’t take me long to get attached, to worry about Jessica and tear through the pages to see what was going to happen next.  In this respect, I actually ended up enjoying Jessica Z a bit more than Two Years No Rain. 

This novel had terrorism, eroticism, relationship ambiguity, art, family, love and many more elements to it. I look forward to reading Shawn Klomparen’s novels in the future to see what world he’ll bring to us next!

Kathryn - 4 Star

I found Jessica Z interesting- didn’t love it and certainly didn’t dislike it but there’s something I was missing while reading it… maybe it was simply that there was a slight lack of warmth from most of the characters which made it hard to really get attached to them.  For me really warming to the people in the story is essential for a good novel.

Having said that I found the novel interesting in that the story was great and the subtext of the concern about terrorist attacks was really well integrated without overshadowing the rest of the plot.  In fact it was a fantastically written story and I never felt that it was too slow.

Our main character is a woman and she’s clearly not sure where she wants to be in life- at work or in her personal relationships- her path meanders towards an artist friend of her ex boyfriend.  I didn’t really care for the artist but I’m guessing I wasn’t supposed to.  He’s completely obsessed with his art and doesn’t really give much away about himself and yet she sticks around with him for ages.  The only character I felt had any warmth for most of the novel was the ex (and the sister)- interesting. 

I’m looking forward to reading another novel by Shaun Klomparens though and am interested to see if there’s more warmth for me to latch on to.

Connect with Shawn Klomparens:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dearest Cousin Jane by Jill Pitkeathley

4.5 Star

Countess Eliza de Feuillide is a renowned flirt and basks in her glamorous lifestyle. Rumoured to be the product of a love affair between her mother and Warren Hastings of the East India Company, Eliza lives life to the fullest, even when tragedy strikes. Her flamboyant and passionate spirit is brought to the quiet and simple English countryside where she influences her much younger cousin, Jane Austen, through visits and correspondence. 

Lydia - 4 Star

I enjoyed Dearest Cousin Jane once I had a grasp on the multiple characters from whose point of view this book is told and with not knowing much about Jane Austen, I liked finding out bits about her life through this chick lit-ish historical fiction.

There was a lot of history in this Dearest Cousin Jane with it being based on Eliza’s point of view from her travels to and from India and her life in France leading up to The French Revolution. Eliza loved the fine things in life from Parisian court to galas to the theatre and I thought the story being told from her perspective was an interesting take on Jane Austen’s life, seeing the potential influence her older and outrageously flirtier cousin had on her.  Not having been all that familiar with Jane Austen’s story, I enjoyed learning about her life, especially as seen from her family’s perspective. 

I found the details of Eliza’s flamboyant lifestyle and that of Jane’s less colourful life were portrayed so well I could picture both vividly. This combined with the historical details such as various health aspects of life at that time - which I found fascinating - led to a colourful novel about Jane Austen’s life. I found it interesting to learn how her stories evolved and the struggle of female authors at the time.  I found this novel well researched, filled with details and it didn’t leave me with any nagging questions.

If you’re looking for something with a historical perspective, pick up Dearest Cousin Jane today.

Kathryn - 5 Star

I wasn’t a big fan of Jane Austen when I was forced to read her novels in school- I think it was because I couldn’t get my head around the language quickly enough to be pulled into the story. But I’m pleased to say that I seem to have grown past this problem apparently and really enjoyed Dearest Cousin Jane!

Jane Austen wrote novels about women during her own era but I don’t think that her stories are much different from what we now call chick lit.  Jill Pitkeathley has taken what is known about Jane Austen and made her come alive to us by opening up her relationships with her female (and male) relatives.  She has woven a story about Jane through letters and diary like entries from her cousins, brothers and parents and ended up with a fascinating read. 

I learnt quite a lot from this novel, not just some history and information about social tendencies from the era, but it was also a reminder of women’s relationships and the strength that this brings to all families.  We could probably all use a little reminder now and then about the importance of helping each other so I found inspiration in reading this one.

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for our review copy. All opinions are our own.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...