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Review: SAVING CeeCee HONEYCUTT by Beth Hoffman – 5 star MUST READ!
Aug 18th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

SAVING CeeCee HONEYCUTT

by (the incredibly talented storyteller) Beth Hoffman

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Buy it here: IndieBoundAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible |Book Depository

From Goodreads:6617928

Twelve-year-old CeeCee is in trouble. For years she’s been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille— the crown-wearing, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town. Though it’s 1967 and they live in Ohio, Camille believes it’s 1951 and she’s just been crowned the Vidalia Onion Queen of Georgia.

The day CeeCee discovers Camille in the front yard wearing a tattered prom dress and tiara as she blows kisses to passing motorists, she knows her mother has completely flipped. When tragedy strikes, Tootie Caldwell, a previously unknown great-aunt comes to CeeCee’s rescue and whisks her away to Savannah. Within hours of her arrival, CeeCee is catapulted into a perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricities—a world that appears to be run entirely by women.

While Tootie is busy saving Savannah’s endangered historic homes from the wrecking ball, CeeCee encounters a cast of unforgettable, eccentric characters. From the mysterious Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in an outdoor tub under the watchful eyes of a voyeuristic peacock, to Oletta Jones, the all-knowing household cook, to Violene Hobbs, the loud-mouthed widow who entertains a local police officer in her yellow see-through peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

 

My review:

Some of the most memorable characters you’ll ever read are found in Saving CeeCee Honeycutt! Perfect for bright MGers to adults, this novel is an adult New York Times Best Seller! And it should be! Read it and love it and never forget these characters. This will be on my ’14 top-read list!

Here’s what impressed me about this novel:
1. Mrs. O’Dell is one of my heroes. What she does to help CeeCee when she suffers until her mother’s mental illness is remarkable. She provides love, a safe haven, and nurtures her through difficult times.
2. CeeCee suffers so much because of her mother’s mental illness. Her father abandons them and CeeCee ends up holding the heavy burden of dealing with her mother’s crazy antics – dressing up in prom dresses, which help her to recall the moment when she was a beauty queen. The way Beth Hoffman portrayed CeeCee’s mom will tear at your heart. It’s so raw and revealing and emotional.
3. SPOILER: When CeeCee’s mom is struck and killed by a truck, her aunt Tootie comes and takes her away to Savannah, Georgia. Aunt Tootie is one of the kindest, most loving women one could ever encounter. She gives CeeCee the life that she deserves and helps her cope with loss.
4. The cast of characters in Savannah. Real Southern belles, who are wild and eccentric. Who wouldn’t want to grow up around these crazy, fun ladies?
5. OLETTA! Wow, I fell in love with Oletta. She had me drooling for cinnamon buns and everything else. I absolutely adored her relationship with CeeCee. Aunt Tootie was her family and vise versa. The portrayal of this family was one of the most important, beautiful portrayals of racial relations. This reminded me so much of our own family. My grandma was a Southerner. We had Barbara McCray. Love knows no color!
6. Beth Hoffman takes the reader to Savannah. You will live it, breathe it, taste it. The setting jumps off the page.
7. Addressing racism in an honest, powerful, emotional way. The huge divide between our people. Here are some of the accurate portrayals addressed: financial, educational, health care, place of residence.
8. Definition of family is a key theme of this novel. Beth Hoffman nailed it by showing that LOVE is the ultimate.
9. This is a novel with a huge range of appeal. I could see a bright middle grader read this. High school students for sure. Even though Pamela Dorman Books is an adult publisher, this novel is the perfect crossover novel! Smart young adults, this is a must read!

While I read this novel, I ACHED for my grandma. I miss her calling me ‘darlin’. I missed her “tomata, potata.” I miss Barbara McCray’s “Bless her heart.” I felt wrapped up in her love. And readers, you will feel wrapped in love by this novel!

I WANT A SEQUEL! Where is CeeCee now? 538342_372652756166083_753612637_n
A must read!

PS. There’s a “cat” fight that is so hysterical, you don’t want to miss it. Karma’s a bitch. It really is!!!

The spider and the slugs are awesome too!

About Beth Hoffman:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

 

Take 5 Q & A & Giveaway: LOOKING FOR ME by BETH HOFFMAN
Apr 28th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

LookingForMePaperbackLOOKING FOR ME by BETH HOFFMAN

Take 5 Q & A & Giveaway

Celebrating the release of the ppb edition.

Pub date: April 29, 2014

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Buy it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Audible

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Teddi Overman loves her family and the simple life they share on their Kentucky farm, but when high school graduation nears and her mother pushes her towards secretarial school, Teddi knows it’s time to strike out on her own and pursue her dream of working with antiques. Gifted at refurbishing furniture and possessing an uncanny knack for uncovering the beauty and history in what other people discard, Teddi leaves Kentucky in the middle of the night and makes her way to Charleston, South Carolina. There, Teddi builds a new life for herself, and makes her dream come true in a small antiques shop frequented by a cast of quirky customers and friends. But each time Teddi, now thirty-six years old, leaves Charleston and visits the farm of her youth, she’s drawn to the mysterious beauty of Red River Gorge, where her brother went missing at the age of seventeen. Though everyone believes that her beloved brother is dead, Teddi never gives up hope of finding him. When circumstances lead her to clean out the old barn, Teddi makes a discovery that challenges her in ways she never could have imagined. And while trying to fit together the pieces of her family’s shattered past, Teddi unwittingly finds herself among the ruins. 

PRAISE FOR LOOKING FOR ME:
“Hoffman’s novel of a woman putting the pieces of her family’s secrets together combines a deep dramatic impact with Southern charm.”
Publishers Weekly

“Hoffman has a good ear for dialogue, and Teddie and her friends are realistic, appealing characters. Perfect for fans of family-centered women’s fiction, this book will have special appeal to readers interested in antiques and ‘shabby chic’ style.”
Booklist

Beth-Hoffman-Author-PhotoABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beth Hoffman was the president and co-owner of an interior design studio before becoming a full-time writer. Looking For Me is her second novel. She lives with her husband and two cats in Kentucky.

Find Beth:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook

Beth Hoffman’s Spring/Summer 2014 Tour:
NAPERVILLE, IL, Anderson’s Bookshop, May 1
WICHITA, KS, Watermark Books, May 6
KANSAS CITY, MO, Unity Temple (with Rainy Day Books), May 8
WOODSTOCK, GA, Foxtale Book Shoppe, May 13
FAIRHOPE, AL, Page & Palette, May 15
EVANSVILLE, IN, Vanderburgh Public Library, June 15

My Five Star Review: 

An exceptional story that will leave antique lovers drooling, nature lovers longing for the outdoors, animal lovers running to make a donation to their local animal shelter or humane society, and hopeless romantics swooning. Continues . . . on Goodreads

Take 5 Q & A with Beth:

Q: I love how Teddi leaves notes for her brother Josh in the bottles. It inspired hope for the readers that she’d connect with him again. If there was anyone to whom you could leave notes in a bottle with the hope that they’d find it, who would it be and what would you want that person to know?

A: When I was in my mid-20s I rented part of a big coach house from an older woman named Marge. Marge was funny, kind, and a fabulous storyteller. She’d often invite me into her kitchen and we’d talk while she cooked and I sat at a bistro table surrounded by a menagerie of animals and pots of overgrown plants. We shared the carriage house for two years.

Then Marge reunited with her former husband and I changed jobs and moved away. We kept in touch for a while, but as the years passed we lost track of each other. I don’t know if Marge is still alive, but if I could leave her a note in a jar, it would say this: “Thank you for loving me when I didn’t love myself, and for knowing when to wrap me in your arms and when to leave me be. Thank you for Friday night spaghetti dinners, laughing at the moon, and helping me find my way. I miss your stories so much, especially those that probably weren’t true. I will always love you.”

Q: Teddi thrives on giving new life to old things. Is this something that you personally do? Please give an example. Where did the inspiration for this come from?

A: It all started when my grandmother let me explore her attic: there was everything from canning jars filled with old buttons, to boxes of musty hats, to furniture. I’d open the drawers of dusty chests and imagine what they once held, I’d try on moth-eaten hats, and I’d sit on the floor and sift through fragile photographs. Then I’d go downstairs to find my grandmother and ask questions: who were the people in the photographs? Why were there so many jars of buttons? Who had owned the black hat with the giant plume? I was fascinated by the people and histories behind these objects, and I’ve had a soft spot for old things ever since.

Q: Teddi had many unresolved issues with her mother, yet she loved her deeply.  What’s your best advice for someone who doesn’t see eye to eye with a person they love?

A:  It’s often the people we struggle to understand who can teach us the most. I think it’s important to ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. The more we share, the easier it is to understand and accept our differences. Had Teddi’s mother opened up and talked about the struggles in her own life, her relationship with her daughter would have been so much better. And the flip side is also true, if Teddi had shown more interest and been curious about her mother’s past, the lines of communication would have opened.

Q: Josh decides to live in the wilderness. What kind of research did you do to write these scenes or did you base any of it on personal experience? If so, what was it?

A: The animal and wilderness scenes were the easiest to write because of how I was raised. I grew up on my grandparents’ farm and was taught to be kind to all creatures. The crop fields backed up to hundreds of acres of dense woodlands that I explored with endless curiosity. Fox, white-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits, woodchucks and countless birds (from raptors to tiny chickadees) were frequent visitors to our farm. Spending time in the wilderness was a big part of my everyday life and I’ve loved and studied nature and animals ever since.

Q: What most surprised you while writing this novel?

A: Crafting LOOKING FOR ME was the most emotional and cathartic writing experience I’ve ever had. To create a story that encompassed my deepest passions often left me raw and depleted one moment, and then set me on fire the next. It’s impossible for me to describe how much I loved writing this book and how surprised I was by how it evolved.

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The BEST Books I Read This SUMMER & MEGA Giveaway
Sep 1st, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

                 The BEST Books I Read This SUMMER & MEGA Giveaway

(Three winners!)

I’ve read a lot of excellent books this summer (June 21-August 31), but not all of them are included in this list. That’s because they were ARCs and haven’t been published, yet. I look forward to putting together another post at the end of 2013, which will include those novels.

Each of the books or series listed below were memorable for different reasons and I want to share them with you. One lucky winner will get to select two books of choice or one audiobook via Audible and a book. Two winners will have a choice of a book or audiobook. International winners – you must have access to Audible or the book must be available through The Book Depository. Giveaway ends September 22, 2013 11:59 PM CST.

(Rafflecopter Below)

In no particular order:

16151178The Sea of Tranquility by 

Why it’s on the list: I love characters who go through major transformations.

Review: An exceptional story.

A note about the cover: It’s perfect for this novel. That’s melted ice cream that formed the outline of the faces on the asphalt. It fits so beautifully, so kudos to the designer and the publisher for going with it.

I am NOT going to talk about Josh. Or Sunshine. Or what happened to her in THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay. I am not going to discuss the unfairness of what Josh faced over and over again. Many others have done so and done it extremely well. I second, third, fourth my agreement.
I will say this: THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY begs the reader to take action, to make a change, or a choice, even a small one like picking up the phone and calling a loved one to say “I love you.”

To read the rest of the review, click here: The Sea of Tranquility

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (AUDIOBOOK), performed by  and 13479365

Why it’s on the list: I’ll remember what happened to these characters for a very long time.

Review: Voices so real, it’s hard to believe this is historical fiction and not biographical.

I picked up this novel from the library, but then returned without reading it. That was nearly a year ago. I had heard that it would rip my heart out, and I wasn’t ready to grab the knife.
But when my dear friend Heidi from YA Bibliophile @hmz1505http://www.yabibliophile.com raved and raved and raved about the audio, I knew I had to listen to it.
Once again, Heidi was right. The readers brought this novel to life and had me riveted. I was drawn into the story of female spies and female pilots during WWII and the friendship between two women – Queenie and Maddie. As they both had their turn to share the sequence of events that led to their friendship and what happened when Queenie was captured by the Nazis was absolutely stunning. The characters seemed so real and their voices were so authentic, that it’s hard to believe that they were created in Elizabeth Wein’s imagination.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Code Name Verity 

15777621This Song Will Save Your Life by 

Why it’s on the list: Speaks to anyone who’s felt like they didn’t fit in.

Review: Wow, wow!

Can a song save a person’s life?
Hmm, you’ll have to read This Song Will Save Your Life to understand the magic of music. I was deeply impressed with the Leila Sales’ powerful portrayal of Elise Dembowski, a sixteen-year-old girl who has endured bullying and friendlessness for as long as she can remember. As the daughter of divorced parents who share custody, she’s scheduled in and synced to both parents’ lives. With her dad, she’s an only child. With her mom, she’s the big sister and a step-daughter. Elise is bright and creative, and music means everything to her. Her father is a member of a one-hit 70s band, still playing at various venues like cruise ships, bars, etc. while he also works at a music store. It is he, who gave Elise such a passion for music.

To read the rest of the review, click here: This Song Will Save Your Life

What Happens Next by 12819342

Why it’s on the list: Addresses a serious issue: Date rape after being drugged.

Review: Very realistic. Compelling. Painful. Serious issues. One of the best book boyfriends. Ever. Definitely recommend.

What Happens Next was recommended to me by Rachel fromhttp://rachelwritesthings.blogspot.com Thanks, Rachel!

I was immediately taken in by Sid’s story, a sixteen-year-old girl who goes on a school ski trip with her two best friends. While on the trip, the three of them split up and Sid meets a college boy named Dax. He’s fills her with lots of compliments and begs her to come to a party. Her friends are totally against it, by Sid ignores them. What happens next is absolutely horrible and real and a warning to girls to never go to a stranger’s place.
As Sid tries to figure out how to deal with what happened to her, she meets Corey Livingston, a boy who seems like a complete loser. But as the two of them take months to get to know each other, something special blooms between them.

To read the rest of the review, click here: What Happens Next 

16409311

Camp Boyfriend by 

Why it’s on the list: For anyone who has ever been torn between two boys or struggled with identity, this story will hit home.

Review: CAMP BOYFRIEND is . . .

authentic. Beautifully captures the difficulties of navigating friendships and relationships. So much more than a love triangle. (Don’t let that turn you off. It’s a huge plus.) This novel is about self-identity, self-worth, self-esteem.
I really want to see this in all middle schools/high schools/libraries.

CAMP BOYFRIEND does an incredible job of portraying the inner turmoil of a girl torn between two really good guys. But it’s also so much more. It begs the reader to ask, “What’s important to me?” Until that question is answered, it’s tough to know the bigger question, “Who am I?”

I am NOT going to summarize this novel. You can read that in the description. Instead, I want to share with you . . .
what I LOVED about CAMP BOYFRIEND.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Camp Boyfriend

The ENTIRE (to date) Covenant Series By 

Half-Blood (Book 1)

Half-Blood (Book 1)

(Half-Blood, Pure, Deity, Apollyon)

Why these books are on the list: The first line of my review says it all!

Review: Adventure, romance, heart-pounding action, and Greek mythology rolled into a captivating, unforgettable series.

Jennifer Armentrout created an fascinating world you’ll appreciate and visit on each page. I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with Aiden and Alex.

Thank you, Jaime, from http://fictionfare.blogspot.com for sharing the first three books with me and to Spencer Hill for the fourth book APOLLYON and the novellas.

I read all four books in THE COVENANT series plus the novella ELIXIR over the past four days. That should say EVERYTHING. I was completely sucked into the Greek mythology and the incredible storyline told by the hyper, daring, courageous, snarky Alex (short for Alexandria). Alex is a half blood – someone who is born to a pure blood parent (from the Greek gods) and a mortal parent. Pure bloods and half bloods don’t mix. They’re forbidden to love and they’re most definitely a lower class. Half bloods can become slaves to pure bloods, losing themselves by being forced to drink elixir that takes away their ability to think and act on their own freewill.

To read the rest of the review, click here: The ENTIRE (to date) Covenant Series

615359Shark Girl and Formally Shark Girl by 

Why these books are on the list: Powerful portrayal of a teen redefining herself told through free verse poetry.

Review: SHARK GIRL will keep you captivated and will reel you in! Perfect for reluctant readers.

SHARK GIRL is about a girl named Jane who’s life changes in an instant when a shark attacks her and severs her arm. The story of that moment is told in free verse poetry. Throughout the novel, letters from concerned, compassionate people, along with reporters who want her story, are interspersed, breaking up the free verse poetry with the reality of what it means to be in the national spotlight. Jane shares her painful recovery, her deepest emotions, including her fears, frustration, and anger at the loss of her arm. Once a promising artist, she sees her future plans disappear as she has to relearn how to do everything with her left hand.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Shark Girl and Formally Shark Girl

Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm by  (AUDIOBO

18123755

OK), performed by 10194157

Why it’s on the list: Fantasy at its finest!

Review: A captivating audiobook that kept me completely enthralled and invested in the story. Characters came to life.

About the story: Alina and Mal are two orphans who were raised in a Duke’s home (he takes in orphans who are “cared for” by a his servants. They rarely see the Duke.) Alina and Mal become each other’s best friends/family. Eventually, Alina and Mal come to serve the king as trackers. But when it’s discovered that Alina has a special talent, she’s whisked away from Mal and taken to the Little Palace to hone her skills as a Grisha and become the Darkling’s match. Putting their gifts together, they’ll be invincible. But Alina has a lot to learn before that can happen.
I loved the Grisha and their unique abilities. I could visualize the Shadow Fold and the nation of Ravka as well as the Little Palace, which isn’t very little at all.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Shadow and Bone To read the review for the second book in the series, click here: Siege and Storm

16270141The Boy on the Bridge by 

Why it’s on the list: A historical (romance) novel set in the former Soviet Union-USSR (Russia.) I don’t think many YA know about this time period in history.

Review: An accurate portrayal of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Terrifying and heartbreaking. Highly recommend.

When Laura goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad program, she believes meeting Alyosha on the bridge leading to her foreigners only dorm is a chance encounter. She quickly develops deep feelings for him and it appears that he feels the same way. He and his friends are hungry for anything that connects them to America. Does he love her because she’s wonderful, bright, kind or because of what she represents as an American? There is danger lurking around every corner, people who are willing to get this young couple in trouble, especially Alyosha, for anti-Soviet sentiment. Alyosha longs for the freedom that he perceives America represents. What does this really mean for Laura? You’ll have to read the novel to find out.

To read the rest of the review, click here: The Boy on the Bridge

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes17572903

Why it’s on the list: Simply unforgettable – Like SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.

Review: Part 1: Written on  7/20/13

Speechless.

I need to spend some time digesting this novel before I complete my review. I will say this – I am so glad I read the prequel (HONEYMOON IN PARIS) – See my review on Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/…
More tomorrow.
Or the next day.
Must. Close. My. Mouth. It’s on the floor.

Part 2: Written on 7/23/13

Impactful. Eye-opening. Shocking.

Okay. Deep breath.
I’ve been thinking about how to review this novel. A lot. And why it affected me so much. I’ve come to the realization that there are several things that deeply impacted me. The characters and the experiences are so real, that, as the reader, you get completely absorbed in what has happened to them. This experience is similar to what many would say happened while reading SARAH’S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay.

To read the rest of the review, click here: The Girl You Left Behind

16158528Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

Why it’s on the list: A unique, page-turner story. The characters are some of the most interesting I’ve read.

Review: An exceptional novel that will leave antique lovers drooling, nature lovers longing for the outdoors, animal lovers running to make a donation to their local animal shelter or humane society, and hopeless romantics swooning.

I seriously can’t believe that I waited a whole month to read this novel. I should have picked it up immediately. Looking for Me is storytelling at its best. Teddi and her brother Josh grew up on a farm in Kentucky. While she loves to give new life to old things like furniture, Josh becomes a protector of nature. Their father fosters their passions while their mother begrudgingly goes along with it. As Teddi and Josh grow up, they take their own journeys away from home. Their stories are both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Some of the overall themes of this beautiful novel are the power of family ties, the bonds of friendship, and the power of love.

To read the rest of the review, click here: Looking for Me
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