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Monday, January 11, 2010

Debut Author: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Wow!  Would you look at that?  It's 2010 and thus far, the month is zipping right along (well, it is for me anyway, how about you?).  So many great books have already come out, but brace yourself, because this year is already off to a rather promising start!  Case in point, the book we are featuring today! 

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

CeeCee Honeycut is a wonderful girl.  She is bright, pleasant to be around, a well-read child especially for her tender age (YAY for book lovers!)...oh, and she carries with her a terrible secret.  Her mother Camille is very ill.  Now don't worry, she's not bed ridden or gasping for her last breath, but in a way she is drowning from the weight of her life.  Something inside this Southern belle and former Vidalla Onion Queen pageant winner has gone dreadly awry.  One of the links in her mind is not quite making the connection anymore and she ends up swirling off in a cloud of taffeta complete with crown, make-up, and her red high heel shoes on a moments notice.  As the days pass by, it only gets worse and the secret she so despitely wished to keep is exposed every time her mother takes another excursion into the world to pick up discarded party dresses to add to her unhealthy collection.  Despite CeeCee's youth, she ends up being responsible for taking care of the situation the best she can.  Where is her father you may ask?  Well, he is a traveling salesman (of more than just the product he is pedalling...if you know what I mean...), so he is out for many days at a time.  Upon his return home, he wants nothing more than to be left alone for the night and to escape the next morning.  Poor CeeCee.....if not for her kindly neighbor, Mrs. Odell, she'd be left without a friend in the world.

One day after an especially hard week, CeeCee's mother is dying to make her weekly trip to the bargain store in order to pick up a dress for the pageant that night.  Knowing full well that there is no pageant and having had more than enough of her mother's antics for a lifetime, she tells her she is not going and buries herself away in her book.  Upon hearing the door to the house close, she has a horrible thought, but one that seeps in none the less.  She wished that she never came back so her life could return to something resembling normal.  On this particular day, fate and the unfortunate wish met as her mother was snatched from the life she had grown to hate.  Imagine the sadness.  Imagine the guilt.  Now imagine your father telling you that you're going to move from Ohio to Savannah, Georgia to live with an Aunt you met as a baby.  Yeah, talk about great timing.  Clearly the motives of a man not knowing what was best at the time, but trying to do right in some fashion by his daughter.

Leaving her world behind, along with her stand-in mother and friend Mrs. Odell, CeeCee puts on a brave face and goes with Aunt Tootie to a lifestyle yet unknown.  One never knows what to expect when moving away from home, and with the crushing hand of tragedy still wrapped securely around her heart, young CeeCee has much to face in the coming days.  But wait....what's this?  A lush flora and fauna filled land with a breeze filled with the sweet smell of magnolias?  Can it be?  Is it just a dream or is she finally going to have a chance to grow up as any young child should?  Safe and content, feeling the warm protecting hand of family and the comforting security of knowing where you stand?  Truly in the end, that is up to her.  The path is set before her, but can CeeCee break free of a past that is still casting its shadow over her future?  (You'll have to read it to find out...but the release date is almost here!)

Have you ever had cover envy?  I mean see the cover and think, "WOW!  I just have to know what that book is about!"  Yeah, well, I have and this book is definitely one of those to induce this rare state.  Don't be fooled....the picture here does it SOME justice, but in person, the colors, the image....they just work so well together!  It screams chick-lit or women's fiction (whichever term you prefer, I love them both) straight from the start, and delivers nothing short of your high expectations.

As much as the title declares the books story line of saving CeeCee, the cast of characters surrounding her are every bit as important as they each play a role in shaping her young life. Mrs. Odell, CeeCee's elderly neighbor friend that was more of a mother than her own mother could be once she became ill. Aunt Tootie, wisking her away from the "scene of the crime" to a magnolia filled wonderland to heal and grow. Oletta, Aunt Tootie's right hand....without her the house would not run....nor would any of them eat since she is such a fabulous cook. (Yeah, try not walking away with a craving for cinnamon rolls, or fresh baked bread after reading about it a few times.) Miz Goodpepper and her passion for flying slugs (yeah, I'm actually not going to explain that one, but trust me, it's funny) as well as exhibitionist bathing (again with the non-explain....I have to save that mystery for readers to discover).  Miz Hobbs, who favors married men and yellow feathers.  That's just a few of the many women that touch young CeeCee's life.  Author Beth Hoffman has created a truly touching story with characters you won't want to say goodbye to when you reach the end.

Now being that this is a book review, and in keeping with my own values, I must reveal my dislikes as well.... Honestly, there was only ONE small THING that irked me and it came in the very last chapter or so. It's a section in regards to Northerners versus Southerners. Now, I may live in the South now, but I came from the North, so I've seen both sides of this "debate". It irked me just a bit to read the understanding CeeCee comes to about the South having a way of doing things to make you feel special and that they are a friendlier lot in general. Um, sorry....not buying it. (HANG ON.....before you try to tar and feather me here....keep reading....) When my family moved down here many moons ago, we were WOW'd and AWE'd by everything too. The one thing that didn't always wow us was the reception we received when labeled as "Northerners". Depending upon who it was, it almost sounded like a curse word, or something vile they just had to get out of their mouth or they would pass out. (Not being dramatic here.....girl scouts honor!) The classic line we would here when giving any opinion was "we don't do like you Yankees do". I never really understood it. I mean, what did we do exactly? Answer: nothing. It was merely a result of their upbringing, which I choose not to hold against them, and then their own prejudices surfacing...and let's face it, it is SO not worth the drama. What is the point of my ramble? Well, simply to say that I had wished this seemingly small point were maybe presented in another way within the story. That being said, for the very few pages that it lasted, I would still read the book again cover to cover in a heartbeat. The small irration is fleeting, but the story is heartfelt through and through. (See, that's all....done with that...)  Moving on...

The writing style is true to it's weaves a story rich with color and life and settles on the chick-lit genre as if it were always there.  It brings to mind two authors I have read previously that take residence in this same niche....Mary Kay Andrews (check out my review of Hissy Fit to sample this one) and Rebecca Wells (author of the YA-YA Sisterhood series)....both great company for any author to keep, in my humble opinion. 

If you haven't ordered your copy already, the official release date (at least at the time of this post) was set for January 12th, 2010.

Special thanks to author Beth Hoffman for the ARC for review!  (THANK YOU!)  You can reach her on Twitter (as usual...oh, and she DOES tweet back!), as well as at her site (lots to explore there as well...not to mention the BEAUTIFUL layout!).  Recently her book has been receiving a bit more face time with a mention in the ShelfAwareness newsletter and also being chosen as the Sam's Book Club pick of the month for January! (Congratulations!)

Well, I can see I've taken up more than enough of your time today.  If you've made it to this part of the post I'd just like to say THANK YOU for sticking with me!  I can get wordy on books I like, it's true (I know it, you know it, everybody knows it)...but my aim is always to shed some light on a title you may not have had the pleasure of meeting.

Until next time....happy reading!


Dorothy Dreyer said...

I'm so excited to read this! I pre-ordered my copy and I can't wait to sink my teeth into the richness this story promises to deliver! Great review!

Yunaleska said...

This sounds a fab book! Thanks for the review.

Juju at Tales of said...

Sounds good. Great review.

Cindy said...

Hi! Just found your blog and I like it! I'm a follower now! come follow me if you like my site!

GMR said...

Dorothy Dreyer: Well said! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Yunaleska: Thanks! =0)

Juju: As always...thanks! =0)

Cindy: Welcome and thanks! I checked out your site and it looks like it goes hand in hand design wise! LOL. Happy blogging!

Alexia561 said...

Sounds like a great story! And I agree with you 100% about the reception Northerners receive in the South. Some people are okay, yet others think we're still fighting the Civil War! I'm from the Mid-West, so guess that makes me a Yankee. *L*

stacybuckeye said...

I'm so glad you made the point of the northerner thing too. Actually there were a few other times throughout the book I felt the bias, but you are right that it doesn't take away from how great it was. I'm going to meet Beth at a signing tonight :)

GMR said...

Hmmm, so it seems I'm not the only one that noticed the North vs South aspect....interesting.

Alexia561: Exactly! I try to just let it roll off doesn't happen quite as much once you've been down here for a bit.

stacybuckeye: You are correct, there were a few others, but since they were more "one-liner" type mentions, I just swept them under the proverbial rug. How great that you're getting to meet her tonight! Have fun and say "HI" for me if you would! Thanks for stopping by! =0)

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