Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #33 LibraryLove June 19, 2010

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook

Book description~ After losing her boyfriend and her job in one fell swoop, Noreen finds it hard to know what the next step is—never mind take it. For the first time in a great many years, Noreen has time to herself. So she puts on a new pair of sneakers and a seriously outdated pair of exercise pants, and walks. It isn’t long before she’s joined by neighbors Tess and Rosie, two women as lost as she is. As the Wildwater women walk and talk, and talk and walk, they tally their steps, share their secrets, and begin putting their lives back together. And along the way, they learn what women everywhere are finding out—time flies, and getting fit is actually fun when you’re walking with friends.

What I often miss from many of our fellow bloggers’ reviews is what drew them to pick up the book they are reviewing! There are so many ways I get inspired to read different books. What or who inspired you to pick up the book you’re reading?

From the bright flip flops on the cover to the intriguing title, stumbling upon this novel was quite serendipitous. I first saw Wildwater Walking Club advertised in a daily edition of Shelf Awareness, one of my favorite book trade publications, advertising the newest books available for advanced review to bloggers and where special giveaways are announced.  I entered a ‘beach reads’ giveaway and although I didn’t win, I immediately checked out WWC from my local library. Then, randomly I received a Facebook friend request from author Claire Cook after she saw the blog link on fellow author Beth Hoffman’s page! What a fun small world.

From the very first page I was hooked. Cook wrote such a fun and refreshing read! Who knew a breakup with a scum bucket, boxes of sneakers, a pedometer, a corporate buyout AND retractable clothesline art could bring such unlikely ladies together?? Well it did! Forty-something ex-sneaker marketer/developer, Noreen,  makes a less-than clean break from slimeball Michael. With her life in flux, taking the first step is the hardest. As part of her corporate buyout, Noreen is entitled to a huge discount on the sneakers she once developed. Taking advantage of that final discount, Noreen grabs stacks of sneakers and two of her neighborhood gal pals and they start the Wildwater Walking Club, as a diversion from their complicated lives.

I love how flawed Noreen’s character is. It’s easier to relate to characters who aren’t perfect. Noreen, as I say, acts as a “ground wire” for the two women she ends up forming a walking club with. The ladies walk the neighborhood every day and record their steps with pedometers.  They plan future vacations, discuss life, love, their uncertain futures, and most important of all, learn to move forward when their lives throws monkey wrenches into the mix. I thoroughly enjoyed the gardening tie-in as lavender plays an important and unexpected role as a character in this book! The ladies plan to ‘pool their pedometer mileage’ and trip over to attend a nearby lavender festival. Noreen and Rosie’s bond strengthens as they tend to the lavender and discover fun lavender recipes like MY personal favorite, lavender black currant champagne (heavenly)!!  Lavender’s solid, calming and rejuvenating presence plays such an important role in setting the foundation for this easy breezy summer read.

I grew up watching my parents tending to their backyard pool/waterfall gardens, front rolling hill and arbor areas year after year.  When you walk up to my parents’ front door, the expansive and fragrant lavender greets you with all the butterflies and bees loving the oasis. It sparked my green thumb and when my husband and I bought our home, I also learned an appreciation for gardening. Orchids and flowering herbs are my absolute favorite, but I love the solidarity of rubber plants and our beautifully rare and draping cultivar rosemary in the front. It’s a quietly slow and steady hobby, but it’s so rewarding seeing new buds, stalks, and petals take form out of nowhere…

WWC was a story of second chances, redemption, starting from scratch and being strong enough to demand what you want at any age. A few of my very close friends are dealing with many seriously hard-hitting issues in their lives right now and ladies if you’re out there, you would really enjoy this book. I think we all can benefit from a fresh start in one way or another and WWC is an uplifting and fun read that left me with a smile on my face. Take “that first step” and toss WWC into your beach/pool bag today!

I look forward to reading Cook’s other works in the near future. And Claire, PLEASE add the Nation’s Capitol to your book tour (pretty please) 😉

Before I head out-of-town for a business trip, here are two recipes from the book that I couldn’t help but share.

For all you walkers out there, enjoy!

Aches Away Lavender Tea Soak

1 c lavender

½  c chamomile

¼ c sage

¼ c rosemary

6 crushed bay leaves

Mix all ingredients. Fill a metal tea ball, muslin, or organza bag. Hang on the tap or float under warm  running water in tub. Climb in and soak liberally to relax muscles, increase circulation, soften body and re-energize soul.

Lavender Dream Pillow

½  c lavender buds

½  c rose petals

½ c crushed mint leaves

3 drops peppermint oil

6 drops lavender essential oil

Mix all ingredients and fill 6-by-12 inch rectangular pillow. Place over your eyes to encourage a restful, rejuvenating sleep, and to make all your dreams come true. 😉

Don’t forget to enter our FREE summer giveaway. Click here for details! Winner announced Wednesday!

4.5/5 stars

33 down, 19 to go!

In progress, A Little Bit Wicked

xoxo,

LibraryLove

PS-

Here is a photo of the enormous lavender plant at the entrance to my parents beautiful home:


Here is a photo of just a fraction of the lush landscaping around their backyard pool, the result of a decade of care:


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Gearing up for Book Blogger Appreciation Week June 16, 2010

September 13-17th is National Book Blogger Appreciation Week and Year of the Bookwormz2010 is entered in the running for 2010 Best Eclectic and Best Written Book Blog!

We look to our readers, fellow book bloggers and favorite authors for suggestions and ideas. Many of our readers turn to us before loading up their library queue. What better time to appreciate your favorite book blogs than during the Book Blogger Appreciation Week coming this fall, especially if a book blog helped you discover some of your favorite reads!

We were asked to select 5 blog posts in each category that best represent our voice here at Year of the Bookwormz. This blog is not only unique in that we review ALL genres of books, but it’s jointly managed by both of us so the only way to fairly participate is to enter one category each. So thanks to our loyal fans, below are links to our most popular and/or most commented posts that we selected as entries. Thanks so much for making this blog a success and for all  your enthusiasm so far!

Entries for Best Written Category

1) Book #7: Fabookulous

2) Book #10: Fabookulous

3) Author Spotlight: Laura Bush

4) Book #17: Fabookulous

5) Book #20: Fabookulous

Entries for Most Eclectic Category

1) When World’s Collide: Sue Monk Kidd & Jenna Lamia

2) Book #26 LibraryLove

3) Book #24 LibraryLove

4) Author Spotlight: Garth Stein Author Event

5) Book #18 LibraryLove

As an added bonus, each blog entered in Book Blogger Appreciation Week is asked to select 1 work of fiction (wish we could pick 5!) as their favorite.

We selected Beth Hoffman’s best selling novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, as our 2010’s Best Fiction. Reviews of her novel here at YOTBWZ received the most blog hits and searches of all, AND she was kind enough to allow us to host a CeeCee Giveaway! Good luck Beth, we hope you win! we’ll also let you know closer to the time if voting is open to the public!

xo♥xo,

Year of the Bookwormz


 

Second Sizzlin’ Summer Giveaway:: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt:: **WINNER JUST ANNOUNCED**! June 9, 2010

Twice is nice!  This summer is on fire already with more exciting news and another chance for you to win free stuff! Who doesn’t love free stuff?! Thanks to the kindness of Beth Hoffman, one of our biggest supporters,  favorite authors, and one of the sweetest ladies we know, I’m thrilled to announce our second super exciting sizzlin’ summer giveaway…

Enter now to win your very own FREE autographed first edition hardcover copy of Beth Hoffman’s New York Times Best Selling novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, packed with a ‘CeeCee slug-slingin’ pancake flipper and yummy bag of Wonka’s sluggles!

If you don’t get the joke, it means you need to enter this contest to win Beth’s laugh-out-loud pee-your-pants novel about the life-changing summer CeeCee spends in Savannah to hear what all the buzz is about.

How can you win this fantastic booty? It’s SUPER EASY!

Just leave a comment  below telling us your favorite summer memory, favorite summer getaway or favorite summer treat.

The contest will remain open until midnight on Tuesday June 22nd. Using Random.org, a lucky winner will be selected and announced here on Wednesday June 23rd. Don’t be shy if you’ve never commented before – now is your chance to win!!

Click here to read my review and click here to read Fabookulous’ review if you’ve not already done so. Our reviews of Beth’s novel received a record number of hits here at Year of the Bookwormz. With Beth’s paperback tour heading our way in early 2011, we’re keeping the buzz going about CeeCee’s story and spreading the word about Hoffman’s debut Southern Fiction masterpiece. Bookmark Beth’s beautifully designed webpage;  you will NOT want to miss her on tour in your city! If you loved books like The Help and/or Secret Life of Bees, you will LOVE CeeCee’s story!

We look forward to reading all your entries!

Good luck 🙂

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

PS- my favorite summer memory is hanging by the pool feeling like I’m on a deserted tropical escape with no baseboards to clean, dog hair to vacuum, or laundry piling up! My favorite summer getaway is heading w/friends to my neighborhood “quiet pool” every weekend, and my favorite summer treat is frozen lemonade!

***WINNER JUST ANNOUNCED*** Check the comments to see if it’s you!

 

Spotlight:: When Worlds Collide:: Sue Monk Kidd & Jenna Lamia:: May 18, 2010

Did you know June is National Audiobook Month? The other day, while perusing the “just added section” of my library’s iPod audiobook catalog, loading up my wish list for next month, I stumbled upon a gem: The Secret Life of Bees!! Just when it couldn’t get any better, I see under the title, read by Jenna Lamia!!!!!!!!

Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees left a lasting impression on me when I first picked it up a few years ago after a recommendation from one of my besties. I absolutely adored it; I laughed, I cried and I felt like Lily was my little sister who I wanted to just take under my wing. I wanted Lily to know she would overcome the horrible turn her young life took and comfort her. Watching the movie was just “so-so”, as I’ve found are 99.9% of movies adapted from novels. Knowing Lamia was the voice of Lily, I made a beeline and downloaded Bees immediately. Kidd’s other books have been on my TBR list for a while now. I was recently re-inspired when Traveling With Pomegranates became available from my local library, Kidd’s dual memoir with daughter Ann Kidd Taylor. Mermaid Chair is also on its way to me through Paperbackswap.com. Unfortunately, Kidd’s author event in my area falls on what seems to be THE busiest weekend of the year and I won’t be in town. If Fabookulous can make it, I will anxiously await her gushing afterward!

Jenna Lamia, my FAVORITE voice-over artist, in addition to narrating Secret Life of Bees, has cropped up in some of my other favorite audiobooks (go figure)! I just love when worlds collide and simply had to blog about it. I plan to follow her career, as Fabookulous would say, “like white on rice”! After a quick IMDB search, Lamia has also appeared in numerous films as an actress, but carved out a perfect niche in the voice-over universe. Lamia read the voice of Skeeter in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, a book that will remain in my Top 10 best reads. In addition to narrating the entire audiobook for Bees, Lamia also narrated the audiobook for friend and YOTBWZ2010 supporter, Beth Hoffman’s debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. Interestingly enough, I found many similarities between the three books’ main characters- Skeeter, Lily and CeeCee. If I were a college student again, I’d write a character analysis paper comparing/contrasting these three young women. I think it’d be fascinating to analyze these three books in relation to one another’s main characters. Lamia’s voice is the perfect tie to bind them and I thank the “voice over powers that be” for “casting” the audiobook just right. Lamia’s voice so perfectly springs these authors’ words from the page and into life with such feeling and intensity. Her timing is right on point.

If you’re new to the audiobook realm, I highly recommend you just give it a try and observe June’s National Audiobook Month in a few weeks. Take a listen to Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, The Help and/or Secret Life of Bees and come back here to let me know your thoughts, feelings, reactions! You will be hooked. Audiobooks make my commute, housework, and summer roadtrips much more enjoyable and are widely accessible from your local library’s digital download section or in CD format. When all else fails, head over to iTunes and download the audiobooks from there.

“Jenna Lamia brings a fresh, captivating voice to the audiobook world, and with only a few audiobooks under her belt, she has had amazing success. Her performance of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES was a 2003 Audie Award Finalist in the prestigious category of Best Female Narrator. Director Paul Ruben shared his excitement about their work on the audiobook, saying, “Only good actors make good directors, and she’s one of them. A natural.” GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING was her first audiobook, and an Earphones Award Winner. We celebrate HOPE WAS HERE with another Earphones. She has an attentive ear for the nuances of speech patterns and regional inflections, yet makes an effort not to overprepare. “I let the characters grow and take care not to be too knowing,” she says. “I come to the story as the listener does, allowing it to unfold.” Jenna’s success is not just in audiobooks; a big break came with her 1998 performance in Ah, Wilderness on Broadway, and recently she starred in Bed Bound Off Broadway. She’s now in Los Angeles where she had a role in HBO’s Oz. Movies on the way include Audrey Tautou’s Nowhere to Go But Up. Jenna’s interest in audiobooks will likely keep open some time for narration in the coming months”.–2003 Narrator Yearbook.

Look for my review of Secret Life of Bees coming soon!

Happy reading,

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

 

Book #26 LibraryLove May 12, 2010

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Book description~

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille–the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town–a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.
In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer. Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut is, as Kristin Hannah says, “packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart.” It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others.

Let me first just say…holy cannoli, I’m halfway there (queue Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin on a Prayer’)! This marks the halfway point for me- 26 books so far. I absolutely love this challenge. I’ve devoured more books since January 1, 2010 than an entire calendar year in the past. I’ve grown as a person and learned so much along the way. It feels so good to be on track with completing my first ever New Year’s Resolution. I don’t make promises I don’t intend to keep, hence my reason for never making a resolution before.  This has me pondering what reading challenge I will undertake in 2011. If you have any suggestions, bring ’em on!

Ok, back to business…I finally had the opportunity to read this debut novel of one of our biggest fans and friends here at Year of the Bookwormz2010. Beth Hoffman, author of this New York Time’s best selling novel is sweet, kind, insightful and just a peach. She is so busy yet still finds the time to read our blog reviews and send us sweet messages. Fabookulous discovered this book and developed a rapport with Beth immediately. We look so forward to taking Beth to a girly afternoon tea or sharing some sweet tea when she adds our hometown to her paperback tour next year.

A sleepy town in Ohio in the ’60s is where we first meet young Cecilia Honeycutt (CeeCee). Managing the public embarrassment of a mother with mental illness and an absentee father leaves CeeCee with a hefty weight on her shoulders on the brink of her teenage years. CeeCee’s story is the basis for Beth Hoffman’s debut novel rich with southern charm. This novel goes down like an ice-cold glass of lemonade and a plate of cool cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off enjoyed mid-afternoon on a wrap-around-porch with the scent of wisteria blowing through the air.

CeeCee is swept off her feet by her Great Aunt Talullah (Tootie) during the summer of 1967. Tootie takes an otherwise series of unfortunate events, and turns it into the greatest summer of CeeCee’s young adult life giving her a second chance at enjoying her youth with the love, support, and laugh outloud hijinks along the way. The women of Gaston Street turn CeeCee’s loss into something so wonderful you’ll have to read the book to find out the rest.

Mix a pinch of Secret Life of Bees

+ a whole lotta’ Skeeter + Minny from The Help

+ a splash of Thelma & Louise

+ sprinkle of Paula Deen

= Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

“Miz Goodpepper gathered the length of her caftan and stepped on the stump. Her lips formed a devlish smile when she shook one of the slugs onto the end of the pancake flipper. She held out the jar and said, “Will you hold this for a minute?”

I wrinkled my nose but did as she asked.  With her right hand she held the handle and with her left she pulled back the top like a slingshot and said, “Enjoy the ride.” She let go and the slug catapulted through the air and disappeared into the darkness of Miz Hobbs’ backyard. She let out a low, haunting laugh. “Oh, I’m not killing them. I’m just sending them on a little ride. Slugs like to fly. They look forward to this- it’s their only sport. With any luck those slugs will eat half of that evil witch’s garden before morning.” Thelma Rae Goodpepper was a mystery to me: wise and funny and kind, yet she also possessed a darkness that was as smooth as silk and as dangerous as a slim blade. Something formidable shimmered in her cool, blue eyes. I didn’t know what to think of her. But I did know, with searing clarity, that I’d never want to fall out of her favor.”

This book had such a satisfying ending. I feel like Beth used the vignette about the hummingbird as a metaphor for CeeCee’s growth. CeeCee was that little hummingbird caught in the spiderweb and then freed to fly as high as she could. Yet somehow I was still left wanting more- in a great way! More of CeeCee, Great Aunt Tootie and Oletta’s bond, and more of CeeCee & Dixie’s new beginning.   I felt for a moment that it was Fabookulous and I walking together chatting about books headed in for our first day of school 🙂 I know that a story must be well-rounded with more than just focus on the main characters, as the events of CeeCee’s summer unfold for the reader. I felt like I didn’t get enough time with CeeCee, Toots and ‘O. Maybe another 50-75 pages worth of dialogue and plot development in the beginning or mid-point? Yes, it’s selfish, I know!  The part of me that understands how the publishing world works, also knows that breakout authors can get bombarded with book deals right after the first becomes a hit. As one of my other favorite author friends Sarah Pekkanen told me, her second novel was already written by the time the first one went to print. So *crossing fingers and toes*, hopefully Hoffman did this on purpose because CeeCee’s story isn’t yet over? I sure hope not. Make me wait too long and I’ll have to take up slug slingin’… I’ll try not to trip anyone in the process 🙂

A story of love, life, and letting go- Saving CeeCee Honeycutt will not disappoint.

If you need a quick and satisfying read for a day at the pool or beach this summer, I highly recommend this book.

5/5 stars

26 down, 26 to go!

In progress: Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove

 

Author’s Spotlight::Beth Hoffman:: March 7, 2010

Did you enjoy my review of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt?

I loved that book so much I had to do a feature on Beth Hoffman. After a career in one of her life passions (interior design), Beth had the chance to pursue her other passion, writing. When she suffered group A streptococcal infection that resulted in septic shock and was forced to reevaluate her life, she seized the opportunity. She spent the next four years writing her debut and, in my opinion, exploded onto the literary scene! If you haven’t picked up Saving CeeCee Honeycutt yet, I am confident it is the first of many delightful stories to come from Beth Hoffman!

Check out my review of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and visit Beth’s website. And this bookworm is following her Event Schedule hoping she makes it to the nation’s capital! Maybe I’ll see you there!

Happy Reading!

~Fabookulous~

 

Book #7: Fabookulous

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Book description: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille- the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town- a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when tragedy strikes, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who skinny-dips in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapon, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Above all, it is a book full of feminine wisdom- one to cherish, remember, and share.

I do not know where to begin because I cannot say enough good things about this book! I loved the fact that the main character is 12 and the story is through her eyes. It was fun to live the story through a child’s eyes. The innocence, the humor, the confusion. I completely lost myself in this book as I remembered how I viewed the world at such a young age.

CeeCee is an extremely lovable main character and very relatable. I found myself wishing I could give her a hug and encourage her. Call me crazy for getting so involved, but this book ran like a movie through my mind the entire time. Yes, I realize that’s what happens when you read, but I mean I was ON the streets of Georgia with them, I was at the roadside lunch outside the jewelry shop, I was next door watching Miz Goodpepper with CeeCee and I sat down at the kitchen table with Oletta and CeeCee during breakfast. I loved everything about this book and will recommend it to whoever needs suggestions!

This book reminded me a lot of the movie Steel Magnolias and I loved the sweet southern belles and all their hospitable endeavors. I laughed out loud at the tales of friendship and I enjoyed all the surprises throughout the book. For a 306 page book, I feel I spent every part of that summer with them. Beth Hoffman did a superb job in her storytelling and I love that this was her debut novel as now I will follow her career!

You know how sometimes you see a movie and you really like it, and then it’s announced that a sequel will be made? And you know how it makes you wonder if it will be as good as the original? In the same way, I thought this book was so entertaining and enjoyable that I wonder if Beth Hoffman could even top herself! That’s not in any way to doubt her creativity or capabilities as an author, but rather to say how refreshing and wonderful this debut novel was! It’s been a long time since I’ve related to characters so well and Beth is a marvel at creating characters you will wish were your friends and neighbors. CeeCee’s aunt Tootie makes you feel right at home among her house and her friends. They are one big happy Georgia family!

I couldn’t put this one down from the minute I got it at the library. And now I can say I have proudly purchased my very own copy, not only to lend to friends but to get signed if/when I meet Beth on her book tour! I highly recommend for anyone looking for a good read. Women will especially enjoy this as it develops the beautiful friendships between women where we can talk and laugh and fight and cry and make up and still love each other in this crazy thing called life. Please, grab some sweet tea and find a spot outside and step into the southern world of Savannah with CeeCee!

5 out of 5 stars!

~Fabookulous~