Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

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

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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:: Kathryn Stockett:: March 9, 2010

Filed under: Author's Spotlight — bookworms2010 @ 12:00 am
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Did you like my review of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help?

Curious to hear about her inspiration for writing an amazing historical fiction piece about segregation in the south in the 60s?

Looks like we’re not the only ones on The Help’s bandwagon. Book clubs all over the country are abuzz about The Help!

Check out here website here! I hope she comes to the area for a book signing in the near future.

Dreamworks and Steven Spielberg are teaming up to bring this amazing novel to the silver screen.

Movie viewing here we come, girls!!

Who would your dream cast be?

Anne Hathaway as mean girl Hilly?

Oprah as the steady Aibileen?

Claire Daines as quirky Skeeter?

Xoxo,

LibraryLove

 

Author’s Spotlight:: When Two Worlds Collide:: February 12, 2010

Hi all! As we dig out from the Snowpocalyptic conditions here in the area,  a fellow book blogger and dear friend, Planetbooks, uncovered this fun and exciting interview about an author I will get the pleasure of meeting at her book signing/reading in two weeks!  Ever heard the phrase when worlds collide? Read on to find out about two fantastic authors we love here at YOTBW2010. Just so happens that Kathryn Stockett, one of YOTBW2010’s new favorite author of New York Times Bestseller The Help, which both of us bookworms read and raved about, just interviewed Sarah Blake, author of The Postmistress, for an Amazon.com review exclusive!  I couldn’t be happier to meet Sarah Blake, and am patiently waiting to read Blake’s The Postmistress until the signed copy is in my hands, and not a minute sooner! Of course, I’ll share my review here for you all to enjoy. I hope you’ll pick up one of Sarah’s other novels, Grange House or Full Turn while you wait your turn for The Postmistress at a library near you.

Until then, here’s the interview!! xoxo, LibraryLove

(more…)

 

Book #5: Fabookulous February 7, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Book description: Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken. Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women – mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends – view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

To describe my reaction to this book in one word: WOW. And this is the author’s DEBUT novel! She has such a gift for storytelling. I decided to read this book after seeing LibraryLove’s review of it last month.

My first historical fiction piece in a long time, this book had me so engrossed in every character. I love seeing the story from more than one view and empathized with every woman. I found myself in awe of Aibileen and Minny and their strength and perseverance to continue to put up with what they had to. And Skeeter, well she was very brave and honorable to use her talents to make a difference.

It’s amazing what women can do when they push past stereotypes and what society says and come together for a mutual cause. The Help is a wonderful example of women keeping the faith and fighting together, no matter what. I definitely recommend this book and will be looking forward to seeing what Kathryn Stockett writes next!

5/5 stars.

5 down. 47 more. Steady does it…

~Fabookulous~

 

Book #2: LibraryLove January 26, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Book description: Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken. Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women – mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends – view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

I can’t say enough about this book. I kept sending texts to my fellow L&TC Book Club girls as I listened to the audiobook laughing, joking, and loving it. I’m so glad this was one of the books I chose to listen to instead of read. This book is a carefully woven patchwork quilt full of rich character development tying each of the three main character’s lifes to one another, for better, or for worse. If you just read this book, you may miss the added bonus of tone, emphasis and emotion that the three narrators added to the story with their different voices in the audiobook. If you’re going to start listening to books on your iPod, I recommend The Help be the first! Stockett does an amazing job at really separating the characters while keeping them bound to one another throughout the entire story’s plotline. I found myself laughing out loud many times, especially to the scene at the event with the chocolate pie!

Skeeter by far was my favorite character. I love her tenderness. Although she was a bit of an outcast, I appreciated her plight. As a young white woman growing up in the south in 1962, she took gutsy chances by doing what she did. She stood up for not just women’s rights, but human rights. She never let the debutante Ms. Hilly get the best of her, or get in her way for anything. Ms. Celia’s character was my second favorite. I loved how she really didn’t “need” Minnie, but she needed a friend. Ms. Celia didn’t treat Minnie like the rest of the “housewives” treated their “help”. She treated her with respect, like an equal. I also love how the title of this book really digs deeper than just the help the women provided in the home. We all need help. Sometimes, the help we need is someone pushing us. Someone pushing us to shift our focus a bit, regardless of what we’re told by society is “right” or “the way it is”, and challenge us to reach beyond the norm. We can help each other see what’s really important in life. Start valuing others and their individual contributions to our lives rather than their social status.
I recommend everyone read this book!!

5 stars

2 down 50 to go…

On deck, Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult…

Xoxo,

LibraryLove