Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (with Orange-Thyme Iced Tea)

For years, twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille. The tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town, Camille was a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when she is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt Tootie in her vintage Packard convertible.

-Back Cover

Some books are incredibly deep and thought-provoking. Others feel unique, like the author is telling a story that has never been told before.

This is not one of those books.

A classic beach read, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman is light, breezy, and cute.  Perfect for long days sitting by the water and sipping a cold beverage, Hoffman’s story is a fun exploration of the zany characters who round out CeeCee’s existence.

Do I think this is incredibly unique?  Not really.  A girl has a rough childhood and is “saved” by a relative she didn’t know she had. That is a fairly common theme.

What makes it worthwhile and immensely enjoyable to read, though, are the ways that Hoffman dreams up the characters.

CeeCee’s mother is not a drug dealer or a drunk, as would often be the case in a story like this.  She is a woman lost in her past, parading down the street in prom dresses that she bought at Goodwill.

Thelma Rae Goodpepper (don’t you just love that name?) may be a fun and worldly next-door neighbor, but she has a dark side that threatens to lead CeeCee astray.

If I could change one part… I would make the book a little more stressful.  Do you ever have those moments when you think that something bad is going to happen and you get a bit stressed about it?  Several times throughout this book, my tension started to mount and then, all of a sudden, the narrative nipped it in the bud.  This made is a light book for a hot summer day, but is also made it a book that I may not remember in a year’s time.

Recommendations

Boys: I don’t think you are going to want to read this.  The only male character is fairly despicable and it is a world dominated by women.

Girls: Check it out if you have interest in Southern society or zany characters.  Use it as a break from reading “serious” stuff.  Preferably, bring it to the beach/lake/pond/nearest body of water.

Oletta’s Orange-Thyme Iced Tea

Okay, so at no point in the book do we hear about the combination of orange and thyme.  We do, however, read about the myriad of cold beverages that one drinks on one’s porch in the South.  Naturally, I wanted to make my own version, so I thought about what would be refreshing as a flavor for iced tea.  I am not a huge “lemon in iced tea” fan and so I thought that orange might work better for me.  Then, I took a look at my herb garden on my balcony, spied the thyme, and BAM, Orange-Thyme Iced Tea was born.  I served this last night to a couple of my friends and it was unanimously enjoyed.  I’m making this again today 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 10 tea bags (I used black tea.  This could work with mint or green tea as well.)
  • 7 cups of water divided
  • a bunch of thyme
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Procedure:

  • Bring 5 cups of water to a boil.  Put your tea bags in the tea pot and let steep for the recommended amount of time.  Take out the tea bags, throw them away, and pour the concentrated tea into your pitcher.
  • In a small saucepan. place the thyme and 1 cup of water.  Heat on low until it comes to a simmer.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Strain the mixture so that only the thyme-infused liquid ends up in your pitcher.
  • In that same small saucepan, mix together the sugar and a cup of water.  Heat until the sugar dissolves.  Pour into the tea.
  • Pour the orange juice into the pitcher as well.  Stir.
  • Taste and adjust sugar if needed.  The way I have it, it is slightly sweet, but not as sweet as commercially-made iced tea.
  • Serve over ice with a sprig of thyme for a garnish if you are feeling fancy.  I was.

What is the Best Fantasy Series?

I have put great thought into this question as I am smitten with a number of them.  This week’s Bookworm theme is just that.  In the comments, please tell me, which fantasy series do you think is the best?  The winners will be announced on Friday. 

I have recently finished a fantasy/science fiction/adventure series that takes a heck of a lot of committment, and that is Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series.  As you can see from my posts on the first three books of the series, I have gradually warmed up to Mr. King, despite his penchant for terrifying me. 

After finishing the entire series, I can safely say that the fourth book, Wizard and Glass, is my favorite.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved all of them.  This one has a special place in my heart because I set out thinking that I was going to be frustrated with it and rush through it.  In the long run, this was the one I most savored. 

In 1978, Stephen King introduced the world to the last gunslinger, Roland of Gilead. Nothing has been the same since. More than twenty years later, the quest for the Dark Tower continues to take readers on a wildly epic ride. Through parallel worlds and across time, Roland must brave desolate wastelands and endless deserts, drifting into the unimaginable and the familiar. A classic tale of colossal scope — crossing over terrain from The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon, Insomnia, The Talisman, Black House, Hearts in Atlantis, Salem’s Lot, and other familiar King haunts — the adventure takes hold with the turn of each page. And the Tower awaits… The Fourth Volume in the Epic Dark Tower Series… Wizard and Glass. Roland and his band of followers have narrowly escaped one world and slipped into the next. There Roland tells them a tale of long-ago love and adventure involving a beautiful and quixotic woman named Susan Delgado. And there they will be drawn into an ancient mystery of spellbinding magic and supreme menace.

The longest book so far of the series is a giant flashback. 

When I started this books, my initial reaction to the flashback is, “You have got to be kidding me.  I just want to find out what happens next!”  There may have even been some “grrrrr”s thrown in. 

Continue reading

Your *Worst* Worst Case Scenario Guide and a Banana Cream Pi Lassi to Make it All Better

Rating: Orange

“Meet Pi Patel, a young man on the cusp of adulthood when fate steps in and hastens his lessons in maturity. En route with his family from their home in India to Canada, their cargo ship sinks, and Pi finds himself adrift in a lifeboat — alone, save for a few surviving animals, some of the very same animals Pi’s zookeeper father warned him would tear him to pieces if they got a chance. But Pi’s seafaring journey is about much more than a struggle for survival. It becomes a test of everything he’s learned — about both man and beast, their creator, and the nature of truth itself.” -Goodreads.com

************************************************************************************

Last week was a rough week.  The week after a vacation always seems particularly long and, to top it off, I wasn’t feeling well at all. 

After I read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi this weekend, I suddenly realize how little I have to complain about.  I live on solid land, eat three regular meals a day, don’t generally worry about becoming lunch for carnivorous animals, have a full and wonderful family, and interact with a number of people daily.

When I look at Pi, stuck out on a lifeboat with a tiger for 226 days, I wonder how long I would last.  As he finds a way to survive aboard this nightmarish raft, he ponders on his will to survive, coming to the conclusion that he has an exceptionally strong life force.

I wonder how long the average person would survive in the same situation.  Many of us would be quick to claim, “I would be tiger meat in 2 hours or less!”  Is that really true?  Would we, like Pi, find a way to deal?  I suppose we will never know the strength of our spirit until put to a similar test.

Without further ado, I brainstormed and came up with the four worst case scenarios for me.  They are present in the poll below.  Which one would be the test that tells you what you are made of?  OR can you think of something worse?  If so, put it in the comments!

Continue reading

Shaken or Stirred? A Tale of Two Hot Chocolates

Rating: Chocolate Cake (of course!)

“For the first time in a decade, Willy Wonka, the reclusive and eccentric chocolate maker, is opening his doors to the public–well, five members of the public to be exact. The lucky five who find a Golden Ticket in their Wonka chocolate bars will receive a private tour of the factory, given by Mr. Wonka himself. For young Charlie Bucket, this a dream come true. And, when he finds a dollar bill in the street, he can’t help but buy two Wonka’s Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delights–even though his impoverished family could certainly use the extra dollar for food. But as Charlie unwraps the second chocolate bar, he sees the glimmer of gold just under the wrapper! The very next day, Charlie, along with his unworthy fellow winners Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Augustus Gloop, steps through the factory gates to discover whether or not the rumors surrounding the Chocolate Factory and its mysterious owner are true. What they find is that the gossip can’t compare to the extraordinary truth, and for Charlie, life will never be the same again.”     -Goodreads.com

********************************************************************************************************

To say that my copy of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is tattered would be an understatement.  Its worn cover opens up to a bundle of pages that are just barely clinging to a well-loved spine.  The pages are curled and dog-eared, but the story they tell remains bright, shiny, and, most of all, delectable.

Most of us at this point know the story of Charlie and Willy Wonka.  What some of us may forget is my favorite moment from the book, a sweet gesture made by the Wonkanator (that is his superhero name) himself.  Charlie and his grandpa’s starved bodies tell the tale of misfortune and suffering.  Wonka helps them in one of the ways he knows how.  He reaches a ladle down into the flowing river of hot chocolate and fills mugs of hot and frothy goodness for them.

As a child, this prompted two responses from me.  First was a sniffle at how happy this moment made me.  Second was a desire for a bubbly hot chocolate that had been mixed by waterfall.

Continue reading

The Social Network’s Guide to Life, Love, and Happiness

Rating: Plum

After viewing The Social Network this past weekend, I came up with a brief list of the major life lessons bestowed upon us by this film. 

Step 1- Be LoyalOnly to yourself. People may help you along the way, but that doesn’t mean that you owe them anything.  You should do what is best for you always, even if that means hurting other people.  

Step 2- Be Honest.  You should speak your mind at any time, even if that means neglecting to use a filter.  Tact means lying.  Therefore, do not use tact in your personal relationships.  That will endear people to you and make them actually want to talk to you.  Adding a touch of condescension and cynicism will surely inspire people to offer their services to you are all times. 

Step 3- Be Forward-Thinking.  In order to be the first one to do something, generally that means you have to beat out the rest of the competition.  If you know what you want to do/make/invent, find ways to stall your opponents.  Have your eye on the prize. 

Continue reading

J.K. Rowling, I Defy You: Butterbeer the Way It Should Be

Some authors are better at food descriptions than others.  For some, food is more of a vehicle; the characters chat while having tea, the situation happens in a cafe, a celebration involves food. 

For others, food seems to act as a source of inspiration, a muse of sorts.  For these writers, the food helps create a world, develop personalities, and tingle the tastebuds of the reader.

J.K. Rowling is of the latter type.  Her food descriptions, perhaps even moreso than the magic, make me want to live in the world of Hogwarts. 

Continue reading