Short Reviews of Long Books

So the summer definitely took me away from the computer.  I did not post nearly as often as I had intended (though, to be fair, I had grand aspirations about daily posts), but I read far more than I thought possible.  This bookworm was apparently verrrrry hungry.

Here’s the thing.  I would love to do a beautiful, happy post for every book read or movie viewed over the summer, but I’m not going to.  It’s too overwhelming.  In fact, it has kept me quiet for the past week as I struggle to even begin talking about my summer.  Instead, I will give you a description of the book or movie in under 11 words or less and my thoughts in 20 words or less.  Feel free to add more ideas in the comments.

The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Lee.

Summary: Sad woman and sadder man have affair in Hong Kong.

Thoughts: This historical backdrop (Hong Kong during WWII) was intriguing, but I didn’t like any of the characters.  Meh.

The Twilight Saga Collection by Stephenie Meyer

Summary: Bella must choose between creepy vampire and not-as-creepy-but-still-superhuman werewolf Jacob.

Thoughts: It teaches teenagers that the best kind of love is obsessive, controlling, and dangerous.  No thank you.

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Summary: 3 witches, one a fairy godmother, must stop a happy ending.

Thoughts: Hilarious.  This is my first Pratchett novel and I now want to read the entire Discworld series.

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Summary: 3 photographers and their relationships as they photograph the Vietnam war.

Thoughts: Well-written and intricate storylines.  The background and the characters are fascinating.  I want to study photography, or go to Vietnam.

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal

Summary: Sweet valley twins, 10 years later.  Sex, betrayal, and swearing.

Thoughts: So bad.  I read it because I loved the series.  It makes no sense and I hated both twins.

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

Summary: Love triangle in Greece during WWII.

Thoughts: Loved it with 15 pages to go.  Then almost threw it across the room.  Still love it.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Summary: Follows two friends through school, love, and duplicity.

Thoughts: I may have used up an entire tissue box on this.  Read it if you want a good cry.

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mirielle Guiliano

Summary: The title pretty much says it all.

Thoughts: Commonsense advice aside from drinking leek broth for three days and purchase enough champagne to have at every dinner.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (for the fifth time, at least)

Summary: Big brother knows all.

Thoughts: Love it.  Love it.  Love love love love it.  It gets better with every read.  Read it.

 

Phew!  Now that I have those out of the way, I can get back to posting on what I am reading right now!  Trust me, I have an awesome one coming up 🙂

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.