"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

My humble opinion: This book was sweet, fluffy, airy, and simple. It was lighthearted and warm and reminded me of drinking a vanilla latte hold the espresso and triple the vanilla syrup.

The story: Cecelia Honeycutt loses her mother to an accident/mental illness and goes to live with her great Aunt in Savannah. No longer a lonely outcast she grows to love the many charming women who become her family.

Bad: Overuse of the word dappled- everything was dappled! Sun dappled, shade dappled, dappled dappled dappled. Her mother's mental illness was not believable- not at all, just wasn't. I would have done further research on what psychotic people actually act like. Since that part wasn't believable I didn't hurt with CeeCee the way I should have.

Good: The book was so predictable that it was comforting. The characters were cheerful and aside from some overused words the setting was described richly and realistically.

Bottom line: This will appeal to readers of Jan Karon, but those who are comparing this to Gone With the Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird have had too much Southern heat.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Jazz Bird by Craig Holden

The Jazz Bird takes place in the 1920's in the midst of the prohibition. The story starts of with the murder of Imogene Remus, the wife of a convicted bootlegger. Her husband, George Remus, confesses as the killer but he seems like an unlikely suspect as he's always been deeply in love with his wife...

During the trial their story unfolds a twisted and complex tale of betrayal and manipulation...until the end when you find out the truth about what happened to their relationship and the day of Imogene's murder.

The characters are colorful enough to keep you reading but the ending goes no where. Entertaining but not dazzling.

A tragic love story and a fascinating insight into bootlegging. I gave it 3 stars because it was worth listening to (I did the audio tape version).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

I had never read a Dean Koontz novel but the attractive cover of this one got a hold of me and I checked it out. Yes, the monk in the brown robe proved to be irresistible to me. The contents didn't disappoint me.

Brother Odd is one in the "Odd Thomas" novel series, featuring a young man who has suffered untold loss and who is a sage at the tender age of 21, Odd Thomas. In this installment of the series, Thomas' paranormal abilities - he can see dead people as well as a kind of "demon" that congregates in places that are about to witness death in a massive scale, not exactly a happy ability - take him to a Catholic monastery that is also home to an eccentric, world-famous physicist. This physicist, also a monk, has discovered a way to create things and even living beings out of nothing, utilizing a machine that amplifies his thoughts. But, in a plot element reminiscent of the 50's cult-classic SciFi movie, Forbidden Planet, the scientist wasn't counting on "the monsters of the id". Havoc ensues.

This is a breezy, easy read. The characters are simple and uncomplicated, but not shallow. You can read this in a rainy weekend. I do find Odd Thomas, however, a little "odd" in terms of his character and maturity, but maybe that's why he's named "Odd". The monastic life is presented in very general terms as a background for Odd's sleuthing and the scientist's deconstruction. The setup for the monastic characters is positive and respectful, but mostly impressionistic.

Oh, and there's also a "holy dog". I truly like how he paints dogs and captures their different moods and reactions.

Elvis and Frank Sinatra also appear - literally. The paranormal appears in right quantities without becoming occultic, or just for effect. In fact, I wonder if this kind of perceptions really exist and if actual people are endowed with them.

Odd Thomas is not religious, but he's somehow "spiritual". Catholicism is in the background but you don't get a real sense that Odd Thomas is Catholic.

I recommend the book. Great read, instructive, exciting, and peaceful.