Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Meet twelve year old CeeCee. She's an only child and, even worse, her mother Camille is well on her way to being unhinged. She is the talk of their small Ohio town. Since CeeCee's father has chosen to escape the entire situation by spending all of his time traveling for work, she is left to try to rein in her mother's increasingly bizarre behavior all on her own.

You see, Camille's finest hour was when she was the Vidalia Onion Queen in 1951, complete with tiara, sash and fancy gown. Now she spends her days reliving that long ago day, becoming the bane of CeeCee's existence in the process. The constant embarrassment coupled with the responsibility put upon her causes CeeCee to have to grow up far before her time. And she does, she is an amazing young girl, funny and bright.

Beth Hoffman

When tragedy strikes, CeeCee's fragile world collapses like a house of cards. But rescue is at hand in the form of her great aunt Tootie. CeeCee has never even met her but Tootie swoops in and changes her life. Before she knows it, she has been whisked away to live in Savannah, Georgia, where the trees are green, the days are warm and the women are STRONG!

Though she suddenly finds herself with good friends and more mothers figures than any girl could wish for, she is still dealing with the difficult aftermath of her past. Time and loving advice from the disparate group of women who become her family are all CeeCee needs to blossom into the beautiful young woman she is sure to be.

It is hard for me to put into words how much I enjoyed this novel. It captures perfectly the strength and wisdom that lies at the core of southern women. I was strongly reminded of my Grandmother, born and raised in Tennessee, she was what we used to call 'salt of the earth'. Without women like her and the women you will find in this book, surely the world would cease to spin. It is a lovely, lovely book, charming, sweet, honest. Can't recommend it highly enough, it's a gem.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is published by Viking, ISBN 978-0-670-02139-0. For more information about Beth Hoffman and her writing, please visit her website.

Okay, now you want to read it, right? Of course you do! And I have three copies to give away!! (Thank you Allie & Shannon!) So, to enter just leave me a comment here that includes your email address. Instructions for extra entries are below. Giveaway is open those with a US or Canada mailing address and you can enter thru midnight eastern time on June 12.

+2 Follow this blog any way you choose (Google, Feedburner, etc) and leave a comment...if you already do, include that in your comment

+2 Tweet or blog this giveaway and leave me a comment to let me know that you did

Good luck everyone, thank you for visiting and entering!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

BEA Week Giveaway: My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira


An enthralling historical novel about a young woman's struggle to become a doctor during the Civil War

In this stunning first novel, Mary Sutter is a brilliant, head­strong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine-and eager to run away from her recent heartbreak- Mary leaves home and travels to Washington, D.C. to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of William Stipp and James Blevens-two surgeons who fall unwittingly in love with Mary's courage, will, and stubbornness in the face of suffering-and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career in the desperately overwhelmed hospitals of the capital.

Like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks's The Widow of the South, My Name Is Mary Sutter powerfully evokes the atmosphere of the period. Rich with historical detail (including marvelous depictions of Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, General McClellan, and John Hay among others), and full of the tragedies and challenges of wartime, My Name Is Mary Sutter is an exceptional novel. And in Mary herself, Robin Oliveira has created a truly unforgettable heroine whose unwavering determination and vulnerability will resonate with readers everywhere.

~Synopsis courtesy of the publisher

My Name Is Mary Sutter is published by Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-02167-3 Visit the author's website here.

I admit I'm running behind in my review of this one, but I have one copy to give away courtesy of the publisher. Winner will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address. For one entry, just leave me a comment here. If you would like extra entries there are instructions below. Giveaway open through midnight eastern time on June 4.

+2 Follow this blog any way you choose (Google, Feedburner, etc) and leave a comment...if you already do, include that in your comment

+2 Tweet or blog this giveaway and leave me a comment to let me know that you did

Good luck everyone, thank you for visiting and entering!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Band of Angels by Julia Gregson

Catherine Carreg grew up in Wales, racing horses down the beach with her neighbor, Deio Jones. Though her father, a gentleman farmer, considered their family far above the Jones family in social status, her mother's frail health created the opportunity for Catherine to spend quite a lot of time with them. The Jones family was a haven for Catherine and she developed a deep love for Deio.

As they grew older, the talk began. A young woman should not be spending time alone with a young man, especially one below her in society. So, Catherine's father forbid her to see or spend time with Deio. Her life became a boring round of domestic duties that she absolutely hated. The only saving grace was time spent with her slightly eccentric mother.

And then tragedy struck. Catherine's mother, pregnant in her forties, went into early labor. Curtly ordered by her father to take care of the situation, Catherine found herself with absolutely no idea of what to do. When the inevitable happened and her mother died, Catherine felt responsible, as if she should have been able to save her.


Julia Gregson

She bravely forms a plan. With Deio's help Catherine disguises herself as a boy on a cattle drive in order to get to London. Once there, she secures a position with Florence Nightingale to learn how to nurse. This means giving up Deio, her family and all that is safe and familiar to her. But she is driven to find a way to a life that contains more meaning than the one she left behind.

Julia Gregson brings to life the difficult struggle that was the infancy of the nursing profession. Before Florence Nightingale, most nurses were considered little better than prostitutes and treated accordingly. Many were alcoholics and most came from the lowest levels of society. This was an interesting, absorbing novel with vivid characters and a sense of realism that made it hard to put down.

Band of Angels is published by Touchstone, ISBN 978-1-4391-0113-1. Visit Julia's website here.

Thanks to the very generous publisher (thank you, Kelly!), I have four copies to give away! Winners will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address. For one entry, just leave me a comment here. If you would like extra entries there are instructions below. Giveaway open through midnight eastern time on June 1.

+2 Follow this blog any way you choose (Google, Feedburner, etc) and leave a comment...if you already do, include that in your comment

+2 Tweet or blog this giveaway and leave me a comment to let me know that you did

Good luck everyone, thank you for visiting and entering!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review & Giveaway: Claude & Camille, A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

"Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone, and he was old...."

This is one of the most powerful lines in this novel, and one of my favorites, right at the beginning, as an elderly Claude Monet remembers his first wife, his love, his muse, the beautiful but fragile Camille.

They met when he was a young painter, impoverished, full of hope and dreams and possessing fantastic friends, who are also fellow artists. But Claude had no money and little support from the father who had expected his son to take over the family business.

Camille came from a sheltered and well off family who were appalled when she took up with an artist, lived with him and had a child before they were even married. Her family cut her off and Claude was never able to provide for her in the way that she was accustomed to, try as he might. And he did try, but his art was a harsh taskmaster and they gave up much so that he could devote his time and energy to painting.


Claude Monet, age 25 (oh boy, he DOES look like Johnny Depp!)

Claude's close circle of artist friends encompassed all those who would become known as the Impressionists: Aususte Renoir, Frederic Bazille, Camille Pissarro, Edouard Manet. They were all very close and this novel does a brilliant job of bringing them all to life, so you feel the comradeship, hunger, suffering and joy of their early days in Paris.



Camille Monet


Eventually, the strain of their haphazard existence began to tell on Camille, revealing tendencies toward depression and melancholy that had first appeared in her childhood. Though she and Claude truly loved each other, they struggle in their lives together. Again and again, they are saved by their caring friends.


The Monet Family, 1874, painted by Edouard Manet

This is a brilliant historical novel, clearly written by an author that has a deep appreciation and understanding of art in general and impressionism in particular. I know nothing at all about art but came away from this book with such admiration for those that can look at a scene and see the play of light and color...and be able to translate that to canvas. An utterly breathtaking book, I loved it and highly recommend it!

Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet is published by Crown, ISBN 978-0-307-46321-0

I have one copy available to give away. Winner will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address. For one entry, just leave me a comment here. If you would like extra entries there are instructions below. Giveaway open through midnight eastern time on May 19th.

+2 Follow this blog any way you choose (Google, Feedburner, etc) and leave a comment...if you already do, include that in your comment
+2 Tweet or blog this giveaway and leave me a comment to let me know that you did


Good luck everyone, thank you for visiting and entering!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Guest Post: The Surprises of the Real Claude Monet by Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille



Today The Tome Traveller's Weblog is pleased to welcome Stephanie Cowell! Stephanie is the author of the new historical fiction novel Claude & Camille, which tells the story of Claude Monet and his beloved wife, Camille. Since Stephanie has a background in art, I wondered if she had uncovered anything in her research for this novel that really surprised her about the life of Monet, or changed her previous feelings about him and his art.



Stephanie Cowell


Well, yes, I was utterly surprised through a great deal of my research.

I think most people have generalized conceptions of the great artists of history. Shakespeare looked like a marble bust. The Bronte sisters ran around the moors. Van Gogh loved sunflowers and cut off his ear. Monet was always old, pot-bellied, bearded and painted water lilies….and so on. We don’t have time to really know things in depth; life is just too vast. We pass a lovely engagement calendar with a Japanese bridge and we think “Monet!” We suppose he might have married someone. But until we know more he is a lovely coffee mug or a mouse pad.

I first encountered the person I began to think of rather intimately as Claude in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum called The Origins of Impressionism. This exhibition had gathered together paintings of the 1860s by the several young men who would be known years later as impressionists. Most were in their twenties. I was struck how very young Claude was and, when I decided to write about him, I began to collect what books I could on his life. At the same time I found a portrait of him by a friend when he was twenty-five and was very startled. This was no pot-bellied old fellow; this was a hot-headed, impatient, drop-dead gorgeous young guy. He might have been a gypsy. He reminded me of Johnny Depp when young.

And so I became fascinated with the young man who would become the old man. But what was he like? Each writer saw him differently. He was very poor then and some people saw him as cold and opportunistic, and others as charming and the best friend in the world. Fortunately, a diary recently discovered written by one of his older friends portrayed him as very charming. I could not make a hero from a man I could not love. (And no, he was not easy to be married to, as tender and caring as he could be; the painting always was first. It was in his blood like something wild in him.)

What I realized in studying his very difficult, impoverished life on his 20s and 30s was what a long road it was to the water lily paintings. He did not begin those really until his 60s and he was chasing light with his paintbrush for a long time before that. To many people these garden paintings of bridges and flowers and willows are blissfully serene and we suppose the man who created them was serene as well. That is not true. He was serene only when he felt his painting went well. It was his endless restless search for light and color which created the serenity he left us in his garden and his works. “The work sometimes knows more than the artist,” my mentor Madeleine L’Engle used to tell us.

In his very last months of life, old and sick and sitting in his garden chair, having finished his great water lily panels which now hang in the Paris Orangerie, I think he knew serenity. I think then he knew he had accomplished the reason of his life, that he had fulfilled his purpose. It was a journey of almost seventy years. I am quite awed to consider how faithfully he pursued his vision of painting air and light no matter what his difficulties and how much of it he left to us.

Thank you so much for a fascinating guest post, Stephanie! I am so glad you decided to explore the early life of Monet, your utterly absorbing novel was the result!

For more information, be sure to visit Stephanie's website. And come back tomorrow to read my review of Claude & Camille!

Thank you!!

Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!

About Me

My photo
New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.