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The Secret to Hummingbird Cake, by Celeste Fletcher Mchale
Friends since kindergarten, Carrigan, Ella Rae, and Laine thought they'd been through everything together. But when cancer threatens to rip the trio apart, their world spins in a way they've never known before. Through it all, will they discover the secret to the divine taste of hummingbird cake---and to friendships that never end?
Number of Pages: 500
Vendor: Christian Fiction Series
Publication Date: 2016
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.81 (inches)|
vickimarie20025 Stars Out Of 5A great tale of southern friendships.October 24, 2016vickimarie2002Quality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This was a great book about Southern friendships and life. It's a sad but yet a feel good story. Life never goes as planned and you have to take the good with the bad and just keep on going.
ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: female2 Stars Out Of 5Disappointingly PredictableAugust 22, 2016ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 2First off, it's a little bookish peeve of mine: books that waste back cover space on rave review blurbs or a synopsis (such as the one on this book) that serve you a mountain of words but tell you absolutely nothing about the plot itself. I live in the South, I don't need generalizations about life here, what is THIS book ABOUT?! (That was my inner monologue on first perusal of this book... just thought I'd share :-P).
So let me help ya and tell you the ACTUAL, general plot here. Obviously it's Southern fiction, but specifically the reader is planted in the small town of Bon Dieu, Louisiana. Told in first person POV, our narrator is Carrigan Whitfield. When Carrigan was just 17 years old, she managed to catch the attention of local ladies' man / happy bachelor Jack Whitfield,10 years her senior and heir to his family's soybean fortune. Much to the surprise of everyone in town, Carrigan is the one Jack chooses for his wife. Since then, Carrigan has had the pleasure of living a pretty cushy life. Til now.
Present day, we're thirteen years into the Whitfield marriage. A lot of good years have passed between Carrigan and Jack, but here lately he's inexplicably started pulling away from her. Intimacy between them has all but stopped, as has much of their communication / conversations. Then the rumors start. All over town, Carrigan is hearing whispers that Jack is parking his boots at the bedsides of other ladies *wink, wink*. Rather than do the mature thing, push through the awkwardness that's been built up between them and just ASK Jack what really is going on, Carrigan goes off and has her own affair out of spite with a man she simply dubs "Cell Phone Romeo". Problem is, she doesn't even seem to like this guy very much at all. In fact, she's still very much in love with Jack, but for the longest time she sees no signs of him letting her in on his thoughts. Just when she's about to check out of her marriage completely though, Jack does have a turn around, suddenly bringing back waves of affection and soft words, only confusing her further. WHAT is going on?!
Luckily Carrigan has the support of her two best friends to carry her through this tough time. Directly across the street from her house is the home of one of her best friends, Laine. Not too far away is the other, Ella Rae. All of them now 30 years old, the three have been best buds since age 5. But this year will prove to be a test of strength & faith like the trio has never known before when tragedy strikes, forcing all of them to restructure their lives to accomodate the changing future. That's where the idea of the Hummingbird Cake comes in -- it's something that can bring people together and give them a smile, some small sense of comfort, when all else seems to be speeding out their control.
Okay, so why the low rating from me? Basically it came down to the writing. But there were what I'll call "savers" that kept me from hating it entirely. First though, what was problematic for me:
1) The whole cake idea. For a book that features a cake on the cover, even writes it into the title, I mean REALLY pushes the importance of this cake, once I read the actual story... the cake didn't seem all that prominent to me. It's mentioned maybe half a dozen times and always seems to be in passing -- "Hey Laine, you should make one of those cakes" "Yeah, maybe I will" "Hey guys I made one of those cakes." -- that kind of thing. For me, if a book really pushes the importance of food in its plot, I want it to be INFUSED with it --- books like JoAnne Harris' Chocolat, Erica Baumgartner's The School of Essential Ingredients, Laura Esquivel's Like Water For Chocolate... that's what I'm looking for when it comes to foodie novels.
2) I'll admit this one is entirely personal preference, but I just DID NOT LIKE Carrigan. It bugged me that she has this incredibly privileged life but she doesn't seem all that grateful for it and when it comes to friends, she seems to prefer "yes men" type friends rather than people who will give it to her straight.
3) The character building, for Carrigan especially but also for some of the other characters, needs some work. In the case of Carrigan, her personality came off as confusing / wishy-washy. I audibly groaned at the conflicting character traits between pages 16 -17. Page 16, Carrigan states, "Not that I was a wild child, I was no child at all. But I was, well, busy." So I took that as meaning she didn't have much of a childhood, had to mature fast, etc. But then on the VERY NEXT PAGE, Page 17 Carrigan says, "I was a bit rebellious in my teenage years. Okay, I was a lot rebellious in my teenage years. I just liked to test my limits no matter what I was doing. With grades, ignoring curfews, ignoring expectations...Like the rules didn't apply to me..." Sooo you were crazy rebellious and the rules didn't apply to you but you weren't a wild child?? This is the kind of stuff that bugged me.
4) There were virtually NO surprises in the plot for me. Seriously. Like, none. I did read to the end but basically closed the book feeling like the author was trying too hard to be the next Steel Magnolias.
Okay, now those few "savers" I mentioned:
1) While much of the writing struck me as over-the-top, cartoonish representation of life in the South, there were a few good quips here and there that entertained me, such as the line, "Do you ever get altitude sickness from the moral high ground, Laine?" :-)
2) While I didn't much care for Carrigan, I did like Laine and Ella Rae. They were given fun personalities and I enjoyed their sense of humor!
3) I liked the moments when Jack would show his sweet, soft side with Carrigan.
4) The story between Mitch and Laine and the unfortunate timing with everything -- forget Carrigan and Jack, I found THIS story the most touching part of the entire book.
5) My very favorite scene in the whole book though was the whole bit with the ladies talking over the coffin, just having a conversation with their heads on the lid, but the way they look everyone else in the chapel thinks they're beside themselves with grief. That whole convo between the ladies had me cracking up as I pictured it!
So yeah, not the best Southern fiction I've read this year but as you can see, I found some saving moments in it for me.
FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
hapekmprchicagoAge: 45-54Gender: female1 Stars Out Of 5inappropriate christian materialJuly 6, 2016hapekmprchicagoAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 1Value: 1Meets Expectations: 1what in the world is happening at Thomas nelson? this is so inappropriate to be a Baptist Christian story!! and the denomination slam in the beginning with a Baptist vs catholic joke, not funny. I had to check the publishers name on the book to make sure I did not misread....I am shocked that this made it to print with their name on the book.... people use the term Christian loosely and some find worldly ways passive in acceptability for fear of being called prudish or just a lack of biblical application/understanding but if you are a bible believer you must believe every jot and tittle with a serious heart application, without taking charge of what is acceptable and what is not the bible judges man, man does not judge the bible. it's getting harder as time nears Christ's second coming. As for this publisher I had put my trust in them, not anymore ;0(
MemawAlabamaGender: Female4 Stars Out Of 5Great Story but lacked some character strengthJune 2, 2016MemawAlabamaGender: FemaleQuality: 4Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4Wonderful story about growing up in a Southern Small Town with life long friends. It has it's ups and downs and the development of the main character was extensive. But the supporting characters: Ella Rae and Laine could have had better back stories other than they had always been there.
This is about life, loss, children, marriage and friendship. It is also about the dash. From the time we live until the time we die, what legacy will we leave to those left behind?
Debi @2014andBeyond4 Stars Out Of 5Chick-Lit but More!April 26, 2016Debi @2014andBeyondQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0Not too long ago I received a great package of books from The Fiction Guild, which is a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan book review bloggers program. Today's review is about the book, The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale.
This novel follows the adventures of three women, Carrigan, Ella Rae and Laine, who are three best friends. They grew up together in a small town and know everything about each other. They've walked each other through every life event - marriages, relationships, adventures - alongside each other. Their friendship is one of those "once in a life time" true blue friendships and a rare find in this day and age. Along the way, they discover the mysterious secret ingredient for hummingbird cake.
The Secret to Hummingbird Cake touches on real topics like marriage, friendship, faith, love, heartbreak, infidelity and cancer. It's "chick-lit" yes, but it's more than that too - it's a story full of pain, tragedy and loss combined with fun and laughter. I ended up reading this novel from back to front in one sitting. With Kleenex handy, I alternated between tears of joy and tears of sadness just as I had been warned I might.
If you want to know the secret to hummingbird cake, you'll have to read the book, but in the meantime, in case you've never heard of it or tried it, it's a combination of pineapple, pecans and banana, together with cream cheese frosting! YUM!!
I received a paperback copy of this book without cost from the publisher through The Fiction Guild, a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.