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The Secret to HummingBird Cake is the best book I have read in a long time, which says a lot for an avid reader and reviewer First, I will disclaim this many readers will be off put by this book because of the REAL life junk that happens in the book Yes, I said REAL life, you know the thing you and I are living This book isn t some sweet fairy tale, but it s sassy, painful, messy and downright lovable The Secret to Humming Bird Cake will make you laugh so hard and cry tears you didn t know The Secret to HummingBird Cake is the best book I have read in a long time, which says a lot for an avid reader and reviewer First, I will disclaim this many readers will be off put by this book because of the REAL life junk that happens in the book Yes, I said REAL life, you know the thing you and I are living This book isn t some sweet fairy tale, but it s sassy, painful, messy and downright lovable The Secret to Humming Bird Cake will make you laugh so hard and cry tears you didn t know existed Your husband will look at you, and question if he made you upset or if you ate something funky Any book that makes you cry and laugh simultaneously is a book well worth readingthan once, which is what you will find here The characters aren t perfect and in fact, have faults, just like readers, which makes this book a breath of fresh air.The Secrets to HummingBird Cake has a Southern charm of a small town, but don t mistake that for the beautiful friendships these three women have Their friendship is a once in a life time and God Bless their hearts, we d be lucky to have true friendship like these three women They can call each other about their mistakes, but pull them by the boot straps to carry them through the mud And if you give this book a bad review because you re gawking at three words used in this book, look behind you, you have one too, move on Life isn t perfect, I still love Jesus, and no, I m not the condoning language, but you ve missed the point of the book if you re off put three word choices This book isn t about that Chances are, you re probably offended by the C word, but those are just my thoughts This book hit close to home as so many of friends have children battling ALL and EWIGS Sarcoma In my opinion, The Secrets to HummingBird Cake touches on the things that matter most to me Marriage, friendship, faith, giving in the unseen, Cancer and love When the final page has been turned, you will be thinking about this book and wishing you had friends like Laine, Ella Rae Carri I want to see this book made into a film, and I wish Ms McHale the very best in her writing You gained me as a reader for life Expectations can sometimes make or break a read In this case, my expectations messed this book up for me I can easily overlook profanity, some off color language and even a sex scene or two, and I m not offended by it or shocked to see it in general fiction However, when I m reading a book that is specific to the inspirational, Christian fiction market, there are certain expectations that I have Little to no language and no crude slang I can make some exceptions for historical context, but Expectations can sometimes make or break a read In this case, my expectations messed this book up for me I can easily overlook profanity, some off color language and even a sex scene or two, and I m not offended by it or shocked to see it in general fiction However, when I m reading a book that is specific to the inspirational, Christian fiction market, there are certain expectations that I have Little to no language and no crude slang I can make some exceptions for historical context, but not many I believe that a story can be raw, gritty and realistic without using profanity I can only assume that this publisher is changing their style a bit, and I suppose, adjust my expectations accordingly Readers that read from primarily the general market will most likely not find any sort of problem with the language because it is mild for the most part.That out of the way, now to my thoughts on the book There are a lot of good things here I loved the setting I m from the South, and as a native, the author gets so many things right The cadence of the dialogue, the small town stories, it all just flowed together to really ground the reader with a strong sense of place I really enjoyed the authentic dialogue it sounds Southern, without droppin all the G s in the words and throwing in clich sayings There are several hilarious bits of dialogue, and can I just say, that I about squealed when Carrington said she felt like a can of busted biscuits My sister in law say that all of the time, and others have just looked at us like we were crazy Several things like that had me laughing, while some of theserious bits did make me teary eyed a few times.I didn t actually love the main character, since I didn t really have a lot in common with her, but it was interesting to get a different perspective like Carrington s I was actuallylike Laine no, I m definitely not as selfless as she is by any means, but I mthe quiet, rule following type yep, I wave my goody goody flag high I only get sassy when necessary Too much drama wears me out The book is worth reading for Laine s character alone I don t want to give too much away about the plot, but she definitely carries the story for me.Carrington has a significant, poignant character arc, and though much of the story is sad, I still felt hopeful by its end I really enjoyed seeing her develop in many ways, she still had some growing up to do, despite getting married at a very young age I liked the portrayal of friendship, although I m sorry, if any of y all are doing something wrong, I ll forgive you, and I ll still love you, but I won t be an enabler Speaking of her marriage, I think it does portray that getting married young is not always a mistake if it started out as a mistake, it doesn t have to remain one, and the marriage can still work and thrive The issue of infidelity this is not a spoiler, it s talked about in the opening chapters I m not sure how I felt about it Infidelity is appalling, obviously, but I m not sure about how it was portrayed here I do appreciate that the book addresses some tough issues, and that it is a much grittier story than the pretty cover implies It s not really chick lit as I typically think it, which is a plus for me, and the focus on friendship, and how resilient it can be in times of trouble, is the highlight of the story.Although it didn t bust onto my favorites list, I did like it and enjoy it and look forward to the author s upcoming works Hmmm I am very conflicted on how to rate this book I am afraid I could write an extremely long and drawn out review with lists of reasons why I really enjoyed it, and why, I also feel like giving it an even lower rating First, let s start with the good I really thought this was well written The author did a wonderful job with describing the southern setting I really felt like I was visiting the South while I read this I was very engaged and the author played with my emotions throughout th Hmmm I am very conflicted on how to rate this book I am afraid I could write an extremely long and drawn out review with lists of reasons why I really enjoyed it, and why, I also feel like giving it an even lower rating First, let s start with the good I really thought this was well written The author did a wonderful job with describing the southern setting I really felt like I was visiting the South while I read this I was very engaged and the author played with my emotions throughout the entire story I haven t laughed and cried so much, because of a book, in a long time I enjoyed the theme, that life is precious and time passes by so quickly and we often need to take time to really appreciate loved ones in our lives This was a beautiful story about three girls, who loved each other like sisters and had to face death, as one of the main characters becomes very sick Now, lets move on to what I didn t like and why I don t know how to properly rate the book This is published by Thomas Nelson This should, in my opinion, be a Christian book, yet I feel like it had nothing to it that I would say was truly Christian Thomas Nelson is a company that states their purpose, core values and goals this novel was a complete failure when compared to those very standards that they list The majority of the time, that God was mentioned, was using the Lords name in vain This was all through the book It also had several other cuss words that I wont even take the time to mention The three main characters never showed any real saving knowledge of Christ I was given the impression that everyone goes to heaven if you are mostly good, sometimes people can even save you a seat in heaven The characters never relied on God, nor did they ever really accept Him It really is a shame, because the story had so many opportunities to allow the characters to repent, to trust God and to find a peace through his love, but it was never approached or even hinted at The three star rating is simply an average between rating this as a well written book and how it should have been Christian, yet it read like a secular book, in my opinion You might ask, Why does this bother her so much She enjoyed it, didn t she Well, yes, I did But I am also very disappointed Its like this, let me give an analogy here hear me out I LOVE ice cream Lets say I go to the store and buy some Vannila Bean ice cream When I get home, I pull back the lid, eager to scoop out my favorite flavor, only to discover, its not vannila, its chocolate Now, that chocolate wasn t that bad, but its also not what I thought I was buying Thomas Nelson did exactly that when they published this under their name It was good, but not what I expected I would have loved, The Secret to Hummingbird Cake, if the language was cleaned up and if the main character was transformed through Christ It s a good thing I had some time in the bookstore to browse this one before making an impulse purchase The characters are Southern, but very worldlyinstantly it readslike a romance novel than a women s fiction One character is literally salivating over a man s abs in a tight tshirt and, later, in a wet tshirt There is some cussing and a deal of crude slang But it was when a character responded to a handsome guy asking her to help him with something by saying I ll do anything for y It s a good thing I had some time in the bookstore to browse this one before making an impulse purchase The characters are Southern, but very worldlyinstantly it readslike a romance novel than a women s fiction One character is literally salivating over a man s abs in a tight tshirt and, later, in a wet tshirt There is some cussing and a deal of crude slang But it was when a character responded to a handsome guy asking her to help him with something by saying I ll do anything for you short of whips and chains that I slapped the book back on the shelf I do not like the bondage culture and was offended to find it mentioned in pleasant jest by a leading character in a Christian book Not my glass of sweet tea at all When I first started reading this book, I have to say I wasn t really feeling it You re kind of just dropped into a story already in progress and told by the narrator, Carrigan, that she s best friends with Ella Rae and Laine and it s almost expected that you should like them all I really didn t like Carrigan initially But then she starts to talk about how she met her friends, some of their past antics, how she got together with her husband, and next thing you know, I m wrapped up in these li When I first started reading this book, I have to say I wasn t really feeling it You re kind of just dropped into a story already in progress and told by the narrator, Carrigan, that she s best friends with Ella Rae and Laine and it s almost expected that you should like them all I really didn t like Carrigan initially But then she starts to talk about how she met her friends, some of their past antics, how she got together with her husband, and next thing you know, I m wrapped up in these lives and laughing and crying along with them Some people may find this book melodramatic or not understand the friendship these women have, but I have been blessed to have a group of friends like the ladies in this story People who do crazy things and create fun memories together People who have been there for you through thick and thin People who you can get mad at and they you, but the minute you need each other, you ve got each other s back People you can go days, weeks, or months without seeing because life gets in the way, but you know the minute you utter the words, I need you, they re at your doorstep.This book had me laughing out loud a few times because it reminded me of those friends of mine It also had me in tearsthan once.I ve seen some reviews bashing this book because, I guess, it s supposed to be a Christian book or from a Christian publisher or something like that and the reader didn t think it was a very Christian story Well, I don t know about that, but I do know it was a story I thoroughly enjoyed reading A story that made me evengrateful for the sister friends in my life Isn t that the job description for a best friend hide the bodies and encourage the bliss Is it just me, or does anyone else delay writing a review because you re so in love with a book the setting, atmosphere, nuances and cadences, dialogue and characters that you simply MUST hold the story close to your heart before you send it all out into the world Yes, oh yes I LOVE The Secret to Hummingbird Cake Especially the characters, who are so delightfully flawed, realistically quirky,Isn t that the job description for a best friend hide the bodies and encourage the bliss Is it just me, or does anyone else delay writing a review because you re so in love with a book the setting, atmosphere, nuances and cadences, dialogue and characters that you simply MUST hold the story close to your heart before you send it all out into the world Yes, oh yes I LOVE The Secret to Hummingbird Cake Especially the characters, who are so delightfully flawed, realistically quirky, and spitefire spunky They are hometown best friends, and in turn, became my best friends Wishfully, prayerfully I want to move into their town, their neighborhood, their lives Sip a glass of wine, do lunch, hang out at the softball fields, play ball, go shopping heck, I don t even like shopping, but it would be a hoot with those three , worship together, and revel in the joyous beauty of friendship I mean for real, everyone needs the sort of friends who are willing to save us from self destruction, in spite of our sniveling protestsIn that moment I felt as if God had a damp dish towel and slapped me across the face with it I was no Bible scholar, but I was completely sure God wasn t sitting on his throne with his notepad and pencil, smiling and saying, Let s get Carrigan Whitfield involved in a completely inappropriate relationship with a man she barely knows I shared in their antics and imaginings, joys and sorrows, tiffs and tirades I laughed loud and long uncontrollably at times Southern Bless your heart sassafras storytelling, just doesn t get much better than this At its core The Secret to Hummingbird Cake celebrates friendship Friendship in its purest and truest sense, where each hold the other accountable they speak honestly and openly to edify and uplift sans judgement love unconditionally through good times and bad, highs and lows, joys and sorrows As too with marriage the parallel focus of the book, right alongside personal growth and divine realization All of which find common ground in unconditional loveMaybe we didn t have the perfect love story But we had the perfect love Because if endured, and it remembered, and it forgave For all the crazy bouts of laughter, there were also tears Tears of joy Tears of Sorrow Tears of letting go Oh how hard it is to say goodbye to a tried and true friend One who has stood by your side through thick and thin, and understands you, accepts you for who you are right where you are Whether literal or literary, goodbye is one of the hardest words However, I can always reread this cherished book again And one day, I will be united in heaven with all my friends and loved ones who ve gone home before me to our FatherYou are responsible for what you do No matter what you go through, no matter what happens to you, no matter how much someone hurt you, the choices you make are ultimately your own FIVE Delightfully Wise, Sassafras Southern, Morally Uplifting, BFF STARS .Book ♑ The Secret to Hummingbird Cake ♠ Why won t you just tell me what s in that cake I d been trying to get Laine s recipe for years We all had When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cakeIn the South you always say yes, ma am and no, ma am You know everybody s business Football is a lifestyle not a pastime Food especially dessert is almost a religious experience And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family even if the threat is something you cannot seeIn this spot on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws from devastating pain to absolute joy And if you re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way I was expecting a sweet southern story, but was disappointed It would appear that Thomas Nelson is going for a new audience I was unhappy with the swearing, glorified drinking and getting drunk, adultery that was considered a positive thing, and a character I couldn t empathize with Just being honest If the book is marketed as Christian, I don t want curse words I m sorry if people disagree, but there are ways to be real about swear words without actually including them The drinking and I was expecting a sweet southern story, but was disappointed It would appear that Thomas Nelson is going for a new audience I was unhappy with the swearing, glorified drinking and getting drunk, adultery that was considered a positive thing, and a character I couldn t empathize with Just being honest If the book is marketed as Christian, I don t want curse words I m sorry if people disagree, but there are ways to be real about swear words without actually including them The drinking and adultery are, yes, a part of real and can be handled in a Christian book, but I don t expect them to be handled like this book does The redeeming parts of this book are the story of the friendships That part was beautiful But I was too far frustrated by that point to appreciate it I guess I m getting old and conservative I don t need my Christian books to be a preachy and naiive, but I do need some expectations met so that the characters are human and therefore fallible but then don t call the characters Christians when their beliefs are not biblical.My two cents worth I received this book in exchange for my honest review I absolutely LOVED this book Any book that makes me laugh, cry, and laugh through tears is a well written book The story is sooooo real and believable not everyone is beautiful, perfect, happy, tall and slim, but they learn from their mistakes and are true blue friends I believe in women supporting women, and these women are true blue friends They love each other enough to let each other make mistakes but they are there to help pick each other up Lessons are learned I love the Southern ch I absolutely LOVED this book Any book that makes me laugh, cry, and laugh through tears is a well written book The story is sooooo real and believable not everyone is beautiful, perfect, happy, tall and slim, but they learn from their mistakes and are true blue friends I believe in women supporting women, and these women are true blue friends They love each other enough to let each other make mistakes but they are there to help pick each other up Lessons are learned I love the Southern charm of this book, as well as, how the book wraps up Having lived in a small town for many years, this author hits the nail on the head regarding small town life I can be peeved at someone but that doesn t mean someone else can point out that persons flaw LOL I truly believe this book is well worth reading, will benefit and touch many that read it and Lord have mercy, this should be a movie 1.5 to 2 starsSo I m going to hide my review because their will be spoilers in it.But I will say I wouldn t recommend this book to any of my fellow teenagers view spoiler So first off I will say my favorite parts were the flashbacks in the first half of the book, my favorite one was when Carrigan met Jack Laine was my favorite character, she was so kind and such a good friend to everyone Also the cover is pretty So now that I ve said my favorite parts I will say I didn t really enjoy anyt 1.5 to 2 starsSo I m going to hide my review because their will be spoilers in it.But I will say I wouldn t recommend this book to any of my fellow teenagers view spoiler So first off I will say my favorite parts were the flashbacks in the first half of the book, my favorite one was when Carrigan met Jack Laine was my favorite character, she was so kind and such a good friend to everyone Also the cover is pretty So now that I ve said my favorite parts I will say I didn t really enjoy anything else There were some parts that made me kinda uncomfortable, that is why I wouldn t recommend this book Some of the things that were said before and after Carrigan had her baby kinda grossed me outmaybe that was just me butAnother part that made me kinda uncomfortable, was when Carrigan and Jack went on their picnic It faded out quickly but I still didn t need to know some of the details from that, and other times later on.There was some bad language in the book, maybe that s just the way they talk in the south but I was still surprised to see it in a Christian book Some of the characters got drunk at different parts of the book as well.So it was an ok book overall, but I defiantly wouldn t recommend it to any of my fellow teenagers hide spoiler I received a free book from Thomas Nelson Zondervan Fiction Guild in return for a honest review