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I Will Judge a Book by its Cover

This is the post excerpt.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved the beach.  In fact, I crave the beach.  It’s my church.   I must have a mermaid or a pirate soul, despite the fact that I was raised amongst those that seek higher ground.  Yes, I was born from a different mold…my parents were people that enjoyed vacationing in the mountains, sight-seeing, park hopping (not in the Disney sense, but the National Park sense) and staying busy.   People that cannot just relax and be…people that are always on the move.  We were lucky though.  For as many years as I can remember, we always had a family vacation.   Each year we’d hop in the car or travel on an airplane to near or distant places, always in North America and then travel more. There was no one “final” destination…there were many destinations…all on the same trip! We’d fly to Colorado and travel 1,500 miles once we landed and see the entire western half of the United States.  All this time, I told my friends we were going to Colorado…oh no, we were going to Colorado, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming…and seeing it all in 14 days!  We traveled so much on “free mileage” from the rental car agencies, you can imagine the shock when my Father would return the car and ask for the reimbursement for an oil change .  My Dad would always rent a Lincoln Towncar (we had a 1978 Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon at home, so the Towncar was indeed a little bit of luxury).  It felt like traveling all around on your couch in luxurious rental car style. We never worried about the roughness of construction zones or the elusive “falling rock”.  We had shock absorbers and leather seats.  We never would have felt a thing!  On these vacations, the notion of sleeping in, well, it did not exist.    We’d awake at some God forsaken hour, like 6 am,  so we could be the first ones to wait in a line for some attraction or park that wasn’t going to open until 9 am.   I also remember returning home with more money than I had when I left, because my sister and I would get a dollar for every wild animal we saw.  When you are on vacation in Yellowstone and see 100 deer a day, it starts to add up.  As an adult, I realize it was my Dad’s way of shutting us up and keeping us off our Sony Walkmans.   One of my favorite memories from one of these anti-beach vacations was having an extra day before we flew home.  I remember my mother and father discussing, “oh it’s only an 8 hour drive to Salt Lake City, let’s do that.”  Are you kidding me? And while we endure this you are going to fuss that I am reading a book and not paying attention to the scenery (i.e, road construction).  Needless to say, my father would have our vacations all planned out like National Lampoon’s Clark W. Griswold.  But despite my affectionate sarcasm,   I appreciated those vacations.  I really did.  I experienced things and visited places in North America that many of my extended family or friends have not experienced.  But you know what?  All I ever really wanted was the beach…always the beach.  When I was 15, I ordered the catalog of rental properties for the Outer Banks of NC, and said  to my Father, “let’s go to the beach this year, ” he seemed to categorize this desire as ungratefulness.  Why would I want to make the 4 hour drive to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, stay in a stranger’s house, when we could fly to Yellowstone.  Anyone can go to the beach anytime….well, being anyone, anytime, sounded like just what this old mermaid pirate soul needed.   I wanted to drive to a beach house and park myself for a week.   If I could be one of those really lucky people and go all summer, that would have been heaven.  In the meantime, I’d take my week.

Despite growing up and living my entire life somewhere along the East Coast, I’ve probably only experienced a handful of true beach house vacations.  You know the ones…you splurge on the house….and you pretend for those 7 days that this house is really yours.  I love those trips. The nervous anticipation of, “please don’t let this place be a dump” or finding yourself adopting your parents exclamation of “there is nothing wrong with this” when it is a dump and there is, in fact, everything wrong with this!  Or the sigh of relief when your realize the pictures from the rental agency were current and up to date!   Even if the house was something to be desired and not Buckingham Palace, my favorite part of the initial entry to each house was seeking out the library of left behind beach books.  Yes! Those old tattered books that had been read and loved by many or even just a few.  I loved the smell of the water-stained, yellow-paged, broken backed, tattered book that endured salt and sand.  I loved wondering who it belonged to and how it was left behind.  I loved ditching my own books that I lugged in my suitcase, to discover new authors or titles within the beach house.  I loved leaving a book behind…a sign of gratitude..a tribute to my own existence.   This ritual was exciting to me. These books fed my soul.  These books would take my imagination on those additional 1,500 miles while I sat on the sand on my beach.

As a lover of books and beach houses, the thought of beach house reads still excites me, even without the week-long relaxing vacation to the beach.  Perhaps I need an escape, even if it’s in my imagination.  You see, I am still old school.  I love books. The physical book.  I love their smell. I love the cover pictures, I love buying books based on the cover or title alone, just to surprise myself later on what the book is truly about.    I love the feeling of eagerness as I keep the pages turning and the feeling of completeness coupled with a tinge of sadness when I have  closed the book for the last time.  This year, I was especially thrilled to read the beach book lists on various websites and magazines, so I decided to challenge myself and create my own adventure (and yes, I do remember those books too).  My adventure is to read as many beach book summer reads as I possibly can between early June and Labor Day.   The books may not always be recent releases. Oh no! I am going to mix it up. After all who has money for hardback books and time to wait for the local library to have a copy of an unreserved new release?  My beach reads will include any book I can get my hands on either from my existing collection of unread books or those that appear on a current beach book list.   The only criteria that I will give myself is that it has to seemingly be a beach read, either based on the cover, the setting or the storyline.  Yes! There has to be something coastal about it!  And yes…at the end of the each book, I’ll post my thoughts about the book as a resource for those that will want to  indulge their own imaginations and escape inside the beach house with me.   I’d love some suggestions for my journey!

Related Posts:

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Beach House Book #4 – All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

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Beach House Book #9 – Hello, Sunshine by Laura Dave

“Hello, Sunshine” was listed on Southern Living’s Best New Summer Books of 2017.  Much like “Eight Hundred Grapes,” Laura Dave kept me entranced with her book, “Hello, Sunshine.” I LOVED IT!  Oh, and if you have not read “Eight Hundred Grapes,” by all means…add it to your reading list as well.  You will not be disappointed.

Even with having a million things to do, errands to run and lunches to pack, I managed to finish this novel in about a day.  It was a page turner that unfolds with Sunshine Mackenzie. Sunshine Mackenzie is living the modern-day dream.  A bartender, who serendipitously turns You-Tube celebrity chef, has won contracts in her apron and the hearts of her fans.  She is the latest and greatest foodie phenomenon…a real “Food Network Star.”   Her followers not only love her recipes, but they equally love her success story.  That is, until her real story is leaked and her sunshine (sorry I couldn’t help myself) is masked by darkness.  This is the age-old tale of the ultimate betrayal, with an interesting twisted game of “who betrayed whom?”

But most importantly, “Hello Sunshine” is the story about identity…and often times identity theft…but not identity theft as we most commonly define it with stolen card numbers and passwords.  Instead this novel reveals a different type of identity theft…that of becoming what others expect us to be…of not being true to ourselves…of living to fulfill someone else’s agenda…a life chasing another’s dreams for us.  One of my favorite passages from this book is, “...these women, in their efforts to become the women they thought they should be, sometimes lost sight of the women they used to be-the women they truly were.”  So weaved amongst the interesting twists, is actually a story of  self-betrayal…a story of “who am I?”…a question Sunshine faces as she reconciles her own identity, and her past with her present…a question each of us faces or have faced in this lifetime as we have pondered our own paths.  Have we reconciled the person that we are, with the person that we were, to become the person that we want to be?  Are we living the life that we dream…or one that has been dreamed for us?

As you ponder these questions, I’ll leave you with Sunshine’s remarks, “…I think it’s a good thing to know what you want.  If you do, you have a chance of getting it.  If you don’t you have a chance of getting only what someone else wants you to have.”

Related Posts:

I Will Judge a Book by its Cover

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Beach House Book #4 – All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Beach House Book #6 – The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

Beach House Book #7 – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Beach House Book #8 – The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

 

 

Beach House Book #8 – The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

From death comes life…from darkness comes light…and from the ashes the Phoenix bird, too, will rise.  The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick was featured on Southern Living Magazine’s list of the Best New Summer Books of 2017.  It lightened my heart to read that it was Patrick’s first novel.  So bravo dear Phaedra. Congratulations!

Typically, unless it is a suspense or mystery novel, the books I select almost always have a female perspective and point-of-view.  So as the summer is winding down, a male perspective was quite refreshing.   Meet Arthur Pepper, our hero in this story.  He is a senior citizen, a widower, living almost a hermit’s life in York, England.  And before I speak further about dear old Arthur, let me say, having lived in the UK years ago,  I found myself reading silently, not in my inherited southern accent, but in my own contrived British accent and loving the nuances and stylistic differences that are ever so apparent between the Queen’s English and our own American use of the language.  But before I digress and begin reminiscing about my own adventures in that lovely little country, let me get back to Arthur.  Arthur’s tale begins similar to many of the chapters in our own lives.  Essentially his story begins at the end of one of life’s chapters, in a state of loss, from having lost a loved one.  On the anniversary of his wife, Miriam’s, death, he begins to sort through her closet only to discover a 40-year old secret…an elegant charm bracelet she has hidden amongst her belongings.  And so his adventures begin as he unravels the truth behind each of the charms.

Arthur is so relatable through this story.   As we would all be in this precarious situation, he is saddened by the secrets and the stories of his Miriam’s past…stories she never confided in him.  As such, his insecurities abound about his own place in her life and about their life together.  But he continues, fearlessly chasing the truth.  Through his quest, he not only discovers the history behind each charm, but he receives an answer to a greater, more haunting question…an answer to the riddle of his life and his purpose.  Indeed, Miriam’s charms may have initially breathed life into his essence, but in the end he breathes all on his own.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is such a lovely read.  Go grab yourself a copy and enjoy with your next spot of tea.

Cheers!

Related Posts:

I Will Judge a Book by Its Cover

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Beach House Book #4 – All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Beach House Book #6 – The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

Beach House Book #7 – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Beach House Book #6 – The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable was listed as #2 on Coast Living Magazines 2017 list of 50 Best Books for the Beach this Summer.  By comparison, (see related posts below) it should have been #1.   Enough said?  I loved this gem so much that I am exchanging my local library copy for my a copy of my own.  This book I will re-read, hopefully, in my own beach house someday.  And if I do, indeed, have a beach house, I am now inspired to have my own book of summer.

The book contained a phenomenal message of the importance of coming home and facing whatever it is that we each must face.  Although the setting of the story remains unchanged at Cliff House, a family beach estate on the bluffs of Nantucket, Gable mixes the past with the present.  She intertwines the story of the main character Bess with that of Bess’s grandmother, Ruby.  Bess and Ruby’s stories are set in present day and in the 1940s, respectively.  Both stories, connected through time, provide a remarkable realistic view on the human condition, love and forgiveness.  This is a story of how the experiences that we endure, both good and bad, shape us and make us who we are…a story about reconciling what we believed, with what truly is.

This book is a blessing to get lost in.  Enjoy.

Related Posts:

I Will Judge a Book by its Cover

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Beach House Book #4 – All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Beach House Book #7 – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

 

Beach House Book #7 – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Sigh.  I wanted to love this book.  I desperately wanted to love this book.  I wanted to love this book way before I even saw it on Southern Livings Best New Summer Books of 2017 list.  As I am typing, I have before me an article on this book from “Reading Room,” which was published in the Oprah Magazine issued in October 2016.  I tore this article out of that magazine, littered my house with it for over six months, so that I’d remember to read this book. That is how much I wanted to love this book.  I chased this book.  And like many things in life the chase was better than the prize.   Interestingly enough, that is what this book, or at least part of this story, is about.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, is a story of two families, the Cousins and the Keatings, that are initially torn asunder by a gin and juice induced stolen kiss at a christening party.  This kiss leads to the demise of two marriages, yet connects these two families to the very (bitter or not bitter, you decide) end.  Patchett presents us with a somewhat uncomfortable view of cause and effect, a fictitious reflection of how our choices today can have an unsavory outcome in the future.  This story, which spans decades of the family members’ lives, is told from the various view points of the family members and interestingly enough is the story in the middle of the story.

In hindsight, my initial words are probably too harsh.  I actually am happy that I read the book.  I’m just not sure it would make it to the shelves of my beach house.

Related Posts:

I Will Judge a Book by its Cover

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Beach House Book #4 – All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Beach House Book #6 – The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

This book was not on any of my best of summer reading lists; however, I stumbled upon it entering my local library to retrieve a book that was on one of my lists, so I am making an exception.  The book literally fell into my hands, a reminder that life cannot be so rigid.  Interestingly enough In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch skirts around the rules we create for ourselves…the life that we think that we will have and the life that we actually live.   This book found me…maybe because, just like the characters, over 20 years ago, I graduated from a small university in Pennsylvania…maybe because I struggle with my purpose in this life…maybe because I don’t remember who I was back then.  If only we could all go back in time, trade a day of wisdom and relish in the joy of youthful optimism, recklessness and innocence.

The setting is Philadelphia…a reunion of UPenn grads…not your typical college reunion, but a gathering of friends that were inseparable in college beckoned together 20 years later.  Each faces a reconciliation of their skeletons, regrets and personal sorrow with the courageous, optimistic, and energetic ghosts of themselves from 20 years prior. This story is about soul searching, reflection and purpose.  The story is about who we all thought we’d be and where we are now.  This story is about  somehow embracing your youth of yesterday with the wisdom that comes with age.  This book is about surrender.

If I owned a beach house, there would be several copies of this book scattered about…as a gentle reminder to those that lose themselves in her pages, of where they wanted to be, where they are standing now and where they must go.   It would be a wish to marry your youthful optimism with your age-old wisdom and go forward so that your next 20 years are truly your best.

Read this book.  Remember you. Make changes. Move forward.

Related Posts:

I Will Judge a Book by its Cover

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Beach House Book #4 – All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

 

 

Beach House Book #4 All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Wow!  And I’ll say it again! Wow!  If you own a beach house, this is definitely one to stack on your shelves and share with your guests!  I grew up in a small town in the South where one of the highlights of summer was the county fair and let me tell ya going home was never this exciting (nor would I ever desire it to be).   This book is amazing and its no wonder that Southern Living had it ranked as #1 in its list of Best New Books of Summer for 2017.  I finished this book in very little time…the story is gripping to say the least. If you are like me,  you’ll take a copy everywhere just to find out “who done it” and “what the heck happened.”  Be careful though, I am afraid I am going to be fined by my local library because my copy is waterlogged from reading in the pool.

This book is set in rural North Carolina and the main character, Nicolette, comes home to face a mystery that haunts her from her past…and a new mystery that will define her future.  It’s a suspenseful story based on repercussions of decisions we make, loyalty that we choose,  and the desperate measures we take to protect the ones we love.   One of the most intriguing parts of this story is that Miranda wrote backwards in time…so you read the ending of the story and work your way back to the beginning, which basically spans a 15-day period.   If you are one of those people that like to read the end of a book, before the beginning, to find out how it turns out…well you just have to start at the beginning like everyone else.  This presentation was very clever.  All of the assumptions I made about the characters and what I thought happened,  changed as I continued to read so you have to pay attention to the content in the earlier chapters (the end of the story) because they may be conclusions to things that happen in the later chapters (the beginning of the story).  For me, the only remaining mystery of this story is… how Miranda wrote it…from beginning to end (back to front) or end to beginning (front to back).   I think I’ll have to read it twice…starting from the back this next time around just to see if I pick up on anything new.

Don’t hesitate on this one! Summer will be over before you know it!  All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda is a must for a summer Beach House Book!

Related Posts

I Will Judge a Book by its Cover

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

 

 

Beach House Book #3 – Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Have you ever contemplated the two simple words, “what if?”  Have you ever felt grateful or regretful because something so seemingly innocuous changed the course of your life and “if only” or “what if” rang in your conscience because those moments altered everything?   Well unlike my favorite “choose your own adventure” books from childhood, you can’t always see how things turn out if you made a different choice.  Reality is the hand you are dealt…

Fortunately, my reality had my toes in the water basking in the Florida sunshine while I read, Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty  on the water, on the beach, on vacation.  This beach house book read was listed as #3 on Southern Living’s list of Best New Summer Books of 2017.    This page turner evolves out of the complexities of a relationship between childhood friends, their spouses and an innocent invitation to a barbecue.   Moriarty contemplates the “what ifs”and “if onlys” in our lives and the emotions that we often endure silently and, perhaps often, incorrectly…our reactions of shame, guilt and misunderstanding as we deal with our own interpretation of reality.

Moriarty keeps you on your toes (even if they are buried in the sand) and your eyes on your children, as the events of the mysterious barbecue only reveal themselves halfway through Truly Madly Guilty.  Only after the introduction of each character and their unique perspectives does she reveal the binds that tie them and you turn the pages even more quickly.

This book was the perfect beach house read.   I loved the suspense, the relationships and the characters, especially Vid, and his Tony Soprano-esque personality and love of food.   I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Add Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty to your own personal beach house library now!

 

Related Posts

I will Judge a Book by its Cover

Beach House Book #1 – Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer

Beach House Book #2 – Perfect Summer by Luanne Rice

Beach House Book #4 – All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Beach House Book #5 – In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch