Review: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

This reminded me of Beaches. Yep, the movie. The plot wasn’t the same, but it just had that same kind of feel. 

Sister and cousins all return to a beach house one summer to share memories from their childhood summers, and to spend time with Megan who has cancer. 

The beginning of the book pretty much focuses on Megan and her needs. Then we hear about Charley and her current life problems as they relate to her childhood problems… but Megan kind of fades away in the background. I was like Hey! Don’t forget about that Megan character! 

Sadly, it happened again when we are introduced to Krista, the ex con. Megan is barely mentioned, and Krista totally overshadows the Charley character. I had just gotten invested in Megan and Charley… and they were dropped like a hot potato. 

Carr’s Virgin River series illustrated how to have a developed protagonist as well as an ensemble cast. I was hoping for the same in The Summer That Made Us. Had the character development been more balanced, and had the characters not been such stereotypes, this novel would have an extra star!

I enjoyed the somewhat predictable plot, I appreciated the well-written dialogue, and I was impressed that Robyn Carr still comes up with fresh ideas for new novels. This one just wasn’t for me. 

-calliope

Buy THE SUMMER THAT MADE US

Advertisements

Review: Need You Now by Emma Douglas 

Caleb White, tennis player extraordinaire, needs a distraction from his recent decision to retire. When he visits Cloud Bay he meets the perfect distraction — Faith. Faith runs a huge music festival, mostly because she’s the daughter of a famous (and deceased) rock star, but also because she’s really really good at it. 

I was hooked on Caleb and Faith, separately and together. But I wasn’t hooked on the music festival because music festivals just aren’t my bag. I kind of wished for more island-ish happenings – like catching rays, boat rides, and digging toes in the sand. But that’s just me. I have no idea how I thought this book was going to be about coastal living, but I was definitely wrong! I was right about one thing however – that Emma Douglas would give me a happily ever after.

So there’s rockers and romance… and family dynamics, a little bit of dysfunction, some nice architecture (hello million dollar coastal homes), and a good look at ambition, which I loved. If you also appreciate outdoor festivals, rock band life, and all things musical, this book is for you. 

-calliope

Buy NEED YOU NOW

Review: Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes


Love the luxuriousness and glamour that this book exudes – like Hughes’ others. Lily and Oliver were a cute couple, even divorced, so I enjoyed their banter and rapport. 

Unfortunately, Emerald Coast was a little too predictable even for me, and I wasn’t a fan of the cliched reasons why Angela and Ricky were looking for a mate. I’ll always love Anita Hughes for her rich descriptions, beautiful writing, and memorable scenery. I just wasn’t cut out for the plot of this particular story.

-calliope 

Buy EMERALD COAST

Review: The Summer House by Jenny Hale

The idea of buying a beach cottage and renovating it all summer has always appealed to me: Painting the deck rails white, power washing the cedar shingles, planting hydrangea, gutting the tiny kitchen and installing beachy-chic cupboards. How great would it be to paint the walls sea beeeze blue, shop for the right outdoor pillows at HomeGoods and commission a beach scene mural? The great thing about The Summer House is you get to have all the fun of a beach cottage reno… without all the work… and with a handsome guy taking you to lunch all the time… and finding an old diary… and a wonderful artist who just needed to reacquaint himself with his muse. 

See, we might not get all that in real life – not in one summer anyway, but Callie and Olivia do. They share their summer with us, beach cottage, romance, family secrets, happily ever afters, and all. 

-calliope

Buy THE SUMMER HOUSE

Review: Sunrise at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett

I love this entire plot! Mia hides away at a beach house, renovating gradually as a way to deal with deep-seated grief. Famous artist Daniel happens along and avails himself of the quiet retreat. They learn to put one foot in front of the other, slowly at first, and then together like a dance. Sarah Bennett writes a lovely waltz, with other couples swirling around, supporting Mia and Daniel individually and as a couple. 

Of course a few figurative storms hit- and Bennett uses the cast of secondary characters as both the cause and the solution. 

The only misstep was the description of the budding relationship between Mia and Daniel. I didn’t think Mia would have felt comfortable enough with a stranger to sit on his lap, for example. But once you get past the awkward stages, it’s all good. From there on out, Mia and Daniel are like two old souls who know just what the other needs. Their friends are just as intuitive, serving as loving, merciful family when biological relatives don’t come through. 

I really can’t wait for book two. These characters are terrific — and I need to see the transformation of the barn! 

-calliope

Buy SUNRISE AT BUTTERFLY COVE

Review: Wicked Summer by Roma Brooks


I LOVE books about summer. And the beach. And food. And sisters. AND the east coast (USA). So I should have loved Wicked Summer. And actually, I did love the plot and most of the characters. I mean, three sisters meet at a B&B for their mom’s birthday… Family dynamics, old secrets, and marital drama ensue… What’s not to love?! The inn owners cook food fit for a king and in quantities enough for an army. There’s the smell of the ocean and a town fair. There’s fashion and trunks of vintage clothes. So so so much that should have been so so good. 

But the writing was awful. The dialogue was contrived at every turn. I cringed as early as page two because I just couldn’t believe the dialogue. Completely inauthentic. In addition, Brooks tried too hard to differentiate the characters, and it made them unbelievable as well. I didn’t need to be beat over the head with Hyacinth’s eating habits or Iris’ sourpuss attitude. I really didn’t need to be pushed into believing that the teenagers were disrespectful brats. Subtly is key, but it wasn’t applied in this book. And that’s too bad, because I loved the storyline so much. My solution was to try to overlook the amateurish writing and just enjoy the plot. Maybe you can too. 

If you’re not a stickler for excellent writing, Wicked Summer will entertain you seaside for only 99 cents. 🙂 

2 stars for writing; 4 stars for plot

-calliope

Buy WICKED SUMMER

Review: The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis

  
Here we go! Another summertime novel set on Cape Cod. I AM LOVING these beach reads. 

In The Summer of Good Intentions, the three Herington sisters and their families spend a few weeks at their beach house on the Cape. They don’t anticipate that the gradual changes that have been happening in the past year will all come to a head right there at the beach. 

I liked these women and their families – but surprisingly I liked their spouses even more. Francis wrote sympathetic but realistic male characters, which is refreshing in a world of literary men that are either too perfect, too cynical, brutish, or just plain silly. 

There are some sad parts of this book. There’s a hint at Alzheimer’s, a house fire, the diagnosis of a chronic and incurable disease, and a death. But there’s also beautiful reconciliation of a marriage, a promising new romance, and a children’s unrivaled gift to their mother. 

-calliope

Buy THE SUMMER OF GOOD INTENTIONS