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 

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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

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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

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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. ­čÖé 

2 stars for writing; 4 stars for plot

-calliope

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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

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Review: The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery 

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Three women in an L.A. suburb find themselves in the middle of some changes. Big changes. Marriage, divorce, pregnancy, death, grief, friendship, and new beginnings all play a part in this new series by one of my favorite authors. 

The writing is excellent, from the fleshed out characters to the descriptions of the coastal setting. Technically, everything is on point as Mallery invites us into the lives of three women of different ages, their families and friends, their businesses.

But there’s something missing for me. Excitement, maybe. And I get it that lack of excitement is one of the relationship issues in the book, but the reader should still somehow be pulled into the book… And I just wasn’t. For one thing, there was a lot of “telling instead of showing” (like when one character sat across from her friend and next to her other friend and put her purse on the free chair). I liked the book enough, but I wasn’t totally invested in it. It didn’t thrill me. 

On the other hand, Mallery successfully shows the reader real emotions. For example, one character is mourning a loss. Brava for getting to the nitty gritty of being beside oneself with grief. The scene at Goodwill – I can picture that kind of thing because I have seen people just UNDONE like that. I’m thinking WOW as I remember reading Mallery’s take on it.  And the spa scene with the possible future stepchild – realistic and full of tension. 

Although this particular plot was a bit of a downer for me, I enjoyed Mischief Bay and its inhabitants. I’ll be on the lookout for book number two. 

-calliope 

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Review: Stella Mia by Rosanna Chiofalo

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Stella Mia is a novel about love, gypsies and looking for a home, and the beautiful beaches of Italy. But mostly it’s a hauntingly beautiful tale about mothers and daughters.

Julia finds her mother’s diary, and because her mother left when she was young, it’s a treasure to Julia. The book opens with Julia’s story, but really pulls you in during the flashback to Julia’s mother’s life. The flashback is the bulk of the story.

We find out how Julia’s mother Sarina grew up, how she made her own way, how she fell in love, and how she sacrificed her own happiness for someone else.

The end poignantly brings the story back to Julia. I didn’t know how invested I was until I felt tears running down my face, in sorrow and joy at Julia and Sarina’s love for each other.

Stella Mia is sad, I’ll be honest. It’s harsh at times, disturbing, and heartbreaking. But it’s all worth it when you get to the parts about holding hands on the beach, singing Stella Mia, and feeling the love when someone says Ti voglio bene. Kinda just like life.

-calliope

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