Beach Books Blog

Beach umbrella

With only a few weeks of summer left there’s still time to get some good beach reads in and often the best time for beach reading is September when the crowds have gone back to school and work.   Here’s my annual list with links to my Goodreads reviews plus a link to last summer’s Beach Blanket books, (a bonus if you are a library patron like me is there won’t be a waiting list for last years).

My number one favorite award of this year goes to The Perfect Couple – by Elin Hilderbrand……set on Nantucket it was the perfect beach book…..so engrossing you never want it to end and you won’t even notice the waves sweeping that dead body out to sea.

waves
The Perfect CoupleThe Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Perfect Beach Read. Her best book yet, the usual island fare with the added twist of a murder mystery. After a dead body is found floating in the water the morning of a fancy wedding all the guests and family members are suspects. Intricately plotted, the characters and descriptions are so real you will feel like you just spent a week on Nantucket. If you take this book to the beach you will not look up once it is so engrossing…..I could hardly put it down. I hope she does more murder mysteries…..looking forward to her new winter series.

Here’s another good domestic drama.   I had grown tired of Joanna Trollope lately but this one definitely held my attention.   
An Unsuitable MatchAn Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A thought provoking novel about late-in-life marriages, complete with spoiled millennials, an attractive but penniless suitor, and a divorced people-pleasing protagonist who attempts to keep everyone happy but herself. It’s an intriguing premise, and like the title, a totally unsuitable match. If the book had ended any other way I might have been tempted to boycott all her future books. Fortunately, although love is blind, with age comes wisdom. I used to be a big fan of Joanna Trollope but have found her books lately to be a bit of a struggle, I couldn’t even read The Soldier’s Wife, but this restores her to what she does best, a nice Jane Austen-like drama about the tangle of family relationships.

Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery?     Mary Higgins Clarke never disappoints.   Can be read in one sunny afternoon.  

I've Got My Eyes on YouI’ve Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not as suspenseful as her usual, I guessed who did it and why about a third of the way through, but it was still a good read from the  Queen of Mystery.    She is still churning them out at age 91 but lately I have been preferring her Under Suspicion (fall) series with Alafair Burke.

For a more in depth psychological thriller, Clare MacIntosh is a good choice.    While I enjoyed her spring release LET ME LIE  it wasn’t as good as I SEE YOU, which I read last October and which had me deleting all the personal pictures on my social media accounts.  
I See YouI See You by Clare Mackintosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A murder mystery thriller perfect for reading on Halloween night in those lulls between handing out the candy…..ok maybe not such a good idea. Guaranteed to have you double checking all the locks before you go to bed, and I personally ended up deleting all personal pictures from social media. I liked the fact that the characters were flawed, which made the ending so much more delicious – a real treat.

You’re at a cottage and it’s raining so you browse the bookshelves for gems other people might have left behind.    SLEEPING MURDER,  Agatha Christie’s last book written in 1976, is the reason why they call her the original Queen of Mystery.   (80 books, over 1 billion sold).   Miss Marple may be a bit dated and the descriptions tame by today’s standards, but it’s still a masterful plot.   While I had never read much AG, other than Murder on the Orient Express where I already knew the ending, this kept me enthralled on a rainy afternoon and I finished it the next day at the beach in brilliant sunshine.

Beach Book

These are all by female writers, so here’s one for the guys.     A thought-provoking read about the origins of the universe and the future of artificial intelligence.     Dan Brown always tells a good story – book contains the usual steady stream of chase scenes where Professor Langdon is on the run from the bad guys and accompanied by a beautiful much younger woman.   Dream on Dan.
Origin (Robert Langdon, #5)Origin by Dan Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good read – Professor Langdon is back, the usual cloak and dagger, church versus science, fast paced suspenseful affair. But why does he always seem to be running from danger, in every chapter, usually with an attractive much younger female? I guess it makes for good movie rights. The book got off to a great start, but then kind of sagged in the middle, but I had guessed the ending by then. The plot line was simpler than some of his other books, but I learned some interesting facts about artificial intelligence and the big bang theory – see title.

Lighthouse

A Canadian find and locale.   The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol  (plural – not be be confused with similar titled books).     I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this book, but it was mesmerizing.   A five star read.   Good for a trip to a cabin in the northern wilderness.  
The Lightkeeper's DaughtersThe Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In her acknowledgements, this first time author thanks her writing group for encouraging her to take the giant leap to send her work out there. I’m so glad she didn’t keep the manuscript in her sock drawer because this is a marvelous book, by far the best novel I have read in awhile. Somewhat reminiscent of The Light Between Oceans, but with an Ontario locale as the lighthouse island is set in northern Lake Superior. The author who lives in Thunder Bay, grew up sailing in the area, and has done extensive research to keep the story authentic for the time period – it is set in the 1930-40’s. It is a beautifully crafted book, wonderfully plotted, well written, good characterization, with a perfectly satisfying ending. Why doesn’t something like this win the Giller prize? The author also thanks a ninety-four year old light-keeper’s wife who said wistfully after reading the book that she felt like she was back on the island. That was how I felt too – totally immersed in this other world, and really like the author acknowledged, there is no greater compliment than that for a writer.

So put your toes in the sand, open a cold drink and start reading.    Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

Toes in the sand

21 thoughts on “Beach Books Blog

  1. Jane Ridgewood says:

    I’m definitely going to have to check out some of these books! And for the descriptive line “so engrossing you never want it to end and you won’t even notice the waves sweeping that dead body out to sea.” alone, I’ll definitely have to check out your first choice. LOL ❤

    Like

  2. invitationtothegarden says:

    After listening to so many people talking about The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand, and now you, too, I really have to get this book for myself. I’ve not read any of Hilderbrand’s books before, so I was hesitant. Besides, I’ve been immersed in my own beach reads, especially by Beatriz Williams (mysteries, murders) and Mary Alice Monroe (family dynamics). I hadn’t realized until reading your post that The Perfect Couple is a beach read, too. Thanks for the tip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      Her books tend towards the trashy, and I had grown tired of the same old Island life saga – usually a family type drama where the parents drink too much and make bad decisions and then wonder why they have problems with their teenagers, but this one was different right from the beginning, because of the murder mystery angle. The characters were really well defined, and likeable, which isn’t always the case with her books. I tend to like murder mysteries for summer.

      Like

  3. invitationtothegarden says:

    By the way, I’m currently re-reading The Big House by George Howe Colt and dreading the end. Not only is this the last summer for the extended family in this old beach house on Cape Cod, it’s the last summer for the old house, itself, before it’s sold. It’s the end of an era that began with great-grandparents from Brahmin Boston days. The author and his scattered siblings no longer have the means to keep it up. Is that a statement of the times?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. rhc55 says:

    ‘The Perfect Couple’ sounds interesting, I shall see if I can get a copy. I love detective/murder mysteries if I want a light read and grew up on Agatha Christie, reading every book I could find in the library (I read over 50) from the age of about 10 onward. I must confess to giving up completely on Joanna Trollope. I read and really enjoyed ‘The Choir’ and ‘A Rector’s Wife’, but from then on it went downhill. I found her books had gloomy, unhappy endings and the plotlines didn’t ring true to me. I put it down to the fact that she was the granddaughter of a vicar and understood the clerical life of the two books I liked, which made them real, but when she branched out into other ares they didn’t have the same authenticity. The end came when one of her books – I forget which – started with the word ‘because’. That was a real step too far, as, as every clever-dick grammar-freak child knows…’You can never start a sentence with ‘because’ because ‘because’ is a conjunction.’ I couldn’t read any more of her books after that, and I realise it was probably a silly reason and she may have become less gloomy with time. Her illustrious distant ancestor Anthony Trollope’s books are a different thing altogether, I absolutely love reading them, the plots are fantastic, but they are not quick reads so I need to have plenty of spare time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      I agree….I couldn’t even read the Soldier’s Wife – she probably just researched what a soldier’s family life was like but it didn’t come across as true. I suspect that she has succumbed to the pressure of having to crank one out every year, but I did actually enjoy An Unsuitable Match. I wonder if she had been through such an experience herself, or knew someone who did, with all her children aghast at her poor choice. I am currently reading the last book of the Grantchester series, but as something bad happens at the end (I won’t spoil it for you), I don’t think I can go back and read the earlier ones. I haven’t watched enough of the tv series to know the characters.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. rhc55 says:

    I know she’s been married and divorced twice, with children from her first marriage, and lives on her own now, so I’ve always assumed that’s why her characters don’t end up with happily-ever-after endings. Are you reading the Grantchester books by James Runcie (who’s father was Archbishop of Canterbury so he knows all about the life of a vicar…) or the Barchester series by A. Trollope? If the latter, (as I suspect you are?) then I have read the whole series – over many years – and if you haven’t read the other books I do recommend you do as they are all very different and can be read in isolation. They are brilliant. I’ve not read James Runcie, but enjoy watching the series on TV. There is to be a fourth series, though that will probably be the last as James Norton says he won’t do any more after that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. thehomeplaceweb says:

    I have not read any A. Trollope, I don’t think he was as popular here in Canada. The Grantchester I read was by James Runcie, and it was book six in the series, but the ending was so sad I do not think I can go back and read any of the previous ones. (trying to avoid a spoiler here). I have only watched a few episodes of the TV series, but not enough to know the characters well. Well J. Trollope’s personal life might explain her latest book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • invitationtothegarden says:

      Reply to both you two: I couldn’t “get into” the Grantchester television series after several episodes, even though my background is the Church of England (via the Episcopal Church). The vicar seemed to far off the mark of a “proper” priest for my liking. Perhaps if I were to read the books? What do you think?

      Liked by 2 people

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        I don’t want to review the spoiler in Book Six, but maybe if you started back with Book One it would be okay? I found it light entertainment, but in chapters of small mysteries, as opposed to one big mystery to solve. I guess it dealt more with the daily life of a priest. In the tv show he seems to drink and have affairs, but I find that different anyway as I grew up Catholic and our priests can’t marry, but they certainly have proven to be no angels when it comes to proper and decent behaviour! I stopped going to church in the 80’s but take my mom once in a while.

        Liked by 1 person

      • invitationtothegarden says:

        It was the drinking and womanizing that turned me against Grantchester, certainly not the mysteries. I am no longer an Episcopalian, for various theological reasons, but Roman Catholic. The priests I have been privileged to know have been good men of God and a great blessing to me, so the current scandal in several Pennsylvania dioceses sickens me. It casts dispersion on those priests who remain holy and faithful to their calling to be holy, and I ache for them. Enough said.

        Liked by 2 people

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        Valid points. We have had a mixture here in the parish over the past 30 years, an older traditional old-fashioned Irish priest, followed by a younger one who ended up being charged for his improper behaviour in previous parishes, (he died of cancer while waiting for the trial), then an odd duck one who no one liked, who caused lots of problems and stayed 7years too long before they moved him on, The last 2 years we have had a priest who everyone loves – a nice guy, great sense of humor, kind. But I fear it is too late, most of the parishioners had gone elsewhere or drifted away. It’s not fair to tar them all with the same brush, but I think what bothers people is the coverup by the diocese and Vatican. And really, they should be allowing them to marry and to have women priests!

        Liked by 2 people

      • rhc55 says:

        I agree the Granchester TV series is completely missable and does not have an authentic feel (I have never read the books). However, it is harmless fun and as there is so much utter tripe on TV I do watch it – I also like James Norton, though he was far better as the evil Tommy Lee Royce in the absolutely brilliant BBC TV series ‘Happy Valley’. If you like church-set books, I can recommend Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Warden’ – the first of his six-book Barchester series of novels (and then read the rest, but they get longer and not such an easy read, but are all wonderful).

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s