Summer Breeze

There’s nothing as delightful as a summer breeze.  It’s especially welcome after a long hot and humid spell, when the wind suddenly swings to the north dropping the temperature by over ten degrees.

My childhood bedroom faced south and I have memories of waking up on a June morning to a cool breeze, blowing the white curtains into the room like billowing ghosts.   I still like the sight of gauzy curtains dancing in an open window. 

curtains blowing in the breeze

Yes, back in the days before A/C, we used to sleep with the windows open all summer.   The upstairs bedrooms in our old farmhouse would get pretty hot in the dog days of August, but I don’t remember it being brutally hot all summer like it is now.   I put the A/C on the third week of May, and except for a few cooler days in June when I could open the windows and air out the house, it will stay on until late September.

On July 1, Canada Day, what’s more symbolic of patriotism than a flag snapping in the wind, beside a maple tree.

Canadian flag

Oh Canada!

The sight of sheets flapping in the breeze is a lovely thing, with the added bonus of that wonderful fresh-air sun-drenched smell when you drift off to sleep.

sheets on the line

While I may get refreshing north breezes on my back deck, I have to move under the shade trees if the winds are from the south – a perfect spot for dining alfresco.   (table photo from Pinterest but see The Corona Diaries next week for my latest scavenger find)table under shade trees

Add in some poetry:

Victoria poem Bliss Breeze

Poem from Victoria July 1999 issue

And some music:   (The lyrics of this oldie but goodie paint a perfect picture – “Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom.  July is dressed up and playing her tune”)     

And you have the ingredients for a perfect summer day.   As Henry James proclaimed,  “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon, to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

A swing or hammock gently swaying in the breeze can lull you to sleep while you’re reading. 

Hammock

A cool breeze on a hot day at the beach makes for awesome waves.

Beach Waves on the water

Seagull

Surf’s Up!

And what’s a sail without a good stiff south wind.  

sailboat river

I was surprised they held the annual sailboat race this year, although there weren’t as many entries.   The music and food festivals were all cancelled, but spectators could still line the shore and watch the parade of boats go by.

sailboat race

Sailboats social distancing….

Finally, there’s nothing like sitting on the deck with a cold one when the heat of the day is over and an evening breeze descends to cool everything off. 

Root Beer float

An old-fashioned root beer float…

Wherever you are, may the rest of your summer be a breeze!   

Lyrics:  “Summer Breeze”  1972 Seals and Croft

See the curtains hangin’ in the window
In the evening on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window
Lets me know everything’s all right

 

Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ though the jasmine in my mind

See the paper layin’ on the sidewalk
A little music from the house next door
So I walk on up to the doorstep
Through the screen and across the floor

Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waitin’ there
Not a care in the world

See the smile awaitin’ in the kitchen
Through cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me
In the evening when the day is through

Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

 

 

 

 

Bermuda Blues

It’s time for my annual non-travel blog in which I warn of the hazards of travel and extol the virtues of staying home.   I feel it is my civic duty to make those of us stuck at home feel better, so I started this tradition last February with a post comparing today’s airport hassles with The Golden Age of Travel.   While  it’s nice to escape to someplace tropical when the Hollywood version of winter has deteriorated into dirty snowbanks and salt stained boots – sand, sea and sun await only those who choose wisely!    

Bermuda (2)

In this photo, you may see a picturesque cottage on the lovely shores of  Bermuda, an island softly kissed by warm trade winds.   It’s set high on a bluff – there’s a pink sand beach below with clear turquoise waters.   Note the striking contrast between the coral and the blue of the pool and sky.   It looks nice, very nice – everything you would expect Bermuda to be.

While I see a drafty old cottage with no hot water, banging shutters and howling winds, set on a steep cliff straight out of a Daphne Du Maurier novel.

This picture was taken the morning we left Bermuda – the only day of sun and warm temperatures the whole five days.   You never want to go to Bermuda in February – believe me.   It’s not tourist season.   While I knew Bermuda was not as far south as the Caribbean, the travel agent was definitely an optimist.  She assured us the average temperature would be 70ish – golfing weather, but it was really why-didn’t-I-pack-warmer-clothes weather.     

And you certainly never want to arrive late on a Friday, when the proprietress hands you the key to your pretty little cottage and promptly disappears until Monday.   There was no front desk and no restaurant, and it didn’t take long to realize there was no hot water either.   There didn’t even appear to be a hot water tank.   We left a message at the booking office.  (This was in the days before people were instantly available).        

 I’m not that fussy when it comes to winter vacations – give me a pool to sit beside and read my books, and a couple of shore and sea excursions and I’m happy.   Otherwise, pick an island, preferably one not too close to the equator as my hair can’t handle too much humidity.    When you live in Canada, you don’t care where you go, it’s just winter you want to get away from.  

Bermuda pic 3 (2)

We decided to check out the pool but it was hardly pool weather.  As it hovered around 50 F all week the only pool sitting was the huddled-in-layers kind.       

Bermuda pic 4 (2)There was a slightly warmer reading nook up near the Adirondack chairs sheltered a bit from the blustery breeze.   

There was no restaurant onsite, but the cottage had a kitchenette, so we treked a mile or two or five down the road, mopeds whizzing by, to a variety store, where we bought the worlds most expensive peanut butter and some white bread, plus coffee, tea and milk for breakfast…and I think there might have been a bottle or two of wine…Merlot most likely as it goes best with stormy weather.   (This was back in the days when I was able to drink a little).  

The main thoroughfare was like the Indy 500.   Dare step off the curb and you’d get crammed by a moped going the wrong way, but then I’m one of those people who can’t tell right from left.   We decided we weren’t brave enough to rent mopeds so we took taxis or the bus when our cash ran low and we were down to coins. 

Most of the restaurants were closed, but we hailed a cab and found a pub for supper.   The taxi driver informed us it wasn’t tourist season and many of the inhabitants were off-island this time of year.   Really – is that why there’s nobody around?   We had a nice meal, including a wonderfully rich English Trifle, which started my love affair with this dessert, and a very smooth sherry afterwards, (Bermuda is a British island), and thus fortified returned to the cottage immensely cheered – only to find it still had no hot water and there was no return message. 

As I’m one of those people who can’t go to bed without having a hot bath first, I decided to channel my inner Laura Ingalls and set about boiling water on the stove, (being a British island, there was a proper teapot and tea kettle), just like my pioneer ancestors – thus providing me with about three inches of tepid water, enough to wash the travel grime off, but not enough to soothe my cramps.   Luckily, when I travel I bring a whole pharmacy with me, so Motrin to the rescue.  

When we woke the next morning it was still overcast.   Turning on the radio, the weather forecast was for more of the same.   After that came the lost pet report, where listeners could call in and report their lost dogs and cats.  We got into the habit of listening to the Lost Pet Petrol every morning while drinking our coffee.   It was in many ways a charming island.   

Scrounging up enough cash for taxis was a challenge as there wasn’t an exchange place open anywhere and the banks were all closed on the weekend.   Bermuda – one of the banking capitals of the world – go figure.  (Yes, once upon a time there was no such thing as an ATM machine).   The streets of the main town were pretty but deserted on the weekend. 

Bermuda pic 5 (2)

The shopping was pricey and rather staid.   I recall there being a Marks and Spencer-like department store downtown, where I bought a soft mohair afghan in bright pink as a souvenir – which came in handy as the cottage was chilly at night, (blame the British again for the lack of central heating or rather any heating).   It also made a cozy pool cover-up.   

Pink mohair afghan

The wind howled up on the cliffs – so loud I couldn’t sleep.  There was a shutter banging loose somewhere.   It was the perfect murder mystery setting, rich with Rebecca-like atmosphere.   (In fact I think I might put it in my book someday).    

Bermuda pic 6 (2) Manderley

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again….

On Monday when the owner returned, she switched on the hot water, the tank was hidden in a separate building – hallelujah!   Never underestimate the rejuvenating power of a hot bubble bath.   But the weather continued gloomy, (did I mention it was a British island).  

We managed to find a restaurant open each night.   One evening when it was raining, I wore socks with my sandals, a fashion faux pas, but I figured no one would notice – and they didn’t as we were the only ones there.   It was like dining in your own private restaurant.    I tried duck a la orange for the first time, not something I would ordinarily order – but with perfectly crispy skin it wasn’t half bad.   Cherries Jubilee and Bananas Flambe for dessert – popular choices for high end dining back then.        

We took a flat bottomed boat out to the ocean for lack of anything better to do, and watched them feed the hungry fish.   

Tropical Fish - AMc

Tropical fish with a watery whitewash finish – Art by Joni’s mother.

It was either that or some Indiana Jones cave expedition, complete with stalactites and damp claustrophobic caverns. 

Bermuda pic 8 & 9 (3)

Bermuda pic 8 & 9 (2)                                              Where is the underground cave entrance……

We walked the beaches a lot….and talked a lot….solving all the worlds problems and our own, scheming and dreaming in the manner of younger souls.  

Bermuda pic 1 (2)

The sky was pretty in a menacing kind of way (and no it was not hurricane season).

Bermuda pic 7 (2)

It was beachcombing season….

On Wednesday, our last morning I was so overjoyed to see clear blue sky and so annoyed about going back to work with the same pale face that I sat out in the Adirondack chair reading my book and soaking up the sun, sans sunscreen. 

Bermuda pic 10 (2)

It was only for an hour or so before we had to leave for the airport, but I had on jeans with a cute white cotton top with a scoop neck and I didn’t want to get it dirty with greasy lotion The warmth of the sun felt absolutely glorious after five cool and overcast days.    

On the way to the airport the taxi driver commented how nice it was, 80 degrees and the same forecast for the rest of the week.   Really – thanks for sharing.   The plane was delayed by a few hours.  By the time we disembarked in Toronto, my skin was starting to hurt and by the next day it was as crispy as that duck skin, so red it almost blistered, all from an hour in the sun.  Stupid, I know.

Now I’m content to stay home.   However, it wasn’t all terrible – despite the inclement weather, I didn’t come back with a cold the way I normally do, just a souvenir sunburn, and some bad dreams of Manderley. 

(1500 words – next week will make up for it.)

PS.  Book of the Day:   Amazingly I found a classic copy of Rebecca, complete with pretty ribbon, at the January used book sale, a book I have not seen since high school, which begs to be re-read.  

PS.  Quote of the Day:  “There’s nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” (Jane Austen)    Especially true when winter winds are howling – pass the merlot.     

PS.   We might have missed a few things – which way to the Bermuda Triangle?   

Song of the Day:  Gordon Lightfoot – Triangle.

PS.   Have you had any vacation experiences which turned out disappointing?

 

 

 

No Day At The Beach

When something is not fun, the colloquial expression,  “It was no day at the beach” comes to mind.   Similar to “it was no picnic” or “not exactly a walk in the park” it denotes a situation which may be difficult to deal with – which is exactly what I discovered the first time I went to the beach this summer.   

I had not been earlier because of the kitchen reno and the hot/humid/rainy weather.   Although I can’t sit in the sun anymore I try and go at least a couple of times a year to take pictures and spend a relaxing afternoon with a book, but as it’s some distance for me, there never seemed to be a good day to pack up the beach stuff.    We’re lucky we have beautiful beaches here and very blue water, but the truth is we don’t take advantage of them as often as we should.

Beach  Canatara

Beach umbrella

Finally one day when I was running errands in town, (there always seems to be time for errands), I took a detour – as it was such a nice sunny bright-blue-sky- with-a-breeze day, it was a shame to waste it.    I thought I would sit in the car and enjoy a coffee and snack and watch the sailboats for awhile. 

sailboat race

 Except….

What the heck happened to the beach?

Beach chair

It seemed to have disappeared.     My usual spot, with the tree I usually sat under, consisted of a mere few feet of shoreline.

Beach

As the waterline was almost up to it’s roots, my beach blanket would have been swamped.

Beach

Before, you could walk out past the end of the groyne and still be in waist high water.

Beach

Now, the groynes were buried under water and considerably shorter. 

Beach

At least half of the stretch of sand was missing, although it was better at the other end.

Beach

There is still a strip of sand in front of the parking lot, where they have placed boulders to prevent people from driving on the beach, but the beach down below has eroded considerably. 

Beach

They have made some effort the past few years to protect the remaining sand by growing dune grass, but it was still a shock to see how much had washed away.   

Beach chair

The lake levels are about a foot higher than they normally are and beaches all along the Great Lakes basin have experienced erosion and flooding this year.   I shouldn’t have been surprised by the state of our beach, as driving down river earlier in the summer I noticed the same thing with the river level.  Some of the boat ramps were closed because the river water had come up over the breakwall and flooded the parking lots.

boat ramp

And some docks were under or near level with the water.   If I had expensive river or lakefront property I would be worried – another foot and the dock will just disappear.   

dock

The five interconnected Great Lakes make up the largest body of fresh water in the world.   Although they say their water levels rise and fall in a cyclic fashion according to the prevailing weather patterns, I have never seen the water so high here.   About ten years ago we were coping with the opposite – low levels exposing beaches and shipwrecks offshore which had never been seen before.   It seems it has become a world of weather extremes.   Although most of the problems with high levels and flooding in the Great Lakes can be attributed to the excessive rainfall this year, it does make you worry about global warming and the polar ice caps melting.   Here’s a link to an article from The Weather Channel with more information on potential causes. 

Beach

No matter what you may think about climate change, this sad sight, coupled with our brutally cold winters of late, and our prolonged rainy springs and hot humid summers, with all the torrential downpours and violent storms everywhere – it does make you wonder – are we ruining our planet?  

seagull

Hey what happened to the beach?

If things continue beaches may become a thing of the past, a relic portrayed in paintings and photographs. 

The Beachcomber - AMc

The Beachcomber

And life-guarding will become an obsolete occupation.

Beach and lifeguard chair

Perhaps it is not too late to take action?      

Postscript:    The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation has been advertising for “Coast Watchers”.   These community volunteers help the Goderich-based centre monitor conditions along the Lake Huron shoreline and collect scientific data for a long term monitoring program.   Last year they had 130 applicants, whose job it is to monitor a specific stretch of coast line once a week, from May to October, and record data such as wave height, temperature and wind speed.   Another general observation group monitors for algae bloom,  significant garbage wash-ups or spills, and rare birds or a species at risk.    The Goderich-based centre was formed two decades ago with the goals of protecting and restoring Lake Huron’s coastal environment and promoting a healthy coastal ecosystem.  It’s volunteer Coast Watchers Citizen Science Monitoring Program has been running for approximately 15 years.  Training sessions are held every April. 

Sounds like a great idea.  Why be a weather watcher, when you could be a coastal watcher!

Postscript:  Have you noticed any signs of climate change in your corner of the world?

 

The Literary Salon – Beach Books Summer 2019

Beach umbrella

What makes a great beach book – any book with summer in the title.   Here’s my summer reading list (four read, two to go), and although only two of my selections qualify with respect to the title, they are all beach-worthy in one way or another.   

First place, as always, goes to Elin Hilderbrand’s annual summer release, Summer of 69.  

Summer of 69

Publisher’s Blurb:  Follow New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand back in time and join a Nantucket family as they experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a 1960s summer.   Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. It’s 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic home in downtown Nantucket. But like so much else in America, nothing is the same: Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests and determined to be independent, takes a summer job on Martha’s Vineyard. Only-son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother and her worried mother, each of them hiding a troubling secret. As the summer heats up, Ted Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man flies to the moon, and Jessie and her family experience their own dramatic upheavals along with the rest of the country.   In her first “historical novel,” rich with the details of an era that shaped both a country and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again proves her title as queen of the summer novel.

Why I liked it:    Her usual fare, but anyone who lived through the summer of 1969 (sorry millennials), will find this book especially appealing.   I was the same age as Jesse the youngest of the siblings, so I could really relate to the story line, the fashions and the music.    I especially liked how she incorporated songs of the era as chapter titles. 

“For What It’s Worth” I think we had better songs back then.   I’d like to “Get Back” to that year on “A Magic Carpet Ride” as “Those Were the Days” my friend.   I was a “Young Girl” in ’69, a year when “Everybody’s Talking” about “Fly Me To The Moon”, that distant orb in the sky which was “A Whiter Shade of Pale”.    It was the “Time of the Season” for love and as we were “Born to be Wild” we were full of “Midnight Confessions”.   We didn’t need “Help” from “Mother’s Little Helper” or “White Rabbits” or have the “Summertime Blues” as it was a time of peace and hope.   For all it’s protests it was also a time of optimistic change, as politically “Everyday People” who had “Heard It Through The Grapevine” (as opposed to CNN or Fox), did not have “Suspicious Minds” and could look at issues “From Both Sides Now”.    Perhaps, “Someday We’ll Be Together” again, hopefully “More Today than Yesterday.”     Whew – I got them all in!   (How many do you remember?)

Instead of flying to the moon, let’s fly to Paris – One Summer in Paris – by Sarah Morgan

One Summer in Paris

Publishers Blurb:  To celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Grace has planned the surprise of a lifetime for her husband—a romantic getaway to Paris. But she never expected he’d have a surprise of his own: he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock but refusing to be broken, a devastated Grace makes the bold decision to go to Paris alone.  Audrey, a young woman from London, has left behind a heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no money and no knowledge of the French language, suddenly a summer spent wandering the cobbled streets alone seems much more likely…until she meets Grace, and everything changes.   Grace can’t believe how daring Audrey is. Audrey can’t believe how cautious newly single Grace is.  Living in neighboring apartments above the bookshop, this unlikely pair offer each other just what they’ve both been missing. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding this unbreakable friendship might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them…

Why I liked it:   I’m not a big fan of romance fiction, but was attracted by the title and the book jacket.    I’ve never been to Paris, the story line sounded promising and it had a bookstore in it.   Basically this book was pure fluff, albeit readable fluff.   I don’t think I’ll be reading anything more by this author, as she is traditionally a romance writer and it was a bit too predictable for me.   Plus there was actually very little about Paris or the bookstore in it, which just goes to show how we can get sucked in by marketing.     (I swear if I ever write my murder mystery I’m going to call it Murder at the Paris Bookshop even though it’s set in another country – guaranteed sales – but perhaps that title has already been taken?)    

Did I mention I’m a sucker for any title with a bookstore in it, so No. 3 is The Bookstore on the Corner – by Jenny Colgan.   

The Bookshop on the Corner

Publishers Blurb:   Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.  Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

Why I liked it:    I haven’t read it yet, but with a bookstore, how could it fail?  (I’m reserving judgement, see above).   (Edited to add:  Two chapters in and I’m loving this book – the main character, the humorous style of writing, the Scottish locale, it’s simply charming, and there are actual books in it!)  (Note after finishing:  I’m quite disappointed – two thirds of the way through this book turned into a Hallmark movie.   It was all down hill after the scene with Mr. Darcy wearing a kilt and carrying an injured lamb…..well those were actually two separate scenes but you get the drift….really I m much too old for this romance stuff.  Where is Jane Austen when you need her!)   

It’s summer concert season.   Let’s go back in time again, this time to the 70’s.  Based loosely on the rock group Fleetwood Mac, Daisy Jones and the Six – by Taylor Jenkins Reid was a selection of Reese Witherspoon’s book club.    I can already see the movie being made….now who will play the lead singers?

Daisy Jones and The Six

Publisher’s Blurb:  Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.  Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.   Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.   The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

Why I liked it:  Despite it’s great reviews I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book.   It wasn’t a subject matter that interested me, as I attended a Catholic high school and my recollection of the 70’s was not exactly sex, drugs and rock and roll.    But I ended up loving it – and it’s definitely one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year.  Basically it’s a love story, but not your typical one.   I even liked the unique interview format a la Rolling Stone, which surprisingly readable.  The book is pure fiction but the characters seemed so real that several younger reviewers on Goodreads believed it was a memoir about a real band.   Someone really needs to set those lyrics at the end to music.

Enough of the retro, here’s a psychological thriller to keep you in suspense during those nights when it’s too hot to sleep – The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient

Publishers Blurb:  Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.   Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.   Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Why I liked it:   I don’t usually like first person narratives, especially by male protagonists,  but this was very well done and overall an excellent book for a first time novelist.    Never even saw the ending coming – I am in awe of the brilliance.  

And lastly, because even the best of summers have to come to an end and real life resumes, a family drama – After the End – by Clare MacIntosh.

After The End

Publisher’s Blurb:  Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.   What if they could have both?  A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find.

Why I liked it:   I haven’t read this one yet either.   I’m saving it for August, but it sounds like a departure from her usual crime suspense novels (I Let You Go, I See You).    We shall see….

There – a little something for everyone under the sun – Happy Reading!    

PS.   What are you reading this summer?

Beach pail

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

Summer Bucket List

Beach pail

            I always feel sad this time of year because summer is half over and I  haven’t done everything I planned.   Winter is brutal and long here in Canada which makes us appreciate summer even more but even if you can’t afford to rent a cottage most of these summer pleasures are free.   We still have almost a month left though….how many things have you crossed off your summer bucket list?    There is still time to:

Have breakfast outside on the deck    breakfast outside

Dry your sheets on the line….ah the smell 

sheets on line

Vintage clothes dryer

Go to the beach and watch the waves   waves on beach

Buy some colorful beach towels Beach Towels

Read a big fat beach book with your toes in the sand   

Beach Book

The Perfect Beach Book

Build a sandcastle with some little ones 

Feed the seagulls French fries   seagull

Go strawberry picking     strawberry picking

and blueberry picking…..make a pie Blueberries

Feast on summer fruit  

 Lay on the grass and gaze at the stars on a starry starry night 

Starry NIght Over The Rhone

Starry Night Over The Rhone

Visit an art gallery or museum

Watch tiny fireflies   

Watch major fireworks

Toast marshmallows around a bonfire

Nap outdoors on the swing   nap on swing

Barbecue a steak on a charcoal grill while camping    Steak on grill

Dine alfresco at a restaurant with a view of the water   

Visit a farmer’s market   

Peaches for Sale - AMc

Peaches for Sale

Make jam   

Go fishing    

Make a pitcher of punch or lemonade 

Punch

1/3 pineapple juice, 1/3 cranberry juice. 1/3 ginger ale

Listen to summer music while driving (see Summer Playlist

Watch a summer storm over the lake   summer storm over lake

Drink coffee on a park bench

Park Bench

Pack a picnic lunch   picnic basket

Have an ice cream/gelato cone   

Gelato

Simply the best Canadian gelato

Go to an outdoor art/craft show

Watch a sunset   sunset over lake

Attend an outdoor concert

Watch the sailboats race    sailboat race 

Eat corn on the cob and ribs 

Have key lime pie for desert Key Lime PIe

Gaze at your solar lights before bed   

 Watch a summer blockbuster on a hot humid day

Have an afternoon nap on a rainy day

Clean out your summer closet

Shop the summer sales (keeping in mind next years vacation)

If you’ve missed any, you still have time left – get moving, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

sailboat

Summer sailboat

What is your favorite summertime activity?

 

 

 

Summer Playlist

            Here are six pieces of musical nostalgia for your summer playlist, and a list of activities to accompany them – because life should have a soundtrack.   As I am a fan of all things vintage they are oldies but goodies, dating from the 50’s to the 70’s.    A millennial told me recently that he wished he had been born in 1960 because we had better music, and we did, but I would welcome any newer suggestions.  

Sailboat

Old Cape Cod – I love all those old classics from the 50’s and this song paints a picture of a part of the world I would love to visit, being a big fan of Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket novels and Susan Branch’s Martha’s Vineyard books.  It was first recorded in 1957 by Patti Page, but I like Bette Midler’s 1972 version as well.   Best served with a lobster stew in a restaurant with an ocean view.     

 

Hovercraft

You have to be crazy to try this…

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer.     Originally recorded in 1963 by Nat King Cole, this happy summer song is best served with soda, pretzels and beer while reading a book on the beach and wishing summer would always be here.    

 

Indian Lake

Indian Lake

Indian Lake – another tune from the sixties – 1968 The Cowsills.   I remember listening to this (now politically incorrect) song when I was a kid and we would go up to the Grove-on the-Lake to swim on summer Sundays after church.   Best served with a snack at the Grove diner after renting a canoe or while camping.  

 

picnic basket

 Hot Fun in the Summertime – recorded in 1969 by Sly and the Family Stone shortly after their performance at Woodstock.    Best served out in the country sun with a picnic basket or at any outdoor music concert.

 

sailboat river In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry – a British rock band debuted this hit in 1970 which became the carefree summer song of the baby boomer generation.   Best served with a milkshake or smoothie while driving a jeep along the lake.    (Don’t drink and drive!)

 

pool chair

photo from poolsuppliescanada.ca

Sunny Afternoon – recorded by The Kinks in 1967 as a protest to the British taxes paid by rich rock stars.    Best served while lazing in a swimming pool with an ice cold beer in hand while dreaming of winning the lottery. 

 

Postscript:  I suppose I could have called this six summertime hits from the sixties.  Notice I said we had better music, not hairstyles or clothing!    

What is your favorite summertime song? 

 

  

Beach Blanket Books

 

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It’s not been a great summer weather wise, too many cool cloudy days with too much rain, but it’s been a great summer for beach books.  Retirement stress is having way too many books come in at the library at the same time, (and all just new releases/ bestsellers so nonrenewable), so that the large stack on your bedside table starts to feel like some kind of pressure instead of a pleasurable pursuit.  How will I ever get through all these books!   I have just recently joined Goodreads (how did I ever survive without it all these years – it’s like a candy store for book lovers), and so will be posting reviews on my site as time permits…..(see link below)  So far this summer I have read:

1.  Into the Water – Paula Hawkins – (author of The Girl on the Train)

2. Camino Island – John Grisham (a legal tale for book lovers)

3. The Identicals – Elin Hilderbrand (the Queen of Beach Fluff)                                          

4.  Secrets of a Happy Marriage – Cathy Kelly – (who is Maeve Binchy reincarnated)    

5.  All By Myself Alone – Mary Higgins Clark – (the Queen of Suspense) – just starting and good for a couple of late nights…

    They were all good reads.  You don’t want anything too heavy in the summer, (you can’t lug Anna Karenina to the beach, or Moby Dick unless of course you want to fall asleep), just a nice piece of beach fluff you can sink into while you sink your toes in the sand.   There is nothing quite like a good beach read – you emerge four hours later when the sun is low in the sky and hopefully you will have remembered to apply sunscreen.  It’s like the perfect summer fling, fun while while it lasts but not too memorable.

Song of the Day:  Love Letters in the Sand – Pat Boone

 

 

 

 

Beach Book Review – The Identicals

Song of the Day:  Old Cape Cod – Bette Midler  

 

The IdenticalsThe Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The perfect peace of beach fluff – be prepared to sink your toes in the sand and emerge four hours later wishing you lived on Nantucket – and don’t forget the sunscreen. It is an annual summer tradition for me to read her latest book and this one did not disappoint. Although I wasn’t sure after the first few chapters that I was going to stick around for the rest of the summer….er book. The same old (bed-hopping, drinking, (even worse) drinking while driving, piss-poor parent (her words) whose uncontrollable 16year old teenager is doing the same) character grows stale after a few books…..but then the story got more interesting when they switched islands and lives……I’m not sure if this kind of book would be as appealing if the setting wasn’t Nantucket/Martha’sVineyard, as I am currently obsessed with that part of the world, having recently read Susan Branch’s wonderful book…..Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams. And of course there are plenty of family dynamics and hot romances all destined to work out in the end, because hey – it’s beach fluff and when you pack up at the end of a long day at the beach you want to leave things nice and tidy.   (see link to Goodreads reviews below)

 

Sailing

Song of the Day:   Sailing – by Rod Stewart

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n9fFTH917M

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Summer’s over half over and first time at the beach….the waves were awesome!  (This was written one year ago – it is one thing to start a blog, but another thing to keep it going.  I wonder how many abandoned blog ships there are floating out there in the wordpress sea!)

BG Sailboat

Light Blue Sailboat – 2015