REVIEW: ON OCEAN BOULEVARD, BY MARY ALICE MONROE

 

It’s been sixteen years since Caretta “Cara” Rutledge has returned home to the beautiful shores of Charleston, South Carolina. Over those years, she has weathered the tides of deaths and births, struggles and joys. And now, as Cara prepares for her second wedding, her life is about to change yet again.

Meanwhile, the rest of the storied Rutledge family is also in flux. Cara’s niece Linnea returns to Sullivan’s Island to begin a new career and an unexpected relationship. Linnea’s parents, having survived bankruptcy, pin their hopes and futures on the construction of a new home on Ocean Boulevard. But as excitement over the house and wedding builds, a devastating illness strikes the family and brings plans to a screeching halt. It is under these trying circumstances that the Rutledge family must come together yet again to discover the enduring strength in love, tradition, and legacy from mother to daughter to granddaughter.

When Linnea Rutledge returns to the island in On Ocean Boulevard, she has much to work through. Will she restore her faith in herself after a failed relationship and job in California? Will reuniting with her family be a burden or a gift?

Having enjoyed other beach books in this series, I was glad to rejoin Cara Rutledge, Linnea’s aunt, as she planned for a big change in her life, too. A new man, an adorable little daughter, and the joy of watching her niece find her niche as she immerses herself in environmental issues.

The beach houses were lovely to visualize, as the descriptive prose invited the reader in and gave an opportunity to learn some of the history of the family and the Charleston area as the story unfolded.

The narrative skipped around quite a bit, but I did enjoy the journey. I would have liked a more in-depth peek into their lives, but I did enjoy how dedicated they all were to the environment. Each chapter began with snippets about the sea turtles that are a recurring theme. 4 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

REVIEW: BEST BEACH EVER, BY WENDY WAX

 

Forced to rent out or lose their beloved Bella Flora after the loss of their renovation-turned-reality-TV show Do Over, Maddie, Nikki, Avery, Kyra, and Bitsy move into cottages at the Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club believing the worst is over. Only to discover just how uncertain their futures really are.

Maddie struggles with the challenges of dating a rock star whose career has come roaring back to life while Nikki faces the daunting realities of mothering twins at forty-seven. Avery buries herself in a tiny home build in an attempt to dodge commitment issues, and Kyra battles to protect her son from the Hollywood world she once dreamed of joining. And Bitsy is about to find out whether the rewards of seeking revenge will outweigh the risks.

Luckily, when the going gets tough, the ladies of Ten Beach Road know that their friendship–tried and tested–can chase away the darkest clouds and let the sun shine in…

 

 

My Thoughts: I loved joining the gang on the beach and at Bella Flora for Best Beach Ever. I thought back at how it all began, the struggles along the way, and the wonderful friendships that developed.

By now, the characters feel like old friends, the kind who have suffered through hard times and come out the other side. The kind of friends you love to toast with at sunset when you share your thoughts about your “one good thing” of the day.

The story opens with Nikki, trying hard to lose the weight after giving birth to her twins. Her struggles feel so real, like the kind any new mother might experience, only double because they are twins.

Then there is Kyra, who is accompanying four-year-old Dustin to the movie set where she reluctantly will be allowing him to star with his actor father, directing his first movie. We know that there will be issues galore along the way. I applauded how Kyra finally could see beyond the surface that is Daniel Deranian.

So many other great moments kept me racing along, excited about each discovery on the way to the final page of this 5 star read.

***

REVIEW: CASTAWAY COTTAGE, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

 

Every cottage tells a story. It’s a saying Jason Barlow returns to as an architect designing New England beach homes. The latest cottage story he hopes to tell rises from the Stony Point sand: the last-standing cottage on the beach. It’s the sole survivor–something Jason can relate to–as surrounding cottages washed out to sea in long-ago hurricanes.

The owners aren’t budging, though, keeping Jason’s proposed renovation at bay. But with some help from the beach friends, the tide turns for Jason’s new venture. Problem is, that weathered cottage on the beach? It holds secrets darker than its gray sea worn shingles. And secrets don’t stay buried in this little Connecticut beach town; they wash ashore or get dug up from the sand.

My Thoughts: Reuniting the characters of Stony Point seemed to promise great events. Answers that were left over from our last outing kept us turning pages, even as we enjoyed gathering in the gorgeous setting.

Would Jason Barlow persuade the owners of the last cottage on the beach to sign up for his first renovation show? How does Jason’s brother Neil and his journals help persuade Mitch Fenwick and his daughter Carol to sign on? Who is the mysterious boy called Sailor, and how does his story add to the poignant memories in Stony Point?

When Kyle Bradford discovers something strange about his and Lauren’s marriage certificate, how does he react? Will the two of them find a reason to celebrate their ten years together?

Throughout Castaway Cottage, snippets of the past are revealed in little stories, and as each one unfolds, we learn a little bit more about the town and its history.

But in the end, everything is up in the air as a misstep changes all of their plans. We are left hanging, wondering if they all went wrong when they turned their back on the sea. Another 5 star read that left numerous questions to ponder.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: TAKING A BREAK!

PicMonkey Collage-resized logo

 

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

Here we are at the end of July, more than halfway through the year.  It has been a great month, despite the crickets (which seem to be gone!); and also despite the triple digit temperatures.  Today will be 106, apparently.  We have had temps as high as 110 in the past few days, so I am taking matters into my own hands.  It is time to head for the beach!

My granddaughter Fiona and I are taking the 10 hour trek up north, to beach country near the Oregon border.  My youngest son and his wife live there, so we’ll have a long overdue visit.  Fun, beachy good times, and some reading.  Maybe.  (Below), one of the sights we will see.

 

 

Eureka! They found it

 

I will not be taking my laptop, so there will be no blog posts between Sunday and possibly Thursday.  (I have yet to find a way to post blogs using my iPhone…LOL).

I’ll probably be able to visit blogs, though.

No Netflix while we’re gone, either, unless my son and DIL have it.  But I suspect we will be doing some sight-seeing…so the usual routines will be superseded.

 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Monday Potpourri:  Another Day of Musing

Tuesday Sparks:  Intros/Teasers – “Confess”

Hump Day Reading:  Present, Past, & Future Reading

Bookish Thursday #24:  Serendipitous Moments

Thursday Potpourri:  Off To the Shore!

Bookish Friday:  “The Girl You Lost”

Wrapping Up July!  A Great Month….

Review:  The Orphan Choir (e-book), by Sophie Hannah

Review:  Flight Patterns (e-book), by Karen White

Review:  Damaged (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline (NetGalley – 8/16)

***

INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

One book came in my mailbox:  a purchase I made.  I also downloaded four e-books.

 

Valley of the Dolls, by Jacqueline Susann (50th Anniversary Copy) (A reread)

 

 

9780802125347

 

***

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline

 

 

 

29341309

 

***

This Must Be the Place (e-book), by Maggie O’Farrell

 

 

 

51iDNZinA8L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

 

***

Truly Madly Guilty (e-book), by Liane Moriarty

 

 

 

27831371

 

***

The Truth-Teller’s Lie (e-book), by Sophie Hannah

 

 

 

truth teller's resized

 

 

 

 

 

***

WHAT’S UP NEXT?

There are a variety of books that will be available to me, if I make the time to read, since I’ll be taking Pippa, my Kindle, with me.  I will follow my whims this week.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

***

That’s it for my week.  What did yours look like?  I will be drinking lots of iced tea today and tomorrow.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

***

REVIEW: THE DENIM BLUE SEA, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

51p2aPWSCvL

 

 

As we gather in Stony Point, Connecticut, with the characters of The Denim Blue Sea, we are reminded of their histories, along with their secrets and flaws. There will be a wedding between two beloved residents of the community: Maris Carrington, a denim designer, and Jason Barlow, an architect who renovates cottages. Friends and family from all around will come together for the event.

As we watch the friends gather, like Kyle and Lauren, and Matt and Eva, we see the connections between them and feel the camaraderie…and as we follow them through the days at the beach, we can almost literally smell the sweet salt air.

Like the waves beneath the sea, there is an undercurrent of secrets, some of which will surface. Will the friendships survive? Will each of them find a way to repair the damage of the past?

I enjoyed Maris, from a previous book, and love how she had found her sister Eva. Elsa, the aunt from Italy, brings a wonderful sense of the lost mother, just in time for the wedding.

Central to the community and the lives of the friends is Foley’s, the battered up beach shack where they all convened as teenagers; it brought some of my own memories to light. Mine were not on a beach, but another kind of place where everyone gathered…those are the moments that help us remember who we are.

At the heart of some of the angst, as well as some of the connections, is Jason’s brother, Neil, who died too soon. His legacy includes those he left behind, and an old battered journal that contains some secrets of its own. Will his friends be able to move beyond the pain? Will Jason find creative energy within the pages of the journal as he begins a very special project?

I love how the author brings us right into the setting until we can smell the sweet salt air, the scent of the hydrangeas, and see the seashells they gather. I can feel the friendship, too, and the pain of conflicts that test the strength of their bonds. Another wonderful and memorable story that earned 5 stars.